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Chapter 1
Serial No. 6
Original Copyright 1938
Elbert Benjamine
Copyright
Church of Light
August 2002
Ancient Masonry Introduction
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Chapter 1
Ancient Masonry Introduction
OR MANY YEARS it has been my desire to place before students a
concise exposition of those occult principles which form the
framework about which are woven the symbolism and ritual of
Modern Freemasonry.
The antiquity of its venerable emblems is unquestionable, and it is now generally
accepted by Freemasons and occult students alike, that they conceal mystic verities.
These rites and pictorial representations that have seemed significant to an important
nucleus in the social system of every ancient nation boasting even a degree of
civilization, are so widely disseminated that their remnants may be found in remote
Tartary and Tibet, among the almond-eyed children of the Flowery Kingdom and
Japan, on the slopes of the snow-capped Himalayas, beside the turbid Ganges, amid
the desert sands that cover the buried cities of Gobi, and by the revered Tigris and
Euphrates. They are found also at the foot of Caucasian passes, by the shores of the
Red Sea, in the fertile valley of the Nile, and amid the ruins of classic Greece and
Rome, ancient Gaul and primitive Ireland and, crossing the restless expanse where
the wide Atlantic rolls, we confront the same hoary emblems in Peru, in the
Mississippi Valley, and in the Yucatan.
Certainly the most enlightened inhabitants of our globe, even in what we are egotistic
enough to call the barbaric ages, did not spend so much time and energy elaborating
and preserving a will-o'-the-wisp devoid of meaning and significance! This divine
symbolic language, which has successfully weathered the cataclysms of nature, that
has been preserved though all else contemporary crumbled into ruins and returned to
the dust from whence it came; the very memory of whose originators is lost in the dim
night of time; which of all the childhood possessions of the human race, alone has
escaped the Lethean waters of oblivion; though subsequently it may have
degenerated into empty soulless forms, hieroglyphics uninterpretable; it is
preposterous to suppose had no substance in truth, no foundation in fact, no
correspondence in the starlit realms of Urania.
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The Ancient Secret Doctrine, now preserved in the symbolic forms of Masonry, gave
to the old pagodas of China their peculiar shape. It commanded the erection of the
eight-volved tower of Babel on Shinar's plain, prompted the laborious building of
the pyramids in Egypt and Mexico, constituted the motive force that scattered huge
lithic monuments over the fair face of Europe, and bade the construction of elaborate
temples that yet remain but partly discovered amid the tangled vegetation of the
American tropics. Consequently, whatever our opinion of the truth or falsity of its
tenets, we cannot doubt that it conveyed ideas of moment to the minds of our remote
forefathers.
Through the varied web of human history, woven from the odds and ends of
half-forgotten traditions, runs an unbroken strand of gold. Nations have risen and
fallen, empires have been welded and severed again, continents have been lifted and
then submerged; yet through all time since man has made his home upon this
mundane sphere, the golden thread of Masonic Symbolism has stretched unsevered
through the warp and woof of racial destiny. There have been periods when the
glittering strand has almost been lost to view amid the coarser fabric woven by
statecraft and priestcraft; but ever it reappeared, scintillating in the foreground of
evolutionary progress. Again and again has it strengthened the tone of human moral
fiber in times of national decadence, again and again has it constituted the power
behind the throne, a lifeline at critical periods to which a superior few could cling and
struggle for racial advancement; working silently, secretly, yet effectively.
Modern savants may, or may not, according to the bias of their minds, place
confidence in the verity of the esoteric teachings held by the most spiritual of our
early progenitors, such as are elaborated and preserved in symbolic rites and
hieroglyphics; but no student worthy of the name will fail to investigate ideas which,
perhaps more than any others, have shaped the course of man's intellectual and
spiritual development, and have ever constituted the mold of his noblest endeavors.
He who would become the possessor of true knowledge must never rest content with
theories only, but must be able to prove or disprove them in nature's laboratory. And
where a set of ideas has been held by a number of men, or such ideas have exerted an
important influence in mundane affairs, if he proves them erroneous his task is but
partly completed; for he has yet to ascertain why those opinions were held, why they
seemed plausible to others, and in what proportions the false and the true are
intermingled. It is most difficult for men to formulate a conception that has not some
slight foundation of fact upon which to rest.
Masonic symbolism being the garment worn by a doctrine which has exerted so
powerful an influence in human affairs, a mantle still preserved by Freemasons--an
organization whose motive is lofty and whose practical endeavors are far-reaching
and beneficent--it behooves all students of philosophy and religion to investigate
these ancient forms and tenets, to trace them to their original source, and finally, to
compare them with Mother Nature.
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Yet not until we know the meaning attached to these symbols by the originators are
we capable of testing their truth or falsity. And not until we have placed them under
the microscope of the soul, and illuminated them by the sunlight of reason and the
x-ray of intuition--making at the same time careful comparisons with Nature--are
we warranted in passing judgment upon the truth or falsity of the Secret Doctrine
they clothe.
A much repeated, and too oft unheeded admonition in Masonry is: "Study the Book
of Nature brother, it bears the stamp of Deity."
Such wise council is alone sufficient to mark the integrity of the august body in
whose ritual it appears, making a wide distinction between its underlying principles
and those of many another religious or social body. These others all too often curtail
original investigation, and cramp and shackle their members by imposing a belief in
some individual, or company of them, who poses as the special interpreter of the Will
of Deity.
Yet in times past, as the history of his activities amply proves, the Masonic Brother
has had to pay dearly for the privilege of being Free to build the edifice of his soul
conformable to the dictates of his reason and the promptings of his conscience. His
option of being a Freemason has sometimes been purchased with his life's blood; for
the oppressors of humanity have ever feared and hated those whom they could
neither cajole nor bribe into servility, and who resisted all temptation knowingly to
become enlisted in an unjust cause.
If Masonic Symbolism is of such paramount importance, the casual thinker will ask,
why is it that others have not ere now drunk at the fountain of its enlightenment and
offered the cup of its virtues to the whole parched world.
In a measure this has been done, but in a measure only. The labors of Albert Pike are
of great value, and those of such worthies as Oliver and Mackey should not be
slighted. But the investigator who would discover the conceptions originally
underlying Masonry and make them public is confronted with peculiarly obstinate
difficulties. Chief among these obstacles is the circumstance that only one having
developed his psychic senses and thus able to read from the scroll preserved in the
astral light can trace the origin of these prehistoric emblems. And having traced them
to their source, their meaning will still remain opaque, or at best but translucent,
unless by virtue of having passed his Initiation in the astral spaces, he is firmly
grounded in the fundamental principles of the Mission of the Soul.
Once he has discovered their meaning, his difficulties are not yet ended; for the
ignorance and prejudice of his race may make their exposition unadvisable. Some
church may be in power with whose pet tenets his revelations of Nature's mysteries
may conflict, and thus precipitate upon his head the wrath of the clergy. Yet again, he
may be hemmed in by obligations that prevent him from revealing what he has
learned, or, as happened to one member of the Brotherhood of Light who was also a
high degree Freemason--Brother Henry Melville, in the publication of his valuable
masonic work, "Veritas,"he may be uncomprehended and misunderstood.
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The writer of the present series of lessons has cultivated his soul faculties and speaks
from the vantage ground of Initiation. Free from his body he has sent his soul through
the wide spaces in search of the precious jewels of wisdom, seldom returning without
some treasure; and he has studied the Tablets of Aeth, and read from the records of
racial memory preserved in the astral light. In these Masonic lessons, however, he
claims no originality. He is merely acting as amanuensis, writing down, and
imperfectly, facts that are the common property of the venerable order of which he
has the honor at present to be the president on this external panel. Not only so, but it is
through the permission of the body, The Brotherhood of Light, that he is able to
speak, and by them he is limited within what is considered the bounds of discretion.
This work will not be rejected, as was that of Melville, because the time now is ripe
for it. Yet it must not be considered the last word upon the subject, as the time even
now restricts and curtails what it is wise to place before the public.
In preparing these lessons, there has been some hesitancy as to the best method to
employ to convey the basic truths incorporated in Masonry to the mind of the student,
and at the same time not seem presumptuously to be treading upon ground held
inviolable by the Masonic Fraternity. It is far from the purpose of the author to reveal
any secrets of the Brethren to the outside world, or to attempt any so-called expos´┐Ż of
the methods used in their lodgerooms. Whatever the faults of individual members
may be, I have a genuine respect for the Order, and brand as travesties the accusations
of their enemies; for if true to their principles, there can be no more exalted souls
upon this planet than are to be found among Freemasons.
Let it be understood, therefore, that I am not trying to teach Modern Freemasonry. I
am teaching Ancient Masonry, upon which all the rites and usages of Modern
Freemasonry rest. My object in no wise includes revealing such matters as Modern
Freemasons desire should remain secret. Instead, it is to expound the occult
principles and spiritual ideas originally associated with Masonic symbols, usages,
and gestures, in such a manner that the public will understand these all-important
doctrines; and to enable the Modern Freemason instantly to perceive the esoteric and
spiritual significance, not only of his symbols, but of everything he does in the
lodgeroom.
With this in view, I have selected a little book that is not so recent in its usages as to
enable an unworthy person to gain entrance to a modern working Masonic Lodge and
successfully pass himself off as a high-degree Mason; yet which is nonetheless
Masonic in character. It is to be found in public libraries and upon the shelves of
important book stores. It is entitled Richardson's Masonic Monitor, and was used for
guidance by members of the Fraternity a generation or two ago, containing as it does
a detailed description of the rites of initiation into the different degrees of the
Fraternity, and picturing some of the ancient emblems of the Lodge.
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As this work is easily accessible to the reading public, I deem it will be considered no
breach of propriety to cite as a textbook to those who would sufficiently familiarize
themselves with Masonic ritual, and I have taken the liberty to use it as a background
for these lessons. This will serve a double purpose: First, it will enable us consistently
to follow the symbolism of Modern Freemasonry and draw our comparisons
between it and Ancient Masonry in a manner intelligible to students; the Masonic
Brethren in particular. Secondly, it will enable me to check my work and keep it
within the bounds and reasonable limits of what I consider wise to make public, and
what I feel confident the Masonic Brethren will have no reason for desiring me to
keep secret.
As I have said, my object is to teach Ancient Masonry, not Modern Freemasonry.
And I trust in no case to trespass upon the private property of the Modern Fraternity.
If, unwittingly, I do overstep the bounds, I plead as my excuse the desire to give those
capable of appreciating and using them, truths of utmost importance to humanity,
potent for good, vital to human uplift. And I implicitly rely upon the broad mantle of
charity, which the Masonic Brethren are more ready to extend than others, to cover
any transgression.
The First Masons
--The first problem that naturally confronts us in our present quest is: Who were the
original Masons?
Here etymology comes to the rescue. The old Sumerians who lived in the valley of
the Euphrates, and who were succeeded by the Semites, the fusion between the two
producing the famed Chaldeans, used the word "imga" meaning wise, holy, and
learned, to denote their wisest sages, priests and philosophers. The Semites, who
succeeded the older race, transformed the work "imga" into "mag" to suit their
articulation. From this root-word, "mag" belonging to the Assyrian branch of the
great Semitic race, has come to us through various transformations the words:
Mason, Magic, and Imagination. Therefore, in whatever era of the dim prehistoric
past the first Masons lived, it follows from the very meaning of the word that they
were the wisest, holiest, most revered of men.
A mason now is considered to be a builder--one who constructs. Likewise were
those Wise Men of the East; but in their work the sound of neither hammer nor saw
was heard; for they were mental builders. Their labor was construction wrought by
the imagery of thought, as the word imagination, coming from the same root as does
the word mason, clearly implies. Magic is the skillful use of the imaginative faculty,
and the original Masons undoubtedly were magicians. The Magi of Egypt, Chaldea,
and even more ancient times unquestionably were Masons.
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The Masonic Temple
--Having determined that the original Masons were the Magi, and that they were
mental builders, let us inquire into the nature of the edifice upon which these wisest
of all men bestowed so much constructive effort. Tradition informs us that the
Masonic Brethren labored in the erection of Solomon's Temple. Sol is the Latin
name of the Sun-God, Phoebus. Om is the Hindu name of Deity. On is the Sun-God
of Heliopolis, Egypt. And while combining these words from different languages
undoubtedly is far-fetched, yet nevertheless, as will be shown in detail later,
Sol-Om-On certainly represents the Grand Master of the Universe, whose most
fitting symbol is the majestic and all-commanding Sun, from Whom comes all Life,
Love, Energy, and Power. The Masonic Temple thus is the mansion of the Sun; the
universe itself; a spangled canopy of blue, so situated and so arranged as to prove the
most suitable lodgeroom for the initiation of the candidate: the Human Soul.
But how? We are led to inquire, could anybody of men, howsoever wise, work to
build the jeweled mansion of the Sun, seeing that the very stars shining at their birth
sang before the dawn of life upon the earth, and will join in the funeral requiem when
the world is cold and gray, wrapped in the icy mantle of death? Certainly no earthly
hands ever placed those blazing diamonds in the sky.
In what manner, then, could the early Masons have assisted in the construction of the
Temple? Now remembering that Mason and Imagination are derived from the same
root-word, a little light begins to dawn upon our perplexity. The early Mason was not
a worker in stone, but a mental builder, in whose work Imagination played the most
important part.
With the first glimmer of intelligence, man's mind, elevating itself above those of
lower forms of life, must have been attracted to celestial phenomena. He watched the
blazing orb of day peep over the eastern rim of the world, then soaring upward
traverse the azure arch, and later sink, declining into the darkening west. He learned
that night followed day, and that day followed night; necessity teaching him to start
his labors with the rising Sun, and to seek shelter at the approach of night. Thus
became he an observer of time.
Still wider experience brought the conviction that there was an orderly succession of
the seasons. The rains of winter were followed by the droughts of summer. Cold
followed heat, and heat followed cold. To the huntsman these were periods when
game was scarce or plentiful, and he must learn to obtain enough food in the times of
abundance to nourish him during those of famine. And how eagerly he looked
forward to the return of the more fruitful days, and thus he became an observer of
seasons.
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As a herdsman, our early forefather watched the shortening and the lengthening of
the days; and when the Sun in its annual pilgrimage entered a certain cluster of starts,
he knew from experience that the green grass soon would be starting on the mountain
side, and he drove his flocks from the valley to those more luxurious pastures. So,
also, the farmer learned to till the ground and sow his grain when certain starts rose
with the morning sun. The time of harvest was at hand when certain other groups
were seen, and winter's bleak scarcity was heralded by the wending southward of the
orb of day. Thus, early man became the astronomer, his sustenance depending in
great measure upon his ability to interpret, upon climate and the denizens of the earth,
the effects of celestial phenomena.
Having seen what powerful influences were exerted by the heavenly bodies upon all
things external to himself, it was only natural that those studiously inclined should
wish to ascertain their influence upon man himself. As a general rule, it was found
that people born in the spring, just after the days and nights became of equal length,
were more energetic and had more initiative than people born at some other times of
the year. People born with the same group of stars rising upon the horizon were
observed to possess characteristics in common. Likewise, the portion of the heavens
occupied by the Moon was found to influence the brain capacity. From these
observations, covering immense periods of time, whose aim was to ascertain the
relation existing between man and the stars, arose the sublime science of Astrology.
Astronomy was studied, and observations were carefully and systematically
recorded, only as factors in determining the effects of celestial influence upon man.
And as a factor necessary in the study of astronomy, there was developed the science
of Mathematics.
Astrology Also is a Sacred Science
--Astrology was not studied merely as a means whereby man might profit
materially, but as a Sacred Science. The material universe, even as man's physical
body is his material expression, was considered to be the manifestation of an
All-Wise Intelligence. Man manifests his will through acts; so were the heavenly
motions thought to be manifestations of the Will of Deity.
As year rolled into year, and century into century, a class of men developed who were
peculiarly fitted by natural endowments to pursue the study of the starry heavens and
formulate the result of their observations of celestial and mundane phenomena into a
scientific system. These were the Magi, the original Masons. Just as at the same time
a distinct military class separated itself from the mass of the people by virtue of their
superior physical prowess, their love of power, their aggressiveness and disregard of
all save might, and became the temporal rulers of the people--the Kings and their
immediate associates--so, by virtue of their superior mental and spiritual
endowments, the Masons, as a class, separated from the populace and become the
sages, philosophers, scientists, the spiritual advisers and priests; dictators in matters
religious.
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And as persistent culture developed mighty warriors, so the rigid discipline from
childhood to which the priests were subjected developed mental and spiritual giants
whose keen minds and lucid soul faculties penetrated the innermost recesses of
nature. These Masons early perceived a sympathetic relation existing between the
organism of man and the fiery points in the firmament above, a definite
correspondence between certain sections of Solomon's Temple and the human body.
They found that there are certain principles pervading nature that express themselves
in the influence of the stars, on the earth, in the sea, in the air, and in the body of man.
Slowly, by degrees, and with infinite patience, these correspondences were sought
out between the things representing a given principle on the earth and that portion of
the celestial sphere having the same influence. As these correspondences were
ascertained it became the duty of the Mason to inscribe them in the sky, that their
meaning might not be lost to future generations.
In this work of building the Temple of the Sun, his imagination played an important
part. With it he wove fanciful pictures among the stars; for often the actual outlines of
the constellations bears no resemblance to the animals or objects they are designed to
represent. They do, however, invariably signify an influence in mundane affairs well
denoted by the things so pictured. To be more precise, the signs of the zodiac and the
decanates of the zodiac, of the same names as the constellations have such
influences; for the constellations but picture the various reactions of sections of the
zodiac. Thus, gem by gem, that which was found imbedded in the soul of man had its
corresponding jewel added to the dome above; the whole being formulated by the
early Masons into the famed Science of the Soul and the Stars.
How King Solomon's Temple Was
Built.
--Astrology was studied not merely for its material profit, but also as a religion. The
early Mason cast about for an explanation of the visible universe. In his experience
he had found no higher type of active agent than the mind. It was the one thing in his
experience that could voluntarily create. The mind of man could build a house in
imagination, then cause its construction of wood and stone. Yet what was finite
mind? It was an invisible, intangible cause about which he could only think in
abstract terms; an unknowable director of human actions.
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Having found each visible portion of man, each organ and each physical function, to
have a correspondence in the sky, what was more natural than to conclude that there
must also be a correspondence to his invisible estate! And as finite mind is the most
potent of all agents to create below, it logically follows that Infinite Mind is the most
potent creative agent in the whole universe. Carrying this line of reasoning a step
further, he was forced to conclude that as man is composed of an invisible mind and a
visible body, so God likewise has an invisible and a visible domain; the invisible
portion being Infinite Mind and the visible portion being the Material Universe,
infinite both in extent and in complexity.
Being convinced that the universe, including man, is the result of creative design, it
became the endeavor of the Magi to fathom its purport, or at least so much of it as
relates to man, that he might conform his life and efforts harmoniously to that
purpose. Man's actions are symbolic of his will and purpose. Thus was it legitimate
to conclude that God's Will is revealed in the movements of nature to those who have
sufficient penetration to grasp the meaning of their symbology.
Therefore, the early Masons sought out the correspondences in nature, and built their
pictured symbols into the sky, as the Temple of Solomon, Grand Architect of the
Universe. And this grand edifice, erected by the Ancient Masons; is of most perfect
design, revealing as it does to the discerning, the Will of Deity; for what wiser thing
could man do than to imitate the building of this ancient structure, and build for his
own indwelling soul a mansion as perfect in its proportions, and as harmonious in its
arrangements, as the Temple of King Solomon!
In time the Mason, as a priest, became only an interpreter of the ideas symbolically
built into the Temple by his wiser forefathers. The word "religion" is derived from
the Latin "re" (back), and "ligare" (to bind), and means literally, to bind back. This,
then, became the work of later Masons: to collect truths discovered in times past and
bind them together in such a manner that they might be preserved for future
generations. These truths, in their symbolic form, are found woven more or less into
all important religion the world has ever known. The earliest religions were purely
astronomical, and it is safe to say that every important religion that ever has been
entertained by the mind of man has had an astrological foundation.
Man's body is not the real man, nor is the material universe God. The real man is the
invisible controlling ego, and God is the invisible and unknowable Infinite Mind that
directs and controls the mighty Cosmos. The Ancient Masons ever sought to find a
fitting symbol to represent each principle and function of nature, and to build it into
the Temple. What more fitting symbol could be found to represent the Infinite Ego,
the true King, than the glorious orb of day!
Sol, therefore, was elected as the symbol of the controlling power of the
universe--Deity--it being recognized by those of inner vision that the physical orb
was but the external covering for the grander and more ethereal Spiritual Sun Who
stands exactly in the same relation to the Solar System as does the human ego to its
body. Thus originated Solar Worship, one of the most ancient forms of religion.
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To the mind of the Ancient Mason, the physical Sun, the center of our system, from
which the earth receives the requisite grade of force necessary for every terrestrial
manifestation of power, organic and inorganic, vital and physical; was but the
emblem of the Spiritual Sun which exerts that degree of celestial energy, which in
matter becomes occult force, and in man becomes Will and Mental Power.
Why Two Pillars Were Erected
--The studious mind cannot fail to perceive all nature to be divided into attributes:
the one positive, the other negative; the one active, the other receptive. Polarity, or
Sex, is the One Great Law of the Universe. This One Law manifests as centrifugal
and centripetal forces, as repulsion and attraction as spirit and matter. Life in all its
infinitely varied forms is but the interaction between positive and negative forces,
there being no life apart from sex. Where sex manifests in greatest perfection, there
life most abounds. The fire seen when the flint strikes steel is sexual energy; so is the
heat of vegetable life. Passion is the prime mover of the animal kingdom. Man
destitute of virility soon succumbs. Man's and woman's possibilities, according to
the teachings of the Ancient Masons, when harmoniously united are only limited by
their sexual powers, and the ability to control and wisely direct them.
The Ancient Masons, realizing that life depends upon these two attributes, wisely
erected two columns in the porch of the Temple; one on either side of the great
Eastern Gateway. The pillar on the right is called in Hebrew; Jachin; meaning, "He
that Strengthens." And it is the Royal Sun returning from the right, or southern,
declination, and rising through the eastern horizon that brings renewed strength after
the winter season.
The pillar on the left is called, Boaz; meaning, "Source of Strength." It represents the
passive and inert north. It is the left side of the Gateway of the rising Sun, which
attracts the Sun northward. Truly, the feminine in nature by its attractive power is the
Source of Strength, Boaz; and the ever-active masculine, Jachin, seeking that source
of strength becomes the Strengthener.
Tracing backward the history of man's religious beliefs, we find interwoven with
solar worship, sex worship, which in its original conception was pure, being the
recognition of the mighty power of sex as the most sacred attribute of
Deity--Creative Ability.
Serpent worship, another important ancient religion arose from sex worship and
solar worship, the serpent being considered sacred to the Sun, and revered on account
of its reproductive significance. Solar religion, Sex worship, and Serpent worship,
thus had their foundations directly in Astrology.
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The builders of Solomon's Temple, ever seeking to embody their discoveries of
natural principles in most appropriate symbology, turned to the sky for some object
whose quality was pronouncedly virile, creative, fecundative, and masculine. The
Sun thus became the symbol of masculine creative energy, the Father of the
Universe. And the Moon, typifying the feminine, fructifying principle, became the
nourishing Mother. Further, it will be found today, even as then, in starry science,
that the Sun is the source of all power, and the Moon is the Mother of its
manifestation.
The Masculine Symbol
--Turning to the earth, it was found that the Sun exerts its greatest power when its
rays fall vertically. Thus, in choosing some common implement of labor by which to
express this masculine creative energy implied by the vertical Sun, the Plumb was
selected as the embodiment of that idea. Therefore is the Masonic Plumb the symbol
of the masculine principle in nature; the vertical line being used as an abbreviation of
the same symbol.
The Feminine Symbol
--The plumb and vertical line having been chosen to represent the positive element,
it was natural that the level and horizontal line should be chosen as the most suitable
emblems of the passive, negative, inert principle.
The Symbol of Union
--The earth being considered as the womb of nature; the point where the masculine,
electric rays of the Sun are embraced by the feminine, magnetic, rays of the Moon; it
was represented by the union of the vertical line and the horizontal line; by a cross.
Astrological Significance of the
Square
--The angle at which the rays of the Sun, Moon and Planets meet were found to have
an influence upon life and mundane affairs. Thus in astrological calculations it is
necessary to measure and record these angles. And it is found that two different sets
of measurements must be taken.
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The first set is measured entirely in the plane of the Ecliptic, regardless of the latitude
of the orbs. In this manner, the Celestial Longitudes of the heavenly bodies are found.
With the exception of "Parallel of Declination," those most potent influences upon
mundane life for good and evil called in astrological terminology "Aspects," are due
to the angles formed by the difference in longitude between the orbs. So, as these
angles are measured entirely within one plane, the Ancient Masons, seeking to
indicate this measurement, selected Euclid's Square.
The square, being an instrument suited to the measurement of plane surfaces,
embodies the idea of a vertical line, or positive force, meeting a horizontal line, or
negative force at an angle which is measured in a single plane. And in practical
astrology this is the first step, for the zodiacal positions of the Sun, Moon and planets
are found, and their aspects calculated, as if they all moved in the plane of the
Ecliptic. Strange as it may seem to the uninitiated, with but one exception, it is these
aspects, disregarding latitude, that are found potent in the affairs of life.
Astrological Significance of the
Compass
--But as a matter of fact, the Sun, Moon and planets do not move in the same plane,
but describe orbits that are inclined to one another. To trace such curved orbits and
measure their inclination to each other, another implement is required--the
Compass. Owing to the fact that the planes of their orbits are at an inclination to each
other, the Sun, Moon and planets at different points in their journeys form different
angles to the Celestial Equator. This angle at any given time is called the planet's
Declination. Orbs having the same Declination either north or south of the Celestial
Equator form an aspect called "Parallel of Declination," and are found to Intensify
the influence of each other, and thus exert a very powerful influence in the affairs of
life.
The Compass, being an instrument used to draw circles, embodies the idea of a male
force meeting a female force at an angle, this angle being measured in different
planes. The right hand of man is the executive, so the right leg of the compass was
taken to signify the positive force. The left hand of man is receptive, so the left leg of
the compass was taken to represent a negative force. Thus when the compass is seen
with the right leg superimposed at their juncture, it indicates masculine supremacy;
while when the left leg is uppermost, the feminine principle is shown to be dominant.
Each year, the Sun apparently performs a pilgrimage through the 360 degrees of the
zodiac, and in longer or shorter periods the Moon and planets make a similar journey.
At the same time, owing to the obliquity of the Ecliptic when considering the Sun,
and to the angle of inclination of their orbits when considering the planets--the
various inclinations of their orbits to one another that I have just mentioned, and
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particularly their inclination to the plane of the earth's equator--the vertical rays of
these orbs form a spiral path upon the surface of the earth. Thus as the earth turns
upon its axis each day, one day following another, the Sun apparently moves north in
summer and south in winter, its vertical rays falling each day a little north or a little
south of their former path. This is the cause of the Seasons.
Where the Ritual Places Emphasis
--Early in this lesson I traced the word Mason back to the early inhabitants of the
valley of the Tigris and Euphrates, yet the world wide dissemination of the doctrines
taught by Ancient Masonry makes it certain that these teachings had their origin in
times still more remote. Expressed in forms which convince they were but
modifications of an identical original, they were fully developed at the very
beginning of the seven ancient centers of civilization--Egypt, India, Crete, Peru,
Mexico, China and, as I have indicated, Chaldea.
We may be sure, therefore, that these ideas had their origin in a single region of
dispersal. And as there is ample scientific evidence now that both Atlantis and
Mu--the former in the Atlantic and the latter in the Pacific--once had an existence,
there is little reason to doubt that these ancient continents each was inhabited, as
legend holds, by several races, one of which had reached a high degree of scientific
knowledge and spiritual attainment. Thus from a still more ancient region which
became submerged beneath the waves, was the Secret Doctrine embodied in Ancient
Masonry carried by the colonists from that land before it sank, to other shores. And
when the old continent of Atlantis, which perhaps in turn had derived much of its
insight from the Pacific land of Mu, finally sank, its spiritual ideas already were
thriftily growing in each of the mentioned seven centers of civilization where
colonists had planted them.
The four chief tenets of these spiritual doctrines were embodied in huge monuments
of stone that yet, because succeeding peoples have been powerless to destroy them,
are to be found in numbers in many important areas of the globe. More details of the
spiritual wisdom were set forth in those symbolical pictographs which we call the
constellations, traced by the Ancient Masons in the sky. Still further explanations,
also in the language of symbolical pictograph, were traced upon plates, and come
down to us through Egypt in the Egyptian tarot cards. Many of the doctrines also
found their way as allegorical stories in the various sacred books of the world; and
many also, as this series of lessons will make certain, were preserved in the ritual and
symbolism of later Masonry.
The explanations traced by the Ancient Masons on the tarot cards and in the
constellations among the stars set forth at great length how the signs and planets
influence human life and destiny. They give practical instructions in a wide variety of
matters, and place emphasis on things different than those given most attention in
Masonry.
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The Ancient Masonic ritual and its symbols, while acknowledging that the planets in
their courses have an influence on human life, and that knowledge is an essential to
human progress--two of the chief doctrines preserved in the monuments of
stone--more strongly emphasize the other two of the outstanding doctrines
preserved in the huge lithic monuments they left. Throughout, the attention is called
to assurances that life persists after the dissolution of the physical, and instructions
are given in much detail relative to building a spiritual form for happy and successful
survival, not merely on the astral plane, but in realms still higher which are truly
spiritual.
And throughout there is persistent emphasis on love and the domestic relation as
instruments through which the highest, noblest and most spiritual qualities possible
to mankind can be developed; qualities which build the spiritual body and insure
harmonious and self-conscious immortality.
Astrological Significance of United
Square and Compass
--Now the word Spiral and the word Spirit are both derived from the Latin word
"spira," meaning, to breathe. The spiral, indeed, is the breath of life. From this spiral
motion of the orbs, which, as I previously indicated, causes the succession of the
seasons and the various results which follow, comes forth all terrestrial life
manifestations. The spiral return of the Sun in spring banishes the ice and snow of
winter and germinates the dormant seeds of vegetation. Later it warms them with its
genial rays into luxuriant foliage, grains and fruits, and these in turn become the
support of higher forms of life.
In Ancient Masonry this union of zodiacal motion and declination was symbolized
by the union of the compass and the square. And to indicate the germination of
physical life generated by this motion an additional symbol was placed in the center
between them. A serpent in the form of the letter S was originally used; typifying the
generative act. Later, the third Hebrew letter, Gimel, was used with the same
significance. This letter is the hieroglyph for the zodiacal sign Libra. Its symbolical
meaning is exemplified in the third Arcanum of the Egyptian Tarot. This picture
represents a pregnant woman. The Sun is surrounding her head, the Moon is at her
feet, and there are twelve stars that represent the twelve zodiacal signs that rule over
the processes of gestation. By its form, the symbol of the sign Libra also suggests
union resulting in pregnancy. At the present time, the English equivalent of the
Hebrew, Gimel, the letter G, is placed in the center of the joined compass and square.
Remembering that the Ancient Masons, building the Temple of Solomon, erected it
as a model for the building of the human tenement, and that each truth represented
above has its corresponding truth relating to man and his possibilities, we now search
for the terrestrial meaning of the joined compass and square.
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The square placed below is typical of the purely physical union of the sexes. In
astrology, the inharmonious aspects each constitute a portion of the square, or angle
of 90 degrees--Semi-Square, Square, Sesqui-Square, and Double Square, or
Opposition--and the right angle has been used from time immemorial as the symbol
of discord and strife. It becomes a fitting emblem, therefore, of man and woman
when united from purely selfish and carnal motives; and it thus represents the result
of the ignorance so prevalent in the present-day matrimonial system.
The compass placed above is typical of that higher union of souls in which reciprocal
love is the chief factor, and in which thought of gain form no part. The angle formed
by the male and female portions of the compass is less than a right angle, and should
approximate 60 degrees, the astrological sextile. The benefic astrological aspects
each constitute a portion of the sextile--Semi-Sextile, Sextile, and Double Sextile or
Trine. The sextile is used to denote harmony and joy. It is a fitting symbol of the
union of those rare individuals "whom God hath joined together."
The Letter G, typifies the Generation of offspring as the result of physical union. But
in order that these progeny shall be endowed with soundness of body and mind, and
thus become a blessing to their parents and the human race, the Ancient Masons
taught that there must be a higher union in addition to the physical, as indicated by the
compass above; and the Spiritual as well as Physical Laws must be obeyed.
The union of the compass and the square form a diamond, the hardest and most
precious of stones. With the G in the center, it is the diamond in the rough. When
ground and polished it becomes the priceless jewel of the soul. Only by removing the
G does it become a diamond without blemish. The God within then becomes
manifest, a condition symbolically represented by the Hebrew letters Jod-He-Vau-He
within the compass and square.
"Search then," said the Ancient Masons, "to remove the G, that the diamond may be
clear and reflect the light of the Divine Sun in the full glory of the Holy Shekinah."
This perfect condition is fittingly symbolized in Ancient Masonry by the Hebrew
letter Shin in the compass and square and between the positive and the negative
halves of the Divine Word. Shin, corresponding to the Twenty-first Egyptian Tarot,
indicates the completion of the Great Work, the full realization of the Holy Shekinah
on all three planes of being.
"Yet remember," said the Ancient Masons, "that before the polished jewel there
must be the stone in the rough, nor reject it because of the G. Accept it as it is found,
but seek ye to learn the laws of workmanship governing its transformation from an
unsightly pebble into a shining gem."