E. E. Eckert ⬩ Eclectic Masonry ⬩ Écossais Masonry ⬩ Ecstasy ⬩ Eden and Masonry ⬩ Edwin Legend ⬩ Egyptian Initiation Restored ⬩ Elect Grades ⬩ Eleusinian Mysteries ⬩ Elias Artista ⬩ Emperors of the East and West ⬩ Gérard Encausse ⬩ English Master ⬩ Enoch ⬩ Esoteric Masonry ⬩ Essenes ⬩ Eudaimonia ⬩ Excellent and Super-Excellent Mason ⬩ Extra-Masonic Rites
E. E. Eckert
A very rare instance of Protestant hostility to Freemasonry is afforded by this German writer, who was a native of Saxony. He was impressed profoundly by the Revolution of 1848, in the midst of which he lived, and sought to investigate the causes which led up thereto. He concluded that there was a hidden hand at work and that it was to be found in the Secret Societies spread through Europe, with Masonry—so to speak—at their head. He collected evidence on the subject and becoming satisfied that his view was right removed to Dresden, which he regarded as the centre of the conspiracy, so far as Saxony was concerned. He gathered round him a few other zealots and established a journal to open the eyes of his countrymen. He published various pamphlets, in which the suppression of Masonic Lodges was demanded, while certain departments of the Government were affirmed to be in the hands of Freemasons. He wrote in particular a large work entitled Freemasonry in its True Significance and laid it before the Houses of Parliament. It was also circulated generally and is said to have made such a strong impression on the public that the Government felt compelled to forbid persons of military rank attending Lodge Meetings. This ordinance was evaded, a criminal process was directed against Eckert, his journal was suppressed and copies of his book were confiscated. It is affirmed further that his very life was threatened. Ruined in fortune by his activities, all Saxony may be said to have turned against him, people of his own religious persuasion of course included. The only section of society which offered him help and protection was the Roman Catholic party, and it is even said that they enabled his work to continue. There seems, however, no real evidence to shew that he joined the Latin Church.
German Rituals.—The preface to his book enumerates the circumstances under which it came to be written, literally at full finger-speed, and includes apologies for many imperfections consequent on such haste. It is really one of the most interesting examples of the accusing literature, dealing in the first place with the organisation and alleged purpose of Freemasonry, followed by its history. The organisation is explained by reference to the Rituals and Catechisms of the Grades recognised at that period by the Grand Orient of Germany, and they are given in each case at very considerable length. Eckert does not explain how he obtained possession of these documents, but as to their veridic nature no question can be raised. They offer nothing in help, much less in proof of his contentions; he had everything to lose by the course which he elected to take and he did lose all; finally, his sincerity is manifest on every page of his work: that would be a forlorn attempt which sought to impugn irrelevant documents. It is quite sufficient to leave them in the hands of Eckert and mark how he uses them in a later part of his work, to unfold the end and purpose of the Order.
The Great Secrets.—Our author was an advocate and must have known the tricks of his trade in the way of special pleading, but he produces a sorry show in his analysis of these documents. We have the old platitudes on the superfluity of hiding what is good and its corollary that what is concealed must be evil; we have the old testimony that earlier Grades in Masonry are meant to convey nothing definitely as to real purpose and intent, which excuses him from dealing seriously with the Symbolical or External Series of the German Grand Lodge. Everything, however, is within: there is the Government of the Order, and withdrawn in that seclusion abide the Great Secrets. He examines them from this point of view but finds only (1) that superstition, tyranny and falsehood must be destroyed; (2) that wheresoever the brethren may be dispersed over the face of earth they are still one only community, having one only end; (3) that Hiram is an emblem of Christ. These elements he explains and unfolds thus: (1) Superstition signifies the Catholic Church of Christendom, tyranny is monarchical government, falsehood is private property—certainly a strange veil drawn over worldly possessions; (2) the unity of the Order indicates—but this is past finding out—that civil authority must be subject to the spiritual power of the Order and that hypocrisy and falsehood are everywhere; (3) the suggestion that Hiram typifies Christ is false and hypocritical, for the truths recognised as such by the Masonic Order would terrify the Divine Saviour.
Deeper Mysteries.—Such is the genius of interpretation—a matter of arbitrary statement. But in the last resource Eckert recognises that he has not found the true purpose of the Order by appeal to the Interior Grades. In truth nothing is revealed. It seems to he behind all teaching and to evade all Ritual procedure. So far, however, from realising that he has followed a vain quest, the fact elicited is only further proof of Masonic iniquity, for it does not disclose its purpose—even in a Lodge of the Adepts.
Masonic History.—We are now in a position to understand the warrants under which this criticism works and the titles of its hostility. The inquiry proceeds through Masonic journals and the speeches of particular Brethren, who have said in their day many idle, foolish and dangerous things, for which the Brotherhood at large is naturally held responsible, precisely as enemies judge the Churches at large by the occasional wickedness of ministers. The history of Freemasonry, as presented by Eckert, remains, however, the most amazing thing of all, for that Templar legend which belongs more especially to the Rite of the Strict Observance is accepted as of fact implicitly; Pierre d’Aumont, the mythical Prior of Auvergne, actually and literally took the prescribed Order of the Temple to Scotland, even to the Island of Mull; there it was reconstituted in secret; there it abode, through centuries—unseen, under the wing of Masonry. But in the year 1646 Elias Ashmole founded in England an Order of the Rosy Cross, on the pattern of a similar association in Holland and Germany; and he being also a Mason made some kind of union between the two institutions, out of which—so far as I can follow the confused thesis—there developed that which we understand as Emblematic or Speculative Freemasonry, an union of many conflicting elements, but ex hypothesi—in and through all—the irreconcilable enemy of official religion, the rule of kings and all regular social order.
Writings of Eckert.—It will be seen that the voice of Eckert might be almost that of Abbé Barruel, but of necessity the likeness is greater in a summary analysis than would appear in a comparison of the respective texts: there is perhaps more restraint in the German than is permitted to the consuming fervour of the French cleric. I have said that there is no ground for assuming the reconciliation of Eckert to the Latin Church. It is stated by Woodford that he “became a Roman Catholic controversialist” at Vienna. There is nothing attaching to the question, but I do not accept the ruling and from the trend of Woodford’s criticism it is tolerably certain that he had not read his author, or he might have thought it less easy to score false points against him. Eckert’s impeachment appeared at Dresden in 1851 and in 1854 the Abbé Gyr translated it into French, but arranged it after another manner and added considerably to the documentary part. He at least knew nothing of his author’s conversion, for he says in his prefatory remarks that “Eckert is a Protestant,” though one who is (a) just towards Catholicism, (b) generous in sentiment concerning it and (c) by no means unconscious of the straits into which the principle of private judgment had brought his own co-religionists. In addition to Der Freimauer Orden in Seiner Wahren Bedeutung, being the product of 1851, Eckert published Der Tempel Salomonis in 1855, and a number of pamphlets against Masonry which have passed utterly out of mind. The translation of Abbé Gyr appeared at Liege in two considerable volumes under the title of La Franc-Maçonnerie dans sa Véritable Signification. So far at least it will be seen that he rendered literally and although he rearranged and amplified the text I do not think that he altered anything or made the case against Masonry more drastic than his original justified. I note also that Eckert published in 1860, at Schaffhausen, a work entitled Die Mysterien der Heidenkirche erhallen und fortgebildet in Bunde der alien und der neuen Kinder der Wittwe. It connects the Manichaeans with the German Building Corporations, but I know it only at second-hand.
The question of German Masonry has not fallen utterly into the limbus of forgotten things because it has a past in history and that past has aspects of permanent importance, more especially in connection with the great adventure of the Strict Observance. But it has withdrawn utterly from the living present. Not only is communication suspended on the part of all Grand Lodges in the allied countries but it is cut off absolutely and—as one hopes—once and for all. Whatsoever infected and corrupt body of the great Brotherhood may continue to exist in Germany we have little means of knowing, and to know is not a part of our concern. The Mother Grand Lodge of the Eclectic Union may be still in session at Frankfort-on-the-Maine: the question is beside our interest. Prior to 1914 it is said to have had twenty-one Lodges under its obedience and to have counted—all told—a little more than three thousand members; it is not likely to have grown and it may have shrunk appreciably; but neither alternative carries the least consequence. Wherever it may be found working, its characteristic insignia should be “the banner of the bloody hand” and the poisoned dagger, with Infamia for the motto thereon. The Eclectic Union of which it was the outcome and perpetuation began about 1783, with the idea of recalling Freemasonry to the importance and predominance of the Craft Degrees. It signified therefore a reaction from the pretensions and overshadowing High Grade system of the Strict Observance, and it is interesting in this connection that such a recall had been sounded prior to 1783 by Von Knigge and Von Ditforth, both of them great names in that ever memorable Rite. The Eclectic Union was incorporated for the exclusive recognition of the Degrees of Blue Masonry, but the Lodges under its obedience were to subsist independently of each other and to be autonomous in all respects; though subject of course to the terms of institution under which the Union itself existed. The autonomy left them at liberty to do much as they pleased on the subject of High Grades, so only that no individual Lodge sought to coerce another. It was practically certain that in Germany and at that period the Lodges would not be content with the Craft alone, whether or not it was this only which corresponded to “pure and ancient Masonry,” whether or not it was this and no other which deserved to be qualified as the Royal Art. Every signatory Lodge was permitted therefore explicitly to adopt and practise such additional Grades as it might choose on its own part to welcome from the vast cohort. In other words, the Eclectic Union recognised Masonry as comprised in three Degrees only, but each of its Lodges might recognise the whole cycle of the Metropolitan Chapter of France, or of the Rites of Mizraim and Memphis, when these came into being. After such manner was Masonic logic exemplified under the jurisdiction of the Eklectischer Bund. To what extent—if any—the unreasonable arrangement worked in practice I do not pretend to know; the fact of it explains sufficiently how it was that the Mother Grand Lodge had comparatively so small a following after one hundred and thirty years.
Had there never been a Chevalier Ramsay, or had he written the “Travels of Cyrus” and not pronounced an Oration, the developments of Ritual beyond Craft Masonry must have assumed other forms. As it is, we have a Scottish Rite, now regnant everywhere, and an Écossais Régime in Switzerland. We have also Grades by the score, even to fourscore and a hundred, which are of this, that and the other, but all carrying the too familiar prefix. In a few sentences of a speech, the illustrious son of a baker, who became—under the auspices of the Catholic religion a Knight of the Order of St. Lazarus, created as by magic, and knowing nothing of his power as a wizard, all High Grade Masonry, all its Écossais systems and all the Masonic glory of Mother Kilwinning. The historical Lodge of Kilwinning is an old Lodge, with an old record, an old story to tell: it would have been not less obscure than Mary’s Chapel in continental Masonry, if the Oration had not converted it into a wilderness of emblematic building “withdrawn into a wondrous depth” of splendour. We should have had Masonic developments beyond the Craft because not all of them are referable to the Wand of Ramsay, but we should not have had the shining panoplies of chivalrous Grades: he is progenitor of all the cohorts. And Scottish Masonry is old, as age goes in Masonry: it would have held its honourable and important place among us, had Ramsay followed contentedly his father’s trade in Ayrshire; but there would have been no Écossais Masonry—a thing of beauty and of wonder in some of its developments, but of vanity and hollow pretence in others.
Intendant of Buildings.—At the beginning of the nineteenth century, and in the Lodge of St. Jean de Dieu, there was delivered another Oration, of very different calibre and consequence, but it is not without interest because it sought to establish a canon of criticism in respect of Écossais Grades. Among things irrepealable and to be laid down in the first place were the rank, privileges, authority and primacy of Écossais Masonry over all other forms. But in view of the great multitude of trivial and ridiculous Degrees which passed under this denomination it was necessary to distinguish four marks by which the genuine could be separated from the counterfeit: they were (1) Antiquity, (2) Science, (3) Fidelity, and (4) Important Services. In the particular Rite to which the orator belonged the fourth Degree was that of Intendant of Buildings, or, in other words. Architect. It was an Écossais Grade, and its antiquity was regarded as proved by the fact that such Overseers are mentioned in Holy Scripture, in connection with the building of the Temple. When that edifice was finished these architects were retained about the person of the King. As a corporation they survived the destruction of the First Temple; they assumed the direction of affairs when that of Zerubbabel began; and when the city and its Holy Places were laid waste by Titus they continued to exist, unknown indeed but united. At the epoch of the Crusades they took arms in defence of religion, and when the armies of the Cross failed they turned their activity to the foundation of “useful establishments and virtuous associations”—not more definitely specified. The lineal descendants of these architects are Écossais Masons, the same incorporation called by a new name. Such is the seal of their antiquity, and very respectable indeed—were it not a mere reverie. This oration was delivered by Baron Tschoudy.
Primacy of this Grade.—If the fact that there were architects—called overseers—at Jerusalem in the days of Solomon demonstrates the antiquity of Intendants or Symbolical Architects in the days of a Loge St. Jean de Dieu, it is obvious that we need not look far in search of proofs of knowledge, more especially when science is defined as all whatsoever “which renders man more perfect and more happy, more sociable or more human.” From this point of view a harmonic club in a tavern is not apart from science. But that which distinguished Écossais Masonry above all was science of conduct, science of government: by these it triumphed over enemies, by these it honoured sceptre and tiara, by these sustained the institutions of Masonry. Écossais Masonry filled all offices, cherished by monarchs and worshipped by the people. But there was more even than this, for there came also into hands like these those sciences which are called occult, and though they despised the dross of material wealth the Brethren were students of Nature, who sought also to perfect it, apparently in the metallic kingdom. Such are the simple affirmations which are offered as a proof of science. As regards faith, the word Écossais is a synonym of Loyal Servitor and Devoted Soldier. Fidelity has raised the members of this confraternity to the most distinguished posts, from which also the importance of their services follows without appeal. In a word, the heart of an Écossais is the treasure-in-chief of Masonry. As such, all nations and all religions combine to honour him, and the imperishable inscription on any monument raised to his memory testifies that he loved his brethren.
Condemned Écossais Grades.—If titles like these were held to be beyond contradiction it is presumable that the authority and primacy of Écossais Masonry would pass also unchallenged. There remains, however, a suspicion that the Écossais Trinitaire, Maître Écossais, Écossais Parfait, and Sublime Écossais might have proved as able claimants to the four marks by which we may know genuine Écossais Masonry; but—as it so happens, unfortunately—these are four out of four-and-twenty decried branches.
A Chaotic Collection.—It has been said that all Écossais Grades are concerned with the preservation of the true Word, but the statement is speculative and exceedingly hazardous at that, (1) because no less than ninety Degrees have been traced under this distinctive title and (2) because no single person has had the opportunity of examining them all. In the philosophical sense it would be less inaccurate to say that all real Écossais Masonry represents the Royal Art as having been brought from afar into Scotland, but the category in this case would include too much, as for example, the Knightly Grades of the Strict Observance, while Grades would remain over which are certainly Écossais in their motive but are too early in symbolical time to exhibit the alleged transition, as for example that Intendant of the Buildings about which I have spoken at length. As we have seen in that case, the motive connects usually with a spurious claim on predominance and universal precedence. The basis of this claim is the place in Masonry assigned to Scotland by Ramsay in his memorable Oration. It should be noted, however, that this motive is absent from many inventions which pass under the name. It seems therefore to follow that a satisfactory definition escapes us, and the reason is that the collection of Écossais Grades is exceedingly motley in character and can be brought into no single class. Understood in the broadest manner, Écossais Masonry is a collection of diverse Rites and Degrees which are grouped automatically—justly and otherwise—under an Écossais qualification. So far as I am acquainted with them, the head and crown of all are the Grades of Master and Perfect Master of St. Andrew in the Régime Écossais Ancien et Rectifié; but my acquaintance bears no proportion to the vast output, for this is represented at the present day by a grouping of mere titles: the Rites themselves have vanished and the Rituals are lost.
The Scottish Rite.—The most famous and most generally diffused of the Écossais systems is the Scottish Rite of Thirty-three Degrees, and it offers an instructive lesson on the vanity of its own title, which has been rightly abandoned in England, where it is known now as the Ancient and Accepted Rite. The Écossais element is practically confined to the Fourteenth and Twenty-ninth Degrees, called Scotch Knight of Perfection and Grand Scottish Knight of St. Andrew. The latter presented a version of the Ramsay traditional history as to the origin of Masonry in Palestine among crusading Knights. It is to be distinguished from the Grades of St. Andrew belonging to the Régime Écossais, for it is of vital consequence to remember that things which pass under the same names are by no means the same things of necessity, so far as High Grades are concerned: uncritical compilers have regarded them too often as identical.
A Cloud of Grades.—It would be difficult to produce a complete list of Écossais Grades, and it would serve little purpose—seeing that they are names only; but some notion of their extent and variety may be gathered from their recurrence in certain historical collections, a synopsis of which follows. A. Archives of the Metropolitan Chapter of France: (1) French Écossais. (2) Sublime English Écossais. (3) Grand Architect Écossais. (4) Écossais of Clermont. (5) Écossais of Elder Brothers. (6) Écossais of the Forty, otherwise Écossais de la Quarantaine. (7) Écossais of Franville. (8) Écossais of Hiram. (9) Écossais of Montpellier. (10) Écossais of the Sacred Vault of James VI. (11) Écossais of Naples, otherwise Écossais of Sicily. (12) Écossais of Perfection. (13) Écossais of St. Andrew. (14) Écossais of St. Andrew of Chardon. (15) Écossais of the Triple Triangle. (16) Trinitarian Écossais. B. Archives of the Mother Lodge of the Scottish Philosophical Rite: (1) English Écossais. (2) Prussian Écossais. (3) Écossais of Toulouse. (4) Grand Écossais. (5) Perfect Écossais. (6) Trinitarian Écossais, otherwise Puissant Grand Master of the Order of the Holy Trinity, but this alternative seems doubtful. C. Rite of Misraim: (1) Trinitarian Écossais. (2) Companion Écossais. (3) Écossais Master. (4) Écossais Panisière. (5) Écossais of the Three J J J. (6) Écossais of the Sacred Vault of James VI. (7) Écossais of St. Andrew. (8) Sublime Écossais. (9) Sublime Écossais of Heredom. It would appear that in this case the makers of the Rite had access to the archives of the Metropolitan Chapter of France. D. Private Collections, being those of Pyron, Viany, Fustier, included: (1) Perfect Écossais Architect. (2) Écossais of Messina. (3) Écossais of St. George. (4) English Grand Architect Écossais. (5) Grand Écossais of the Crusades. (6) Grand Écossais of the Patriarchs. (7) Grand Écossais of Wallachia. (8) Illustrious Écossais Architect. (9) Écossais of England, (10) Écossais of the Lodge of Prince Edward, an alleged Stuart Grade. (11) Écossais of Dunkirk. (12) Écossais of the Ring. (13) Écossais of the Holy Trinity. (14) Écossais of Lille. (15) Écossais of Messina. (16) Écossais of Eldest Sons. (17) Écossais of Military Lodges. (18) Grand Écossais of Patriarchs. (19) Grand Écossais of the Crusades. (20) Levite and Martyr Écossais. (21) Grand Master Écossais. (22) Illustrious Écossais Architect. (23) Écossais of Dunkirk. (24) Écossais of Lille.
A General Conclusion.—While it is certain that the maxim De uno disce omnes is of dangerous or foolish application except in very familiar fields, some practical acquaintance with a great number of Masonic Grades in desuetude encourages the opinion that no pearls of great price are missing. The Grade of Architect or Intendant is important for the pretensions of La Maçonnerie Écossaise and for nothing else. We have learned fully enough concerning it. The Grades of the Régime Écossais will come before us in due course, and under the obedience of the Scottish Rite we shall meet also with vestiges of Écossais motives and elements apart from Écossais designations. In the present place therefore it may be held that enough has been said on the general aspects of the subject.
There is one secret of which the natural world has heard dimly and far away, which official Churches wot of in an obscure corner of the Church-Mind, which is unfolded in hidden circles, but there too often only as a great intellectual consideration. It is termed ecstasy, and in this word there are concealed the elements of a true process. It has been spoken of also by first-hand experimentalists as rapture and even as translation. It is that state in which God is said to have taken Enoch and Elias. Later Greek philosophy seems to have read it into Greek Mysteries, almost as if it were attained by the epopt as a matter of direct experience. But the Mysteries were or became a conspicuous and familiar event in the civil life of the nation, and there is no historical ground for assuming that anything was conveyed therein, except by the mode of symbolism. We shall have an opportunity of adjudicating on this question in another section. That the state in question was symbolised does not appear in the records of Ritual procedure, and the mythology of the Mysteries by no means favours such a supposition; but the records are broken and piecemeal, so that it is difficult to speak with certainty on either side of the debate. If the affirmative side cannot be put out of court it is useful to note the fact, lest any at this day should lay too great a stress on the connection between Emblematic Freemasonry and such Mysteries as those of Eleusis. I question whether they would dare to say that a certain time and action in the Third Degree commemorates the passing of the Greek Epopt through a Grade of extasis. It is certain that neither Desaguliers nor another who may have written up that Degree from any materials which came into his hands or from anything conceived in his mind had any such intention before him and much less held it within. This notwithstanding, if words mean anything, a death which is figurative is synonymous with mystical death, while the latter is (1) denoted by the peculiar significance attached to the word ecstasy in the secret circles mentioned and (2) has its records at large in the literature of Christian Mysticism, which records are those of veridic experience and not of metaphysical debate. Some account of this experience in summary form will be given in another place. The purpose of the present brief section is to note the alleged presence in the Greek Mysteries of a symbolism connnected with ecstasy, but understood—especially by later Platonists—as something more than symbolic, as an experience through which it was thought that Candidates were caused to pass. Plotinus calls it “the Banquet of the Gods,” and it is virtually that state which he is said to have attained on four occasions, within the personal knowledge of Porphyry, his friend and biographer, who only attained it once.
Craft Consequences.—When we elect to make use of terms which are altogether of an unusual kind we must accept the consequences implied by their express synonyms. It follows that the figurative death of Masonry typifies the death of the mystic, the ecstasy of Plotinus, the rapture of St. Teresa, out of which there is in fine an issue, as of those who are raised by an experience of Divine Life, sometimes described as Beatific Vision of God, sometimes as “ecstatic reunion with the Good,” sometimes as that realisation of the Divine Presence in which the soul cannot be distinguished from God. I think that St. Thomas Aquinas termed it “one with One.” Such are the connotations of a certain crowning event of Craft Masonry. They are remote from the Craft subject on the common surface thereof, but I have not invented and it is not my intention to labour them: they are quite clear and to those who know the literatures there is no escape offered. We shall see later that in Emblematic Freemasonry the Mystery of Figurative Death is married to a myth which does not belong thereto, thus creating a presumption that there was more in the mind of the maker than he saw fit to express clearly. But on this it is unsafe to dwell. For the moment in any case it is better to say that he wrote more wisely than he knew and gave a meaning to his subject—imbedded as a great implicit—of which he had scarcely dreamed. In so doing he opened out several avenues to the experiment of the High Grades, though most of them took advantage of the opportunity in a very imperfect manner, because they did not realise its measures.
Magical Ecstasy.—It remains to be said that there are other and lower states of ecstasy, some of which deserve to be called spurious. It is a thing which has many aspects and lends itself to many forms of substitution. There is a way of reason and a way that is below reason. True ecstasy signifies—by the mystic hypothesis—a temporary suspension of communication with externals, and we can put the outside world away from the senses—so to speak—by artificial means. There were Magical Rites in the past which had recourse to wild music and dancing, to the utterance of barbarous words and to the stupefaction of strange perfumes, by which the senses were entranced. Whatsoever occurred in such cases to those who saw and heard belongs to the order of hallucination, from the evocations of the solitary magus described in the old Grimoires to the abominable pageants of the Witches’ Sabbath.
Ecstasy and Love.—On the spiritual plane the key of ecstasy is love: its raptures and translations begin and end therein. The reason is that the love of God is the first condition of His union: but this mysterium magnum belongs to a formal treatise on the hiddenness of the soul in God and may be only mentioned here. Devotion is love, and as I ought not to conclude without a reference to the ecstasy of the poet and poetic rapture, let it be said that though these are far away from the Union they have analogies therewith. There is a loving devotion by which the poet is translated and is carried away from himself: it opens other eyes and other ears, creating a new spirit and another heart within—a life of conscious kinship with the world and its beings. The duty imposed by kinship is called brotherly love, and one of its offices is relief in the catholic sense, in other words, the “distinguishing characteristics of a Freemason’s heart”—by the hypothesis at least concerning it and translated to the great heights.
Eden and Masonry
The burden of one of Rossetti's poems tells us that "Eden bower's in flower" and the flower which it brought forth for his purpose was Lilith—“the wife of Adam." There was a time also when Eden was in flower for Masonry, but that which it brought forth was the Emblematic and Speculative Art. The foolish old literati tell us that this was devised by Adam in Paradise, and is hence that Science of Perfection which was anterior to the Science of Good and Evil.
Legenda Theosophiae.—To scoff, however, is easy, but in the midst of the ribaldry a vital point is all too often missed. For us at the present day the substance of that which was advanced by the old Masonic scholars seems no better than idle words, and yet in another sense than they intended consciously it may happen that it contains an unexpected import, and a curious significance is traceable in some fables which are preposterous when taken literally. As regards the Masonic myth of Paradise, behind the crass wording there lies all Greek theosophy concerning the primeval estate of man in a pure world of the spirits when the spirit was not apart from God; there lies also the very late Greek notion that Mysteries like those of Eleusis laid open to their epopts in allegory the possibility and even the certainty—on given conditions—of a return into that Divine Estate. Nor is it only a dream of Platonism and the golden line of its succession; for the same concept is not imbedded so deeply in Zoharic Kabalism that it cannot be drawn forth therefrom, while orthodox Latin theology holds fast to an intimate relation between God and the soul “in the world before the traditional fall of man,” and the whole work of sanctity is a means by which “we hope to pass through the ark of our salvation” into the primeval mode of Paradise, as into “mansions of eternal bliss and glory,” and into the unifying presence “of Him Who is the Great I Am, the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the First and the Last.” Such being the case, we have to remember that those who referred the origin of Masonry to the Garden of Eden were those also who identified it with the Old Mysteries or maintained alternatively that these were but a shadowed and reflected light of that which was mother of them all—the Grand Original and Royal Art.
Higher Criticism.—I am very certain, as a Catholic Mystic, that in the first place we came forth out of the Great Mystery and that in the last we return; and this great practical and experimental doctrine of our source and end is shadowed forth in those Holy Scriptures, where the cosmic House of the Spirit opens its Mystery Ritual in Paradise and closes it in the New Jerusalem, an alternative formulation in symbolism of our origin and term. Amidst their awful conventions of thought, language and imagery, I believe in my heart that the Hutchinsons, Prestons and Olivers had certain obtuse intimations of this truth at the back of their minds, when they called Masonry the original science, the science of perfection, the first and only true Emblematic Mystery, from which all others have descended and deteriorated the further they came down the stream of time. So far as any realisation is concerned, the statement is ludicrously untrue of anything dreamed or devised at the Apple-Tree Tavern, or anywhere in the byways and purlieus of London City, in and about the year 1717. It is equally far away from the consciousness or intent of any Board of General Purposes, wheresoever its planks are laid in the wide world of Masonry. But as something born out of all calculable time, a Mystery coming forth from a Mystery, the Third Degree was somehow brought into being. In the presence of that most unaccountable eidolon, that grand parable intimating a grand morality, our Masonic forefathers fell into dreams and sometimes they saw visions. After what mannner they knew not; and how it came about they knew not, but the only terms in which they could think of it, and the one way in which it loomed before them, was as a Mystery of the Soul in God. Out of all expectation they remembered that the old Mystae were begotten a second time, as regenerated children of the Moon, that there were gods who died in the Mysteries and gods who rose again; and one to another they said that this is Masonry. They began, moreover, to remember strange things in Porphyry and Plotinus, of the soul before birth and after: they said it is the science of perfection and Masonic science. But two or three spoke to one another apart, thinking of a Great Instituted Mystery of Divine Life in Palestine; and together they looked back at Masonry, and these said: It is Christ; the Third Degree is Christian. It was of Christ indeed at the beginning, and the Craft shone in those days in the light of a Johannite parable. The High Grades came in their season, with their quests followed through the “six periods of the world’s creation,” through “an abyss of darkness” to the rest of an eternal Sabbath, to the “mansions of the blessed” and the New Jerusalem. It seems to me therefore that intimations of the old theosophy, which is so familiar to the hearts of some of us in many records of the past, are written all over Masonry, and in the light of that which is shewn forth in the Grade of Rose-Croix and in other apocalyptic Grades there is a spiritual manner of understanding the Masonic myth of Eden which would have been accepted by Plotinus and Proclus, and which Christian mystics who were greater than these might have taken into their heart of hearts.
A traditional Charter of Athelstan which has not seen the light of history is the sole evidence for the existence of an equally traditional son of the Saxon King under this name and an alleged Grand Master of the Craft. The story is that he loved Masons much better than his father did and that he obtained from the latter a licence which authorised Masons to hold an annual assembly. The first meeting under this sanction took place in York, circa A. D. 926, when the prince is said to have presided and himself made Masons. No such document exists and Athelstan had no such son. It has been suggested therefore for the purpose of saving the legend—but against all likelihood that the reference was to another Edwin, who was king of Northumbria, A.D. 674. Mr. F. A. Armitage—possibly following MacKenzie—has adopted a much more pertinent proposition—namely, that the person of the legend was half-brother of Athelstan, an historical Edwin of the period, whose name actually appears as witness to an extant charter which the King signed at Winchester. It is nothing to the purpose of Masonry and I do not see that the legend is saved thereby. It is indeed beyond redemption. The intention was to furnish a mythical Grand Master in the early tenth century and this is how a royal prince was provided. I have referred to the subject in considering the claims of the Cooke MS.
Egyptian Initiation Restored
In the year 1770 a German Mason, von Köppen, in collaboration with J. W. B. von Hymmen, produced an Egyptian Rite in Seven Degrees, under the title Krata Repoa, which has been said on uncertain authority to signify the Silence of God. Having regard to the sources of the compilation it seems possible that the words are a corruption of the Greek κρατήρ, which signifies vas in quo miscetur vinum, a wine-jar or goblet, and ρέπω», meaning propensus sum ad aliquid, in other words attraction or devotion, in this instance to wine, the allusion being to Dionysiac Rapture, understood in the sense of the Mysteries. There seems no reason to suppose that the system was ever put in operation, and its Egyptology is naturally that of the period, derived from Greek sources, from Iamblichus, Plutarch, Porphyry, Herodotus, Diodorus of Sicily, and from certain Latin writers like Cicero and Apuleius. But the work was done with care and the result remains within the measures of moderation. It is of interest after its own manner and even suggestive; it has been, moreover, cited often and as no adequate accounts exist in English, I propose to describe it at length, giving in the first place some account of the names and titles connected with the various Grades. There are those which suggest nothing outside Greek mythology and call for no Greek knowledge to identify. In the second place, there are some which a little acquaintance with Greek will explain readily.
Official Titles.—While Pastophoros was the title of the Candidate according to the Rite itself, its more usual meaning corresponds to an overseer or warden, as e.g. one who carried an image of the god, but the word is used by Apuleius and signifies a Priest of Isis. Neokoros is purgator templi. We have also Stolistes and Hierostolistes, namely, the yeoman or guardian of the robes as regards the first term and Cancellarius as regards the second, but this is an explanation of the Rite itself and it does not seem warranted. Melanophoros means one clothed in black or mourning garments. Christophoros is Christum ferens, a reference to the yoke of Christ and its bearing, but used in the sense of one who carries the marks of unction. There are also words which suggest corrupt Greek, such as Paraskistes—meaning Disemboweller—and Heroi, which signifies Embalmers. The ordinary Greek term in the latter case is ταριΧϵντήϛ, the equivalent of which is Pollinctor in Latin. We have also Odos, which stands here for Orator but really means threshold, or with the aspirate Way, Journey and Help on the Way. In like manner we find Pixon for the Chapter of initiates, but there is no such Greek word. So also Zacoris is supposed to mean treasurer, but I find only Zaconis, a late Latin word, the equivalent of which is Deacon. Special attention may be drawn to Paneah, which according to the Ritual account is a man acquainted with the Mysteries. The nearest Greek word is πάνϵια, meaning Panici terrores and thus offering a very curious analogy, for the term Paneah would seem to mean one who has survived the terror of seeing the Great God Pan. With another accent the word πανϵία signifies Lupercalia, the sacrifices and plays dedicated to Pan at his festivals. The remaining terms may be held to explain themselves in the course of the account.
Grade Titles.—The Seven Grades are those of Pastophoros; Neokoros; the Gate of Death or Melanophoros; the Battle of the Shadows or Christophoros; Balahate; the Astronomer before the Gate of the Gods; and Propheta or Saphenath Paneah.
Gate of Men.—The Candidate for the First Degree is represented as prepared in a grotto and thence conducted to the Gate of Men by a Thesmophoros, or dispenser of those laws which govern the Mysteries. The Gate opened and test questions were put, after which he was left to wander in “the gloom of Birantha” amidst artificial tempests and thunder, the sudden glare of lightning, and so forth. If he preserved his equilibrium, a Reader of the Laws recited the Constitutions of the Society, to which his consent was required. He had been hoodwinked at some stage of the proceedings and was now led to the Hierophant. An oath of discretion and fidelity was administered, with a sword pointed at his throat, after which he was restored to light and placed before two Pillars, between which was a ladder of seven steps, leading to a vault with eight doors of entrance. He was told that these doors were barred against the profane but would be opened to him as to a child of celestial researches and divine toils. He was warned to beware of those prejudices and passions which distract from the path of felicity and was counselled to fix his mind upon God, the Source and Preserver of all. He then ascended the ladder and at each step various symbols were explained, including an interpretation of the names and attributes of the gods, but it differed entirely from that which was told to the people. At the end of his experience the Candidate received the General Password of the Order, being the common mode of communication between all members. This was Amorm and it was held to signify: “Be thou discreet.” He carried henceforth on his person a badge, medal or talisman called Xylon, and thereafter he became Keeper of the Threshold. The Grade of Pastophoros was devoted to physics and there was instruction in meteorology, anatomy and the science of healing. The interior sense of symbolical language and hieroglyphic writing was also expounded.
Grade of Neokoros.—The novitiate lasted for a year and then a severe fast was imposed in preparation for the Grade of Neokoros on those who were deemed worthy to proceed. The Candidate was placed again in a dark chamber or grotto, where he was served on the day of his advancement with choice meals by beautiful women, who were either wives of the priests or virgins consecrated to Diana. When his strength was restored they proceeded to stimulate desire by every kind of allurement. As a test of self-government, he had to withstand this temptation, and if successful the Thesmophoros—as Guide of the Paths—subjected him to further questions. The Stolistes, said to be bearer of the aspergillus, purified him with water, and he was called upon to certify that his life had been chaste and prudent. The Guide flew towards him bearing a serpent which was cast upon him, and straightway the Hall of Reception seemed to fill with reptiles, that terror might be struck into his soul. The greater his courage during this ordeal, the more he was overwhelmed with congratulations after his advancement. He was taken before two Pillars of great height, representing East and West and having a griffin between them, as an emblem of the sun, driving a wheel before it, from which proceeded four rays to typify the four seasons of the year. He was invested with a caduceus, regarded as a type of the sun’s motion along the plane of the ecliptic and received the Password Eve, said to signify Life, but also a Serpent. The Sign of Recognition was crossing the arms upon the breast. Members of the Grade of Neokoros were taught (a) the use of the hydrometer for calculating inundations of the Nile; (b) Geometry; (c) Architecture. These arts were secret and were discovered only to those whose acquirements were far advanced beyond the common capabilities of the people. The Neokoros had the care of the Pillars.
Gate of Death.—When judged worthy of the next Grade, being that of the Gate of Death, the Postulant was notified as to the date of his reception and on that day was conducted by his guide to a vestibule, over the door of which was inscribed the title of the Grade. Through this door he entered a place of the dead, where he encountered the Paraskistes or Disembowellers and the Heroi or consecrated Embalmers in the midst of their work. In the centre was the sarcophagus of Osiris, who was feigned to have been murdered recently. Having been asked whether he had taken part in the crime and having protested his innocence, he was seized by two gravediggers and brought into another hall, where he was awaited by a Melanophoros, habited in black. The King of Egypt, who took part always in this ceremony, received him with a gracious countenance and offered him a golden crown if he doubted his powers of endurance during the rest of the ordeal. Knowing that he must reject the gift, the Candidate cast it at His feet, whereupon the king cried for vengeance and smote him lightly on the head with a sacrificial axe. The gravediggers laid him on the ground, the Paraskistes enveloped him in bandages, and all the assistants fell to groaning about him. He was carried through a door inscribed Sanctuary of Spirits into a place where the victim of figurative death found himself encompassed by flames, lightnings and thunder-peals. Charon took possession of him, as if he were a ghost in reality, and bore him to the judge of the dead. He beheld Pluto surrounded by Rhadamanthus and Minos, by Alecton, Nicteus, Alastor and Orpheus. The terrific tribunal addressed him severe questions on the course of his entire life and he was condemned to wander in those regions of the underworld. He was relieved thereupon of his bandages and mortuary apparel, receiving these new instructions: (1) Never to seek blood; (2) To help members of the Order whose lives were endangered; (3) Never to leave a dead body unburied; (4) To look for a resurrection of the dead and a judgment to come. The Sign of Recognition in this Grade was a peculiar embrace typifying the power of death. The Password was Monach Caronmini, supposed to signify: “I count the days of wrath.” The initiate of this Grade was occupied for a period in painting and designing the decorations of sarcophagi and in the swathing of mummies. He had lessons in hiero-grammatical writing and in rhetoric. The Melanophoros remained in the underworld till he was judged worthy of more exalted Mysteries, which failing he might be numbered among the Paraskistes or Heroi, but the only return to the light was by entrance into higher knowledge.
Battle of Shadows.—The time of wrath—as it was termed—lasted usually for eighteen months, when the Candidate for the Battle of Shadows was visited by the Thesmophoros, who offered him a gracious salutation, armed him with sword and buckler, and invited him to follow. They traversed the underworld, where he was attacked suddenly by torch-bearers hideously masked and surrounded by serpents. The Guide encouraged him to withstand all dangers, but in the end he was overpowered, a rope was passed about his neck and he was drawn hoodwinked over the ground to the place of assembly where he was to receive the new Grade. The shadows then fled precipitately, uttering great cries. The Candidate was raised, and the bandage removed from his eyes, which were dazzled by brilliant illumination. He saw the King seated at the side of the Demiourgos. Below these exalted persons were the Stolistes, or Purifier by water, the Hieroslolistes, or Secretary, the Zacoris, or Treasurer, and the Komastis, or Master of the Banquets. The Odos, or Orator, felicitated him on his resolution and counselled further perseverance. He was presented with a bitter cup, the Kukeon of the Ancient Mysteries, which he must drain to the dregs. Thereafter he received the shield of Isis or Minerva, the shoes of Apubis and the hooded mantle of Orcus. He was armed also with a scimitar and commanded to behead a victim immured in a cavern, to the mouth of which he was conducted. As he entered, the assembly exclaimed with one voice: “Niobe! Behold the cave of the enemy.” Within was the effigy of a beautiful woman, to all appearance alive. Whether he realised the deception seems uncertain, but at least he fulfilled the order, subsequently presenting the head to the King and Demiourgos. After applauding the action, they informed him that this was the head of Gorgon, spouse of Typhon and murderer ofOsiris. He was pledged ever to destroy evil, as in the present case, and was then clothed in new garments. His name was registered among the judges of the land and he enjoyed henceforward free communication with the monarch, receiving his food daily from the court. With the Code of Laws, there was given him a special decoration, to be worn only at the reception of a Christophoros, or in the city of Sais. It represented Isis or Minerva in the form of an owl, an emblem signifying that man is born blind and receives light only through experience and philosophy. The Password of the Grade was Jas, being the name of the supreme lawgiver. Assemblies of the Grade were held in a Chapter called Pixon, or Justice. The initiate was required to master the mysterious language of Amorm.
Grade of Balahate.—A Christophoros had the right to demand admission to the Fifth Grade—or that of Balahate—and the Demiourgos had no power to refuse. He was received in the Hall of Convocation and was then taken into another chamber, where he was the sole spectator of a pageant in which all members took part. A personage denominated Orus came forward, accompanied by several Balahates, bearing torches. They reached the mouth of a cavern from which flames spouted and found the murderer Typhon within. Orus approached with drawn sword and the monster rose up, exhibiting a hundred heads, a body covered with scales and a vast length of limbs. He was beaten to death by the hero, who cut off one of the heads and without speaking exhibited it to all present. This pageant was followed by an instruction, which explained the allegorical procedure. Typhon signified fire, one of the most terrible agents and yet without it nothing could be accomplished in the world. Orus typified industry, which overcomes the violence of fire. In this Grade chemistry was taught and Chymia. was therefore the Password.
Gate of Gods.—Chains were placed upon the Candidate in his preparation for the next Grade, bearing the sonorous title of the Astronomer before the Gate of the Gods. In the first place, he beheld the Gate of Death, giving entrance to the cavern with which he had made acquaintance in the Third Degree. It was now filled with water, on which the boat of Charon floated; there were also sarcophagi containing the bodies of those who had betrayed the Order. The Candidate was threatened with death like theirs if he became guilty of such a crime. A new pledge was administered, after which he was instructed respecting the origin of the gods and on the government of the people by means of their own credulity, with the importance of preserving polytheism among the vulgar for this reason. There was, in truth, but one God, President of the Universe and transcending the comprehension of mankind. A practical knowledge of astronomy was conferred in this Grade, and the participant is said to have been warned against makers of horoscopes, as authors of idolatry and superstition. The Candidate was then led to the Gate of the Gods and introduced to their pantheon. What he saw was magnificent paintings and what he received was a fuller account of their histories, the Demiourgos concealing nothing. He was taught the sacerdotal dance, representing the course of the stars, and received the Password Ibis, a symbol of vigilance. He was presented subsequently with the Roll of Chief Inspectors and members of the Society, which was spread over the surface of the Globe.
Adept Grade.—Not only the King and Demiourgos but the members themselves must consent to the Astronomer’s advancement to the Seventh Grade, being that of a Man acquainted with the Mysteries and the completion of his education in all functions—public and political. The Reception was followed by a procession, including an exposition of sacred emblems before the people. On the night following the Adepti assembled in four-square houses outside the town. They were held to be the sojourn of the Manes, for the Order was supposed to communicate with the souls of the dead. What the Candidate beheld, however, was a series of mural paintings representing human life. The new Prophet was presented with a beverage composed of wine and honey, signifying that he had reached the term of his trials and that he was to enjoy henceforward all the sweetness of knowledge. The badge of this Grade was a cross, representing the cardinal points; he was clothed in a white garment and his head was shaved. The Sign of Recognition was crossing the hands within the sleeves of the robe. The Password was Adon, explained to be the root of the name Adonis. He also received the title of Pannglach, meaning circumcision of the tongue and indicating that as he had now acquired all sciences his tongue was unloosed, for he was qualified to speak upon all. The last ceremony was the shaving of the head and the presentation of a peculiar square coiffure. The Mysteries had now been explained to him in their plenary sense, and the recipient was licensed to read the archives written in the tongue of Amorrn, the key of which he possessed. But the greatest prerogative belonging to the Seventh Grade was to share in the election of a king. The new Prophet might also, after a due period, aspire to the official positions, not excepting that of Demiourgos.
Early Egyptology.—I have said that there is no trace—as there was indeed no possibility—of the working of these Degrees in ceremonial form, though uncritical people like Ragon have included it in their lists of Masonic Rites. There is indeed nothing to warrant the idea that it was put forward as anything but an individual study of the Egyptian Mysteries by a writer who supposed that like other mythologies that of Egypt was to be explained by a natural hypothesis concerning the science of priestcraft. The Krata Repoa is presented as a seminary for the preparation of a priesthood and for the maintenance of its peculiar mystery and art, being the rule of the people by the power of a false religion. The system represents fairly the sum of Egyptology in the year 1770, derived from Greek sources and with the names of the older gods rendered for the most part into their presumed Greek equivalents. It may be compared throughout with the elaborate and much more learned work of Baron de Sainte-Croix, published at Paris in 1784 under the title of Mémoires pour Servir à l’Histoire de la Religion Secrète des Anciens Peuples. For this author Egypt was the mother of all superstitions as well as of all knowledge; the priests were monotheists and their mythology was a system of allegorical fables for the concealment of their science and doctrine and for the maintenance of their rule over the nation. It will be seen that the conclusion is identical and need not concern us further. The criticism in both cases, as in that of Warburton, is typical of the several periods, and after due allowance for variation with extended measures of knowledge, it has not passed away entirely in the light of the present day. That of the Krata Repoa has a special interest from the Masonic standpoint as representing a particular and drastic counterpoise to the reveries of Hermetic Masonry, the School of Avignon, Pernety and Baron Tschoudy, for which Egypt was a sanctuary of veridic secret knowledge.
Egyptian Sanctuaries.—In conclusion, as regards the Krata Repoa, I have given considerable space to what at best is a matter of hypothetical reconstruction into which invention has entered largely, and indeed predominates throughout; but it is not without importance for the period, when many persons—both Masons and virtuosi of archaeology—looked in Germany, as they did also in France, towards Egypt as the cradle of antique Mysteries, howsoever they happened to understand them. Egypt more than India and far more than Greece—in the days when Mysteries flourished—was regarded as the country of initiation. At the value of each in respect of real warrants of research, there are witnesses to the same effect in the present day, and it seems to me—as one who watches only from without—that the more fully we learn concerning the Sanctuaries of the Delta, the greater looms their science, of which astronomy stands in the forefront as a mighty signpost or indicator. I am not entitled to judge those who affirm that the Book of the Dead—in respect of several sections—is really a book of initiation, but I remember how great findings of scholarship in the past have come to be reversed later on, and we shall see when the time comes what may happen in this case.
Sources.—The authorities for this notice are (1) Krata Repoa, or Initiation into the Ancient Mysteries of the Priests of Egypt, Berlin, 1782; (2) the same, second edition, 1789; (3) the same, translated into French by J. M. Ragon, appearing in this form at Paris in 1821.
The Grades of Elect Masonry are not less extraordinary in number than futile in raison d’être, if it is permissible to pronounce judgment on the evidence of those which are still extant or at least available. The rest are merely names, and as it is unlikely that all are variant accounts of the same events it is barely possible that something of symbolical consequence may lie beyond our criticism. The events in question are the pursuit, discovery and punishment of the three assassins who caused the untimely death of the Master-Builder. In each and every case with which I am acquainted they embody narratives of the pseudo-historical order, apart from symbolism, and are therefore characterised by a radical misconception of the message which inheres in the Central Legend of the Craft. An offence of this kind is of course graver in the makers of Grades than mere failure in the fabrication of a successful dramatic Mystery. The Grades under notice vary between indifferent and bad in this respect also; in other words, they are without titles to existence. Having regard, however, to their existence and diffusion through the chief Rites, their consideration is necessary, and it may be said in the first place that they are side issues of the Master Grade. I have been successful in obtaining certain French versions in manuscript, belonging to the second half of the eighteenth century, and if they are not the prototypes of the Elect series they are varied but slightly therefrom.
Grade of the Dagger.—The first in my list is entitled First Grade of Elect Mason, and the heads of its instruction follow, (1) All work was suspended and the approaches to the Temple were closed by order of Solomon for the space of nine days when the absence of the Master-Builder became known. (2) After the discovery of the body and its solemn interment a fitting reward was promised for the apprehension of the murderers. (3) An unknown person sought audience of the King and announced that he had discovered the grotto in which one of them had taken refuge. (4) Solomon appointed nine Masons to accompany the stranger to the spot, with instructions that the culprit should be brought alive to Jerusalem. (5) As the company approached the cavern one of the more zealous rushed forward, and seeing the assassin asleep with his head on a table and a dagger lying thereon, he seized the instrument, stabbed the ruffian to the brain and subsequently cut off his head. (6) The head and dagger were carried to the King, who was incensed at a disobedience which forestalled his own vengeance; but he forgave the indiscretion in the end at the prayer of the other Masters. (7) In this manner was the Master-Builder vindicated; the work on the Temple was resumed, and the Nine Masters were recompensed by their incorporation as a Company of Elect Masons, having special signs, tokens and words by which they might recognise and communicate with one another. This Grade corresponds to Elect of Nine in the Scottish Rite.
Work of the Candidate.—-The Candidate for reception as Elect Mason was placed in a Chamber of Reflection, and after a short period of solitary meditation he was told to remove his hoodwink, when he found himself confronted by the actual scene of the Grotto, apparently by means of a transparency, but so devised that the body of the assassin was over against a solid table on which was the effigy of a bleeding head, together with the avenging knife. These trophies are the titles of the Candidate s admission to the Lodge, and these he lays upon the altar. The Master accuses him of disobedience to orders, which he does not appear to hqve received, and he is forgiven at the solicitation of the Brethren on account of his zeal. He is pledged, entrusted, and hears the Historical Discourse, as also the Catechism of the Grade, which affirms that after the summary execution of the assassin nothing remained to be done, seeing that it was all accomplished.
Alleged Political Meaning.—When the meaningless procedure of this Grade and its story apart from purpose are contrasted with the elevated practical lessons impressed on the Master Mason by the Legend of the Craft it is scarcely matter for surprise that the enemies of Masonry gave it a murderous political significance. It seemed incredible that sane people should impose upon the Candidate a part of imaginary vengeance, and account for it by a spurious history which carried no consequence whatever. But if the murdered Master represented the destroyed rights of a people and if his assassin were an oligarchy which enslaved them, there was at once a fell significance; there was a Grade of history in its making, while the tokens were not those of symbolism but of conspiracy deeply planned. I touch here upon the Keynote of hostile criticism in respect of the Elect Masonries at large and all Degrees of the Dagger. It will be unfolded as we proceed further.
Second Elect Grade.—Among the documents to which I refer the Second Grade of Elect Mason is almost destitute of procedure, but develops in its recitals some further considerations arising out of the previous Ceremony. Having heard that the two other assassins have perished miserably in the region of Capul, otherwise Cabul, Solomon was desirous only of proceeding with the building of the Temple, and the direction of the work was placed in the hands of the Nine Elect Masters, they to report daily on its progress. Such is the History of this Grade in the part of it which is so denominated. The Catechism divulges the name of the Unknown Stranger, that is to say, Perignan, and we hear at a later period of a Grade called Élu de Perignan. The stranger made his discovery because he was working by a Burning Bush in the vicinity of the Grotto and came across the assassin in the last degree of want and misery. He gave an ear to the wretch in his pleadings, provided him with food, and did not betray him to Solomon till an edict of the King reached him. A final discourse describes the story as allegorical, and draws from it the lesson that God visits the criminal, there being no escape from the decrees of Divine Justice. It is said also that the Grade is preparatory to the Sublime Mysteries of that which follows thereon. This Grade corresponds to Elect of Fifteen in the Scottish Rite.
Third Elect Grade.—Having failed so far to meet with Sublime Mysteries, or indeed any Mysteries at all, except the unaccountable reference to a Burning Bush, one turns with a certain expectation—after the manner of a forlorn hope—to the Third Grade of Elect Mason, which proves to be one of Knighthood: Chevalier Élu, Troisième Grade, governed by a Most Illustrious Grand Master. It opens at midnight, but a sun shines thereon, for it is in the full light of Christianity, the chivalry being devoted by day either to warfare with the infidels or to works of hospitality, while at midnight they give account of their progress. The Historical Discourse is important, as it comprises a particular version of the alleged transmission of Masonic secrets from the age of Solomon to that of the Crusades. It sets aside as fabulous those reveries which ascribe the origin of Masonry to Moses, Noah and Enoch. The true history of the Institution begins with Solomon and that of the Elect Grades with the Nine Masters, chosen to go in search of the traitors who assassinated the Master-Builder. When the Temple was finished these Masters elected a Chief, and when they found any one who deserved to be enrolled among them he was pledged to faith in God, loyalty towards princes, charity towards Brethren and neighbours. They withdrew from worldly business, spending their life in prayer and ministering to the needs of the poor. The majority of these Illustrious Companions embraced Christianity when its light dawned on the world, and were more devoted than ever to works of mercy. The Order is said to have flourished till the end of the seventh century, after which it declined, till at the opening of the twelfth century it was reduced to a few persons gathered in a single Lodge, but following strictly therein its rule of life. This Lodge seems to have been established in Palestine, and indeed it is not suggested that the chivalry had existed so far outside the Holy Land. Various Christian pioneers joined its ranks during the Crusades, all indifferently being pledged to the rebuilding of Christian Temples, for it appears that the Chevaliers Élus still held themselves Masons. A time came when the Order united with that of St. John of Jerusalem. In this manner, carried back by Crusading royalties and nobles, it began to be known in Europe. Lodges were established in Italy, Spain, France, England, whence it passed into Scotland and took root at Kilwinning. When Edward the Black Prince returned from the eighth and last Crusade, he became Protector of the Order in England, where it assumed the name of Freemasonry.
A Practical Lesson.—The Historical Discourse is followed at great length by that of the Orator, who impresses on the Candidate the solemnity and importance of his pledges—adoration of God, as the Sovereign Architect of the Universe; fidelity to the King, as incumbent on all his subjects, but most especially on those who have attained so eminent a Grade as that of this elect chivalry; defence of the Christian religion and readiness to pour out one’s blood to the last drop in its cause. The Candidate is told further that the heart is a living temple and therein is the altar on which sacrifice must be made to the Eternal.
Symbolical Meanings.—There is also an elaborate Catechism, which is of consequence for the symbols connected with the Grade and for several matters of detail. The chief instructions may be summarised under the following heads: (1) The approach of the Candidate is announced by a Battery of seven knocks, because the erection and adornment of the Temple occupied seven years. (2) The number of Elect Masons was raised by Solomon to twelve—presumably for symbolical reasons. (3) The Chapter is illuminated by twelve greater and twelve lesser lights, the first signifying the Elect Masons and the second the Tribes of Israel. (4) The tomb situated at the western end of the Chapter represents that of the Master-Builder. (5) The urn is a copy of the Vessel in which the heart of the Master was preserved. (6) The Ark of the Covenant is a symbol of the Temple of Solomon. (7) The Seven-Branched Candlestick represents—in respect of its branches—the seven deadly sins, while its seven lights are in analogy with the gifts of the Holy Spirit which watch by day and by night over just men, to keep them from falling. (8) The Golden Coffer signifies the receptacle in which were placed the hearts of those sacrificial victims which were agreeable to the Eternal; and in such coffer should every Elect Knight deposit mystically his own heart—purified by good actions. (9) The Palm-Trees denote the Cherubim, whose wings covered the Mercy-Seat. (10) Solomon decorated his Twelve Masters with a sash on which was embroidered a flaming heart, as a token of ardent love among Brethren; but a Cross was substituted when the Order became Christian, because it is the Sign of Salvation, which the Elect Chivalry is prepared to defend with its blood. (11) The Grip of the Grade commemorates the triple undertaking of Love to God, loyalty to the King and Charity towards all mankind.
Appeal of this Grade.—Though it cannot be said to contain Sublime Mysteries, the Third Grade of Elect Mason is that which redeems the triad, by atoning for the follies and vacuities which precede it. The dramatic element, so essential in Ritual procedure, is wanting; but this is a recurring characteristic of French High Grades, the good and the bad indifferently, and one is disposed to conclude that in France at that time the Mason was in search of instruction, preferring to receive symbolism largely in the form of discourse or by way of question and answer, exchanged between Officers, rather than by way of pageant. The procedure, such as it is, deserves to be called dignified; the lessons are unfolded with reverence and are put with considerable force. Were materials for judgment in our hands, I suspect that this Grade would prove to be the crown, or chef-d’oeuvre, of the whole Elect Series, properly so-called. As regards the Traditional History, it recalls the romantic legend concerning the Knights of the Morning recited at length by Baron Tschoudy in L’Étoile Flamboyante, and this brings me to my final point.
Adonhiramite Masonry.—The Grades under consideration form an arbitrary part of Adonhiramite Masonry, being four to six of that Rite, and we have seen that it is referred indifferently to Baron Tschoudy and L. G. de Saint-Victor. In view of the correspondence which I have just established between the Traditional History of the Third Grade of Elect Mason and the legend of L’Étoile Flamboyante, I have no doubt whatever that Tschoudy had a hand in the business, and that he married the Elect of Nine of the Emperors of the East and West to a Mysterium of his own invention, adapting for this purpose a previous invention in the work already mentioned, which belongs to the year 1766. The Elect Grades are not Adonhiramite Masonry, which substituted the Adoniram of 1 Kings v. 13, in place of Hiram, as the name of that “cunning man, endued with understanding” of 2 Chronicles iv. 16, possibly because of the opinion held by many that the said craftsman has no name in the Scriptures, Hiram being an allusion to the father of the King of Tyre. But, however this may be, the French collection is named fancifully, as it is obvious that Knight of the Sword and Knight Rose-Croix have no more concern in Adoniram than have the Elect Grades.
Elect of Fifteen.—The First Grade of Elect Mason is in exceedingly close analogy with Elect of Nine, otherwise Elected Knight of Nine, in the Ancient and Accepted Rite, which may be called a later codex. The Adonhiramite triad excludes, however, the Elect of Fifteen, which is the sequel to Elect of Nine in the Scottish Rite, both being taken over of course with much other baggage from the Council of Emperors. There is another rare French Ritual in manuscript of approximately the same period, and entitled Grade de Chevalier Élu de Quinze. It is exceedingly short and worthless in every respect. There are three candelabra of five lights each in the Lodge, respectively in front of the Master and his two Wardens. They are lighted one after the other, to the sound of three Batteries, each of five knocks. The number of Elect Brethren must not exceed fifteen, and the hour of Opening is 3 o’clock, by reference presumably to the three assassins. The Candidate enters carrying two death’s heads, one being pierced by a dagger. He is pledged, entrusted and learns the story of the Grade. In opposition to that of the Second Grade of Elect Mason, or Élu de Perignan, Solomon does not have to rest content with a report that the two remaining assassins of the Master-Builder have perished miserably—by presumption, from natural causes. Six months after the crime one of the Intendants of the Building, on quest in the Land of Geth, ascertains that they have found refuge therein. Solomon is apprised in due course, and as the King of Geth is his vassal orders are issued for their delivery into his hands. He appoints fifteen Elect Masters, including the previous nine, and they travel to Geth, bearing a letter from Solomon. To make short of a silly story, the assassins are secured and brought to Jerusalem, where they perish in the utmost tortures. It is prayed that the Candidate may be spared a like misfortune.
Elect Grades Proper.—The Grades of Elect Masonry may be divided into two broad classes, being those which continue the Traditional History of the Third Degree and those which—judging by their titles, for they are not available to criticism—are of other symbolical categories. It should be understood that the first class are represented to all intents and purposes by the few which have been subjected to examination in the present section, but more especially by the First and Fourth Grades. Their critical history is one of variation and alternative, but I have not been able to trace the Third Grade of Elect Mason beyond the Rite of Adonhiramite Masonry. It is probable that those with which I have been unable to make acquaintance are like those which are known—impertinent and vacant trifles. Setting aside the Ancient and Accepted and the Council of Emperors, as otherwise dealt with, the particulars are as they here follow: (1) A Grade, entitled Elect, follows immediately after that of Master Mason, and is accordingly numbered 4 in the series of the French Modern Rite. (2) There is one under the same title and in the same numerical place in the Rite of the Philalethes. (3) Gargantuan in all things, the Rite of Mizraim has not only Elect of Nine; Elect of the Unknown—an adaptation probably of the Second Grade of Elect Mason, and having references therefore to Perignan; Elect of Fifteen; but also Perfect, and finally Illustrious Elect. (4) The Rite of Memphis has Knight Elect of Nine, Illustrious Knight Elect of the Fifteen and Sublime Elect Knight, thus recalling the Third Grade of Elect Mason. (5) Pasqually’s Rite of the Elect Priesthood has been credited with a Grand Elect Grade as fourth in its series, but I believe that the particular tabulation is wrong. So also the imaginary reformation of this Rite by L. C. de Saint-Martin is provided with a fifth Grade under the name of Elect.
Other Elect Grades.—In the second class may be included; (1) Grades of the Metropolitan Chapter of France—No. 12, Perfect Elect; No. 13, Elect Master; No. 14, Elect Secret and Strict Inspector; No. 15, Sublime Elect; No. 16, Scottish Elect; No. 17, Elect of the Twelve Tribes; No. 70, Elect of London; No. 74, Supreme Elect. (2) The Chapter of Clermont is reported to have included Lesser English Elect, but the authority is doubtful. (3) The Grand Chapter of Berlin had Elect of the New Jerusalem among its Apocalyptic Grades. (4) The Council of Emperors of the East and West had Grand Elect Ancient and Perfect Master and Grand Elect Kadosh. (5) The collections of two private unconnected Masons, named Pyron and Fustier, included Elect Commander; Elect Depositary; Supreme Elect, or Adjutant of the Tabernacle of Perfect Elect Masons; Grand Prince of the Three Elect; and Sublime Elect Lady, belonging to some Adoptive Rite. (6) Another collector—named Viany—has left record concerning a Grade entitled Elect Philosopher and Sublime Master. (7) We hear also of Knight Elect Philosopher in the Philosophical Scottish Rite; of Symbolical Elect, under the name of Baron Tschoudy, and connected with some attempted Masonic Reform. I have intimated that pearls of some price may be hidden among these unknown inventions.
Elect of Truth.—These enumerations are concerned with Grades and not with Rites making use of the term Elect. A Rite which is said to have been instituted at Rennes in 1776 was called Elect of Truth, but I have no particulars concerning it. Pasqually’s Rite of Elect Priesthood has been dealt with in another section.
In approaching the subject of the earliest and greatest of the Greek Instituted Mysteries it is necessary to draw about it a rigid line of demarcation, so that it may be kept within certain limits, or a brief study would assume the proportions of a volume. Beyond this line must be placed whatsoever belongs to such questions as antiquity, place of origin and names connected with foundation. It will be enough for our purpose to know that the Eleusinian Mysteries were exceedingly old and that very early in the Christian centuries Epiphanius—at his value on a question far back in the past—referred their establishment to something like eighteen hundred years before the birth of Christ. There is an old tradition that they were brought into Greece from Egypt, and this in any historical sense is almost certainly untrue, yet it is tolerable from the standpoint of legend, as marking the positive fact that Greek Mysteries were preceded by those of other and older lands, of which Egypt will serve as a type. As regards the myths of institution, these are numerous enough, for the Eleusinia are reputed to have been founded by Erechtheus the sixth King of Athens, by Inachus King of Argos, by Eumolpus—in respect of the Lesser Mysteries—he being a priest of Ceres, appointed as such by Erechtheus, and—in respect of the Greater—by Orpheus, he being masqueraded for the purpose as an historical personality. Now the Mysteries of Eleusis are the Mysteries of Demeter, who is Ceres, and of Persephone, who is Proserpina, and according to their own legend they were founded by Demeter herself at Eleusis. The allocations which pass as historical being all fabulous, we may as well be content with the myth, which no one expects to be otherwise. Reposing therefore on the evidence of Isocrates, the Athenian orator—one among many witnesses—let us recognise symbolically that “Demeter made two gifts to the Athenians, both of palmary importance”—the first being corn, “which delivered us from a state of savagery,” but the second was the Mysteries, “which instruct the initiates how to entertain the most agreeable expectations concerning death and eternity.”
Legend of Eleusis.—The central myth of the Mysteries is as familiar to classical readers as the story of Hiram is to Masons, and to those outside the Order who can be classed as students of Masonry. Demeter, a daughter of Saturn and Cybele, had Persephone as the fruit of her union with Zeus. Persephone was accounted beautiful, even among the womanhood of the Greek pantheon, and for her better protection she was carried by her mother to Sicily, where she was placed in a secret house erected by the Cyclops in the midst of an earthly paradise. It was, however, to prove a place of doom, for when she and her maidens—Rhodope, Calypso and others—were gathering roses and lilies, with other of the garden’s flowers, the earth opened, and Pluto, god of the underworld, appeared in a golden chariot. There came about in this manner the Rape of Proserpine, who was borne lamenting to the darksome region and was exalted as Queen of Infernus. A quest legend follows on that of the rape, for Demeter went over the world, seeking her lost child in the disguise of an old woman. In this manner she came fasting to Eleusis, where she was employed as the nurse of Triptolemus or Demophon, son of Celeus, King of Attica, by his wife Metanira. The story is told at length in a Hymn of the sixth century B.C. which passes under the name of Homer. The points which concern us are (1) that the goddess in her dereliction received the hospitality of Celeus and (2) that at length she threw off her disguise and was manifested in her divine attributes. She gave orders for the erection of a great temple, in which she herself established her august Mysteries. But we have seen that Demeter was goddess of corn, and during her sojourn at Eleusis the earth remained sterile. Foreseeing, as the Hymn tells us, that he would be deprived of the homage of mortals, Zeus intervened and promised to restore Persephone to her mother, on condition that she had eaten nothing in Hades. But the fatality was still working and she had partaken of four pomegranate seeds, the consequence being that Pluto had power upon her for a certain term of months in every year, during which she must abide with him in the underworld. The term is variously described as six and four months: in the first case the six remaining were spent with Demeter; in the second the mother had four and Olympus claimed half of the remaining period. However it may be, Demeter was pacified; seed-time and harvest resumed their normal course, the earth was filled with plenty, and Zeus secured his meed of human worship.
Exile and Return.—As the figuration of myths goes, it is not a very striking legend, like the pomp of the Golden Fleece and the quest thereof: it is comparable to the Welsh Peredur, and as out of this there grew up the great Perceval cycle of the Holy Graal—from small beginnings to magnalian ends—so out of this primitive centre arose the mighty pageant of the Eleusinian Mysteries, a national palladium of the Grecian world, on which the praise of poets and philosophers was poured in later centuries, on the ultimate nature, purport and end of which imaginations have wrought, as they have upon the Graal myth. It is curious to note that—far apart as they lie—both are expressions of those old, old formularies of legend—that of exile and return, and also of a quest imposed, pursued and carried to its term.
Classical Witnesses.—I have mentioned the praise of the Mysteries, an there are also such accounts concerning them as are extant among classical authors. In respect of both it is to be noted that a gulf of centuries intervenes between the foundation of the Rite—to whatever age it is allocated—and the records on which we depend concerning them. The earliest testimonies are those of the Greek poets. Blessed and happy are those, according to Euripides, who know the Mysteries of the gods, who sanctify their lives, “celebrating orgies in the mountains.” According to Pindar, they know “the end of life and the given end of Zeus.” For Sophocles, the place of the Mysteries was the place of life: only misery and evil reigned elsewhere. The chorus of initiates in Aristophanes proclaims that for them only is the sun and for them the gift of light, because they observe “the rules of piety.” Plato comes next to the poets in respect of time and he affirms that the end of initiation was the restoration of the soul to that state “from whence it fell, as from its native seat of perfection.” He cites Socrates as expressing an opinion that those who established the Mysteries “were well skilled in human nature,” because they promised to such as were initiated a place in the abode of the gods after death, while “mire and filth” were the environment of other souls. That Plato beheld them, however, through his own glass of vision is a conclusion to be drawn when we compare his master’s moderate and rather perfunctory statement with his own description of those Mysteries “which it is lawful to term most blessed of all,” in which those who are admitted ascend through contemplation to “the Intelligible Beauty.” It recalls the counsel in an Orphic fragment of uncertain date: Proceed in the right way and contemplate the sole Governor of the world. In fine, Plato says that the end of the Mysteries was to join the souls of men “in communion with the gods.” We may compare the orator Isocrates who, about the period of Plato, defines the Mysteries as that of which “human nature stands chiefly in need.” Cicero—among Latin writers—speaks of the sacred and august Rites of Eleusis, which are “the beginning of a life of reason and virtue.” In his view also “Athens has produced many excellent and even divine inventions, but has “given nothing better than those Mysteries by which we are drawn from an irrational and savage life, and are tamed—as it were—and broken to humanity.” He affirmed further that the hope which they inspired was that of a blessed immortality.
Later Testimonies.—When we pass into Christian times there is a cloud of classical witnesses. (1) According to Strabo, “the secret celebration of the Mysteries preserves the majesty due to Divinity.” (2) Aristides terms Eleusis “the common temple of the earth.” (3) Porphyry dwells upon the moral principles inculcated by the Sacred Rites. (4) Plutarch compares death to the advancement of a Candidate into the Greater Mysteries, for the after life is like a new initiation and a celebration of august Rites. (5) Proclus says that the initiations deliver souls from this material and mental life to reunite them with the gods. (6) Such also is the testimony of Sallust, and (7) Theon speaks of friendship with Divinity as the spiritual crown of the epopts. I omit the Christian witnesses, though they are important after their own manner, because they are not especially witnesses to Eleusis but rather to later Rites, as I omit for the same reason Iamblichus and Plotinus. I am concerned, moreover, with Eleusis at its best and in Greece rather than in Rome or Alexandria, though the decadence and corruption which fell on the Mysteries in the later period of the empire involved the Eleusinian Sanctuaries last and least of all. There was a time, as we know, when the words Mysteries and Abominations became practically interchangeable, and it is so stated in the records.
Importance of the Mysteries.—These gleanings are shortened and selective only, but they are representative in the sense that they will furnish an unversed reader with a summary notion of the way in which classical thought regarded the Eleusinian Mysteries. It is important to realise that—late or early in the history of Greek literature—they are so late in comparison with the rise and progress of the Rites that they might be called modern in comparison. They are commemorations of a status attained long previously and to which they contributed nothing on their own part, or they are presentations of personal views. The Mysteries had taken their place in the nation long centuries before the voice of Pindar was raised concerning their claims. So predominant was this place that initiation had almost attained the proportions of an universal custom, the neglect of which became little short of a stigma. The case of Socrates, who declined to enter the Sanctuary—presumably because he was a free teacher and indisposed as such to the limitations of formal pledges—was not incomparable to that of a man who in other days of Christendom should refuse the Rite of Baptism. He stood apart and suspect. The Mysteries, moreover, were protected on all sides by the national mind, and any public reference to the business of the Inner Sanctuary was not only tabooed but condemned by the public spirit. We know that on a certain occasion the audience rose as one man and stood ready to rend their great poet Aeschylus for a supposed allusion to the official secrets in one of his tragedies—which was being acted for the first time—and that he was justified only by incurring a negative form of displeasure when he proved that he had not been initiated.
Experience in the Mysteries.—The Eleusinia therefore were above all things sacred, as an inward heart of religion, and here is the first note which calls to be registered concerning them. This in itself is a clear and simple issue, but it is otherwise if we pass to the consideration of Plato’s statements—e.g. when he speaks of the epopts ascending through contemplation to the Intelligible Beauty. Was it an ascent accomplished by the rational mind, elevated and illuminated for the time being by the Ritual Discourses of the hierophant? Is it this which lies behind his affirmation of communion with the gods? I have proposed already that Plato—as others like him—beheld the Mysteries through a glass of vision, much as the sacramental legend of the Holy Graal is of one kind for the scholarship of vegetation gods, but of another, which differs generically, for the higher scholarship of the mystic. I remember also a pregnant statement of Plutarch, that the secret doctrine of the mystagogues was delivered to recipients without art, accompanied by no proof and in the absence of any arguments to warrant an explicit faith therein. In other words, the form of expression was that of dogmatic utterance. When this statement is taken in conjunction with all that we know of the ceremonial pageant there would seem but one answer to the question whether the traditional beatitude and wisdom of the Mysteries were communicated in the symbolism of ceremonial act and in the allegory of verbal discourse, or whether the Candidates came into the hands of such wise and illuminated Masters that they passed under their influence into a spiritual and interior state, in which—for the time being—they attained experience at first hand of the Blessed Life and Divine Communion. I have suggested that there is but one answer on the faith of all the evidence, and the first alternative is affirmed thereby; but as it happens that in several modern schools—mostly of the occult kind—the second has been maintained in one or another form, it intervenes here for consideration, since it is obviously an important issue. As between the Rites of Eleusis and the Rites of Emblematic Freemasonry, it postulates unawares precisely that kind of distinction which would subsist between the Lord’s Supper commemorated in a Protestant Church of the old type and an archnatural Mass celebrated in the Mystical Sanctuary of Eckartshausen or Lopukhin.
The Suggestive Enquiry.—In the year 1850, and in England, an explanation of the Mysteries was offered which differed from each and all by the anonymous author of A Suggestive Enquiry into the Hermetic Mystery and Alchemy. The Initiations are described by Mrs. Atwood—the concealed author—as the beginning of a life of reason and virtue, leading up to the hope of a blessed immortality hereafter, founded on a participation attained already therein. They were more therefore than a beginning of wisdom, for they promised the integration of conscious being in “the object of rational inquiry.” It was hence no “metaphysical abstraction” offered to the mind, but the adept—ex hypothesi—was “conjoined to the Divine Nature” by means of divine media. Proclus is quoted as stating that those who were initiated met at first with “manifold and multiform gods,” but having been admitted to the inner penetralia they found no inferior divinities: on the contrary they received divine illumination and participated in the very substance of the Deity. This is understood by Mrs. Atwood as signifying an experience attained at first hand by the Candidate in his soul, but Proclus spoke only of a symbolical participation, for he proceeds to contrast that which was communicated in the Mysteries with that which can be reached mystically in the inward condition. “And so,” he continues, “if the soul looks abroad, she sees shadows and images of things, but returning into herself she unravels and discovers her own essence. At first she appears only to behold herself, but having penetrated further she perceives that which is called the mind, while on advancing further into the innermost sanctuary she contemplates the Divine Substance, and this is the most excellent of all human acts, namely, in the silence and repose of the faculties of the soul to ascend upwards, even to Divinity, to approach and to be joined closely with that which is ineffable and above all things. When come so high as the First Principle, the soul ends her journey and rests.”
The Lustrations.—It is affirmed that the soul became liberated by the lustration of the Mysteries and was passed into a supernal condition, the Rites of Purification being designed to restore the monarchy of reason therein. We shall see later on in what those Rites consisted and that they could not have been valid sacramentally, much less efficacious in themselves.
Trance Experiences.—I do not propose to enlarge at present on the alleged media of the purifications which—according to the Suggestive Enquiry—led up to the real experiments. It will be sufficient for the present purpose to say that the experiences took place ex hypothesi in trance, the induction of which was the great secret of the sanctuaries. By these—as by an art “divinely potent” and not by theoretic contemplation only”—the adepts became “cognisant partakers” in the wisdom of true being. The soul knew herself, not in part as now but as a whole. She arrived at her desired end and, “participating in Deity,” perceived and realised the presence of universal life. A descent of Avernus represented the dangers and terrors which besiege her during the first period of liberation, and the secrecy which encompassed the experiment was because of the spiritual captivity which is possible to the unprepared therein. After the experience of Hades the aspirant was passed on by the Hierophants to the immortal abode, and the Lesser Mysteries ended. That abode was in sight but not as yet gained. Assuming for a moment with Mrs. Atwood that these were psychical adventures and travellings performed in some condition of induced trance, the point to be observed is that they were just as much workings in the world of images as if they had been a dramatic pageant operated externally by the actors in a symbolical Rite. I mean to say that they were not veridic experience. As a fact, we shall see that the scheme of the Mysteries at Eleusis belonged to the world of Ritual, and there is not the least reason to suppose that they were other than Dramatic Pageants, whatever their heart of meaning.
The Stygian Lake.—Between desire and its object there intervened the Stygian Lake and that mystical death in which the soul quits for a time her earthly envelope. When the figurative distance had been bridged by the successive stages of initiation there was “vision of the light in Elysium,” the eye—according to the thesis—no longer looking from without inwardly and beholding its object through the atmosphere of natural life, for an assimilation was established, “as near as may be in consciousness,” between the self-knowing and self-known.
The Highest Unity.—There was, however, another Grade, called Intellection in Elysium, where “the exemplary image” of universal Nature is said to have been revealed. Finally the souls of the epopts— being made perfect—and “having passed through the whole progression of intelligible causes,” were promoted to a contemplation of the Highest Unity. This contemplation was the final “preparative” to translation, to the intuition of that which is before all things and the cause of all, “which seeing only is seen and understanding is understood by him who, penetrating all centres, discovers himself in that which is the source of all, and passing from himself to that attains by an ultimate and crowning transcension the whole end of his progression.” This was the consummation of the Mysteries. I need only say concerning it that in this very interesting reverie the classical hints and allusions to the Instituted Mysteries have been curiously worked up in the light of Platonic and Neo-Platonic theosophy—by the help in particular of writers like Thomas Taylor. What Plato and all the successors agreed to be possible of attainment in the experiences of liberated minds has been transferred to the pageants of the sanctuaries.
Neo-Platonic Mysticism.—We may compare Porphyry on Auxiliaries to the perception of Intelligible Things and on two modes of death, “one in which the body is liberated from the soul, but the other, peculiar to philosophers, in which the soul is liberated from the body, returning to life under the dominion of another law.” I give one quotation out of a great available collection, in which Greek mystical philosophers offer to our consideration the same sequence of experiences and the same end in union which have been contemplated and attained by the Christian mystics of all ages. The mysterium magnum of Neo-Platonic philosophy has been summarised by the Suggestive Enquiry and has been applied to the interpretation of Eleusis and its Instituted Mysteries, some important analogous intimations being derived from the philosophers themselves. The explanation is that they regarded their initiations as I and others who are like me regard the Third Craft Degree; that their symbolical understanding was right and true of those initiations taken at their highest, or as they took them personally; and that my understanding, within my own measures, is also right and true. But although they are there and plainly, I know that the good average craftsman not only cannot see them but could not be told concerning them, having no ears to hear. In like manner, when Greece went to the Mysteries age after age, because of la haute convenance and the duties of a great national function, it profited after its own manner, but it did not see the things presented with the eyes of Porphyry and Proclus, with those of Psellus or in the sense of the First Alcibiades of Plato. There is one thing more on this part of the subject: howsoever the legend of the soul, its states and stages of attainment on the path of return to God, may have been symbolised for Greek philosophers in Rites of Eleusis and Iacchos, in Mithriac and Chaldaic Rites; even if we suppose for a moment that such stages and states were meant to be foreshadowed by these Mysteries; we must remember and shall see immediately that according to all the evidence as to that which took place in the Sanctuaries, there was no first-hand experience possible in the nature of things.
Hypothetical Key.—The author of the Suggestive Enquiry is wrong on the central point of fact and is in the position of a person—not a Mason—who after reading a mystical interpretation of the Third Degree should conclude and maintain thenceforward that in all Masonic Lodges the Candidate for Raising is put into a trance which is called figurative death, has a psychical experience corresponding in a much deeper sense to that which is enacted about him, and is finally exalted to a new life, which is understood as the life of resurrection. The word trance reminds me that the work under notice offers a Key to the process which it supposes to have taken place in the Sanctuaries. The actual agent, it tells us, must be sought in the magnetic trance. The Ancient Mysteries worked with the same material as the modern mesmerists, but the Hierophants conducted their practice in pursuance of great established principles, with which Mrs. Atwood claims to be acquainted but which she does not disclose on account of the alleged dangers. The supposed practice led up to the introspection of Psellus: “the vital spirit purified by wise manipulation became a mirror of the catholic reason of Nature, and of that holy and sublime experience granted to man alone in the Divine Alliance.” What Psellus actually says in De Oraculis is that there were two kinds of apparitions in the Chaldaic Rites, not those of Eleusis: they were (1) those corresponding to the figures of light or various forms of light created by the passions of the soul in the state which is called Superinspection, and (2) those corresponding to the higher state of Introspection, wherein the soul beholds the Divine Light apart from any form or figure. It is needless to say that the hypothetical magnetic key is a device of arbitrary invention, unsupported by any evidence in the records.
Lesser and Greater Mysteries.—I have intimated that Lesser and Greater Mysteries were celebrated at Eleusis, and as it is obvious that the first were in some sense introductory to the second it would seem reasonable to suppose that they formed an unity together, as the Grade of Novice in the high Order of Chivalry led on to that of Knighthood and was incomplete apart therefrom. M. Ouvaroff, a French writer of the early nineteenth century, affirmed however as points of strong probability (1) that the Greater Mysteries were absolutely distinct from the Lesser; (2) that there is nothing to prove that every Mysta might become an Epopt, (3) that if such indiscriminate advancement had been possible the Greater Mysteries would have been almost certainly betrayed; (4) that there was a principle of selection at work and a wall of partition in the form of a double doctrine; (5) that the Lesser Mysteries taught nothing in direct conflict with polytheism; but (6) that those which followed imparted just notions respecting Divinity, the fall of man, his immortality and the means of return to God; (7) that—according to Galen—the hierophants committed certain secret books to the Epopts, which they alone could read. Ouvaroff’s hypothesis of a sealed door between the two Rites and of its opening to those only who were favoured by special election is unsupported by any evidence. Some twenty-five years previously the Baron de Sainte-Croix affirmed that the spread of Christianity in Greece led the Keepers of Eleusis to be more careful about admissions into the Greater Mysteries, and this is why—according to Tertullian—there was an interval of five years between the two Rites, while it appears on the authority of Plutarch that the Mysta, in olden times could become an Epopt one year after his initiation.
Preliminaries of Initiation and Advancement.—As we have seen after what manner the Suggestive Enquiry interprets the lustrations of the Mysteries and the transcendental experiences which were supposed to follow thereon, it should be explained that Candidates for the Lesser were required to wash in the river Ilissus, after which the Dadouchos, who officiated at this ceremonial, caused them to place their feet on the skins of victims which had been sacrificed to Jupiter. It was therefore a symbolical observance, having no inherent efficacy. The lustration was preceded by a fast and followed by a solemn pledge of secrecy. The Candidate for the Greater Mysteries was prepared also by fasting, by a Rite of Ablution in the salt water of the sea and finally by fire, the flame of certain torches—which were passed from hand to hand—being supposed to purify the group or cohort of Postulants. It was again a conventional procedure, and such also was the sexual continence imposed in both cases prior to participation in the Rites. There was nothing ex opere operato, though again it is to be understood that the impression produced on the minds of Plato or Proclus would differ in a generical manner from that which would befall Alcibiades. While the latter made up a disgraceful mockery of the secret procedure in the course of a drunken orgy, Plato affirms that the ceremonial of purification delivered those who went through it from the guilt and consequence of crime, not only in earthly life but also after death. He understood them therefore sacramentally, as the outward sign of an inward grace, or as the sacrament of Confession is understood in the Latin Church—i.e., subject to the proper dispositions of the penitent and the turning of his heart to God. To say otherwise is to rave.
The Rites at Agra.—The Lesser Mysteries took place at Agra, on the banks of the Ilissus, and the Greater at Eleusis itself, within sound of the sea. It is a curious commentary on the speculations of Ouvaroff that the records of the past are, comparatively speaking, rather full upon those Rites which his hypothesis supposes to have been protected by a wall of double doctrine and a strict law of selection, while there is practically nothing extant on the procedure of the introductory Rites. They were obviously of a preparatory kind having regard to those which followed, and hence they have been described in terms which suggest that they were concerned solely with ceremonies of purification. We have seen, however, that purifications of a more elaborate kind preceded the Greater Mysteries. Whatever the distinctions which separated them one from another, they were bound together by the nexus of the Eleusinian Legend, which was distributed in such a manner that the Lesser Mysteries represented the return of Persephone to earth, while the Greater Mysteries delineated her descent into the infernal regions and her experience therein. According to Clemens Alexandrinus the former laid the foundations of hidden doctrines, and the superstructure was raised in the latter. It has been surmised that the basis was concerned with the necessity of virtue in view of a Divine Providence, as something over and above the kind of providing scheme which might be connoted by the mythos general of the Greek Pantheon. It has been said also that the pageant of the Lesser Mysteries was designed to exhibit the condition of an impure soul invested with an earthly body “and immersed in a material nature.” In such case, it was so far a moral instruction, a recommendation of the life of reason, as opposed to that of simple sense and its appetites. According to Warburton, they “professed to exact nothing difficult of the initiated which they would not assist him to perform.” There were sacrifices to Demeter and Persephone, and it would appear that the neophytes received instructions which were destined to be more fully unfolded at the later stage. They may have concerned that “renovation of life and new birth in man,” which—according to Müller—was implied by the legend of Persephone, who personified originally “the disappearance and return of vegetable life in the succession of the seasons” but became the queen of the dead, or of those who were put into the earth and returned therefrom. According to Baron de Sainte-Croix, the pageant at Agra closed with the enthronement of the Candidates and the celebration of a ritual dance about them, but the authority is Dion Chrysostom, whose direct reference was, however, to the Mysteries of Samothrace, and—moreover—to their final scene.
The Greater Mysteries.—The Lesser and Greater Mysteries were both preceded and followed by a truce on the part of those who were engaged in warfare: it is said to have been proclaimed in all the cities, to have been accepted and observed by all. In a word, the external Hellas was put into a state of symbolical rest, that it might give place to the sacramental activities of the mystical Hellas, hidden at the heart of its religion. The Festival of the Greater Mysteries covered a period of nine days, not including the Eleusinian Games, which of course had no part in the Rites and were celebrated at stated intervals—apparently every third and fifth year. I can speak of the ceremonial procedure only under brief heads, (1) The First Day was devoted to Ritual purifications, the Candidates being assembled together without the Temple. (2) The Second Day was that of immersion in the cleansing waters of the sea, at or about the period of the full moon. It was regarded as a Rite of Regeneration, and it is hence, I infer, that participants in the Mysteries of Eleusis were called Regenerated Children of the Moon. (3) The Third Day was the Black Fast of the Rite, and—according to Plutarch—it was also a day of mourning and of sad ceremonial observance. Proclus says that this observance commemorated the tears of Ceres and Proserpine. It was, moreover, sacred to continence and we meet with vague allusions to a ceremonial of the pastos or mystic bed, which involved presumably some test of merit in this respect: it symbolised the resistance of Proserpine on her marriage night in Hades. Finally, the Candidates sacrificed each a young pig, which had been purified on the previous day in the waters of the ocean. (4) The Fourth Day was one of processions, and it has been inferred from the scholiast on Aristophanes that there were also mystic dances performed in a meadow carpeted by flowers. (5) The Fifth Day was marked by the torchlight ceremonial which has been mentioned in connnection with the symbolism of purification by fire. The torchbearers were more especially the Candidates, who entered the Temple of Ceres two by two, and it is said that an ineffable savour was diffused by the flames. A worshipful silence prevailed during the observance, for it commemorated the quest of Demeter, who lighted a torch in the darkness at the fires of Etna and so sought after Proserpine. (6) It would seem that the torchlight procession of the Fifth Day was an observance fulfilled in the light, but the Sixth Day was consecrated to Iacchos, and torches were borne in the darkness when his statue was carried from Athens. He belongs to the Rites of Eleusis, being the son of Zeus and Persephone and having assisted Demeter in her quest. It was the most popular of all the festivals which marked the progress of the Rite. From Athens to Eleusis the crowd poured forth at all points, to take part in the sacrifices, libations and dances which were celebrated at the shrines on the road. The whole world was crowned with myrtles and every kind of musical instrument contributed its clamour to the pageant. It will be seen that whatever reticence characterised the Mysteries themselves there was none in respect of their externals; as the Candidates came from the four quarters of the known world, so did all Athens turn out to take its part in the observance, to greet those whose initiations and advancements maintained the national commemoration and to combine its welcome with banter. I know not at what hour the procession started from the city, probably at break of day, but the middle night had come down on Eleusis before it arrived thereat, and for hours previously it had become a great procession of torches. (7) The Celebration of the Mysteries began on the sixth night; the profane and unpurified were charged to depart from the precincts, the Temple of Demeter was opened and the Candidates entered hoodwinked. They were also divested and assumed garments of doeskin. There was darkness of great darkness, and then amidst a fury of terrifying sound the vision of Tartarus and its torments was displayed in a pageant to the Mysta. It was followed by the vision of Elysium. We hear of (a) celestial melodies, (b) an unclouded heaven, (c) fragrant exhalations and (d) flowery meadows peopled by the elect, who—as one modern writer has dared to say—“danced and amused themselves with innocent games and pastimes.” Such was the blessed life to come offered by initiation at Eleusis—the Better Land of Mrs. Hemans set in a lower key. (8) It is not clear in the records, but it is probable that on the Seventh Day the statue of Iacchos was carried back with similar observances to Athens. In any case the Candidates remained about the precincts of the Temple, or at least those who were called to take part in the final Grade of the Mysteries, being that of the Epopta. Between this and the previous advancement a full twelve months intervened. It took place on the Seventh Night and has been described by Hippolytus—our sole and very late authority—as the “Sacred Marriage of Zeus and Demeter.” These divinities were personated by the Hierophant and High Priestess—otherwise Hierophantide—who are said to have withdrawn for a period into the darkness, symbolical of the nuptial night, and to have returned radiating with splendour, the hierophant carrying an ear of corn, “the most perfect mystery of the Epopts,” according to Hippolytus. He proclaimed in presenting it the birth of a holy child. In its spiritual understanding—according to the science of the mystics there is no question that this is very high and pregnant symbolism, but in what sense it was understood by the rank and file of adeptship must remain an open question. (9) The Lesser Mysteries were repeated on the Eighth Day, as we are informed by Philostratus, for the benefit of belated Candidates. It was justified by a legend that Aesculapius arrived from Epidaurius after the first celebration and that it was repeated for his benefit. (10) The Ninth Day had no other ceremonial observance than that of libations of wine, which was poured forth from two ewers, one towards the rising and one towards the setting sun, the officiating priest looking successively towards heaven and earth as the father and mother of all things. This is on the authority of Proclus.
A General Conclusion.—We are now in a position to adjudicate on the thesis concerning the Mysteries put forward in a great pomp of words by the Suggestive Enquiry. The mystic was not conjoined with the Divine Nature by means of divine media; he did not receive divine illumination or participate in the substance of the Deity; he was not liberated spiritually by the lustrations practised in the Rites; he did not pass through a figurative death, induced by magnetic or any other form of trance; nor was the Divine within him assimilated by the Divine in the universe. The romances of initiation are one thing, but the facts of the records are another and very different unfortunately. Could I have presented them in such a light or have agreed so to regard them on the faith of another witness, I should have reached sooner and more simply the term of my research. It remains therefore, in place of illumination communicated at first hand by those who were themselves illuminated—adepts and epopts in the transcendental sense, or “hierophants ablaze with Deity”—(1) that Candidates at Eleusis either witnessed or took part in a dramatic pageant which was comparable as such to the Ritual procedure of Masonry on a vast scale; (2) that initiation and advancement took place apparently in droves, the philosophers, poor students and common people arriving on foot, but the wealthy being driven in chariots; (3) that there was offered—as it were—a great unresting glass of objective vision, scenic representation and so forth; (4) that it remained with the auditorium to profit or not thereby; (5) that the majority of initiates brought away chiefly an enlarged instruction on a future state of rewards and punishments,” plus the official secrets and whatsoever may have been of precious memory in the discourses of hierophants—about which we know nothing at all; (6) that, in the words of Isocrates, the lasting reward was “agreeable expectations touching death and eternity.” It is on record by Aristotle that they learned nothing in a definite sense but received impressions only, and the German Lobeck, on this basis presumably, has affirmed that the Eleusinia were in reality “insignificant affairs.” But if we prefer the evidence of Plato, the Mysteries were established “to ameliorate the cruelty of the race, to exalt its morals and refine its manners.” They were again therefore like Masonry, a system of allegory and symbol, veiling ethical and spiritual teaching, the final values of which would depend on leading the life of the doctrine taught therein.
Doctrine of the Mysteries.—There remain over in justice to all the issues those things which of necessity escape us, because the memorials are silent concerning them, remembering the pledges of the Mysteries. What were those sentences inscribed on the Petroma, or tablet of stone, and described as an awful lesson? Behind all the masks and images of the Greek mythology was the doctrine of unity in God taught at Eleusis, as Warburton and others have believed? Was the secret doctrine alternatively a late invention and vague at that, dealing with Laws and Lawgivers, the discovery of agriculture, the procession of seed-time and harvest, as the Baron de Sainte-Croix concludes? The veneration for the Mysteries exhibited by the great spiritual philosophers forbids this second view, and on à priori considerations it is more reasonable to infer that the great pageant was not devoid of a great meaning, within the measures of the place and period. Warburton seems nearer the truth than those who have challenged his findings, and the Doctrine of Divine Unity either entered into philosophy from the Mysteries or philosophy interpreted the Mysteries in the sense of its own doctrine. The middle way indicated by Lenormant is perhaps, however, the wisest, where none can speak with certitude. “In the greater initiation,” he says, “that which was presented to the contemplation of epoptai must have consisted of myths more complicated and foreign to the public religion, myths to which there was attributed a more profound meaning, giving further insight into the conception of the inward nature of the gods. Hence its name of epopteia and above all the more significant word autopsia, which indicates so clearly that the epoptai were reputed to behold the gods face to face in their very essence.” It is obvious of course that το ον, entia and essentia are not seen face to face, but there is a sense of symbolism in which the god of the underworld would be represented by a great darkness and Zeus by a formless fire. So also the hero of Apuleius, testifying concerning himself, says: “I saw the sun shining in the dead of night with luminous splendour.” We must remember, however, that at an advanced point of the Mysteries the Candidates beheld an image of Demeter robed in glory and manifested in dazzling light, and that this is seeing face to face in symbolism.
The Legend of the Soul.—Outside doctrine and ceremonial we know in fine that Greek philosophy regarded the traditional history of Eleusis as portraying the legend of the soul. Persephone descends into Hades as the soul into the night of the body, but there is a way of liberation for the soul, as there was one also for Persephone, into union with the Divine in the universe as into the arms of Demeter, and finally into the transcendent union outside all space and time, and all that belongs to manifestation, as into the state of Elysium. In the light of these intimations Plato said—speaking of his initiation—that he beheld “eternal realities” and, in their proper understanding, that they were capable of restoring the soul to its primeval purity. I should add that the descent and return of Persephone are in virtual correspondence with the death and resurrection of other Mysteries. It is in this sense and within these limits that all Instituted Mysteries which have any claim on importance have the same story at their root. I shall recur to this point more fully in a few moments because of its consequence in respect of Craft Masonry. It is like the Quest of the Holy Graal, “a story told for the truest and the holiest that is in this world,” because it is a mystery of grace in experience the outlines of which have been delineated in my study of Christian Mysteries. The excursus which follows arises out of the whole subject, but it deals with the concept of the Mysteries from a broader point, not merely within the measures of Eleusis.
Purport of the Mysteries.—If we take in succession the chief initiating Orders which have existed during the historical period in various countries of the world and attempt to summarise their purport, we shall find that they have taught but one doctrine, and amidst great diversities in Rite and Ceremony there has prevailed among them one governing instruction, even as there has been one end. The parables differ, but the morality remains the same. From Grade to Grade the Candidate is led symbolically out of an old and into a new life. Here is the lesson which is always personal to himself: it was the reward reserved for those who entered the Mysteries. We have seen that those which prevailed in Greece have been described as an introduction to a new existence ruled by reason and virtue, something deeper and fuller than any merely conventional significance being attached to both these terms. To what extent this was true according to symbolism of that which took place in the pageants we may perhaps never know: alternatively such a significance was read into them by Greek philosophy. An appeal to the evidence coming from this quarter is not wholly convincing, as we have also seen, because Plato and the successors had eyes illuminated already from within. We have no means of distinguishing between that which was attained and missed by the rank and file of those who were received. I know only that one who like myself has passed through many schools finds intimations and messages in the Third Degree of the Craft which are not heard by men of material minds and persons belonging to low grades of culture. They speak to those who can hear. I conclude that the voice of Eleusis was one kind of voice for Plotinus and another for the Greek satirists who lampooned the Mysteries. Here then also the higher message may have been there for those who could receive it—perhaps in a plenary sense.
Myths of the Mysteries.—But there was that which was personal to the Candidate and there was that which belonged to the myth particular to each centre and Sanctuary. We have seen that the latter was of death and resurrection, as in the Mysteries of Adonis and Bacchus, or of exile and return, as in those of Demeter and Orpheus. But the distinction thus created always tended to dissolve and the motives merged into one another, or alternatively there was but one at the root. The rape of Proserpine carried her into the underworld as if through the mystery of death, while the intervention of Jove which brought her back to earth, for a stated time in each year, signified her annual resurrection. On the other hand the myths of Bacchus and Adonis are of exile and return because they are of death and resurrection. But if the Candidate was supposed to pass—as a result of his initiation—into a new and better life, it is obvious that this was not effected by a dramatic representation of the death and resurrection of a god or of a descent into Hades, followed by a return therefrom. These traditional events must have been made to carry a personal message to the mystae. He was somehow on the quest with Demeter and Orpheus, descending with Proserpine and Eurydice, rising with Bacchus and Adonis. As in the Funerary Rites of Egypt the departed soul assumed the part of Osiris, so it must be inferred that the Greek Candidate took that of the Greek gods and heroes who figured in the mystical plays. We find indeed intimations that the new life was really an old life restored to the initiate, who recovered symbolically that state of pure being which he is supposed to have enjoyed prior to what Greek mysticism regarded as the descent into generation. It is again therefore an exile and return formula—the figurative death of material life, a resurrection into life of the spirit, a coming down into the exile of this world and a liberation therefrom.
Masonic Reflections.—Of these conceptions we find the reflection at a far distance in Craft Masonry, in its pageant of figurative death followed by a symbolical resurrection. The link between the Craft Legend and the mysterious Act of Raising proves that the whole procedure has another intent than that which is on the surface of the Legend: were this to be understood literally the logical issue of the drama would not be Raising but Burial. As indicated otherwise in these volumes, there are Grades outside the Craft which have speculated on the hidden meaning and have held up a great light thereon. The true significance of figurative or mystical death and of that resurrection which follows it can be understood, however, only by the Christ-Life in the soul, but that which it is necessary to say upon this subject will be found in another section. Of that Divine Life and how it is attained in man, no one supposes that the makers of the Third Degree had a conscious realisation in their hearts, any more than I imagine them to have been great scholars in Kabalism; but I believe that they had piecemeal intimations on several important subjects of religious and philosophical life. So far as those intimations are imbedded or implied beneath the letter of that great Ritual they are ours to extend as we can, that we may find our best and highest written in its inward sense. We proceed in this manner as Greek philosophers of old, reflecting on the Mysteries into which they had been received like others and understanding them in their own manner—not that of the others, but their own best and highest.
Attainment in the Mysteries.—At their highest, the Mysteries which begin with initiation are unlike the romances: these—for the most part—stop short at the marriage day, but those formulate a great adventure by which the Candidate may attain the valid experience not alone of that union which is attained in God, but of the indissoluble life that follows. As such the scheme of initiation connotes the selective and inherited intelligence of the ages acting on the chaos of the processes—including those of the official religions—by which man has been offered a means of returning whence he came. I speak of it again at its highest, in sanctuaries which are not those of Masonry and of which the Mason does not dream. Do these sanctuaries communicate the experience only in the sacramental forms of pageant and symbol or administer it vitally to the soul? The answer is that nothing works automatically in those circles: they give to those who can receive and the capacity for reception is the ability and will to become themselves the sacrament, the vessel of the inward grace, by the incorporation of its spirit in life. Eleusis put the counters of its Mystery into many hands, but it was only epopts like Plotinus for whom they became the administration of a living knowledge, and such only went forth from the initiating temples as souls who had participated in a super-efficacious sacrament which was not of the natural world.
Modern Reflections.—For other institutions, for Masonry in all its modes, they perpetuate the forms of sacraments rather than the grace thereof, a kind of shadow in spectacle, and did the Candidate ask for the meaning behind the spectacle he might be regarded as distracted. In a word, the Master who restores to light would prove too often the last person that could be called upon to define or expound it. This notwithstanding, the modern Mysteries are important, if even as reliquaries. Most of them have missed their way, and yet they preserve some elements of divine light, containing in their Rites, and from time to time in their legends, the marks and seals of their ancestry, however overlaid, however remote in memory, so that we look back from them to their antitypes, as looks the soul itself through an immeasurable distance, beyond its travels and metamorphoses, to the kingship of its first estate.
Of Mysteries to Come.—In the old days the pageants of initiation must have surpassed in their splendour the Pontifical Ritual of Rome for the enthronement of its Sovereign Pontiff, and even at this period—on the small scale of the Secret Sanctuaries—there are indubitably many moving Ceremonies. No doubt also if the Ancient Mysteries, with such modifications as might be necessary in another stage of the world, should come to be restored therein, as would take place most certainly if a real Pontiff of the Mysteries rose up once more among us, we should see the desert of materialism blossom with sacramental roses. I shall be exonerated from supposing that the Mysteries of Ceres will be restored qua Ceres, and the other pageants in like manner, nor do I mean exactly that any Missa Pontifica will be presented in the guise of the Mysteries; but rather that the Mysterium Fidei may be set forth after some new manner as a real ground of experience. In the meantime those who will may remember that on the decay of the old Mysteries, when even the holy places of the elder world had sunk into utter corruption, and the second death was adored in place of the Life of life, there rose up a saving faith in the Holy Sacrifice of the Christian Religion; while at this day the Mass-Book of the Roman Church contains a great pageant of initiation—albeit of another order—and, the fact notwithstanding that it is overlooked by the great body of worshippers—even as the presence of sacraments in the Rites of many Orders now diffused over the world—it is possible for those who know to reconstruct the whole process out of the plainest Missal in the kingdom.
Initiation and History.—It is to be regretted that the history of Initiation has, for the most part, been treated sympathetically only by incompetent persons and has been treated competently so far as scholarship is concerned—only by unsympathetic persons. In many of the historical inquiries the circumference has been taken for the centre, or at most the historical aspects of initiation have been dealt with soberly and carefully, but never with particular illumination and discernible gifts of sight. Fortunately, there is more in initiation than its external history, and its legends are sometimes truer than its history, being products of its sub-surface consciousness. Withal there is nothing which moves us like initiations and the rumours of initiations. I suppose that if I who write and those who read should get tidings of Christian Rosy Cross to-morrow in Nuremberg, Silesia or some remote castle of Cracovia, we should take it as a great sign and should go. It might be, however, a fantastic journey, as if a man should set forth to find Avalon in the West Country or the Enchanted City of Hud. It is, in reality, with the antithesis of such a journey that we are concerned in these researches. Those who believe that they can get nearer to wisdom by varying their position on the map are pursuing a distracted quest. Silesia and Nuremberg, Rome, Egypt or Lhassa are no nearer to wisdom than London. The wise man travels therefore only in his youth, because Egypt also is within.
Authorities.—(1) The Greek and Latin writers of classical times, who have been mentioned by name: consult the subject-indices of any representative editions. (2) Mémoires pour Servir à l’Histoire de la Religion Secrète des Anciens Peoples, etc., Par M. le Baron de Sainte-Croix, 1784. (3) William Warburton: The Divine Legation of Moses Demonstrated, Book II, sect, iv, any edition. I have used that of 1837, in 2 vols. (4) Lobeck: Aglaophamus, 1829. (5) F. Lenormant: Eleusis, 1862. (6) A Suggestive Enquiry into the Hermetic Mystery, 1850. (7) George Oliver: The History of Initiation, 1841. (8) Masonic references are numerous: there is an indifferent account of the Eleusinia, reflected from Sainte-Croix, in Clavel’s Histoire Pittoresque de la Franc-Maçonnerie et des Sociétés Secrètes, 1844. See Deuxième Partie, c. i, Mystères du Paganisme. (9) A convenient summary is furnished by Mr. Dudley Wright in The Eleusinian Mysteries and Rites, issued without date in 1919.
There is an old Hermetic dream—shall I say rather a prophecy?—concerning a Master to come under the sacramental title of Elias Artista. It was expected that in his glorious day whatsoever had been whispered in secret would be proclaimed on the roofs of houses and that the face of this world would be changed by a revelation of the Great Mystery. The reverie had no relation to the Second Advent of Christ, for the mastery was one of science—as understood at the period and of the wisdom arising therefrom. I mean to say that the Great Mystery was not concerned with religion, unless by way of reflection. Paracelsus was the precursor of this prophet, and Helvetius believed that he had come in the person of an anonymous adept by whose help he performed transmutation on his own part—as related with almost convincing details in that wonderful tract called The Golden Calf. The visitor in question may have been Eirenaeus Philalethes: in any case the effluxion of time seems to have made void the opinion of Helvetius; the anonymous adept could not have been he who was to come, for he vanished leaving nothing behind him but an ingot made out of lead in a German crucible. In a word, he proclaimed nothing, while if anything was indeed changed it was base into precious metal. Elias Artista came and went subsequently in the world of rumour. The Illuminated Brothers of Avignon—of whose supposed Masonic Rite I have spoken elsewhere—held that this cryptic personality was a friend and admirer of Emanuel Swedenborg, that he revealed alchemical secrets to the latter and deposited bars of gold in his name at a bank of Hamburg. Unfortunately for this romantic invention, the Swedish seer was a person of moderate means through all his days.
Behind the Dream.—It may appear as a mournful confession to affirm that the Secret Traditions are many and that their Keepers also are many, but few indeed are the Masters. The Zoharic Sons of the Doctrine are a cloud of witnesses, but the one Voice of Doctrine was Rabbi Simeon, and it is curious to note in the great contradictory text with what astonishment and curiosity the other Companions welcomed on rare occasions the advent unawares of a stranger who spoke as one with authority. There is also what is called the Higher Magia and of this there is a multitude of exponents, but the wise among them are like the fingers of one hand uplifted. I think indeed that they are fewer and that it has been waiting through all the centuries to see those kings of the East who saw on their own part the star shining in heaven, as a promise of Shiloh coming. And all the claims notwithstanding, there is nothing so uncertain as the canon of attainment in alchemy, whether regarded in its physical aspects or those of a higher kind. We can understand but too well how the Sons of Hermes awaited their Elias. We are waiting also in Masonry for a Master of the Royal Art, though some of us are Grand Masters, Perfect Princes, Most Wise Sovereigns, Pontiffs and High Priests, The greater our titles and the more exalted our eminence, there is nothing more certain than our need of the Artist Elias.
Emperors of the East and West
The full title of this, the first Masonic system which superposed a colossal series of Grades upon the Craft Rite, was Council of the Emperors of East and West, Sovereign Prince Masons, Substitutes General of the Royal Art, Grand Surveillants and Officers of the Grand Sovereign Lodge of St. John of Jerusalem. It was otherwise and in more concise terms the Rite of Heredom or of Perfection. It was founded at Paris in or about 1758 and consisted in all of twenty-five Degrees. We know nothing concerning the circumstances of its origin or the persons connected therewith. The suggestion that it was a daughter of the Chapter of Clermont or a transfiguration and extension of that body has been made in plausible terms, but nothing approaching evidence comes forward to support it. It has been suggested also that its original Grade content was much smaller and that it was extended gradually by incorporation of things outside or by a process of growth from within. The opinion is antecedently probable, but again there are no materials for judgment. So also its shorter title may be that which it bore at first and the sonorous development may belong to the period when it had attained the zenith of its Masonic life. Once more, it is an open question. Every question is open, moreover, as to the Grade content of the Clermont Chapter. While it is difficult under such circumstances to hold any view—however tentatively—one inference from what I must call tradition on the subject makes it appear that the Chapter was Templar in its High Grade developments while the Council at its inception was not. The Council also was the first Continental Rite which included the Grade of Rose-Croix in its system.
The Council and the Scottish Rite.—The Grade content of the Council has appeared in every compilation of Rites and in every Masonic Dictionary for the past hundred years, and since MacKenzie issued his Royal Masonic Cyclopaedia it has been usual to say that the first nineteen Degrees are identical with those of the Scottish Rite. Such, however, is not the case, for in place of that which was No. 14 in the earlier sequence the later obedience substituted Grand Scottish Knight of the Sacred—otherwise Secret—Vault of James VI, called more recently Scotch Knight of Perfection. The error is of some consequence, because the Council of Emperors had no formal Écossais elements. In presenting the following necessary but now familiar schedule I have adopted the arrangement of Ragon, by whom the system was divided into Seven Colleges or Temples, for which it is to be presumed that he had some authority, though the distinctions are unknown to Clavel. The succession of Degrees in the Rite itself is illogical in character, things which belong to the period of the Old Law following others concerned with Christian chivalry and Hermetic motives preceding those of Templar vengeance. An arrangement into classes does nothing to redeem a haphazard order like this and serves little purpose on its own part, more especially as the idea of a Council does not correspond with that of a series of Colleges.
Sequence of Grades.—First College: (1) Apprentice. (2) Companion. (3) Master. Second College: (4) Secret Master. (5) Perfect Master. (6) Intimate Secretary. (7) Intendant of the Buildings. (8) Provost and Judge. Third College: (9) Master Elect of Nine, (10) Master Elect of Fifteen. (11) Illustrious Elect Chief of the Twelve Tribes. Fourth College: (12) Grand Master Architect. (13) Knight Royal Arch. (14) Grand Elect, Ancient Perfect Master. Fifth College: (15) Knight of the Sword or of the East. (16) Prince of Jerusalem. (17) Knight of the East and of the West. (18) Knight Rose-Croix. (19) Grand Pontiff, or Master ad vitam. Sixth College: (20) Grand Noachite Patriarch. (21) Grand Master of the Key of Masonry. (22) Prince of Libanus, Knight Royal Arch. Seventh College: (23) Knight of the Sun, Prince Adept, Chief of the Consistory. (24) Illustrious and Grand Commander of the White and Black Eagle, Grand Elect Kadosh. (25) Most Illustrious Sovereign Prince of Masonry, Grand Knight, Sublime Commander of the Royal Secret.
Story of the Rite.—Wheresoever it came from, the presence of the Rose-Croix in this sequence is the key to its importance as a system, while next in consequence thereto is the Grade of Kadosh. So far as it is possible to say, we hear of neither independently prior to 1758, except in spurious legend or traditional history. If the Council came forth ready made at that date, in all its Ritual panoply, we can understand the success which seems to have attended it for a period. It appears—within a surprisingly short space—to have established daughter Councils at Bordeaux, Lyons, Toulouse, Marseilles and Arras. Yet in 1780, when it had just passed its majority, there supervened one of those changes which convey the note of failure: in that year it is said to have assumed the title of Sublime Mère Loge Écossaise du Grand Globe Français—otherwise. Sovereign Grand Lodge of France. The Rite of Perfection was not, properly speaking, an Écossais Rite, but that denomination had become a fashion in continental Masonry. The experiment did not profit, nor did better success attend its final transformation into the Grand Chapter General of France, the figurative obsequies of which may be said to have taken place in 1786 when it was absorbed by the Grand Orient.
At the end of 1916 the war removed one of the most interesting and notable personalities from the occult circles of Paris. Dr. Gérard Encausse, more familiarly and indeed universally known as “ M. le Docteur Papus,” by allusion to his pen-name, died in Paris from a contagious disease contracted in hospital, where he served as a military surgeon. The indefatigable occultist passed away therefore in the service of humanity and in the sacred cause of his country. While not himself a Mason, he belongs to the history of Masonry in France on several grounds of consequence. Biographical facts concerning him have always been curiously scarce, considering his general repute, and the few words which can be hazarded on this side of the subject may some day call for correction. He was born at La Corogne in Spain on July 13, 1865, his father being a French chemist—Louis Encausse—and his mother a Spanish woman. After graduating in medicine and surgery, his attraction to the psychical and occult side of things was shewn by a passing connection with the Theosophical Society in Paris. A brief note—autobiographical in respect of ideas—appended to the fifth edition of his Traité Élémentaire de Science Occulte—tells us that under the materialistic influence of the medical École de Paris he became an ardent evolutionist, but discovered very soon the incompleteness of this doctrine, which preached the law of struggle for existence but knew nothing of a law of sacrifice. In the opinion of Papus, this latter dominates all phenomena. The idea concerning it seems to have reached him independently, but he found it afterwards in the writings of Louis Lucas, in old Hermetic Texts, the religious traditions of India and the Hebrew Kabalah.
Occult Groups.—It is significant that the abiding presence of the same law in Christian theosophy seems to have escaped him. He found also the doctrine of correspondences; which became for him—as for many others like him—a general key, not only to the mysteries of philosophy and religion but to those of science, and to the inter-relation of all sciences by means of a common synthesis. Very curiously also, as it will seem to many, he met with much to his purpose in the rituals of old Grimoires, and this led him to the general literature of Magic, as well as to a sympathy with its claims and practices. He left the Theosophical Society for reasons explained in his Traité Méthodique de Science Occulte, but they do not concern us here, especially at this date. It was not long before he began to establish independent groups, in collaboration with others whose names are also known. The groups represented what he called a Resurrection of Occult Science. There was a Groups Indépendant d’Études Ésoteriques, but above all these was the Ordre Martiniste, about which I have spoken elsewhere in these pages. Out of these there grew ultimately a Faculté des Sciences Hermetiques, which issued diplomas to students and occasionally— causâ honoris—to persons who had attained distinction as mystical or occult writers in France and some foreign countries.
Martinism.—The foundation of Martinism represented what must have been not only an early interest but also a dedication of Papus to the saintly personality, philosophical illumination and wide influence of Saint-Martin. His understanding of the philosophy in particular differs from our own in England and—in accordance with confused French ascriptions which have no basis in history—he regarded Saint-Martin as a reformer of High Grades in Masonry and the inventor of a Rite of his own. But these things are accidents—comparatively speaking at least. One important result was that the interest led to personal research and that this brought Papus into relation with persons and things belonging to Martinist tradition. Valuable documents came into his hands, so that he was able to throw great light—in a work devoted to Martinism—on the mystical and occult schools of Lyons, on the life of Martines de Pasqually, the original master of Saint-Martin, and to some extent on the mystic himself. In this manner the Order of Martinism justified itself during earlier years—before it began to imitate Masonic procedure—by the work of its founder, whose literary history, were it only in this connection, was honourable to himself and of lasting value to students.
A Rosicrucian Order.—Papus was also a friend and perhaps at first a guide of the Marquis Stanislas de Guaita—another light of occultism in Paris at the end of the nineteenth century. De Guaita founded a Kabalistical Order of the Rosy Cross, which was carried on in great secrecy, and when he died at an early age its direction passed over to F. C. Barlet and then to Papus. It neither had nor claimed any special links with the old mysterious Fraternity, but seems to have been quite sincere in its motives. Some valuable texts have been published from time to time under its auspices. Outside these activities, Papus took a hand in exposing the Leo Taxil conspiracy against Freemasonry and the Latin Church. Though he appears to have broken away alike from the tradition and practice of the orthodox medical school, earning the usual consequences in its open and secret hostility, he was a successful and popular physician, and his clinic in the Rue Rodin is said to have been crowded. He died for his country, literally worn out by his exertions on behalf of the wounded: of him it may be said therefore that death crowned his life. Personally I shall always remember our pleasant communications during his two brief visits to London, many years ago. As it is customary for French occultists to acknowledge others as their masters, it may be desirable to mention those to whom Papus more especially deferred. They were Eliphas Lévi in the philosophical consideration of Magic, Lacuna in the study of numbers, and Hoene Wronski in the doctrine of synthesis applied to a projected “reform of all the sciences.”
There is no need to say—and it will be made evident by the researches incorporated into the present work—that the Ancient and Accepted Rite, and such mammoth collections as the Oriental Order of Mizraim and the Antient and Primitive Rite of Memphis do not represent Grade sequences which sprang into existence suddenly at particular dates, but are for the most part drawn together from antecedent sources, by which I mean that their Grade-elements pre-existed in a state of isolation or grouped in smaller collections. The Eighth Grade of Mizraim is called English Master, but it was extant in a detached form many years before that Rite appeared on the horizon of Masonic history. I have inspected what is certainly a rare and perhaps an unique French Ritual in a hand belonging to the last decades of the eighteenth century. It consists of (1) Ceremonial Procedure, in which the rubrics and dialogue are combined in a confusing manner; (2) an elaborate Obligation, having clauses reminiscent of the Pledge taken in the Entered Apprentice Degree, according to the English Rite; (3) an Historical Discourse, and (4) a Catechism, presenting the chief features of the Grade in summary form. Variants of the Ritual are found under several Obediences.
Story of the Grade.—The Celebrants or Chief Officers of the Grade are Solomon and the King of Tyre. The symbolical time is subsequent to the death of the Master-Builder, whose mausoleum forms part of the design exhibited by the Tracing Board. In return for the cedars of Lebanon and other materials for the building of the Holy Temple, supplied from the regions of Tyre, Solomon appears to have promised not only the wheat and the barley, the wine and the oil mentioned in Scripture, but a province de trente gouvernements, delivery to take place after the completion of the building. A year has elapsed, however, and the pledge is still unfulfilled. Hiram, moreover, has visited the district to be ceded and has found it a sandy desert, peopled by undisciplined hordes and calculated to prove a burden instead of an advantage. He determines therefore to visit King Solomon in search of a settlement. On arriving at the royal palace he is led to an apartment where Solomon is meditating sorrowfully on the death of his architect, and such is the demeanour of King Hiram that Manon, one of Solomon’s favourites, suspects that there is a design against his master. He follows therefore, and listens outside the door while the two kings confer. He is seen by Hiram, who rushes out and seizes him. The execution of the eavesdropper is demanded, and Solomon has considerable difficulty in persuading his visitor that from the favourite’s known integrity and devotion to his own person he could be actuated by no selfish motive, or mere criminal curiosity. Seeing at last where his personal interests lie, the King of Tyre is persuaded, and the alliance between the two kings is renewed on a satisfactory basis.
Ceremonial Procedure.—This is the traditional history and it is this which is represented dramatically in the Grade-procedure. The Candidate represents the favourite, who is seen by King Hiram listening at the door of the Lodge, is dragged violently in, and when after the ordeal and humiliation he has been forgiven at the instance of Solomon, he is taken to the altar, is pledged duly and received not only as an English Master but is told that he is destined to occupy the exalted position left vacant by the untimely death of the Master-Builder.
Follies of the Grade.—His qualifications for the post do not appear, nor is there any longer need that it should be filled, seeing that the Temple is finished; but this is one incident only in the general imbecility by which the Grade is characterised. I need not speak of the mental impression created by a King in Israel advancing his favourite to the rank of an English Master, nor—when this is condoned—of the fact that the Candidate is obligated by Solomon on the Holy Gospels. The limit is perhaps reached when it is explained that the word Jehovah represents not only the Name of Him Who is Grand Architect of the Universe, but signifies in this Grade: "Give thanks to God, because the work is finished”—meaning the work of the Temple. Finally, Solomon, King of Israel, Hiram, King of Tyre, and the Master-Builder are symbolical of the Theological Virtues—Faith, Hope, and Charity.
French Origin.—Such, and so summarised in ample form, is one melancholy example of extensions arising out of the central Craft Legend. Such also is a typical example of side-Grades in the eighteenth century. I believe it to be of French origin, but the question does not signify. It seems to me that only a French Freemason—and of course one of that period—could have suggested that the twenty-seven lights which illuminated a Lodge of English Masters were significant of the thousand candlesticks which lighted the Temple at Jerusalem. The force of folly cannot further go.
Source.—The authority for this notice is the Ritual in manuscript already mentioned and called Maître Anglois ou Favori.
The living channels of the Secret Tradition in Israel—otherwise the successive mouthpieces—according to the Tradition itself, are Enoch, Abraham, Moses, Solomon, and then—after long ages—as one born far after due time, Rabbi Simeon ben Yochai at the beginning of the Christian Dispensation, a Greater Exile for Jewry. The romance-writers—who passed as historians of Masonry before and after the formation of the United Grand Lodge—knew nothing whatever of the last, for Kabalism was reflected into their reveries at second and third hand. But they knew—confusedly and vaguely—that there was a Secret Tradition in Israel, and some gleams concerning it were splintered on their glass of vision from people not themselves, and not of the Masonic Brotherhood, who derived certain rumours at a distance from yet others, being those who had dipped into Picus de Mirandula, Reuchlin, Archangelus de Burgo Nuovo and Baron Knorr von Rosenroth. The manner in which it was reflected revealed to them Masonry everywhere, or if any of the goods and chattels in which they and their authorities dealt could not be called Masonry by any stretch of a Georgian cum William IV imagination, it was then a debased substitute. Of Enoch who walked with God till he was not for God took him there are strange theosophical reminiscences in the Sephek Ha Zohar and its adjuncts; there are also Talmudic stories. Their final reflection into the annals of Masonry was summarised as follows in the year 1764.
“Enoch, the fifth from Seth, who prophesied of the deluge and conflagration, lest arts and sciences should slip out of the knowledge of men, raised two columns, one of brick, the other of stone, and inscribed their inventions upon them, that, if the pillar of brick happened to be overthrown by the Flood, that of stone might remain; which Josephus tells us was to be seen, in his time, in the land of Siriad.”
Enochian Initiation.—The significance of the name Enoch, otherwise Henoch, connects in Hebrew with instruction, which offered to Masonic minds of the past a path of easy transition to the notion of initiation. To him therefore is referred the first institution of Mysteries, or alternatively their specific development and direction. Such a notion is of course implied by the attribution of the Secret Tradition to which I have referred. It is current in two forms, being that according to which he was the recipient of heavenly wisdom sent down from heaven itself, in the shape of arch-natural books, and that which represents him as taught by earlier patriarchs, who were taught themselves by Adam, that mournful custodian of Divine Science reflected from the lost estate of Paradise. The approximate source of both is the Sepher Ha Zohar, behind which lies a mass of oriental tradition, a part only of which has been gathered into the Talmuds.
Enoch in the Zohar.—The heads of tradition in the Zohar may be summarised shortly thus: (1) The Book of the Genesis of Man, containing the Mystery of the Name of God, was communicated to the first man, and it taught him the Supreme Wisdom. (2) It came down from heaven, being carried by a “Master-Angel.” (3) When Adam was driven out of Eden he held it close to his breast, which notwithstanding it vanished out of his keeping, but was restored afterwards because of his tears and prayers. (4) The Angel by whom it was brought originally is he who is called Raziel, and he is the Chief of Supreme Mysteries. (5) The Angel by whom it was returned is named Raphael. (6) The contents were to be kept secret, for Hadraniel—another angel—informed Adam, that none of the heavenly choirs were permitted to know the central secret therein. (7) It related to the foundation of the world in wisdom. (8) Before he left this life, it would appear that Adam had authority for the transmission of the book to his Son Seth, its later custodians being Enoch, Noah and Abraham. (9) The most favoured of all was Enoch, for to him were confided “all treasures of the celestial world,” and his place was in the superior heaven. (10) He beheld the Tree of Life in the midst of the Garden. (11) This was presumably after his translation, when it is even said that he became Metatron, the Great Angel of the Presence, the vesture of Al Shaddai and the Chief of the Heavenly Legions. (12) After God took him it is said that the Book of Adam was known as the Book of Enoch. These extracts are derived from Section Bereshith and from the Appendix entitled Tossafoth at the end of the Commentary on Exodus.
The Magical Tradition.—There is extant a Book of Raziel, which belongs to the magical side of Kabalism, and it represents the Secret Tradition as descending from Adam to Enoch, but that tradition is presented under aspects by which it calls to be distinguished from the sacred storehouse of Zoharic theosophy. There is also the Book of Enoch, to which a place of importance is assigned among Old Testament Apocrypha. It has been referred to various dates and among others to the beginning of the Christian era. As it contains the supposed visions of the patriarch, there is no need to say that it does not pretend to be “the book sent down from heaven.” It is of the class of apocalyptic writings, and Augustus Le Plongeon supposes that under this form the author delineated the circumstances and experience of his initiation into the Mysteries—whether those of Eleusis, Isis or Mithras does not appear. There is as much and as little reason to adopt this scheme of interpretation in the case of the Book of Enoch as there is in that of Revelation. Indeed the great dramatic pageant which unfolded for him who was “in the spirit on the Lord’s Day”—were there a choice between two impossibilities—might be less intolerably regarded as a Rite reserved to epopts under the aegis of a Secret Church in Christ. Those who are concerned can make a comparison of the texts on their own part, and I leave it in their hands. Be there added as an obiter dictum that in its true understanding the life of vision is an ordered life of initiation, and this is the sense in which Novalis said that our life is not a dream but that it ought to become one. Is there any initiation in the wide and age-long world of Instituted Mysteries to compare with that vision which was granted in Dominica suprema to the Seer of Patmos?
Masonic Reflections.—Though Enoch—if the truth must be said—neither established nor revised initiations, whatever the implications of his name in Masonic minds, the book of the visions which he did not see has passed into the life of Masonry in a Grade of the Scottish Rite and has been reflected at a far distance into the Holy Royal Arch. These facts remain for our consideration at a later stage. Here I need say only (1) that God shewed Enoch nine vaults in a vision—according to the Book of Enoch; (2) that he and his son Methuselah built an underground temple in the bosom of the mountain of Canaan on the pattern thus exhibited—vault beneath vault descending—and every roof vaulted, having Divine Names and Titles emblazoned thereupon; (3) that in fine Enoch constructed two triangles of refined gold and wrote the Great Name thereon; (4) that he deposited one of them in the ninth or lowermost arch and entrusted the other to Methuselah. The last point is one of the familiar devices to indicate that the Secret Tradition passed on from age to age and was never without a witness.
It has been said that there is a hidden side of Masonry which is known to none but initiates and is therefore esoteric, in contradistinction to Monitorial Masonry, which is exoteric and accessible to all. In the sense and the manner put forward there is no such part or aspect, and no one has attempted to carry the statement further, furnishing explanation or evidence. By those who are on the circumference of the Masonic circle—by the tyros and young craftsmen—the suggestion will be understood as an allusion to hidden Grades: but no such Grades exist. By anti-Masonic Leagues and Latin Christianity generally it will be collected eagerly as an unguarded admission of their own contention—that the Order has a concealed purpose, a secret plan of the political and religious kind. There is no such purpose in Masonry. On the other hand, in a sense which is not intended, there is that assuredly which may be called Esoteric Masonry, if we like to adopt an arbitrary and undesirable label; for there is that which can be imparted to no one by the study of monitorial text-books, or even the books in extenso containing the Rituals of the Rites: it is the essential life of the Order which can be found and shared only by integration therein. We can learn a great deal about Eleusis by the collation of classical authors, and this is not merely good: it is important and valuable. But this is not to have been initiated at Eleusis. There is another Esoteric Masonry, and this is the meaning which lies beneath the surface of the Grades and can be drawn forth only by those who have a living familiarity with the history of universal initiation, who have become qualified by its comparative study to look beyond mere records and discern in part the true end of initiation. Out of this there is evolved a third Esoteric and indeed Transcendental Masonry, which those in fine attain who have entered into union with the end. By them is the whole pageant of Rites and Grades beheld sub specie aeternitatis and pro forma Dei. It is individual to each who attains, though it is one at the root for all, being the figurative process of the progress of the soul in God. There is an end herein to the folly of supposing that the anonymous Master who first reduced into writing the Legenda Aurea of the Third Degree had taken all initiation for his province. It is above all things likely that he knew little about it. The true meaning is not that which was intended by those who wrote up the Rituals, but rather their highest understanding by those who know that the soul has one only journey to take if it is to enter into its proper purpose, passing from the circumference to the centre, or from outward and manifest things to the state of being withdrawn in God.
Of Secret Rites.—After this manner we may come to realise at length—and in a veridical or vital sense—that there is a place of meeting for the Rites which are called Masonic and those others which coexist therewith in the hiddenness, even in this late age of the world, and are concerned only, under their proper veils of symbolism, with the story of the soul—its epochs, states and stages—on the return to God. The great things meet at Patmos. The intimation is for those who can receive it, because such Rites—being, as I have said, in the hiddenness—are not heard of in the public prints; they are not mentioned by name in the general assemblies, though their names are not unknown. They are entered as Eckartshausen intimates in his book of The Cloud on the Sanctuary, for the condition of being prepared beforehand is that which leads to the gate. It comes about also that the gate opens when knocking is heard without. There is lastly a sense in which there are external circles: indeed the circles are several and act after the manner of drag-nets, so that so far as possible all who are able to ask can make a beginning in the path, Whether they can proceed or not.
A connection between Freemasonry and the Jewish sect of the Essenes was advanced from time to time in the past. I have indicated that it was an age of archaeological romance, and just as at the same period great volumes were written on the subject of the Druids, making portentous claims, so there was much learning apart from any read knowledge displayed concerning the mysteries, actual and alleged, which envelop the history of these recluse people in Israel. We are content nowadays to acknowledge that there is little extant respecting them, outside that which can be drawn from Josephus and Philo. It is sufficient to tell us that they were a contemplative association, having secret doctrines, the nature of which has not as yet emerged into clear light. They are said to have combined dogma with symbolism, but evidence is wanting outside the natural tendency of Eastern minds to seek expression in imagery and parable. They have been thought to stand at the extreme limit of mystical asceticism, with the idea of Divine Union ever before their eyes; but this is dream. On the other hand, an independent legend has connected them with exploration of the spiritual world according to theurgic forms, which appears to be lying invention. As it is easy under all circumstances to establish some kind of parallel between every method of initiation, and as the community in question had circle within circle, so analogies have been instituted between Essenes and Freemasons (a) because women were not admitted to the inner workings; (b) because particular signs of recognition were in use among them, to distinguish members; (c) because the alleged Rites of the Order were followed by a meal in common. On the basis of this skin-deep likeness, the points of which are in no sense above challenge, it has been affirmed that the Essenes were actually disguised Masons, or that Masonry originated either with or through the contemplative sect of Judea. The kind of alleged Masonry was of course entirely speculative, symbolical or spiritual, for it is not suggested that the Essenes were operative Craftsmen, there being no evidence that they built anything, unless it was certain huts or lodges in the wilderness in which they dwelt. The truth is that operative antecedents troubled little the fantasies of the old literati of Masonry, and for the greater number it went without saying that this kind of Solomon’s Temple spiritualised was much older than any temple built on earth, especially by a king of the Jews.
Among some of the initiating fraternities there are preserved memorials in symbolism of certain secret processes by which the condition of spiritual adeptship was assured—within their individual measures—for those who, by natural or acquired gifts, were able to translate the symbolism or—in other words—to make use of the processes. This is perhaps as much as can be said on the subject to those who are outside the Brotherhoods. It is well known, however, for it can be learned by any one from the literature of all the mystics—whether such processes were followed out under definite instructions, as when Tauler was taught by Merswin, or were reached independently by the many mystics who never had masters on earth—that they are all connected with what is termed the Interior Way, and that the attainment of that state in which it is possible for the veridic experience which is above logical understanding to be reached by the individual man, has been invariably by the way of contemplation. The last word has been defined after many ways, all of which connote the state of preoccupation with the quest and hunger for the term thereof. Novalis was right therefore when he said that the condition of knowledge, or of that realisation which is knowledge in the mode of life, is definable only as Eudaimona—that is, saintly calm of contemplation. In this manner the pillared gates of initiation symbolise the entrance of our own souls, All the arcana are held therein—“as if in archives”—the stars which influence us, the instruments by which we divine, and the keys of things intelligible. It is this paramount and catholic comprehensiveness which makes it impossible for us, in the last resource, to be taught, except by the spirit. In respect of material life, the soul is a receptacle of impressions and communications from without, but in respect of spiritual life it is a conduit of eternal graces. The state of communication from without through the material forms of perception is a state of inhibition: the only natural condition of the soul is that of inhabitation, in which we receive our freedom as “mystic citizens of the eternal kingdom.” These statements are loci communes, the commonplaces of eternal life.
Excellent and Super-Excellent Mason
It is explained in the proper place after what manner the Grades of Royal and Select Master—whatever their deficiencies from the standpoint of Ritual and symbolism—are essential to a proper understanding of the Royal Arch, because they exhibit the deposition in concealment of certain sacred objects for the use and profit of future Masonic generations—in case of need. In our consideration of the Royal Arch itself we shall see how the need arose. It follows that there are two Cryptic Grades and no more, the classifications which extend them being examples of critical misjudgment by the makers of Rites. In addition to the Cryptic Grades there are other preliminaries to the Supreme Degree, and they serve to indicate the importance attached thereto under the old systems. Those of Excellent and Super-Excellent Mason may be taken together, for they are connected so intimately that they may be regarded preferably as two Points of a single Ceremony. They form the Twentieth and Twenty-first Degrees of the Early Grand Rite, and under their special names, as well as in their peculiar forms, I believe that they have had no other custodians in recent times. They constitute together a Scottish version of that comparatively old ceremonial—so familiar by name and so little known otherwise—which was once worked in England as the Passing of the Veils.
The Second Temple.—The Candidate for the Grade of Excellent Mason testifies respecting his qualifications attained in previous Degrees and desires further advancement, so that he can repair to Jerusalem and assist in rebuilding the House and City of the Lord, the scene being the Grand Lodge of Babylon and the time that of Cyrus the King. He is admitted and passed successively through the First and Second Veil of the Tabernacle, after which an Obligation is administered and he is prepared for the Second Point or Grade. The object in chief of advancement as a Super-Excellent Mason was the possession of certain Signs and Tokens by means of which a Candidate could “prove himself to the Companions at Jerusalem.” He is pledged and instructed accordingly, after which manner it is to be presumed that he passes The Third Veil, though this is mentioned only in the course of the Historical Lecture. According to this (1) the decree of Cyrus, which emancipated the captive Jews, was a licence to them only for building the Second Temple; (2) it was above all things, therefore, desirable to prevent others—Sons of Israel, common Craftsmen and what not—“from sharing in the glorious work”; (3) in view of which “it was arranged that all applicants, before leaving for Jerusalem, should apply to the Grand Lodge at Babylon, when—if found worthy—they would be entrusted with the Secrets of the Excellent and Super-Excellent Degrees, which would gain them admittance to the Sanhedrim at Jerusalem and ensure their employment at the building.” At the end of the Ceremony the newly instituted Super-Excellent Mason is ready to receive the Sublime Degree of the Holy Royal Arch.
Super-Excellent Master.—The Grade of Super-Excellent Master, under the Obedience of the English Grand Council of the Cryptic Degrees is an entirely different Ceremony, but a preparation after its own manner for the same Exalted Degree. It gives somewhat elaborate explanations of certain "mathematical" figures which are characteristic of the Royal Arch. The Historical Lecture is concerned, however, with the destruction of Jerusalem and its Holy Temple by Nebuchadnezzar, which recital is regarded as a preparation "for the thrilling and sacred theme of the pious and wonderful rebuilding of the Lord's House." It must be said that, taking the two Scottish workings together, they are much better as a quasi-historical introduction to the Royal Arch than a ceremonial which offers certain geometrical analogies and a single sentence of moral reflection. In the American Rite the Grades of Royal Master, Select Master and Super-Excellent Master follow the Royal Arch, and are, therefore, in an utterly illogical position.
As initiations existed long anterior to Freemasonry, so many which are independent thereof continue—more secret than itself—to co-exist beside it, some being alive in a real sense of the term, while others have fallen asleep—that is to say, have lost the true significance of those Mysteries whereof they are the Wardens. Of some which really matter I have spoken as opportunity offered, there and here in my text, within the measures of first-hand experience. From one point of view, it might be difficult to speak too often, because they are higher significators in symbolism than is anything in the public ways. I question whether there is aught—either latent or manifest among secret institutions—which communicates sacraments of spiritual import in a more plenary sense, though the horizon of my certitude in these repects is the horizon of individual knowledge. There may be yet more hidden Sanctuaries, possibly in directions which have been indicated by Karl Eckartshausen and the Russian mystic Lopukhin, or otherwise in the Eastern world, far beyond our ken. Wheresoever they are, and known or unknown by me, it is of all things right and reasonable to regard them as the chief justification of Ritual Mysteries, because they are the apotheosis of these. They stand in respect of Freemasonry as the great witnesses of attainment—Eckhart, Ruysbroeck and others—are placed in respect of the Churches; and this leads me to add that the life of all the Mysteries is the individual attainment therein, apart from which they can be only Houses of Conservation, holding records of the past. The hidden Martinism—not that of Papus and his Supreme Council in France and not that which broke from his rule in America—is such a storehouse in the matter of Emblematic Freemasonry on the hermeneutical side. It is full of archaic intimations and clouded light, but at this day it belongs only to the archives.