King Solomon’s Temple as a Symbol to Freemasonry

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

Sanctum Sanctorum
Sanctum Sanctorum

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.”

kabbalah, Cabbalah, tree of life, Hermetic Qabalah

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.

Samuel Lee depiction of Solomons Temple
Samuel Lee depiction of Solomons Temple

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.

king solomon and the ark
Sanctum Sanctorum or, Holy of Holies

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.
KST, Solomon, first temple, Sanctum Sanctorum

The Lodge as a Sanctum Sanctorum

Recently, I asked the members of The Euphrates‘ mailing list to send me any subjects that they would like me to cover in my articles. I received a number of great ideas and am going to work my way through them over the next few months. This week, I’m going to cover a subject that really captured my attention. One Brother asked me to cover the subject of “how to use the lodge as a true sanctum sanctorum and treat it as such.”

holy of holies, king solomons temple, ark

The Holy of Holies

In order to discuss this subject, we must first examine the term ‘sanctum sanctorum’ and what it means in Freemasonry. Sanctum sanctorum is a Latin term that may be literally translated translated as “Holy of Holies.” This term is used to describe the innermost chamber of King Solomon’s Temple.

It was here in this most sacred place that the Ark of the Covenant was placed during the dedication of the temple. Masons are taught in the third degree that when the lodge is opened in the Master Mason degree that it represents the sanctum sanctorum of King Solomon’s Temple.

I’m sure that any Freemason that takes a moment to consider this will realize that we do not treat the tyled lodge room as a sanctum sanctorum. It is true that there are certain regulations and protocol that we follow while in the lodge room. Most lodges make sure that general order is kept, that proper courtesies are given to officers, and that particular parts of the ritual are done correctly, but often the lodge room is simply a place to discuss business.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with discussing the business inside a tyled lodge. In fact, a little bit of research into the protocol of Freemasonry in its earliest days reveals that this is where business was intended to be conducted. Whether it is a discussion about paying the lodge’s bills, conducting a charitable event, or electing officers, it is perfectly acceptable to discuss business within the sanctum sanctorum of today’s Masonic lodges. However, it is the reverence with which the Brethren treat the forms for opening and closing the lodge and the pursuit of Masonic knowledge that can really make the lodge feel like a sanctuary.

KST, Solomon, first temple, Sanctum Sanctorum
The rituals that we use to open and close are lodge are more than just an elaborate form of parliamentary procedure. These ceremonies remind us of the very lessons and symbols that are taught in the degrees. Every time that we open or close a lodge we can be reminded of our obligations and the solemn duty that we must perform as Freemasons. I think that all Masons will agree that a degree conferral should be conducted with reverence and professionalism and the process of opening and closing a lodge should be treated no differently. In order to assist the Brethren in feeling the need to treat these rituals appropriately, a lodge can adopt a dress code that is representative of the desired atmosphere. The way that Masons conduct themselves in lodge can change almost instantaneously when they go from wearing blue jeans to wearing a suit.

Additionally, we can treat our lodges as a true sanctum sanctorum by conducting Masonic education. Every single lodge meeting should have some form of Masonic education as a part of the agenda. I personally believe that a lodge should start with requiring 15 minutes of education and adding time as the educational program improves. Unfortunately, most Masons have never seen true Masonic education. Masonic education is not reading from the Short Talk Bulletin. Masonic education is not giving a short biography of a famous Mason or telling an amusing anecdote. Masonic education is having a discussion about the symbolism of the degrees, explaining how to properly perform the ritual, learning about Masonic history, or even discussing the sciences or liberal arts. Some of the best examples of Masonic education that I have seen conducted are an explanation of the difference between the Antients and Moderns, a new program for educating kids in a local school, and a demonstration of how to properly conduct a candidate during a degree.

Using these simple suggestions can help any lodge to seem like a true sanctum sanctorum. If our Brethren feel like the lodge is a sanctuary to be treated with reverence, they will conduct themselves accordingly. A lodge that treats the tyled lodge room appropriately just might be surprised at the positive effect it can have on the organization.

I hope that these ideas can help you to improve your lodge and treat it as a sanctum sanctorum.

The Lost Symbol in paperback, have you found yours?

At last, the paperback edition of Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol hits store shelves on October 19th.

The sleeper hit that sent us head long into the adventures of Professor Robert Langdon in, under,and above the greater Washington D.C. capitol to save his mentor and close friend 33rd degree Mason Peter Solomon from the clutches of his son Zachary (aka Mal’akh) who also happens to be a 33rd degree Mason bent on the destruction of his father in the quest for the ancient mystery of the fraternity.

While the book was long awaited for its release in 2009, the paper back edition now opens the subject matter up to a wider audience to question the symbolic significance within it. More than a book that injects Noetics into the mainstream, Brown touches on a few topics of interest to those in the mystery school field, including the Kybalion, Francis Bacon’s New Atlantis, the Sanctum Sanctorum, and the Hand of Mysteries, just to name a few. Plus, if the esoteric aspects of the mystery schools were not enough of a plot device, Brown employs some of the more sacred Masonic sites to add in as a kicker.

The book, while unlike the Da Vinci Code, reads more as a swan song to the 300 year old fraternity than it does a mystery thriller. Unlike the Code where the Catholic Church’s Opus Dei was the villain at large, in The Lost Symbol its less institutional villain and more mental insanity as the protagonist which leaves less of that secret society conspiratorial taste and more of a complicated question of who to cheer for since its all around bad news for all involved, the fraternity that is compromised by a mad man, the Oedipus complex of secrets (not mother), or the video extortion plot. Its complex to say the least and a riveting story line right up to the very end.

If your still on the fence, give a read to some of the reviews posted here from its release last year:

The Lost Symbol – a review
The Lost Symbol – it’s the symbol of the symbolism. – The Masonic Perspective
The Lost Symbol – The Road Best Not Travelled
Masonic Central Pod Cast with Mark Koltko-Rivera on the Lost Symbol

Or, if the original hefty $29.95 price of the hard bound was a deterrent, you can give the paperback edition of The Lost Symbol on Amazon a read for the low low price of $9.99 and catch up on what the post Da Vinci Code – Freemasonry – Dan Brown buzz was all about.

Answer To Puzzler #4 and the Presentation Of Puzzler #5

I will say that you will all know what an eavesdropper is by now, so I won’t spend any time on this, let’s just concentrate on the word cowan for this discussion.

From the affair of Jephthah, an Ephraimite was termed a cowan. Cowan comes from the Hebrew and Egyptian word, cohen which was the title for a priest or prince, and a term of honor. Cohen was the name for a dog as well. Cowan also has a middle French counterpart, couenne, which means “bumpkin”, “ignoramus”, “fool”, “pretender” or “interloper”.

Now, in that we understand the meaning and origin, then perhaps this passage by St. John, which cautions the brethren, that “without are dogs” (κυνες), cowans or listeners as seen below, takes on new meaning:

  • Outside the city are the dogs–the sorcerers, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idol worshipers, and all who love to live a lie.. Revelations 22:15 NLT

Or, maybe now when we read the passage where St. Paul exhorts the Christians to “beware of dogs, because they are evil workers” as seen below becomes more eye opening for us Masonically:

  • Watch out for those dogs, those men who do evil, those mutilators of the flesh. Philippians 3:2

Here are also other biblical examples of this:

  1. Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet. Psalms 22:16
  2. Deliver my life from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dogs. Psalms 22:16
  3. For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. 2 Cor 11:13
  4. If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. Galatians 5:15



For a complete listing of biblical references that I found, check out:

1)    Pr 26:11 Isa 56:10,11 Mt 7:6,15 24:10 Ga 5:15 2Ti 4:14,15 2Pe 2:22 Re 22:15

Once again see how the rule and guide has played a crucial role in informing our masonic ritual. From our reading and discussion on this topic, we should be able to see that the Hebrew/Egyptian/French word, cowan/κυων/couenne, for a dog, evil worker, ignorant, pretending fool, is the masonic cowan. NO WONDER WE SHOULD WATCH FOR THEIR APPROACH! ‘Til next time brothers,

Puzzler #5

Brothers, Today we will go back to the ritual and some of the allegory found therein. Please read this short passage:

  • We are told that in our “raising” that we have represented one of the greatest men, and perhaps the greatest Mason, the world ever knew, viz., our GM Hiram Abiff, who was slain just before the completion of King Solomon’s Temple. His death was premeditated by fifteen Fellow Crafts, who, seeing the Temple about to be completed, and being desirous of obtaining the secrets of a Master Mason…entered into a conspiracy to murder GM Hiram Abiff, or take the real word. but, reflecting with horror on the atrocity of the crime, twelve of them recanted; the other three persisted in their murderous designs.
  • Our Grand Master, Hiram Abiff, was slain at high twelve. It was his usual practice at that hour, while the craft were called from labor to refreshment, to enter into the unfinished “Sanctum Sanctorum, or Holy of Holies,” of the Temple, and there offer up his adorations to the Deity, and draw his designs on the trestle-board.

Here are my questions:

  1. Where was GM Hiram Abiff come from (his land of origin)?
  2. What is the name given to him by Josephus, biblically speaking?
  3. Why does this fact (that he needed to go and “lay out” the next day’s work on the trestle board) appear to be in direct contradiction to the description of the building of KST in the books of Kings and even from the first and second degree rituals?
  4. How is it possible for GM Hiram Abiff to enter into the “Sanctum Sanctorum” if the Temple was unfinished?
  5. If the Sanctum Sanctorum was finished (completed, it was supposed to house the Ark of the Covenant), would he have been allowed into its presence there?
  6. Is this story consistent with what the bible records about what happened to GM Hiram Abiff before, during and after the building of KST?

This one will require that you will look a little deeper into the rituals of the first, second and third degrees AND compare and contrast those with the biblical accounts of the building of KST, and GMs Hiram of Tyre, Hiram Abiff and King Solomon. Happy hunting! As usual, an email with the following keyword for answers.

KEYWORD:  GM Hiram Abiff

Answer to Puzzle 5

The Unity of Light – a Universal Temple of Freemasonry

by Charles Lloyd Mashburn Jr. 32°
Thunderbolt Lodge # 693 Thunderbolt, Georgia


As a young Freemason involved in my Blue Lodge and Scottish Rite of the Valley of Savannah, Georgia the idea of a place of unity for all the orders of Freemasonry has been a thought in my mind for many years. Being an architectural graduate student at Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah, Georgia gave me the opportunity to put these thoughts to practice.  The concept is to create universal temple of Freemasonry through the design of a visual and physical creation of progressive architecture. This architectural design and concept would use Freemason symbolism and will become a new symbol of Freemasonry for the 21st century. There hasn’t been a symbol of unity in Freemasonry since King Solomon’s Temple in 965 BCE. The UTF will become that new symbol of unity through enlightenment. The principle concept is to create a place where all Freemasons acknowledge one another, no matter their typology.  Defining a new progressive ideal of Masonic unity as: Education = Knowledge = Unity = Masonic Light.

“The Unity of Light”
A Universal Temple of Freemasonry
Jerusalem, Israel

Albert Pike said, “We have all the light we need; we just need to put it in practice.”

The unity of light in the fraternal order of Freemasonry is dwindling because of the different offspring of the original orders blueprint. The non acceptance of these offspring has prevented “Masonic Light” from reaching the “Roots of Unity”.  This diffraction of light has lead to certain orders not acknowledging other orders within the brotherhood of Freemasonry.  This is a contradictory of Freemasonry’s primary teaching of brotherly love and unity. There are Freemasonry lodges in almost all the countries of the world.

There are many members of varied religious faiths. The spectrum of religions span from Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Sikhism, and Hinduism, etc. The lack of solidarity of these lodges and the communication between them has been non progressive to the goal of unity in Freemasonry.  These issues are a driving force for the decline of Freemasonry in societies around the world. The non recognition of the individual aspects and elements that comprise the lodges are evident in the many orders of Freemasonry.

These issues are a dividing force for the decline of Freemasonry in societies around the world. The non recognition of the individual aspects and elements that comprise the lodges are evident in the many order of freemasonry.

Read: Freemasonry, The Religion of Not Being a Religion

The American orders for example might not recognize a lodge of Freemasonry in one state from another state because of its bylaws or codes.  Another issue in certain State Grand Lodges is that they might not acknowledge other Masons order of Freemasonry. The unity is no better internationally.

This is a fundamental problem for some Grand Lodges in other countries is that they do not allow women in lodge meetings. These orders need to come to a common agreement through the core values of Freemasonry. It is crucial to the survival and creation of a new blueprint for the order in the next century. This is the time in Freemasonry to write a new chapter in history by adopting the idea of unification for all the orders of Freemasonry into a well defined organization of unity.

A redefining idea of unity, presented through a visual and physical creation of progressive architecture, will become a symbol of unity for Freemasonry around the world.  The creation of such a symbol will bring a coming of age in Freemasonry in the 21st century.  That creation is a Universal Temple of Freemasonry.

The Universal Temple of Freemasonry (UTF) will be situated in Jerusalem, Israel. The selection of Jerusalem, Israel as the location site is significant to Freemasonry throughout the world.  King Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem became the symbolic birthplace of Freemasonry. The proposed UTF site is outside the wall of the Holy City and is situated across from the Damascus Gate. In the history of Jerusalem, the Damascus Gate was the entry point where the religious pilgrims would enter the Holy City via traveling the Damascus road from the city of Damascus.

This is significant to Freemasonry because Freemasons are known as “Traveling Men.”  This comparison of the religious pilgrims traveling to Jerusalem in search of Holy Light mirrors the idea of freemasons traveling to Jerusalem in search of Masonic Light.

The site is located between the Armistice Lines of 1957, which divides the different regions and religions of Jerusalem.  This area is known as the “No-Man’s Land”, It is a land buffer between the different social, political, and religious persons and is considered by people in Jerusalem to be a site of a neutral nature. The site was also selected because of the discovery of King Solomon’s Quarry in 1854 in a cave system beneath the Damascus Gate and the Old City of Jerusalem. A large chamber was discovered that has been stated to be the site of Freemasonry Hall used by the Templar Knights in the Crusades.  The incorporation and placement of Masonic architectural elements in the UTF and its interior spaces are essential to the function and significance of the building to the site. The acknowledgment and study of historical Freemasonry architecture and sites in Jerusalem will influence and define the symbolic meaning to the building and site.

Unity Temple Blue Lodge
Blue Lodge

The construction of the UTF in Jerusalem, Israel will influence the surrounding cultural through Masonic unity. The UTF will be the new unifying symbol for all masons around the world.  The lodge will explore the knowledge and growth of brotherly unity in religion, philosophy, and morality within Freemasonry. This will become an expressing of ideals to the region of Jerusalem and the world.

The UTF will influence unity through a new idea of Freemasonry: Education = Knowledge = Light = Unity = Masonic Light.  The world orders of Freemasonry will be defined as the primary client.  The non – Masonic community will define the secondary client.  This place of unity and its client will change through the unification of the different orders into a more defined organization.  The unification will create a new primary client known as humanity and will influence humanity through unity in religion, philosophy, and morality.

Masonic Museum
Masonic Museum

This new idea Freemasonry: Education = Knowledge = Light = Unity = Masonic Light will consist of elements that will unite the orders of Freemasonry.   The Masonic Museum, (Education): is the first part of the new idea of Freemasonry. It will give members of all the orders of Freemasonry and the visiting public an understanding of Freemasonry history and its effect on world history.  The second is the Masonic Library, (Knowledge): will further educate the members of freemasonry and the visiting public through research. This research of Freemasonry will influence people from different societies to evolve to the new Freemasonry idea of unity.

Santum Sanctorum
Santum Sanctorum

The third is the Masonic Lodge of Unity: (Unity), which will be known as, “The Sanctum Sanctorum”. The creation of a lodge room known as the “Sanctum Sanctorum” in the UTF will influence the different orders of Freemasonry to embrace unity through the idea that the journey for the search of light ends in a destination called “Unity.” All Freemasonry orders must be unified before entering the “Sanctum Sanctorum.” Freemasonry member will meet in this place of unity once a year to express the overwhelming idea of unity among the Freemasonry orders.  The fourth is the five different lodge rooms for the five different orders of Freemasonry: (Masonic Light), will be defined as the Masonic Light.  These lodge rooms will give the different orders a place of unity where the different orders can meet throughout the year at the UTF.

The achievement of unity will be derived from and be driven by the hope of unification through my research.  I have created a visual and physical progressive architecture that will influence unity among the orders of Freemasonry.  This search for the unity of light has a frame work of ideas that incorporates unification through related topics in the different orders of Freemasonry. The history of symbolism and philosophy in Freemasonry incorporated with other related Freemasonry elements will be the foundation of the UTF.

West Gate
West Gate

My research of Masonic elements consists of the sacred geometries and how they are relevant to Freemasonry. The past influence of these sacred geometries on Masonic and non Masonic architecture will influence the idea of unity through their application in the visual and physical aspects of the UTF design process.

The goal is to provide a Universal Temple of Freemasonry that will redefined the ideal principles for the unification of the Freemasonry orders.  Unity and brotherly love are a fundamental ideal of Freemasonry.

There hasn’t been a symbol of unify in Freemasonry since King Solomon’s Temple in 965 BCE. The UTF will become that new symbol of unity through enlightenment. The principle new idea is to create a place where all Freemasons acknowledge one another, no matter their typology.  Defining a new progressive ideal of Masonic unity as: Education = Knowledge = Unity = Masonic Light.

Freemasonry Plaza
Freemasonry Plaza

A redefining idea of unity, presented through a visual and physical creation of progressive architecture, will become a symbol of unity for Freemasonry around the world.  The creation of such a symbol will bring a coming of age in Freemasonry in the 21st century.

The primary outcome of the creation of The Universal Temple of Freemasonry is to unite the different orders of Freemasonry through the design of a visual and physical creation of progressive architecture. The secondary outcome is to have this architecture and new idea influence better relations in the region of Jerusalem, Israel, by the implementing the new Freemasonry idea: Education = Knowledge = Unity = Masonic Light. This new idea along with the idea of a new age of progressive architecture will influence all relationships towards mankind and hopefully peace in the region of Jerusalem, Israel.

Masonic Central podcast

The Sanctum Sanctorum on Masonic Central

This week on Masonic Central, we get to spend some time talking to the good brothers of The Sanctum Sanctorum

Freemasons like to talk, a lot, and usually for good reason.  Beyond the usual what time a dinner is being held or who has knocked at the temple door with interest, a great driving aspect of the fraternity is understanding why it is we do what we do, and to hear from others who may have gone down that road and can offer some insight to the journey.  Thankfully, many groups exist in the fora, on a range of topics and with varying focus.  Some are tiled, while others governed by subscription fees.  But one that has stood out to us here at FmI has a specific focus on the esoteric, and a willingness to engage Masonic roots with its parallels of the distant past, and that site is The Sanctum Sanctorum.

By its own admission it is “not a simple archive of Masonic facts or trivia, but a true group of like minded men seeking and sharing Masonic Knowledge through this medium of an interactive Masonic online community.”

“To meet as a Freemason is to know that the Brothers you sit in Lodge with are all “on the level.”

To their credit, they have played host to an ongoing virtual Alchemy 101 course and a course for entered apprentices look at the Tarot.  And, if the sharing of knowledge wasn’t enough, the board is packed with brothers from all walks of life and background to offer their insight and help where ever they can.

If there were a lodge that met and lived virtually on line, it would be The Sanctum Sanctorum.

Join us this week as we talk to our brothers behind the fantastic forum The Sanctum Sanctorum this Sunday on Masonic Central,  November 15th starting at 6pm PDT / 9pm EST. We encourage your questions and comments to the show by calling (347) 677-0936 during the program. The show goes live promptly at the hour.  On Blog Talk Radio at 6pm PST/9pm EST

or Download the program!

The Anteroom or Chamber of Reflection

The chamber of reflection


By Carlos Antonio Martinez, Jr., J.D., PH.D., M.A., 33º

The Chamber of Reflection… After being told a few words of warning calling for the reconsideration on the steps he is about to take, mysterious words bearing a contrasting and intimidating message of discouragement, the young candidate, compelled by either Conviction or Curiosity, decides to ignore such “warnings”, and valiantly enters that “cavern-like” room on the day of his initiation into the Craft. He immediately finds himself in the middle of a gloomy and obscure scenario – a small table with a skull and crossed tibia, a lit candle, a sand clock about to stop, and a few suggestive wall inscriptions complementary of everything he was forewarned prior to stepping into such a perturbing enclosure. Truly, this is a chamber of reflection.

He cannot help feeling like an unfortunate detainee of ancient times, locked in a dungeon awaiting his sentence. On the small table there are also a cup of water, a small piece of bread, and some salt, which seem to be the only food that he is entitled to ingest for being imprisoned. He instinctively asks himself “Am I a Prisoner?”; “I have not done anything wrong”; “I came here of my own free will and they throw me in here”; “How long will they keep me?”; “I have no idea, but, I want to get out, I want to throw down the towel and surrender in the second round”; “I give up”; I can’t stand it any longer”; “What is this about?”; “Why did they lock me up?”; “Is this how they make Good Men better?”; “Is this what they mean by Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth?”; “They are probably just having fun with me!”; “They have me in such a ridiculous and hopeless state!”; “One of my hands is tied, I’m barefooted, almost naked, without my belongings, and partially blind-folded!”; “My God, what’s next?”; “A ransom?”; “Am I being kidnapped?”; “Are all those sinister rumors about the Masons true?”…

… The young neophyte then recovers his briefly lost sanity, and focus his attention on some of the fluorescent phrases posted on the dark walls: “IF YOU ARE AFRAID, LEAVE”; “IF YOU ARE NOT CERTAIN, WITHDRAW”; “IF YOU CANNOT COPE, RENOUNCE”; All of the sudden, however, these intimidating and daring clauses give him the encouragement to continue on, to test himself, to confront and overcome his own fears, to subdue his vices, and to begin to truly know himself.

Suddenly, a man wearing a black robe hands him a paper with four (4) questions that he must answer in sixty (60) seconds. At that moment, the novice thinks – “Who, in my present state and condition, is going to answer this questionnaire correctly in one (1) minute?” – While reading the questions, he feels like a bucket of cold water has fallen upon him, slightly refreshing his already warm and confused mind. There are four (4) questions he must reflect upon: What is Man’s duty to God? Again, he thinks – “What, didn’t they say that, here, Religion is never discussed?” – He thinks for a moment and answers what he thinks is right. What is Man’s duty to Himself? “Dignity”, he replies. But, again, he cannot help to think – “What type of Dignity can I have or talk about, after being treated like a dirty rag?”. What is Man’s duty to his Fellow Beings? Without hesitation he replies – “Respect”. If your last hour arrived, what would be your Testament? This time, the young man’s face frowns and he thinks aloud – “A last will? “What are they going to do to me now?”; “I’m locked away in a room, I know nobody in this place, and I’m in the presence of human remains”; “Now, I truly feel uncomfortable!” – He stops, thinks again for a few seconds, and replies – “I’d give half of my holdings to my loved-ones, and the other half to people in need”.

He was given sixty (60) seconds, but, he feels as twenty (20) minutes have gone by; his anxiety begins to feel like asphyxia with an unmistakable sensation of claustrophobia. Suddenly, there is a distinct knock at the door, two or three different voices from without order him not to turn around, and, once more, he is completely blind-folded.

As he is taken away, he remembers reading a particular word with three points between each letter: V:.I:.T:.R:.I:.O:.L:. At that time, our young Initiate did not know its meaning, he probably even assumed that it was an unknown reference to God; But, in due time, he will encounter the latin phrase: “VISITA INTERIORA TERRAE RECTIFICANDO INVENIES OCCULTUM LAPIDEM”, which, semi-translated into English means: “VISIT THE INTERIOR OF THE EARTH, THROUGH RECTIFICATION YOU SHALL FIND THE HIDDEN STONE”, and, then, he will realize that such word went hand in hand with everything he saw and read in that “cavern-like” chamber. Studying and analyzing further, he will find its significance, that of visiting and knowing his Inner Side/Nature, and submitting to a Self-Examination of Conscience with which he must reflect over his actions and deeds, and, thus, discover his Internal Self or Hidden Stone, the Philosophers Stone of the Alchemists, the Rough Ashlar of the Free-Mason.

The ancient Egyptian, Persian and Greek Sages adopted the custom of surrounding their teachings with enigmas that could only be contemplated in silence, and which expressed invariable and uniform principles that formed a perfect and harmonious ensemble that, at the same time, defined a ceremony of religious and secret nature needed for the Initiation and Training of all Priests and Priestesses who desired to unravel these enigmas. These enigmas comprise all that relates to the developing possibilities of the human state that culminate with that which has been called “Restoration of Primeval State”, and these are nothing more than a preparation for The Great Mysteries which appertain to the realization of the super-human states, and conduct the Initiate toward states of spiritual order until reaching the Supreme Identity. Thus, the new adept is brought closer to the hidden truths of the divine.

All the Philosophers of antiquity were disciples of an Initiation, being Progress and the Foundation of the Mysteries what enabled them to liberate themselves from the chaos of superstition. In those times, only the Mysteries could liberate Men from barbarousness. From these mysteries were derived the doctrines of Confucius, Zoroaster and Hermes Trismegistus. Such were the timeless characteristics of the Ancient Mysteries, that fragments of these teachings have reached Modern Freemasonry. These influences are found in the various different Rites of the Order. In all these mysteries we find a common factor indicating a same origin, the ceremonies of initiation were all funereal in character featuring a mystical death and resurrection, and the trials were conducted in the darkness of the night – the aspirant had to be examined, tried and purified in order to attain Wisdom and Light.

In the Mithraic-Zoroastrian mysteries, the neophyte was subject to a rigorous fasting and to a series of tests and trials, where the methods of exciting awe and fear varied ingeniously; all types of sounds and noises were simulated, the roaring of ferocious animals, the explosion of thunder, lightning, lashings with sticks, lamentations, screams of horror or pain, and the sensations of heat or cold were also implemented, by having him/her swim in rivers of strong current and walk through blazing areas. All these tests and trials lasted between twenty-four and eighty days, at the end of which the candidate was introduced in an real cavern. These initiation caverns were small in size, their walls and ceilings were painted with astral signs, and represented the world, the dual movement of the planets, and the passage of the souls through the celestial spheres. Once inside, the candidate was caused to walk through a ladder or bridge along which there were seven doors, each made of a different metal symbolizing the respective attributes of every planet. This Ladder was posteriorly adopted by the Jews and featured in the mythical dream of Jacob, and, presently, it is an indispensable symbol in a number of our Masonic Degrees. As the climax of the ceremony was nearing, the new adept was conducted to a larger room where he/she underwent some type of Baptism, and was finally prepared to receive the Seven Lessons that would constitute the completion of his/her Initiation. In due time, this particular ceremony began to be implemented by almost every Mystery School, until it made its way into Masonic Rituals in the form of “The Ante-Room” or “Chamber of Reflections”.

In the Higher Mysteries, celebrated in Elleusis during the month of September, these ceremonies lasted nine days, and were held in honor of the Goddesses Demeter and Persephone. The Temple was divided in three parts: the “Megaron” or Sanctuary (corresponding to the Sanctum Sanctorum of the Temple of Solomon), the “Anactoron” or Main Hall (equivalent to the place of collective prayer), and the Underground Chamber located right below the temple. The Infernal Regions and/or Punishment for the uninitiated impious one was symbolically represented by this Underground Chamber, and it was reminiscent of an episode in the drama of Demeter, Persephone and Pluto. Within the walls of this temple, the beliefs and teachings of a celestial life after death were earnestly imparted to their “Adoptae” or Accepted, and thus expanded to the more profound studies of Cosmogony and Anthropogenesis.

In the Druid Mysteries, almost entirely native to the regions of Britain and Gaul, their rituals, brought from Greece by Scandinavian route, required the Initiate to undergo much physical purification and mental preparation; their First Degree was conferred by inflicting a symbolical death on the aspirant, which, culminated in his/her attainment of the Third Degree or regeneration, at which point he/she was placed on a boat symbolizing his/her readiness to sail-off on life’s journey.

The formidable Egyptians, Mayans and Incas used to leave the Initiate alone, locked inside the actual funereal chamber of a pyramid, lying inside a coffin and surrounded by mummies and other lugubrious emblems, so that he/she could reflect on the steps about to be taken – that unless emerging triumphant, such failure could cost him/her the permanent loss of his/her freedom.

Following these ancient initiatic customs and traditions, divesting the candidate of all personal clothing and removing all minerals and metals from him, the Profane is caused to find himself alone with his own values before a first symbolical approximation that invites him to meditate over the vanities of existence, and warns him of mere curiosity as he seeks membership in our Order.

In modern Free-Masonry, the chamber of reflections is equivalent to the alchemical siphon, where the Recipient shall experience transmutation by means of the conjugation and regulating of his/her recondite energies. The Profane “descends to the Infernos”, he must die first, in order to “resuscitate” and attain the light of Initiation. There he shall leave the dealings of the exterior world, there will be an interior abstraction, like the original matrix, so that he can emerge from the depths of the earth (the chaotic dense matter) to the subtleness of the spirit.

This place is also representative of both Macrocosm and Microcosm, in other words, of the Universe and Man. In it, there are manifested four levels or superposed planes where the basic elements of Alchemy are found – earth, fire, water and air. The first level belongs to that of Fire, the primordial element for the work of transmutation; the second and third levels belong to those of Water and Earth – the transforming substances, and the fourth level belongs to the element of Air, the subtlety of gases related with transcendence.

It is particularly important to underline the use of certain phrases inscribed upon this chamber’s walls; these phrases bore messages such as: “IF MERE CURIOSITY HAS BROUGHT YOU HERE, LEAVE!”; “KNOW THYSELF!”; “DUST YOU ARE AND, AGAIN, DUST YOU SHALL BECOME!”; “TO DIE, YOU WERE BORN!”; “TO BETTER EMPLOY YOUR LIFE, THINK OF DEATH!”; “IF AVARICE GUIDES YOU, GO AWAY!”; IF YOU PAY HOMAGE TO HUMAN DISTINCTIONS, LEAVE, FOR HERE WE KNOW THEM NOT!”; “IF YOU FEAR TO BE REPRIMENDED OVER YOUR DEFECTS, DO NOT PROCEED!”; “IF YOU LIE, YOU SHALL BE EXPOSED!”; “IF YOU ARE AFRAID, WITHDRAW!”. These inscriptions are precisely inviting us to “visit the entrails of the earth”, in other words, to effectuate an introspection of our personalities, by being capable to “rectify”, to separate the dense from the subtle, and, thus, to find the “hidden stone” of the Philosophers, the True Philosophers Stone where the Profane’s real capacity for transmutation resides. For the Free-Mason, the transformation of Led or Rough Ashlar into Gold or Cubical Stone; the manner by which Man and Woman become the object of “The Great Work”.

The disorder and obscurity that prevail in the Chamber of Reflections, giving the appearance of a sepulchral cave, furnished with symbols of death and destruction – a skull and bones, is equivalent to being submerged in the center of the earth, from whence we came and ultimately shall return. Of all four elements that reign in Nature (Earth, Water, Air and Fire), Earth is the first that we must “overcome” during our Masonic Initiation. Our momentary stay in the Chamber of Reflections makes us remember the State of Ignorance in which we humans find ourselves, before knowing one fundamental principle of the Masonic Order:  “YOU MUST DIE IN VICES, TO BE BORN IN VIRTUES!”; Or, like Joshua Ben Joseph, alias: “The Christ”, allegedly stated: “HE/SHE WHO IS NOT REBORN, WILL NOT ENTER THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN!”.

Just before stepping into the Ante-Room, we deposit our material valuables with our Bro:. Exp:. , in order to symbolically enter in a State of Original Purity, making effectual solely our True Values – Moral and Spiritual, glimpsing a new path-way, and disappearing our exterior bonds and considerations to be indefectibly open for a New State of Conscience. This, is the place where two worlds separate, the Profane and the Sacred; This is the critical point where Palingeness (Rebirth and/or Transformation) begins; The return to Life, by finding ourselves and self-divesting of our old personalities (egos and masks), recuperating our authentic being, which, in turn, shall conduct us to the True Initiation, to the Progressive Realization of our being, subjecting to examination our Will and Purpose of Advancement.

Being within that confinement, isolated between those dark walls, the Free-Mason-To-Be completes the strengthening and maturity of his soul, aided by the reflection upon that which surrounds him – the first symbols open to a Candidate’s view.

The ability to “reflect” is most necessary in a Free-Mason’s life! Reflection, per Philosophical Tenets, is the faculty of the human spirit through which the individual retreats and concentrates on him/herself to examine the phenomena subjected to his/her observation. Reflection is so important, that everyone who lacks the capacity of it, is totally incapable of comprehending the mission entrusted to him/her; he/she becomes toy and/or victim of his/her errors and/or passions – giving, instead, to the one who has developed it, an extraordinary superiority in intellectual and moral concepts. Reflection is a complex faculty, by which the active conscience illustrates and completes the Knowledge that the state of spontaneity had left in darkness and confusion.

The Man or Woman who reflects, bothers him/herself solely with matters that take place in the interior of his thoughts, finding him/herself forced to self-isolate from all exterior occurrences that besiege him/her, and to impede their access by suspending the function of the organs which perceive them. The Free-Mason who reflects, needs the retreat, the quietude, the darkness and the silence – to comprehend the phenomena of the spirit, and to clearly distinguish those invisible and impalpable objects concealed by light, and, which, only the silence of the night can reveal.

By proper use of Reflection, the Free-Mason is capable of perfectly distinguishing his thoughts, his ideas of Liberty, of Merit or Demerit. By aide of Reflection, the Free-Mason examines and judges his own actions, weights the consequences of the same, appreciates his moral character, and rejoices in discovering those noble qualities of the soul which, place him above all other creatures. Reflection teaches the Free-Mason the objective for which his glorious attributes call for, and lifts up the veil that concealed his destiny.

While in the Chamber of Reflections, the neophyte symbolically descends to the utmost dense and inferior; he finds himself in the darkness; he is in conflict with the duality of personalities – on one side, the material, composed of a physical body, and, on the other, the ethereal body, mind and emotions that he has constructed with his birth and with his particular circumstances; and, at a higher level, he faces the Elevated Personality, the Superior Individuality where he finds his true being, and shining right above it, is The Great Architect Of The Universe – so that before leaving the Ante Room, on his way to the Lodge Room, he can finally attain the Perfect Expression of the Spirit in the Physical Body.

Through the Ages, the Chamber of Reflection has represented the Initiate’s descend to the Infernos, the apparent death which precedes reincarnation, the re-encounter with a new life, and the Sun defeating the Autumnal Equinox, and rising victorious from its battle against darkness in the Equinox of Spring.

Brothers, a revision and additional embellishment of our Over-Simplified ritual, is most necessary, and way over-due. Our new Brethren must experience what some of us, unfortunately, did not. Our more philosophically and esoterically-inclined “New Breed” of members will cherish the experience of reflecting before seeing the Light. They will treasure the instant when called upon to reflect on their duties to God, to their fellow beings, and to themselves, just like our fore-brothers did, ages before there was even any grouping of four “Non-Operative Masonic Lodges” and their controversial merger into another “Grand Lodge” in England.

The ritualistic lessons of our Craft must be as vivid as possible. Our neophytes must go through the experience of being locked in that room, so that they may confront their own fears and demons. Fears and Demons that, perhaps, they are not aware of. The appreciation, skill, and habit of Reflection must be inculcated in the New Free-Mason beginning on the day of his Initiation. He must be taught to know himself better, to pay more attention to his vices and virtues, and to know the “true secret” on how to successfully polish his “rough ashlar”.

Now is the time for us to pause and “reflect”! … Many times, man fails to use the virtue of Reflection, and even goes through life without ever using it, until his final moment arrives; and, finally, he remembers that he has conscience, and meditates on what has been of his life up to that instant. We, as Free-Masons, should not make that mistake with the same frequency. Unlike the uncultivated, the Profane and Indiffferent Mason alike, we must look into ourselves, see through our Third Eyes, and think before acting.

Thanks to this “catacomb”, feeblemindedly omitted from our present rituals, we, Free-Masons, are what we are, and will be what we will be. In the Chamber of Reflection we are all reborn, and thus we learn to apply to our lives that wise adage that exhorts: “NEVER SAY WHAT YOU THINK, ALWAYS THINK WHAT YOU SAY!”


V.I.T.R.I.O.L. by Greg Stewart (2007) Available at Imagekind.

Reprinted by permission of Carlos Antonio Martinez, Jr.