Lost Masonic temple, Los Angeles,

Something Lost: The Los Angeles Scottish Rite Cathedral

window, sculpture, Scottish Rite
Stained glass in Los Angeles Acottish Rite Temple.

I spent some time last weekend visiting the Marciano Art Foundation (and gallery) in Los Angeles. It is an amazing space with near limitless potential almost in the heart of the city of angels. What makes the space relevant to Freemasons is that the space that the Foundation Galley occupies was once the jewel of modern Freemasonry as the Los Angeles Scottish Rite Cathedral.

Building a Masonic Temple

sculpture, Albert Stewart, Los Angeles
the Double Headed Eagle of the Scottish Rite.

Built in 1961, the Scottish Rite Temple was the design by Millard Owen Sheets, a prominent American artist in the early century known for his mosaics on the mid-century Home Savings of America banks that populated California. His work stretched well beyond the Golden states adorning buildings with his mosaic and collections of collaborative artists work. Sheets was not a Mason but in his discussions with the then temple board, his charge was to construct a temple of epic proportions. Sheets own words in describing the project, recalls the project this way:

…I was surprised by the tremendous number of things that had to be incorporated in this temple. First of all, the upper degrees of [Scottish Rite] Masonry are given in an auditorium, and they are given in the form of plays. They have incredible costumes and magnificent productions of the basic concepts that are ethical and have at heart a religious depth, and they draw from many religions, as far as I understand. I’m not a Mason, but I do feel that it’s a tremendous attempt toward the freedom of man as an individual, and the rights of man as an individual, and respect for various races and creeds. I won’t say this is always obtained, but certainly, that’s been the spirit. They felt that they wanted to depict this in every form.

He goes on to describe the huge mural on the eastern wall, describing it as:

The huge mosaic on the exterior east end of the temple at that time was the largest mosaic I’d ever made. It starts out with the builders of the temple from the days of Jerusalem, and King Solomon, who built the temple, and Babylon. Then it jumps up to the Persian emperor, Zerubbabel. When the Crusaders went to the Holy Land, they built a place called Acre, which is still a very important historical monument to the period of the crusaders. Of course, there were other temples and I showed Rheims cathedral in the process of building. I showed the importance of [Giuseppe] Garibaldi, the Mason who broke away from the Roman Catholic church because of what he felt was its limitations and dogmatism. Ever since then, there’s been a certain quarrel, I gather, between the Masons and the Catholics. Then there is King Edward VII in his Masonic regalia as one of the great grandmasters. We had the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, which is part of the King Edward section. I think the final part of that mosaic shows the first grand master of California in his full regalia being invested in Sacramento. It’s a kind of historical thing going way back to the ancient temple builders and coming right up through to actual California history, which the California sun at the top symbolizes.

Millard Sheets, mosaic, Los Angeles, Scottish Rite
Millard Sheets History of Freemasonry mosaic in Los Angeles.

The mural he surmises represents that law and concepts of religion were involved in the great temples. Certainly, the Gothic cathedrals were the book for the people who couldn’t read. Well, they didn’t think of the American people not being able to read, but they wanted to show graphically the intensity of feeling throughout history toward the Meaning of Masonry.

In like manner, Sheets worked with sculptor Albert Stewart to adorn the master builders of history along the edifice.

The work and consideration alone that went into the temple might well be enough to say it was a great asset and jewel in the crown of Freemasonry. But like all crowns, they tarnish with time and often fall from the heads of the kings they once adorned.

Heyday of Masonry

By 1994, the Scottish Rite Temple in Los Angeles was all but abandoned. The Los Angeles Conservancy says of the space that it was the result of “years of declining membership” that the temple was vacated.

By their own telling, the Los Angeles Scottish Rite says of the temple that, “Due to zoning changes in Los Angeles over the years, it was increasingly difficult — and finally impossible — for the Valley to generate the revenue from renting the Cathedral necessary to maintain the building. It eventually became unavoidable that the building should be sold, which was accomplished in 2013.”

Ironic when you consider by its own admission that the Valley of Los Angeles held a “…one day class of 330 candidates in November 1974, [bringing] the membership to over 11,000. In 1980, Los Angeles was the largest Valley in the second largest Orient in the Southern Jurisdiction, and the 14th largest Valley in the Jurisdiction.”

And yet, this modern imposing temple fell into ruin.

After abandoning the temple it sat nearly empty save for a few unremarkable semi-urban businesses in the ground floor foyer. I remember that time, passing the building in awe at its grandiose presence and bewildered at the neon atm sign unintelligently fixed to its entryway. By all accounts, it could have been a Roman ruin in a landscape that had moved on and forgotten it.

But that was Freemasonry then

Millard Sheets, Scottish Rite, Los Angeles
Foyer at the Marciano Art Foundation.

In 2013, the temple was given a new lease on life in the hands of Maurice and Paul Marciano granting “the public access to the Marciano Art Collection (now closed) through presentations of rotating thematic exhibitions.”

Upon visiting, my first impression was that space is remarkable. Entering from the garage and walking through the foyer, it was impossible to not feel the energy of what it had been constructed for. Indeed, I had entered hallowed ground. It still felt like a once great Scottish Rite Hall. Standing at point, in the near pitch blackness of what was once the theater space, now the art installation of Olafur Eliasson’s Reality projector, I felt compelled to give the signs of the degrees — there, by my self, for the ghosts of the past to see that a brother had come to visit.

More on Masonic Art in Los Angeles.

Perhaps it was at this point that a deep feeling of sadness began to stir. That feeling stayed with me while I looked at the art. But, that stirring became a tempest of emotion when on the last stop in the space, in a small red-carpeted room in the north-west corner of the building. There, in the small ‘room’ sat the “artifacts” left by the “Masons who abandoned the building.” I use quotes here as these were the words used by the docent stationed in the space to tell interested visitors what the strange aprons and funny hats were.

Relics of the Life Masonic

relics, Freemasonry, Scottish Rite, hats, Los Angeles
The relic room of Masonic artifacts left behind at the Marciano Art Foundation in the Old Scottish Rite in Los Angeles.

Unremarkable to anyone familiar with the fraternity, in the room was an odd collection of ritual ephemera, staging books, old New Age magazines, odds and ends of the life masonic, and a padded altar bench. To the lay observer, these things are oddities in a building full of modern art — trinkets of a bygone era “…left behind by the Masons before they abandoned the building.”

I can’t say for certain if it was the space, the items in the space or the words taken in the context of the aforementioned relics of what Freemasonry once was. Leaving the relic room, I was moved to tears — not for the casual housing of materials sacred to me, but tears for what those relics once represented to the people in the space. To the owners of the history that poured the foundation and raised the marble edifice. Perhaps more so, the thought that this was the future of Freemasonry. That an empty building full of abandoned “relics” was really what lay at the end of it all.

Yes, the building is just a building, but it effects the priest no less to see the church he loves dearly, laid low by a fire or an earthquake.

Masons are builders and buildings can be replaced. Walking through the bones of a structure built to show the “intensity of feeling throughout history toward the Meaning of Masonry” felt like a priest walking through the ashes of his fallen church.

working tools, past master jewel, trowel, mallet, rough ashlar
Some of the “relics” of Freemasonry at the Marciano Art Foundation in Los Angeles.

I wanted to feel optimistic about the space. I wanted to appreciate it for what it once was.

Instead, I left haunted—feeling depressed and overwhelmed. Not at the space or the modern art within its walls.

I left feeling haunted by the ghosts of what it once was.

Sheets went on to design the San Francisco Scottish Rite Masonic Center building, a structure in perpetual use to this day. And, the Scottish Rite’s Valley of Los Angeles retains a presence meeting at the Santa Monica Masonic Center.

And yet, the bones of the cathedral remain in the heart of the city. A fitting fate for the Royal Art in the city of angels.

Lost Masonic Art

The following is some of the imagery and iconography that still adorns the exterior of the old Scottish Rite in Los Angeles.

You can read more on the theme of being a Priest for Freemasonry in the book, The Master Mason.

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.

Building Boaz

Building BoazCoach Nagy’s book Building Boaz is aptly described by his subtitle – Uncommon Catechism For Uncommon Masonic Education. Nagy has written twelve new catechisms for the Entered Apprentice.

Nagy defines a catechism as “a book or manual of basic instruction giving a brief summary of the basic principles of a subject, usually by means of rote, formulaic statement or repetition in question and answer form.” It is also, “a close questioning or examination, as of a political figure, student or a person wishing to show their proficiency of a topic or subject.”  Furthermore, it is “a body of work expressing fundamental principles or beliefs, especially when accepted uncritically, as a series of searching inquiries and responses on any targeted subject or interest.”  

Most Freemasons will recognize this style of learning as many jurisdictions hand out little booklets of questions and answers also containing the obligation that the new Mason must memorize and be able to repeat back to the Lodge.  Nagy takes that concept and expands upon it, giving us further insight and meaning into the teachings of the First Degree.

Nagy informs us:

John "Coach" Nagy

John “Coach” Nagy

“The emphasis of this book is upon the Entered Apprentice Degree. Without a doubt, the focuses at play within this Degree are that of the Temple Foundation and Preparing the Stone that will eventually be Raised, Positioned and Cemented into that House not made by hand. For the benefit of this Temple Work to be long lasting, Masons must have both a Strong Foundation and a Properly Prepared Stone with a Strengthened Inner Core.”

“These two aspects, Strength and Proper Preparation, are critical in the Work of all Masons. They both Establish the Temples Built and guard Masons well against what may impede them in their Travels. Too many Temples fail or Travels cease due to flawed Foundations or yielding Stones – preventable failures all.”

“For new Masons today, the focus of their Work seems different than in years past. It appears now to be more suited toward having Brothers learn Ritual to support Ritual and the Lodge rather than learning what makes for Strong Entered Apprentices and earnestly Working toward Establishing necessary Strength within the newly Entered Stones.”

“The focus of this book is on those connections that come into supportive play for Masons long after the Initial Work is finished. To Travel upon the Masonic Path as an Entered Apprentice is to review and become familiar with Masonic ways. It is to examine and rectify your Morals in the Light of all which you profess to be Sacred. It is to assure that all that can weaken your Stone is removed while you Strengthen your core.”

People often ask how we as Masons make good men better. Even some Masons have no clue as to how this is done. What it involves, as Coach Nagy explains, is not mere memorization of Masonic ritual but rather study and contemplation beyond the Degree work that cements the virtues and the morality of Freemasonry firmly in the mind of the new Mason.  The new Brother must understand the why and the how of the philosophy of Masonry in order to make himself a better man.

To facilitate that end, Nagy has put together a series of catechisms to provide a framework of study and reflection. Each catechism will explore the meaning of words. Nagy has the Brother get right down to the basics, the nitty gritty of it all.

For Nagy, the meaning of words is very important. Assign a false meaning to a word and you can destroy a whole philosophy.  That is why Nagy uses the catechism format with its question and answer routine, so that meanings do not get mixed up in wrong definitions that can confuse or change the philosophy of Masonry.  A word progresses to a concept, which leads to a thought or idea that taken all together as a whole makes a system or philosophy. And this is exactly how Nagy Builds Boaz.

It all starts with a word, and then another word and another and another until we have strung together a concept. Soon a thought or idea – a meaning – is established. Taking all these thoughts or ideas (catechisms) together and you have explained the meaning of the First Degree. Do this with the Second and Third Degree and you now have an understanding of the way of life that is Masonry.

Building Better BuildersNagy is the Socrates of Freemasonry, asking question after question after question. It is very fortunate that in Building Boaz – Uncommon Catechism for Uncommon Masonic Education – Volume 2 we get answer after answer after answer.  Nagy would be the first to tell you that these are not all the answers. There are many more which each individual Brother needs to discover on his own. But the beauty of Building Boaz is that it gets the new Mason in the frame of mind to make inquires and explore meanings  – to ask questions and to search for answers and to get some answers. In so doing he cements the morality of Masonry into his inner core. That inner core will help to govern his outward actions. Many a time I have seen and heard of men who carry themselves above reproach. Their light shines to everybody they come in contact with. Often those around such a person want to know how he got that way. Chances are really good that person is a Freemason who has studied his Craft, built a firm foundation of Masonic understanding and strengthened his inner core.

That’s what Building Boaz is all about. This is not only a book that should be in every Mason’s library it should be presented by the Lodge to every new Entered Apprentice upon the completion of his First Degree. It also should be used for Masonic education for all in the Lodge Room, reinforcing those values that make Masonry truly a way of life.

You can find Building Boaz – Uncommon Catechism for Uncommon Masonic Education – Volume 2 on Amazon or from the website:  http://www.coach.net/BuildingBoaz.htm.

The Going Rate of Losing a Landmark

Six Million dollars appears to be the answer, or best offer.

It was sad to see this story in my inbox – St. Louis City Masonic Temple being sold.

St Louis Masonic Temple

Image from PRlog.org Press Release

Here we have yet another Masonic lodge being sold off to make way for luxury condos or a shopping mall. Only this time, it happens to be the New Masonic Temple in Saint Louis, Missouri.

Built in a Classical revival style in 1926, the temple on Lindell Boulevard has played  host to, then, Grand Master Harry Truman, and initiated the Spirit of St. Louis pilot, Charles Lindbergh. For the Gen-Xer’s who might be reading, the temple steps were the back drop for parts of the film Escape from New York.

Perhaps the most notable element of the building is the 38 foot long mural, The Origins of Freemasonry, created by Jessie Housley Holliman and dedicated by, then senator, Harry S. Truman in 1941. Holliman, you see, was an African American woman commissioned for the work.

This would appear to be the mural:

The Origins of Freemasonry Jessie Housley Holliman mural detail

The Origins of Freemasonry Jessie Housley Holliman mural

The temple celebrated its 80 year anniversary in 2006.


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.

Answer To Puzzler #2 and the Presentation of Puzzler #3

The origin of the word is a Greek translation of Latin and it does reference exactly what you pointed out (that house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens). First degree is also right, but wherein does the answer lie my brother?

Acheiropoieta also called “Icons Not Made by Hand” are a particular kind of icon which are alleged to have come into existence miraculously, not created by a human painter, which are usually images of either Jesus or the Virgin Mary. The works are believed to be so wondrous and beautiful, that no mere man could have created them. The most notable examples are, in the Eastern church the Image of Edessa or Mandylion, and in the West, the Veil of Veronica and the Shroud of Turin. More importantly for western Masons is the Shroud of Turin (burial shroud or linen that purportedly has an image of Jesus Christ after crucifixion but before resurrection). What is really important is that it is kept in the royal chapel of the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in Turin, Italy.  Reportedly, the shroud was one of the sacred relics that our Templar forebears kept as part of their treasure. (No wonder it is kept in a church dedicated to the memory of the Holy St. John the Baptist…) All of these icons have been known to heal miraculously. So why is there no emphasis on the Mandylion like there is for the Shroud of Turin?

So, to sum it all up, we as masons are to fashion our minds, as living stones to fit in that wondrous and beautiful spiritual building…that house not made with hands (human) eternal in the heavens! But where in the bible brother, does this particular part of our ritual come from? Surely it didn’t just crop up out of nowhere? We tell new initiates and our younger brothers that our Rule and Guide offers an explanation for everything in Masonic rituals and it does (Scroll down to see the answer below).  Good job…

Mark 14:53-63 (King James Version)

And they led Jesus away to the high priest: and with him were assembled all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes. And Peter followed him afar off, even into the palace of the high priest: and he sat with the servants, and warmed himself at the fire. And the chief priests and all the council sought for witness against Jesus to put him to death ; and found none. For many bare false witness against him, but their witness agreed not together . And there arose certain, and bare false witness against him, saying , We heard him say , I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands. But neither so did their witness agree together . And the high priest stood up in the midst, and asked Jesus, saying , Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee? But he held his peace , and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked him, and said unto him, Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed? And Jesus said , I am : and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. Then the high priest rent his clothes, and saith , What need we any further witnesses?

(This is more than Jesus talking about tearing down a physical temple, he was specifically talking about tearing down this body to prepare for that spiritual building, not made with hands eternal in the heavens)

2 Corinthians 5:1 (King James Version) – For we know that if the house of this tabernacle were dissolved , we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.


Puzzle 4

Remember, in Masonry there are always several layers. So the next puzzler is one question with multiple parts, each digging deeper than the last:

  1. After being taught to wear your apron as an EA, what were you then asked? Why was there no metallic sound heard at the building of King Solomon’s Temple (it may have something to do with acheiropoieta from earlier today)? Why did King Solomon decree that no metallic sound would be heard during the building of the temple? Are there other biblical references (laws in the Old or New Testament) that King Solomon used to justify his actions? And finally, after you answer all of those questions, WHY is all of this important?
  2. You will probably start in the ritual, but remember brothers, the ritual is just the beginning and will only get you the esoteric stuff. Let’s see how our ritual is grounded in the Rule and Guide (and for our Brothers who practice the faith of Islam, I have also researched this in the  Qur’an and found the answers, so please help those of us who do not practice the “peaceful way” understand how this unfolds for you in your search).

KEY WORD: “Silence”

Answer to Puzzle 3


temple, solomon, art, illustration, painting

Tracing the Generation of the Third Degree

by Adrian T. Taylor, Ph.D.
Founding Member of the David A. McWilliams, Sr. Research & Education Lodge


In the text “Accosting the African Origins of Freemasonry, and Beyond,”[1] this researcher took up the problem of the African/Egyptian origins of Freemasonry.  In the latter text, a representative argument was reviewed, as portrayed by Lanier A. Watkins.[2] In Bro. Watkin’s text, a variety of figures peculiar to members of the Craft were displayed, juxtaposed to similar figures found in ancient Egypt, as we can see in Figure 1.

Figure 1: Images Peculiar to Freemasons[3]

Upon displaying similar figures, it was then contended by Bro. Watkins that “with sufficient evidence it is sensible to suggest that many of the signs used in our modern craft may have their origin in [a] much older African Culture.”[4] Assessing the latter text, this researcher argued that “sufficient evidence” had been crafted to simply “suggest” that Freemasonry “may” have an African origin, given that anyone can effectively suggest anything, no matter a suggestion’s truth-value.  Conversely, this researcher argued that “sufficient evidence” had not been crafted, on the latter grounds, for there to be a definitive/clear African Origins of Freemasonry, beyond a simple suggestion.

Essentially, this researcher argued that Bro. Watkin’s “suggestion” was too permissive, though consequential.  Later, this researcher created a framework for what can count as “sufficient evidence,” to responsibly examine the question: Is there an African Origin of Freemasonry?  Consequently, this researcher constructed Three Stations that needed to be circumambulated, that of (1) The Secret History Station, (2) The Generation of the Ritual Station, and (3) The Egyptian Meaning Station.

In this paper “The Generation of the Ritual Station” will be reviewed.  It will be reviewed focused on tracing the generation of the third degree, in light of the purported similarities between the Legend of Hiram Abiff and the Legend of the Egyptian deity Osiris,[5] as originally portrayed by the Greek, Plutarch (46 – 120 C.E.).[6]

The Generation of the Ritual Station

Ritual and ceremony are nothing new to Freemasonry and society at large.  Ritual and ceremony attempt to buttress and communicate shared values and experiences, over time.  In the Craft, allusions to ritual and ceremony can be traced to the oldest Freemasonic document of record, the Regius Manuscript/poem.  It was written circa 1390 C.E. and is sometimes referred to as the Halliwell manuscript, grouped with the Gothic Constitutions, which traces Freemasonry’s legendary/mythic origins to ancient Egypt.[7] In society, ritual and ceremony are seemingly ubiquitous, ranging from the profane (putting on your Washington Redskins jersey before the big game against the Dallas Cowboys) to the profound (listening to the bride and groom at a wedding ceremony, pledge: “until death do us part!”).

Nonetheless, Freemasonry is distinguished by its “secret” initiatory ritual ceremonies which progress by degrees of instruction.  Traditionally, secrets were kept for proprietary reasons (as vital trade secretes) by the operative stonemasons of Gothic Cathedrals and were communicated orally because much of Europe at that time was illiterate.  Effectively, said ritual ceremonies have been participatory, morality plays, attempting to communicate the core values (e.g. faith, hope and charity) and virtues (e.g. brotherly love, relief and truth) of the Craft.

It is here, in the space of ritual and ceremony, where the problem of the African Origins of Freemasonry arises, particularly focused on the generation of the third degree.  Some essentially see the Legend of Osiris dramatically reworked in the finished Legend of Hiram Abiff.[8] To move beyond a simple suggestion on the African Origins of Freemasonry, towards a negotiation of “sufficient evidence,” we need to (1) trace the genealogy of the third degree, and (2) pay particular attention to the dispensation of Dr. John Theophilus Desaguliers, who according to Dr. David Harris, a Mason, was the key generator of the third degree ritual.[9]

The Genealogy of the Third Degree

When we assess the earliest, operative stonemason records of the Craft, we essentially find a rather straightforward singular ritual and ceremony.  When a man was made a Mason, after, in some instances, at least seven years of apprenticeship, he was read a legendary history of the craft.  Additionally, he was instructed to take an oath of fidelity, with his hands placed on the Bible, before he was recognized as a Fellow of the Craft or an operative Journeyman (both terms denoting a full Mason).

Based on the available evidence, we find that over time the ceremonies became more elaborate, and two degrees emerged.[10] Rooted in British culture and custom, we can find the construction of instructive questions and answers to be committed to memory, new modes of recognition, the creation of terrible pledges of trustworthiness, the communication of various lectures informed by the Bible, and the creation of various symbolic rites.

As the Craft began to change from an operative labor guild (of stone builders) into a speculative society (of moral-character builders), the ceremonies and symbolism began to change.  This gradual change was informed by the decline in palace and cathedral constructing.  It was also a reflection of the renegotiation between faith, reason and the State, rooted in the Renaissance and the Scottish Enlightenment.[11] These changes were eventually reflected in the second degree.  In time, more non-operative masons were freely “accepted” as members and began to replace/dominate the old stonemason guilds.  According to most accounts, Elias Ashmole (hermeticist, alchemist and founding member of the Royal Society) is the first Free and Accepted “speculative” (or philosophical) Mason.  In his diary, Ashmole recorded his “acceptance” into the Craft in 1646, at a tavern in Warrington, England.[12]

Eventually, the Craft changed from a two degree system in 1717 (the first degree was for Entered Apprentices and the second degree was for Masters or Fellows of the Craft) to a three degree system, securely established by 1730 (the Entered Apprentice, and the Fellow Craft degrees, with the addition of a third degree, for the Master Mason).  The latter transition from a two degree to a three degree system has been traced by recognizing that the Premier Grand Lodge of England only worked two degrees in 1717.  This can also be traced by tracking “Two early manuscripts of 1711 and 1726 (Trinity College, Dublin MS. and Graham MS.), an expose of 1723 (A Mason’s Examination), and two minutes of 1725,” indicating that a third degree was being worked.  Further, it was clearly established that three degrees were in use with the introduction of the bestselling expose of 1730, Samuel Prichard’s Masonry Dissected.[13]

According to Dr. Harrison, “The changes in ritual, the reorganization, and the centralisation [sic] that would be administered as a result of the new Grand Lodge eventually resulted in rebellion, most notably in York and with the creation of the rival ‘Antients’ [sic] in 1751,” only to be harmonized at the Union of 1813, as the United Grand Lodge of England.[14]

Within this milieu, there are credible reports that one of the earliest depictions of the third degree was “performed as a play by an all-Masonic cast at the Philo Musicae et Architecturae Societas Apollini (Apollonian Society for Lovers of Music and Architecture) in London.”  In this original play, we find that “it dramatically told two stories: the building of King Solomon’s Temple and the death of Noah, and with his death, the loss of his ‘secret knowledge.’”[15] In a later edition of Dr. James Anderson’s Constitutions of 1738 we find that a “Noachidae was the first name of the Masons, according to some old tradition” meaning “sons of Noah.”[16] For Anderson, his legendary conception of Noah was consequential insofar as Noah “was commanded and directed of God to build the great Ark”  and that he and “his three Sons, JAPHET, SHEM, and HAM, all Masons true, brought with them over the Flood the [Masonic] Traditions and Arts of the Ante-deluvians.”[17] This ongoing transition helped to facilitate the consummation of what we now know as Blue Lodge Freemasonry.

When the third degree ritual took its final form, in light of the contemporary debate about the nature of its origins,[18] we know that the new ceremony featured a legend about a Grand Master Mason Hiram Abiff, a widow’s son—replacing, but combining many of the original elements from the Masonic legend of Noah.  Assessing the accepted legend, we essentially find a narrative featuring Grand Masters, King Solomon of Israel, King Hiram of Tyre, and Hiram Abiff, focused on the building of Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem.  According to one amended account, from the Masonic Scholar Brent Morris,

King Solomon organized the works by skill for work efficiency.  King Hiram furnished building supplies and workers for the Temple.  Hiram Abiff was the master builder, responsible for all of the decorations of the Temple… Three Fellowcraft Masons were impatient to receive the Master Mason word, and tried to extort it from Hiram Abiff.  He refused to reveal the secret and was murdered.  The murderers hastily buried the body of Hiram outside the city and tried to escape.  They were captured, returned to Solomon for judgment, and punished.  The body of Hiram was found and reburied in a more dignified grave.[19]

The allegorical meaning and/or allusions of the above mentioned legend are going to vary depending on the contingencies of a given evaluator.[20] Yet, if we take the recent work of Dr. Harris seriously, focused on the dispensation of Dr. John Theophilus Desaguliers, [21] we may be able to more responsibly ascertain what influenced the generation of the third degree—the degree where some contend that the Legends of Noah and Hiram Abiff were inspired by the Legend of Osiris.

The Dispensation of Dr. John Theophilus Desaguliers

According to Dr. David Harrison, in the text Genesis of Freemasonry, “most historians have neglected … the importance of the ritual, which was central to the history of Freemasonry and held the true meaning of the Craft.”[22] Beyond any notions about what “the true meaning of the Craft” truly is, given the challenges of circumscribing symbolic speculations, his review of the dispensation of Dr. Theophilus Desaguliers, focused on the generation of the third degree is instructive.  Assessing the work of Harrison, we clearly find that Desaguliers was “influenced by various sources.”[23]

As has already been reviewed in this text, the ritual ceremonies of Freemasonry have emerged over time.  Based on the documented evidence, the Craft first had one, two, and then three degrees of instruction—along with the proliferation of degrees in our times.  More importantly, we can say that the latter degrees mirrored the social/political worlds in which they emerged, culminating in the transformative nature of the third degree.

In the social world of early to mid 18th century Britain, we can find a renegotiation between what can be framed as Classical and Modern traditions.  This is reflected, in part, by the Classical traditions of the Bible, Stonemasons Guilds, and Esoterica (magic, alchemy, and hermeticism); and, in part, by the Early to Modern traditions of the Renaissance and the Scottish Enlightenment (rooted in Esoteric speculations, Reason and Science).[24] As such, the Classical and Modern traditions, in conflict with each other during the dispensation of Early to Modern Europe, and even in our times, found a place to lodge, symbolically in Solomon’s Temple.  Assessing the historical record, (Rev. Dr. James) Anderson and (Rev. Dr. John Theophilus) Desaguliers (both members of the Royal Society) are credited with transforming the latter conflict, playing significant roles in getting this work done through the creation of the Book of Constitutions (1723) and the generation of the third degree (1720s), respectively.  Accordingly, the historical record demonstrates that “Desaguliers, with the assistance of Anderson, reconstructed the ritual with dramatic and theatrical flare.”[25]

Further, we find that codifying third degree “ritual changes date to the early 1720s, and occur after Desaguliers visited the Lodge of Edinburgh that met at St. Mary’s Chapel.” A growing consensus of historians are contending that “elements of what was to become the Third Degree ritual were designed during this period, the changes perhaps being influenced by what Desaguliers had witnessed in the lodge in Scotland” and his collection of “Old Charges” and/or “Curious Writings.”[26]

Little is known about the life of Desaguliers.  In 1683, Desaguliers was born in France – during a time of political tumult and religious intolerance.   Eventually, his family fled to England.  It is reported that in the early 1700s he attended Oxford University, became a member, and eventual curator, of the Royal Society,[27] and “quickly penetrated [Sir. Isaac] Newton’s circle” of natural philosophers (denoting early scientists).[28] As such, we find that Desaguliers established a significant relationship with Newton, accepted as the keystone of the scientific revolution.[29] Newton was also recognized as an Esotericist in his times given his translation of The Emerald Tablet of Hermes Trismegistus, and his “obsession” with measuring and discovering the “occult” mysteries of Solomon’s Temple.  It is also reported that Newton became the godfather of one of Desaguliers’ children, and that Desaguliers’ “experiments even influenced some of Newton’s own ideas, such as the transmission of heat through a vacuum.”[30]

As well as being an early scientist, Desaguliers became a Reverend (and Huguenot minister) with the Church of England.  In his own life, eventually embodied in the confluence of influences on the generation of the third degree, we see that Nature’s God can be ascertained through Faith and Reason. Faith and Reason were not mutually excluded; they were essentially two different epistemologies that could be valued to secure more light.  Moreover, records indicate that he was at the founding of the Premier Grand Lodge of 1717.  In 1719, he was the Grand Master of the Premier Grand Lodge, a position that surely solidified his place and respect in the Craft, informing the authority that he was granted to re-work the third degree.  Before he died, apparently with little pomp and ceremony in 1744, it is reported that he served as Deputy Grand Master more than once.

Focused on Desaguliers’ dispensation, and the factors that contributed to the actual generation of the third degree, we find the renegotiation between the past and his working present.  By this, we are referencing the dispensation of Desaguliers and his attempt to synthesize the Classical and Modern traditions, embodied within the third degree.

The Classical and Modern Traditions

There were a variety of streams at work during the dispensation of Desaguliers’ third degree work.  One was the Classical Tradition, informed, in part, by the Bible, Stonemasons Guilds, and Esoterica (magic, hermeticism and alchemy).  The other was the Modern Tradition, informed, in part, by all that came before it, and the light of the Renaissance and the Scottish Enlightenment.

Assessing the earliest records of the Modern Craft, Freemasonry’s Judeo-Christian foundations are clear.[31] During the dispensation of Desaguliers, Protestant England was still in flux, religiously and politically.  England was still recovering from the political and religious turmoil-warfare that followed from Henry the VIII’s decision to separate from the Church of Rome two centuries earlier.  Within this space, Freemasons wanted to establish harmony.  According to Masonic scholar Mark A. Tabbert, they “sought to avoid theological and political differences by subscribing to a viewpoint that supported a universal affirmation of man’s dependence on God, the existence of an afterlife, and the wisdom conveyed through Holy Scripture and evident in the designs of nature.” Henceforth, Masons pledged to support “that religion in which all men agree,” essentially Christianity, given the dispensation of which this passage emerged, “leaving their particular opinions to themselves.”  Thus, Freemasonry is often framed as “a brotherhood of man under the Fatherhood of God.”[32]

As has been reviewed, Freemasonry pulls from the operative Stonemasons Guilds of Medieval Europe.  Assessing the nature and organization of the latter guilds, the literature suggests that they were “comprised of ‘laborers,’ who wrought the stone; ‘foremen,’ who supervised the work, and ‘architects,’ who were the master overseers.”  These “Guilds oversaw a craftsman’s progress from apprentice to master, maintained the quality and ownership of the craft, and provided assistance to the brothers in time of need.”  Further, “A stonemason’s ‘lodge’ was located at the site and was the place where mason gathered, received instruction and stored their tools.”[33]

Historicizing the religious tolerance and respect for the State that we often find in the Craft, it becomes clear that it is rooted in the operative past.  On the one hand, stonemasons built cathedrals for the Church, and on the other hand they built castles for the King.  To maintain harmony, and regulate the order, the accepted history of the Craft suggests that stonemasons “drew up long lists of rules or ‘charges;’ that articulated their mythical history, established their local authority, and required the members to be faithful Christians and loyal subjects to the king.”  To keep trade secrets and acknowledge rank, “hand signs and grips” were contrived, which allowed senior craftsmen to travel to “distant job sites.”[34] As times and historical conditions changed, so too did the craft from an operative system to a speculative system, appealing to the metaphors of architecture.

During the dispensation of Desaguliers, an Esoteric tradition of magic, hermeticism and alchemy was also at work.  Often, Esoteric matters are synonymous with the occult or “sinister” issues of deliberately hidden/veiled secrets.  Allegations of “black” magic and the Craft are old.  Confronting the reality that “Freemasonry is referred to as the Craft suggests” for Harrison, “a direct link to the craft guilds of the medieval period, yet elements of the ritual and the symbolism also hint at connections with the occult and particularly with witchcraft.”[35] During Freemasonry’s formative years, allegations of “black” magic were addressed by James Anderson (Book of Constitutions, 1738) and Laurence Dermott (Ahiman Rezon, 1778).  Anderson dealt with the allegation that Masons raised “the Devil in a Circle,” and Dermott recognized that “free masons were supposed to have a power to raise the Devil,” such that people were “forbid by the clergy to use the black art.”[36]

Beyond said allegations, the work of Harrison displays some more than curious connections with the Craft and magic.  For Harrison, there are connections between the following: “The ‘casting’ or ‘drawing’ of circles” used in early rituals; “the use of candles within the ritual, lit at the opening and blown out at the close of the lodge,” is thought to be “reminiscent of magic ceremonies, assisting in developing the atmosphere of the lodge room already charged with ambience created by the display of powerful symbolism and poetical ritual;” the reality that early lodges “met once a month during the time of the full moon,” like the ancient Druids; there are suspicious links recorded in 1586 of “Noah’s son Ham being linked to the black arts,” connected “to a gruesome story of necromancy;” and the prevalence of numerology, associated with “Masonic magical numbers, such as three, five, seven and 15.”[37]

The search for “lost knowledge” was also on offer during the dispensation of Desaguliers.  This theme was captured in the practices of hermeticism and alchemy, both tracing their roots to ancient Egypt.  Those that were disposed to the latter practices were persecuted as magicians, as such, by the Catholic Church, tortured and burned at the stake, alongside the philosophers and scientists.[38]

Beyond Desaguliers, the emergence of speculative Freemasonry is fundamentally connected to esoteric matters (i.e. hermeticism and alchemy) as portrayed by the interests of Elias Ashmole (the first Free and Accepted Mason of record).  He is cited for his translation of The Hermetic Arcanum (or The secret work of the hermetic philosophy), and his defense of the Rosicrucians in the text Theatrum Chemicum Brittannicum.  According to Harrison and other sources, we find that “he was an avid student of the occult, experimenting in many forms of what was termed magic, and rigorously researched number mysticism, alchemy and astrology.”  Additionally, he was “involved in the Hermetic Arts, learning Hebrew in an attempt to further his studies in his search for lost knowledge.”  Preceding Desaguliers, we find a foundational negotiation between the Classical and Modern traditions, given that it was Ashomle’s “study of the Old Science of alchemy and astrology, which inspired him to be a founding member of the Royal Society, which in turn would be a bastion for the New Science.”[39]

During the dispensation of Desaguliers, Egypt was the eternal, attractive enigma, especially for Esotericists.[40] Egypt was thought to be “the fount of all wisdom and the stronghold of hermetic lore.”[41] However, the dispensation of Desaguliers was not unique.  The fascination with Egypt started with the Greeks; was constitutive of the legendary founding of the Craft as portrayed by the Gothic Constitutions;[42] and continues to this very day.[43] People during the dispensation of Desaguliers learned about Egypt through existent texts/translations of the Greeks, and others, which informed hermeticism and alchemy (and its “imagined” institutional perpetuation via the Rosicrucians).

Though the hieroglyphs were not deciphered until 1822 by Jean-Francois Champollion, Egypt was not a complete enigma.  Renaissance and Enlightenment Europe learned about Egypt through the works of Herodotus, Plato, Plutarch, Strabo, Diodorus, Iamblichus, Clement of Alexandra, Horapollo, Apuleius, and others; and texts like the tractate Asclepius, the Corpus Hermeticum, the Tabula Smaragdina, and the Rosicrucian text Fama Fraternitatis (The Rosicrucian Manuscripts).  The latter texts kept the image of Egypt alive for the dispensation of Desaguliers, rooted in the mythos of hermeticism and alchemy.[44]

The patron of Hermeticism is fictitious.  Hermes never existed in his many purported guises.  In the foundational text The Secret History of Hermes Trismegistus: Hermeticism from Ancient to Modern Times, written by Egyptologist Florian Ebeling, we find that “The figure of this legendary Egyptian sage arose from the merging of two deities of highly divergent origin: the Egyptian god Thoth and the Greek God Hermes.”[45]

For the Egyptians, Thoth (who the Egyptians called Tehuti) was mysteriously born in some accounts from the semen of the deities Horus and Set, containing within his being two warring elements.   Thoth was typically symbolized by an ibis, a baboon, the head of an ibis on the body of a man, or as a human sage.[46]

Figure 2: Image of Thoth[47]

Thoth had many characteristics.  In different dispensations, he was known as the deity of wisdom, inventor of writing/hieroglyphs, generator of sacred literature, superintendent of justice, inventor of the calendar, author of measurement, measurer of time, generator of rituals and sacred offerings, and inventor/practitioner of magic.[48] In Egypt’s Hellenized (or Grecian) period (circa 332 B.C.E to 30 C.E.), his magical and/or “mysterious” elements became privileged, focused on easing one’s passage to the netherworld, such that it even became inappropriate to even speak his name.[49]

After Alexander of Macedonia conquered Egypt in 332 B.C.E., Thoth became Hermes Trismegistus (thrice great), first portrayed by Akhmim in 240 C.E., though referred to as “twice great” around 570 B.C.E.[50]

Figure 3: Image of Hermes Trismegistus[51]

For the Greeks, Hermes was originally the “helpful messenger of the gods,” according to Ebeling.  He had many attributes, from the god of community to the god of oratory.  Similar to Thoth, “he conducted the souls of the dead in the netherworld… out of the shadowy realm and into the world above.”[52] When he was merged with Thoth, he took on a new legend and attributes.  He became the deity “of all wisdom, philosophy, and theology,” even teaching philosophy to the Greeks under his pseudepigrapha.[53] He also became the deity of the “Egyptian Mysteries,” though there are grounds for a “hermetic lore” being rooted in Egypt.[54]

Typically when people talk of the “Egyptian Mysteries,” they are appealing to notions of Egyptian secrets, sacred ritual, and ceremony—all attributed to Thoth. This brings us to “The Legend of Osiris,” and attendant ritual, ceremony and “mystery.”

Figure 4: Image of Horus (left), Osiris (center), and Isis/Hathor (right)[55]

Assessing the nature of the legend, we find the following amended account by the British Museum:

Osiris was the king of the earth and Isis was the queen. Osiris was a good king, and he ruled over the earth for many years. However, everything was not well. Seth [or Set/Typhon] was jealous of Osiris because he wanted to be the ruler of the earth. He grew angrier and angrier until one day he killed Osiris. Osiris went down into the underworld and Seth remained on earth and became king. Osiris and Isis had one son called Horus. Horus battled against Seth and regained the throne.  After that, Horus was the king of the earth and Osiris was the king of the underworld.[56]

Ironically, at least during the Hellenized period of Egypt, if there were any secrets, they were out.  The Legend of Osiris was public knowledge.  As such, the “Egyptian Mysteries” were not so mysterious/secret. It was dramatically/symbolically depicted by Plutarch circa 100 C.E; viewed as a public morality play and seemingly derided by the Christian Minucius Felix circa 200 C.E.; and it was referenced as a three degree initiation ritual by Apuleius circa 200 C.E., though expressed cautiously.[57] The words of Apuleius are instructive, given that his work appears to be the ancient foundation of Masonic ritual and ceremony:

Perhaps, curious reader, you may be eager to know what was then said and done [during the Mystery Initiation/s of Isis/Osiris]. I would tell you were it lawful for you to hear. But both the ears that heard those things and the tongues that told them would reap the evil results of their rashness. Still, however, kept in suspense, as you probably are, with religious longing, I will not torment you with long-protracted anxiety. Hear, therefore, but believe what is the truth. I approached the confines of death, and, having trod on the threshold of Proserpine, I returned there from, being borne through all the elements. At midnight I saw the sun shining with its brilliant light; and I approached the presence of the gods beneath and the gods above, and stood near and worshipped them. Behold, I have related to you things of which, though heard by you, you must necessarily remain ignorant.[58]

In the passage above, we find Apuleius referencing a kind of dreadful death and “resurrection,” in this world, alluding to the immortality of the soul, in the next.  Similar textual references can be found in Egypt, when tracing the travels of the sun god Ra and the tests of his companions in the netherworld by ferryman and the guardians of the gates.[59]

Beyond ritual and ceremony, and the variety of texts that are attributed to Hermes, hermeticism was/is essentially a holistic-pantheistic philosophy, developed to communicate the following maxims: “That which is above is the same as that which is below;” and “all is part of one, or one is all.”[60] Ritual ceremonies of initiation were contrived to make this ethos dramatically experiential, in Hellenized Egypt.  Accordingly, this was the knowledge that was lost, which needed to be found.  Informed by this “lost knowledge,” Ashmole, Newton (alchemist and purported Rosicrucian), Desaguliers and others in their dispensation, in the midst of the tensions between faith, reason and the State, would endeavor to recover and reconstruct the foundations for the idea that that there needn’t be any “false” distinctions between Man, Earth, and Cosmos.  All is One, Spirit/Light.

Alchemy, rooted in spiritual transformation, through the metaphor of turning base metals into gold, is also traced to Egypt.  It is important to account for given its practice during the dispensation of Desaguliers.[61] According to the literature, it appears that alchemy “first flourished in Hellenistic Egypt in the first century.” It is an amalgamation of various philosophies, like the naturalist philosophy of Aristotle, the tenants of Stoicism, Gnostic doctrine, Babylonian astrological lore, “and motifs from Egyptian mythology, particularly the myth of Osiris.”[62] The first recorded alchemical text is attributed to Zosimus.  Valuing the hermetic doctrine, we find Zosimus communicating the following ethos:

In his Book on Immateriality, Hermes rejects magic [in opposition to Zoroaster] and says: ‘Pneumatic man, who has known himself, must neither achieve anything whatsoever with the help of magic, even if it is generally useful, nor must he defy necessity, but allow it to act according to its nature and its will.  And he must now allow himself to be distracted along the way from his search for himself, to know God, and to understand the ineffable Trinity; and he must leave the filth subjected to him, that is, the body to Destiny, to do with it what it will.’[63]

Later in the aforementioned text, laboratory experiments are on display for transforming base metals into finer substances.  “But the spiritual side of alchemy predominates,” ultimately citing “the authority of Hermes Trismegistus.”  As such, chemical metaphors are used to allude to “knowledge of self, God and nature.”[64]

The latter realities were brought together, informed by the Scottish Enlightenment of the 17th and 18th Century, rooted in the Renaissance.  The Renaissance, French for “rebirth,” was a period where Europe was effectively raised from the Dark Ages, imposed by ignorance, superstition and fear,[65] into the light of the ancient world, as preserved by the Monastery,[66] and the Moors from North Africa.[67] It was at once a dispensation where “artistic, social, scientific, and political thought turned in new directions.”[68]

In Eric Hornung’s text The Secret Lore of Egypt we find that the Renaissance becomes important because this renewed “encounter with Greek literature [e.g. Plutarch, Diodorus and Iamblichus], particularly in the framework of the Platonic Academy in Florence, awakened fresh interest in the classical accounts of Egypt and its superior wisdom.”  Similarly, “There was a special focus on late antiquity, an epoch that was thoroughly imbued with Egypt, while classical antiquity remained in the shadows.”[69] Overtime, “Renaissance Hermeticism quickly spread to England, where Thomas More wrote a biography of Pico della Mirandola and depicted a religion with expressly Hermetic traits in this Utopia (1516) and also propagated the idea of religious freedom.”[70] These ideas were also foundationally advanced, and re-imagined in England, through the New Atlantis (1626) by Francis Bacon.[71]

Rosicrucianism, rooted in Renaissance Hermeticism and alchemy, would also “spread to England,” committed to the “idea of religious freedom,” captured in the text Fama Fraternitatis. Though the founder (Christian Rosenkreutz) and the beginning of the order appear to be legendary, the following is clear about the Rosicrucians, for the purposes of this research: they emerged in the beginning of the 17th century; they are rooted in hermeticism and alchemy; they trace their legendary roots back to ancient Egypt; and according to the illuminating work of Hornung, “The New Order proved to be attractive to many Freemasons,” especially informed by their religious tolerance.[72]

“During the religious and political wars that spread throughout Western Europe in the wake of the Protestant Reformation, intellectuals, artists, scientists and theologians were often forced to relocate in search of safety,” according to Tabbert.  Britain became the destiny, in part, and “public taverns and coffeehouses became popular places for cultured gentlemen to gather for intelligent and social discourse.”[73] This is the dispensation where men like “Robert Boyle, Sir Isaac Newton and Elias Ashmole” got together to found the Royal Society, practice natural philosophy and “discover ways to gain personal improvement, bring order to society and understand the whole Universe,” in concert with faith.[74]

Figure 5: Image of King Solomon’s Temple[75]

The various elements that made up the Classical and Modern traditions came together in the biblical depiction of King Solomon’s Temple (I Kings and 2 Chronicles) for Desaguliers (and Anderson).  During the dispensation of Desaguliers, many natural philosophers published treatises on its nature.  It was contended by the likes of Newton, and others, that “the Temple’s architecture and ornaments held mathematical and geometrical keys to understanding the Nature of God and His creation.”[76] Accordingly, Faith and Reason would be brought together for Desaguliers in the third degree ritual.  Today, Solomon’s Temple is used as a symbol to unify the Craft, rooted in the Classical and Modern traditions, Faith and Reason.


Accosting the permissive suggestion of Bro. Watkins, that “sufficient evidence” was essentially at hand for an African Origins of Freemasonry, by displaying various figures from Egypt next to “similar” figures peculiar to members of the Craft, this researcher sought to create a more responsible framework to answer the question: Is there an African Origin of Freemasonry? Consequently, Three Stations of circumambulation were created for negotiation, (1) The Secret History Station, (2) The Generation of the Ritual Station, and (3) The Egyptian Meaning Station.

In this paper, “The Generation of the Ritual Station” was assessed.  It was reviewed focused on tracing the generation of the third degree, in light of the purported similarities between the Legend of Hiram Abiff and the Legend of the Egyptian deity Osiris, as originally portrayed by the Greek, Plutarch.   Establishing what can count as “sufficient evidence” for said question was the charge, beyond gross speculations. As such, the genealogy of the third degree was traced; and the dispensation of Dr. John Theophilus Desaguliers was reviewed.

Upon reviewing the genealogy of the third degree, we found that it slowly emerged in Medieval Europe, from an operative one degree stonemason’s guild, to a speculative three degree system.  Upon reviewing the dispensation of Desaguliers, we found that a variety of streams were at work.   One was the Classical Tradition, informed, in part, by the Bible, Stonemason’s Guilds, and Esoterica (magic, hermeticism and alchemy).  The other was the Modern Tradition, informed, in part, by all that came before it, and the light of the Renaissance and the Scottish Enlightenment.

In light of the above, we can conclude the following on the problem of the African Origin of Freemasonry, upon our encounter with “The Generation of the Ritual Station”:

  • There is no “smoking gun” for a direct or clearly conscious connection for Desaguliers’ third degree work and the Legend of Osiris.

Nevertheless, based on “sufficient evidence,” we can conclude the following:

  • The oldest recorded “resurrection” narrative is traced to Egypt, per Osiris.[77]
  • The Western fascination and legendary depictions of Egypt started with the Greeks.[78]
  • The oldest Freemasonic document of record, the Regius Manuscript, traces its legendary founding to Egypt.[79]
  • Esotericism (magic, hermeticism and alchemy) interested early speculative Masons like Elias Ashmole, the first Free and Accepted Mason of record (demonstrated by his translation of The Hermetic Arcanum, and his defense of the Rosicrucians in the text Theatrum Chimicum Britannicum),[80] and Desaguliers (as portrayed by the iterations of the third degree ritual and Desaguliers’ close relationship with the esotericist and scientist Sir Isaac Newton).[81]
  • Hermeticism and alchemy trace their foundations to ancient Egypt.[82]
  • During the dispensation of Desaguliers and Anderson, there were a variety of texts in existence traced to the Greco-Roman Period (e.g. Plutarch, Diodorus, Apuleius, Iamblichus), and others (like the tractate Asclepius, the Corpus Hermeticum, the Tabula Smaragdina, and the Rosicrucian text Fama Fraternitatis), that depicted various (legendary/mythical) conceptions of Egypt.[83]
  • In the 17th century, the Rosicrucians, rooted in esoteric-Egyptian lore, proved to be attractive to many Freemasons.[84]
  • Freemasons, along with many others, are still fascinated with Egypt.

Though disturbed, there are two more stations to cross if we want to secure More Light, focused on the problem of the African/Egyptian Origins of Freemasonry.


[1] See Dr. Adrian Taylor, “Accosting the African Origins of Freemasonry, and Beyond,” in The Phylaxis (Volume 36, Number 4, Winter 2009).

[2] See Taylor, “Accosting the African Origins of Freemasonry, and Beyond” for a reference to Lanier A. Watkins text “Origins, 1717 or Antiquity?”

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] For a representative text, see Albert G. Mackey, “The Ancient Mysteries” (1882) in The Symbolism of Freemasonry (Forgotten Books, 2008).

[6] See Plutarch, “Isis and Osiris” in Plutarch: Moralia, Volume VII (Loeb Classic No. 306), (Massachusetts: Loeb Classic Library, 1936).

[7] See Christopher Hodapp, “Appendix A: The Regius Manuscript” in Freemasons for Dummies (New Jersey: For Dummies, 2005).

[8] See Mackey.  Also, see Russell R. Boedeker’s review of the matter “Albert Pike: Trilogy of Thoughts” (Pietre-Stones Review of Freemasonry, September 15, 2007) http://www.freemasons-freemasonry.com/albert_pike.html (November 28, 2009).

[9] See David Harrison, The Genesis of Freemasonry (Hersham, Surrey KT12 4RG: Ian Allan Publishing, 2009).

[10] Hodapp, 119.

[11] See Melvyn Bragg, “Scottish Enlightenment” (BBC Radio 4, History, In Our Time, December 5, 2002) http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/history/inourtime/inourtime_20021205.shtml (accessed January 6, 2010).

[12] Harrison, 14.

[13] See S. Brent Morris, The Complete Idiots Guide to Freemasonry (New York: Alpha, 2006), 22.

[14] Harrison, 10.

[15] Hodapp, 121

[16] Harrison, 123.

[17] See James Anderson, The Constitutions of the Free-Masons (1734), (Libraries at University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 2006) http://www.freemasonry.bcy.ca/history/anderson/1734.pdf (accessed November 29, 2009), 7 of 51.

[18] Morris, 11.

[19] Ibid., 12.

[20] The meaning of the third degree ritual resurrection takes on a variety of different meanings, from faith in one’s word, the raising of Lazarus or Elijah, the eternal quest to find lost ancient/secret wisdom, the death and Resurrection of Christ, the dismembering and reassembling of Osiris, the immortality of the soul, the illusion of death, to the cycles of death and rebirth in nature itself, and beyond.

[21] See Erik Hornung (translated from German by David Lorton) The Secret Lore of Egypt (New York: Cornell University Press, 2001).

[22] Harrison, 201.

[23] Ibid., 120.

[24] Ibid., 112.

[25] Ibid., 117.

[26] Ibid., 113 – 114.

[27] See Melvyn Bragg, “The Royal Society” (BBC Radio 4, History, In Our Time, January 4th and 5th 2010) http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/history/inourtime/inourtime.shtml (accessed January 6, 2010).

[28] Ibid., 126.

[29] See Dr. Robert A. Hatch, “Sir Isaac Newton” (The Scientific Revolution Homepage, 1998) http://www.clas.ufl.edu/users/rhatch/pages/01-Courses/current-courses/08sr-newton.htm (accessed November 28, 2009).

[30] Harrison, 126.

[31] See Anderson’s, The Constitutions of the Free-Masons (1734) for a prime example of the Judeo-Christian roots of the Craft.  In his text he frames the history-genealogy of Masonry squarely within the Biblical tradition.

[32] See Mark A. Tabbert, American Freemasons (New York: New York University Press, 2006), 18.

[33] Tabbert, 18 – 19.

[34] Tabbert, 19.

[35] Harrison, 49.

[36] Ibid., 49 – 50.

[37] Ibid., 48 – 54.

[38] Hornung, 90 – 91.

[39] Harrison, 25.

[40] See Hornung’s “Introduction.”  And see Jan Assmann’s “Forward” in Florian Ebeling’s text (translated by Florian Ebeling) The Secret History of Hermes Trismegistus (New York: Cornell University Press, 2007).

[41] Hornung, 1.

[42] See Hodapp.

[43] To view how Egyptologists account for an Afrocentric conception of ancient Egypt, see Hornung’s chapter “18. Egypt à la Mode: Modern Egytosophy and Afrocentrism.”

[44] See Ebeling and Hornung.

[45] Ebeling, 3.

[46] Hornung, 6.

[47] See “Tehuti/Thoth” (Google Images, 2009) http://www.hyperflight.com/images/thoth.jpeg.jpg (November 28, 2009).

[48] Hornung, 9.

[49] Ibid.

[50] Ibid., 9 – 10.

[51] See “Hermes Trismegistus” (Google Images, 2009) http://www.esoteric.msu.edu/jpg/trismegistus.jpeg (November 28, 2009).

[52] Ebeling, 4 – 5.

[53] Ibid., 6 – 7.

[54] See Hornung, “1. The Ancient Roots of the ‘Other’ Egypt.”

[55] See “Horus, Osiris, and Isis” (Google Images, 2009) http://www.ancientsculpturegallery.com/images/206.jpg (accessed November 28, 2009).

[56] See “Story” focused on “Ancient Egypt” (The British Museum, 1999)  http://www.ancientegypt.co.uk/gods/story/page8.html (accessed November 28, 2009).

[57] Hornung, 13.

[58] For a summary of this passage see Hornung, 14.  See P.G. Walsh, Apuleius: The Golden Ass (Translated With Introduction and Explanatory Notes.), (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994).

[59] Hornung, 14 – 15.

[60] Ibid., 14.

[61] See Ebeling’s chapter entry “Prehistory and Early History of a Phantasm” focused on section “4. Hermes: Astrologer, Magus, and Alchemist.”

[62] Ibid., 25.

[63] Ibid., 26.

[64] Ibid., 27.

[65] See The Dark Ages (The History Channel: DVD), (A&E Home Video, 2007).

[66] Tabbert, 16 – 17.

[67] See Ivan Van Sertima, The Golden Age of the Moor (New Jersey: Transaction Publishers, 1991).

[68] See “Renaissance” (Annenberg Media, 2009) http://www.learner.org/interactives/renaissance/index.html (accessed November 28, 2009).

[69] Hornung, 83.

[70] Ibid., 88.

[71] See the text edited by Michael R. Poll, “New Atlantis” by Francis Bacon, in Collected Rosicrucian Thought (Louisiana: Cornerstone Book, 2007).

[72] See Hornung, “13. ‘Reformation of the Whole Wide World’: The Rosicrucians.”

[73] Tabbert, 20.

[74] Ibid., 20.

[75] See “Solomon’s Temple” (Google Images, 2009) http://sacredsymbolic.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/solomons_temple_jerusalem.jpg (accessed November 29, 2009).

[76] Ibid., 23.

[77] See Plutarch.

[78] See Hornung, “2. Foreign Wonderland of the Nile: The Greek Writers.”

[79] See Hodapp, “Appendix A: The Regius Manuscript.”

[80] See Harrison, 25.

[81] See Harrison, “Freemasonry in Flux: Desaguliers, the Masonic Enlightenment and the Birth of Modern Freemasonry.”

[82] See Ebeling, “I. Prehistory and Early History of a Phantasm.”

[83] See Ebeling, 25, 28, 33, 37 – 40, 50 – 51, 57, 76, 84 – 85, 89, 99, and 105 – 106.  Also see Hornung, 12, 20 – 22, 53, 84 – 85, 93, 103, and 118 – 121.

[84] See Hornung, “13. ‘Reformation of the Whole Wide World’: The Rosicrucians.”

the fall of Solomon, judgement, making laws

The Fall of Solomon

the fall of Solomon, king solomon, temple builder, 1 kingsKing Solomon of Israel is referred to in Masonic tradition as being the fraternity’s first Most Excellent Grand Master. He is championed as the man who constructed the magnificent temple for Jehovah and is heralded as the personification of wisdom. However, a closer look at the life of King Solomon shows that he wasn’t always worthy of emulation.

It is true that Solomon had multitudes of wives and concubines, but that will not be the source of any criticism in this article. Many Biblical kings had large harems, including Solomon’s father David. No, Solomon would be condemned for the very sin which had plagued his people for centuries: putting other gods before Jehovah.

As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father had been. He followed Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molech the detestable god of the Ammonites. So Solomon did evil in the eyes of the Lord; he did not follow the Lord completely, as David his father had done.

On a hill east of Jerusalem, Solomon built a high place for Chemosh, the detestable god of Moab, and for Molech the detestable god of the Ammonites.
1 Kings 11:4-7

The Hebrews could be a strange people. God parted the Red Sea and freed the Israelites from slavery. Then he gave them a pillar of clouds by day and a pillar of fire by night to guide them. Then he provided them with manna to nourish them. Yet, the Hebrews worshiped other Gods. In Solomon’s case, he was allowed to complete the Lord’s temple and was blessed by the presence of the Ark of the Covenant. Still, he decided to disobey the First Commandment.

Like many main characters in the Old Testament, Solomon’s place of prominence came only through special circumstances. When David was old and frail, Bathsheba convinced him to place Solomon on the throne of Israel (indeed, the influence of women can be great). Solomon was certainly not David’s first choice for his heir. Joseph Heller’s God Knows gives a fictional account of the events surrounding the elderly King David. Heller portrays Solomon in a less than flattering manner in this humorous work. In the story, King David says of his son:

And I was smart enough to appreciate that for Solomon you had to spell everything out. I’ll let you in on a secret about my son Solomon: he was dead serious when he proposed cutting the baby in half, that putz. I swear to God.

While this portrayal may have no real historical basis, this much is true: Solomon was made king only through the unfortunate deaths of David’s older sons, he built his temple only through a blessing secured by his father, and he managed to nearly destroy the promising future which God had given David’s offspring. Nevertheless, 1 Kings 4:29 says that “God gave Solomon wisdom and very great insight, and a breadth of understanding as measureless as the sand on the seashore.”

Through this knowledge he was able to secure his place in history as the builder of the Lord’s temple and has been given the honor of being a prominent figure in Masonic tradition. Like all men, Solomon may have had faults, but some of his actions have earned him respect. This is a lesson that can benefit all Masons. Masons must recognize that all men have their redeeming qualities as well as their imperfections. The Mason should never hesitate to clearly identify these qualities in the men that they have identified as being worthy of emulation.

king Solomon, black arts, magick

Solomon the Magician

Solomon the Magician

By Brother Isaiah Coffey

Peace and blessings to all Divine Immortals

Magick has been equated with the act of being sinful, evil, sinister and ungodly even, however, nothing could be further from the Truth. Many are not aware that we use magick in some form or fashion during our daily lives. Prayer, itself, is even a form of magick. Anytime one calls for his surroundings, context or environment to change and to conform with a will and desire and invokes this change by means of a greater power… that, of itself, is a form of magick. [Reference – 1st definition] One will find this basic definition within countless esoteric literature. I did not construct this particular post to offend or to disrespect any one’s particular creed, doctrine or religion; I wrote this post for the exploration of awareness.

I do not subscribe to any religion or creed or particular “God” or theology and I hold no religion greater than the other; however, I do hold in authority the intention(s) of one’s heart; which is my empiricism. I have found that organized religions and their respective Volumes of Sacred Laws can only tell you about the Truth (God – whatever one will like to call it), but Truth must be directly experienced for oneself through ones own Soul. For me, personally, only then can true faith be established; One does that by learning how to go within oneself and connecting with your Higher Nature; in which ever exists in Oneness with Everything. In’lakech. I study the teachings of all faith traditions and utilize their Wisdom to further refine my character, essence, and nature as I continue to spiral upward in degrees towards perfection.

So, with this particular post, that I had originally drafted and sent to my lodge in 2007, it was inspired by a conversation that my lodge Brethren were having in regards to the occult topic of “black magick.” What does magick have to do with Freemasonry? Well, this is just a discovery, among others, that I have come along during my personal journey. Enjoy…

King Solomon's Temple

“G-d appeared to Solomon that night in a dream and said, ‘Solomon, ask for anything you want, and I will give it to you.’

Solomon answered:

LORD G-d, you were always loyal to my father David, and now you have made me king of Israel. I am supposed to rule these people, but there are as many of them as there are specks of dust on the ground. So keep the promise you made to my father and make me wise. Give me the knowledge I’ll need to be the king of this great nation of yours.

G-d replied:

Solomon, you could have asked me to make you rich or famous or to let you live a long time. Or you could have asked for your enemies to be destroyed. Instead, you asked for wisdom and knowledge to rule my people. So I will make you wise and intelligent. But I will also make you richer and more famous than any king before or after you.”

~ V.S.L. ~ I Kings 3:7-12

Staff, Asclepius

Solomon was the son of a shepherd, and a former Prince himself, who eventually became a King. But how many are aware that the stifled voice of history would also tell you that he was also a magician, or a sorcerer, better yet… an adept of the arts of black magick? Indeed, just like another by the name of Moses who was still practicing Kemetian magick while leading the Israelites out of Kemet (Egypt) under the direction of YHWH. There is a Volume of Sacred Law that possesses a particular book called “Numbers,” and within Chapter 21 one will find a description of the Nehushtan that Moses used to heal the Israelites who were bitten by snakes.

This is what a Nehushtan or Nehustan, also known as the Staff of Asclepius at left.

Now it can be seen as a symbol better known as the “Star of Life” for the medical services.

Star of Life

Some will say that they have also seen two entwined serpents, on a single staff, as a symbol for the medical profession (below).

This particular symbol that you may have seen is known as the Caduceus; which was the staff that belonged to Hermes. This traditional mistake has been carried on for centuries. The true and proper symbol would be the Staff of Asclepius, whose single staff and single serpent was and is the true and original sign of the medical profession. I do not want to engage in severe tangents. One may begin their research regarding these points and the history of why the Staff of Asclepius is the appropriate symbol for the medical profession ——> (HERE).

Returning to the topic at hand, some would imagine that after Solomon conversed with YHWH that he awoke with all knowledge and wisdom the very next day or maybe it was over the course of the next few days, months or years. We’re not certain as to how long it may have taken Solomon to achieve this level of intelligence, but an idea that we may all agree upon is that Solomon has been considered one of, if not, the wisest of men that had ever lived.


A question surrounding the enigma of Solomon’s mind: “How did Solomon gain this knowledge and wisdom?”

We know that he became full of wisdom, but what was the process or by what means or method did he achieve this state of being? It would appear that Solomon did leave the world a clue attesting as to how he gained his wisdom, but this clue was written in an encrypted fashion. This one small fragment of a clue can be found within the Testament of Solomon. [Reference] Before we start, I’d like to draw your attention and point out that as one begins to read this testament, you will see the term, that may be unfamiliar to most, ‘pseudepigraphic‘ within the introduction.

This particular term, which originates from the word ‘pseudepigrapha,‘ basically means that although the text states a particular individual as the author of the text, we cannot ascertain or prove 100% that the author (i.e. Solomon) really wrote the particular text; more than likely because we were not there physically to witness the alleged author (i.e. Solomon) scribe the account. Well if this be the case, then every Volume of Sacred Law should, can and will be considered as pseudepigraphic because no one “physically,” from this current day and age, has been able to witness any of the accounts scribed within the plethora of Volumes of Sacred Laws; unless, of course, you have accessed the Akashic Records (What’s the Akasha you might ask? More info – Akasha Records) which case I’ll have no disputes.

Personally, I thought it necessary to put the argument of the term ‘pseudepigraphic’ to rest before we begin this journey.

The Testament of Solomon – a book voted against at the Council of Nicea – deals with the construction of the Temple by Solomon and his workmen. It has been noted by archaeologists and theologians, at The Temple Institute, that the description of Solomon’s Temple was not of ordinary construction by any means. The work and dimensions of the Temple were extraordinary and according to the words of Solomon himself, all of the workmen that contributed to the extraordinary design were not ordinary men either — half of the workforce were demons summoned by our Order’s first legendary Grandmaster Solomon. These demons were controlled by a signet-ring that Solomon wore that bore a certain symbol. I’ll get to that particular symbol in a moment.

time, weeping, virgin, broken pillar

Over the summer months of 2007, I had a conversation with a Past Master and he had mentioned to me that he had read a book I believe to be entitled The Craft and It’s Symbols by Allen E. Roberts; but don’t quote me on that book. However, he stated that there were two plates (pictures) located in the back and that one of the plates looked malevolent in nature, and that the other plate was of an older gentleman with long hair and beard blowing in the wind. I then mentioned that in alchemy an older gentleman is normally equated with Father Time; even within our very own Craft, there can be found an older gentleman, or “Father Time,” playing in the hair of a Weeping Virgin.

The Brother stated that he was aware of this correlation, but these plates seemed to be “out of place” because the book did not expound on the plates at all and the sole topic of the book was in reference to King Solomon’s Temple. I began to wonder and I remember stating to the Brother that “…there has to be a correlation between the Temple and Time.”

A few weeks later, the same Past Master had given me a copy of a lecture and within this lecture can be found the following statements near the conclusion:

…even the word ‘temple’ meant time. King Solomon’s Temple was emblematic of one year or the time it takes the Earth to revolve around the sun is 365 and 1/4 day or 1 Earth year.

What is interesting to note is that a few scholars and religious historians, such as H. Van Dyke Parunak and Glen Taylor, have stated that the Temple of King Sol-Om-On was actually “constructed as a Sun Temple and was in harmony with the universe and solar calendar.” [Reference] According to a particular Volume of Sacred Law, we are told that Moses was instructed by YHWH to build a tabernacle and Moses was repeatedly warned to make sure he followed instructions precisely because the tabernacle represented heavenly realities.

Quick note: Interestingly, any quick search will show that the name of Solomon may be divided into three syllables:

  1. Sol – Sun (Latin)
  2. Om – Sun (Hindu)
  3. On –  Sun (Arguments between Persian / Egyptian)

Some theologians have likened the tabernacle to a solar calendar because it was perfectly accurate, perfectly usable, and perfectly meaningful as it charted time by hour, day, month, and year. Many theologians would also agree that Solomon’s temple was a permanent and larger scale version of the portable tabernacle that Moses was instructed to build. So it would be safe to presume that Solomon’s temple was emblematic of a solar calendar, or of “time” itself; being that it was a larger version of the tabernacle of Moses. [Reference – pg 120]

I do not want to go to far into this tangent… so I’ll get back on course.

Within this particular Masonic book, that I had mentioned earlier, we have the topic discussion of King Solomon’s Temple, an alleged picture of Father Time and a picture of a malevolent entity. Now where could one possibly find demons, temples and the art of construction all wrapped up within the same content of material? You guessed it…

Demons + Temple (Time) = Testament of Solomon.

Now I’m sure that someone is assured that I’m reaching. Really? Well, if so, then explain this:

Gematria, as many may be aware, is the numerical value of letters. A = 1, B = 2, and C = 3 etc. If we were to gather a basic value of the terms we would have the summation of 141.

  • Demons = 70
  • Temple = 71
  • 70 + 71 = 141

The number 141 really isn’t a number. When we look at it closely 141 we will notice that the number 4 is between two parallel lines.

As you and I both know, parallel is a term in Freemasonry, geometry and in everyday life that refers to a property in Euclidean Space of two or more lines or planes. We should also realize that between the parallel lines isn’t really the number 4 at all… it is actually the planetary symbol for Jupiter.

In case one doesn’t know the correlation between Solomon and Jupiter… it would be Solomon’s Pentacles of Jupiter. I’ve placed an image of each pentacle of Jupiter below with the descriptions that follow after the images (Figures 18 – 21). In Figure 18, notice the symbol of a seemingly Square and Compass, the geometric echoes of the two triangles at the top of the wheel, and the ancient symbol for a female womb. All of these symbols can be found within the layout of the Lodge; even the exterior design of the Pyramid of Khufu can be found within the layout as well, but that is another topic.


When you scroll down and view the Pentacles below, also take notice at the bottom of the wheel the three (3) parallel lines on the right side of the wheel. Here is a side note, remember when I stated that Solomon’s ring bore certain symbols?

Well, I would like to mention that it only takes two (2) parallel lines to form the Star of David on your Masonic ring and three (3) lines, which are polar opposite to a similar square and compass design, to form a pentalpha on your ring.

The importance of a pentalpha? Well it’s the symbol, according to the Testament, that was on the ring of Solomon to summon and control the various entities to build the Temple. Some state that he also used the Star of David, or Jewish Star, as a signet on a second ring to summon and control lesser demons to construct the Temple. However, below are the images for Solomon’s Pentacles of Jupiter:

Jupiter pentacles

Figure 18 — A Solomon Seal for acquiring treasure, improving, growing and succeeding in life. This Solomon Seal is composed of mystical characters of Jupiter. Around it are the names of the angels: Netoniel, Devecia, Tzedeqiah, and Parasiel, written in Hebrew.

The prominent angel on the seal is Parasiel considered the lord and master of treasures and lost secrets. Other angels included, Netoniel the angel of glory, fame and notoriety. Devecia who provides balance, tranquility, peace and quiet. The angel Tzedeqiah, who brings honor, fame, riches, glory. The first pentacle of Jupiter serves to invoke the spirits of Jupiter, and especially those whose names are written around the pentacle, among whom Parasiel who is considered the lord and master of treasures, and teaches how to become possessor of places.

Figure 19 — The Second Pentacle of Jupiter — This is proper for acquiring glory, honors, dignities, riches, and all kinds of good, together with great tranquility of mind; also to discover Treasures and chase away the Spirits who preside over them. It should be written upon virgin paper or parchment, with the pen of the swallow and the blood of the screech-owl.

Editor’s Note — In the center of the Hexagram are the letters of the Name AHIH, Eheieh; in the upper and lower angles of the same, those of the Name AB, the Father; in the remaining angles those of the Name IHVH. I believe the letters outside the Hexagram in the re-entering angles to be intended for those of the first two words of the versicle, which is taken from Psalm cxii. 3:–‘Wealth and Riches are in his house, and his righteousness endureth for ever. ‘

Figure 20 — The Third Pentacle of Jupiter — This defends and protects those who invoke and cause the Spirits to come. When they appear show unto them this Pentacle, and immediately they will obey.

Editor’s Note — In the upper left corner is the Magical Seal of Jupiter with the letters of the Name IHVH. In the others are the Seal of the Intelligence of Jupiter, and the Names Adonai and IHVH.–Around it is the versicle from Psalm cxxv. 1:–‘A Song of degrees. They that trust in IHVH shall be as Mount Zion, which cannot be removed, but abideth for ever.’

Figure 21 — The Fourth Pentacle of Jupiter — It serves to acquire riches and honor, and to possess much wealth. Its Angel is Bariel. It should be engraved upon silver in the day and hour of Jupiter when he is in the Sign Cancer.

Editor’s Note — Above the Magical Sigil is the Name IH, Iah. Below it are the Names of the Angels Adoniel and Bariel, the letters of the latter being arranged about a square of four compartments. Around is the versicle from Psalm cxii. 3:–‘Wealth and Riches are in his house, and his righteousness endureth for ever.’

[Reference – For figures 18-21]

Below, on the left, is a painting, from 1473, by Jacobus de Teramo which depicts Solomon conversing with the Genii, below that is Belial is presenting his credentials before Solomon.

Solomon & Entities

Another similarity, among many, that can be found within our craft and the Testament of Solomon:

  • During the opening and closing of the lodge, the Worshipful Master, who can be seen as a symbolic version of King Solomon, states, within some jurisdictions such as Georgia, that: “The First shall be Last and the Last shall be First.”

During the workings of an Entered Apprentice degree, we should take notice that the WM places a cornerstone in the Northeast corner to further add onto the Temple…

It should be interesting to note that the current brethren of the Lodge would make

Solomon & Entity Bilal
Solomon & Entity Bilal

up the symbolic stones of the unfinished Temple; however, normally, within Operative Freemasonry, the first stone ever to be laid is the cornerstone and then all other stones become apart of the project, but Speculative Freemasonry appears to do just the complete opposite…. we already have the stones (Brethren) that make up the Temple, whereas we continue to add cornerstones to our Temple. Operative is physical in nature, while the Speculative is spiritual (As Above So Below); the two are mirroring opposites of each other.

I would have you to take notice to the 118th verse of the Testament of Solomon that speaks of such a stone being added as the cornerstone to complete the Temple:

“…and the Temple was being completed. And there was a stone, the end stone of the corner lying there, great, chosen out, on which I desired lay in the head of the corner of the completion of the Temple. And all the workmen, and all the demons helping them came to the same place to bring up the stone and lay it on the pinnacle of the holy temple, and were not strong enough to stir it, and lay it upon the corner allotted to it. For that stone was exceedingly great and useful for the corner of the Temple. …. And I Solomon, beholding the stone raised aloft and placed on a foundation, said: ‘Truly the Scripture is fulfilled, which says: ‘The stone which the builders rejected on trial, that same is become the head of the corner.”

According to the pentacles above, it would appear that Solomon obtained his knowledge, riches, honor, and wisdom via magik. Through this magik, he was able to construct the world’s most enigmatic Temple (known to mankind) with the assistance of demonic principalities and humans working together in unison underneath the power of his signet ring with the blessings of YHWH. Imagine… this all began with a simple prayer or invocation within a dream. Within the mind good and evil actually came together in unison for one common cause.

Our speculative (personal and collective) Temple of Freemasonry appears to be constructed by men who have been considered to be “evil from the days of their youth,” according to a Volume of Sacred Law that houses a book called Genesis (8:21). And with a bit of thought, this statement could allow us to perceive that this imperfect or “evil” nature within Man, along with his good, is constructing his inner Temple underneath the signet of a masonic ring, with the blessings of Deity, in which “no man should ever enter upon any great or important undertaking without first invoking the blessing of Deity .”

The seal of a masonic ring subdues, circumscribes and subjects his spirit; squares his thoughts; controls and tames his inner-self all for the construction of a Temple of Conscience which will benefit the external world that comes into his immediate contact — just as the Temple of Solomon benefited all of mankind that came into its immediate contact. Truly your temple, as with Solomon’s, is a temple that is being constructed with neither an ax, hammer, or any tool of iron or metal that is capable of being heard by the physical senses. [Reference – bottom of pg 182]

Now, if you’re thinking that this is a mere twist of interpretation and coincidence that our Order could be intertwined into the “Craft” (magik), lastly, but certainly not least, the Tyler states that his duties are: “…to keep off all Cowans and Eavesdroppers…;” the definition of a cowan is as follows:

  1. One who is a stonemason working without mortar courses.
  2. A non-Witch or non-pagan.
  3. An outsider, someone who is not a follower of the Old Religion

Not long ago… I was conversing with one of the Brothers at the lodge and I asked: “Why would the Tyler state that he is keeping off someone who is a stonemason (cowan), when masons are emulating stonemasons?” The Brother then replied: “Freemasonry is speculative.” After hearing his reply… I agreed nonetheless. So I therefore disregarded the first definition and payed attention to the latter two. My question which currently stands:

Why would the Tyler state that he is keeping off someone who is a non-Witch, or non-pagan, and/or an outsider that is not a follower of the Old Religion?

Do a search on the terms “Old Religion” and see what comes back.

Grandmaster Sulayman
Grandmaster Sulayman

I did an image search for a depiction of King Solomon and the picture at right is one of the first results, among many, that came back in my results. His left hand looks a bit unnatural… don’t you think? Finally my Brethren, I’ll close with the words of King Solomon himself:

“… though I marveled at the apology of the demons, I did not credit it until it came true. And I did not believe their words; but when they were realized, then I understood, and at my death I wrote this Testament to the children of Israel, and gave it to them, so that they may know the powers of the demons and their shapes, and the names of their angels, by which these angels are frustrated. ….. Wherefore I wrote out this Testament, that ye who get possession of it may pity, and attend to the last things, and not to the first. So that ye may find grace for ever and ever. Amen.”

~ Grandmaster Sulayman

Keep the mind attuned to a positive frequency!


Brother Isaiah
11 Tones :: Ahau
W.C. Thomas 112
MWPHGL of Georgia
former owner of the blog: Kingdom of Conscience ~ Osiris