Kabalistic Tradition and Masonry ⬩ Kabiric Rites ⬩ Kadosh ⬩ Baron Von Knigge ⬩ Knightly Grades ⬩ Knight of St. Andrew ⬩ Knight of the Brazen Serpent ⬩ Knight of the Christian Mark ⬩ Knight of the East ⬩ Knight of the East and West ⬩ Knight of the Sepulchre ⬩ Knight of the Red Eagle ⬩ Knight of the Serpent ⬩ Knight of the Sun ⬩ Knight of the Tabernacle ⬩ Knight of the Temple ⬩ Konx Ompax ⬩ Karl C. F. Krause
Kabalistic Tradition and Masonry
The existence of a building secret, represented as a Master-Word, is like a pivot upon which revolves the Legend of the Third Degree. The Master-Builder died to preserve the secret of this Word. Owing to his untimely death the Word was lost and—being unfinished at the moment of this untoward event—the Temple remained with its operations suspended, to be completed later on by those who possessed not the Grade of Knowledge represented by that Word, of which every Master Mason is hypothetically still upon the quest. What does this mean? We have no concern at the present day—except in archaeology and history—with King Solomon’s Temple. What is signified for us by such Temple and what is the Lost Word? The only direction in which we can look for an answer is to that which is their source. As to this it must be remembered that the Legend of the Master Grade is on the surface a Legend of Israel under the aegis of the Old Covenant, and though it has no warrant in Holy Writ it is not improbable antecedently that something to our purpose may be found elsewhere in the literature of Jewry. I do not of course mean that we shall meet with the Legend itself: it would be interesting if we did but not perhaps helpful per se, apart from explanation. The root-matter of much which is shadowed forth in the Legend, as regards the meaning of the Temple and the search for the Lost Word, is to be found in certain great texts known to scholars under the generic name of Kabalah—a Hebrew word meaning reception, or doctrinal teaching passed on from one to another by verbal communication. According to its own hypothesis, the tradition entered into written records during the Christian Era, though hostile criticism has been disposed to represent it as invented at the period when it was reduced to writing. The question does not signify for our purpose, since the close of the thirteenth century is the last date that the most drastic view—now abandoned generally—has proposed for the most important text.
Solomon’s Temple.—We find therein after what manner, according to mystic Israel, Solomon’s Temple was spiritualised; we find profound meanings attached to the two Pillars J and B; we find how a Word was lost and under what circumstances the chosen people were to look for its recovery. It is an expectation for Jewish theosophy, as it is for the Craft Mason. It was lost owing to a certain untoward event, and although the time and circumstances of its recovery have been calculated in certain texts, there has been something amiss with the methods. Those who were keepers of the tradition died with their faces towards Jerusalem, looking for that time; but for Jewry at large the question has passed long since from the field of view, much as the quest is continued by Masons in virtue of a ceremonial formula but cannot be said to mean anything for those who undertake and pursue it officially.
Book of Splendour.—I am collecting things in a summary fashion that are scattered up and down the vast text with which I am dealing—that is to say, Sepher Ha Zohar, The Book of Splendour. The word to which reference is made is that Divine Name out of the consonants of which we have formed Jehovah, or—by another speculation—Yahve. If it be asked: What is the connection between the loss and dismemberment which befell the Divine Name Jehovah and the Lost Word in Masonry it is obvious that I cannot answer, except in a veiled manner; but every Royal Arch Mason knows what is communicated to him in the Supreme Degree. In the light of the present explanation he will see that the “great” and “incomprehensible” thing so imparted comes from a Secret Tradition in Israel.
Pillars J and B.—It is also to this Kabalistic source—rather than to the variant account in the First Book of Kings or in Chronicles—that we must have recourse for fight on the important Masonic Symbolism concerning the Pillars J and B. There is very little in Holy Scripture to justify a choice of these objects as particular representatives of an art of building spiritualised. But in later Kabalism, in the texts called The Garden of Pomegranates and The Gates of Light there is a very full explanation of the strength which is attributed to B, the left-hand Pillar, and of that which is “established” in and by the right-hand Pillar, called J.
Secret Tradition in Israel.—As regards the Temple itself I have explained elsewhere after what manner it is spiritualised in various Kabalistic and semi-Kabalistic texts, so that it appears as “the proportion of the height, the proportion of the depth and the lateral proportion” of the created universe, and again as a part of the transcendental mystery of law which is at the root of the Secret Tradition in Israel. I will say only that it offers another aspect of the fatal loss in Israel and the world which is commented on in the Tradition. That which the Temple symbolises above all things is, however, a House of Doctrine, and as on the one hand the Zohar shews us how a loss and substitution were perpetuated through centuries, owing to the idolatry of Israel at the foot of Mount Horeb in the wilderness of Sinai, and illustrated by the breaking of the Tables of Stone on which the Law was inscribed, so does Speculative Masonry intimate that the Holy House, which was planned and begun after one manner, was completed after another and a word of death was substituted for a word of life.
The Word in Kabalism.—The complement in Kabalism of that Sanctuary loss to which Masonry confesses is therefore the Sacred Name, which became a dismembered symbol in Jewry. It is on record that the mode of vocalisation was a secret of the Holy of Holies and was reserved thereto. But there came upon Israel the stress and terror of that time which is called the Greater Exile, and from year to year no longer did the High Priest pass behind the veil and pronounce the Great Word on the other side of the curtain of palms and pomegranates. It came about in the course of the centuries that the true way of its pronunciation passed even from the memory of the elders. Therefore, “until time or circumstances should restore the genuine,” they continued to do of necessity that which had been done previously in accordance with the Law of the Sanctuary—by the substitution of Adonai for Jehovah in the reading of the Law, and by writing the latter Name with the vowel-points of the former. “My Name is written Jehovah but is read Adonai,” say the texts of the Holy Tradition on the part of the Master of Wisdom, and the Tradition with its whole heart looks for that day to come when Israel shall be taken out of exile and the palladium of the elect people shall be declared in the hearing of all who have come out of great tribulation into the inheritance of Zion.
The Divine Name.—This—as I have said—is the story on its literal side, and though it would be easy to allegorise thereon, it is of the temporal and national order. On the emblematic side it exhibits a cosmic sanction. The Divine Name is without change or shadow of vicissitude in the Supernal World; but according to tradition the He final descended to earth at the Fall of Man as part of the scheme of His redemption, and became Shekinah in exile. The Divine Name was dismembered in this manner. But the He final is the Bride of Messias, Who is the Divine Son, represented by the letter VAU. He is in search of His Bride through the ages. A day shall come when He also will descend to earth, that He may raise up the He, whereby and wherein there shall be unity restored to the Name: it will be the epoch of the Great Jubilee and the Seventh Day of the Cosmos, when it shall repose in God.
The Master-Builder.—There is no need to say that beneath such veils of allegory and amidst such illustrations of symbolism the Master-Builder will be found significant of a principle and not a person—historical or otherwise. He stands indeed for more than a single principle; and in the world of mystical intimations through which we are now moving, such a question as “Who is the Master?” would be answered by many voices. But generally he is the imputed and very real life of the Secret Doctrine which lay behind the letter of the Written Law, which “the stiff-necked and disobedient” of the patriarchal, sacerdotal and prophetical dispensations contrived to destroy. According to the Secret Tradition in Israel, the whole creation was established for the manifestation of this life, which unfolded actually in its dual aspects when the spiritual Eve was drawn from the side of the spiritual Adam and was placed over against him, in the condition of face to face. The intent of creation was made void in that event which is termed the Fall of Man, though this particular expression is unknown in Scripture. By the hypothesis, those “fatal consequences” which followed would have reached their term on Mount Sinai; but the Israelites, when left to themselves in the wilderness, “sat down to eat and rose up to play.” That which is concealed by the evasion of these last words corresponds to the state of Eve in Paradise, when she had become infected by the Serpent.
The Greater Exile.—The Fall of Man is of course a story of Israel from the standpoint of Zoharic Kabalism, and that exile of the ages which followed the expulsion from Eden is like the exile of Jewry from Zion through the Christian centuries. When, according to the traditional dream, the elect shall come into their own it will be as if Adam went back into Paradise under the folded wings of the Cherubim, or as if the High Priest passed into the Holy of Holies. There are hence certain analogies between the literal and emblematical stories, and the loss memorised on the literal side has its complement—as I have said—in Masonry. But in all its Rites and Orders there is an analogy between the Emblematic Art and the Emblematic Myth of the Zohar. The Art recognises after its own manner that Symbolical Masonry has one foundation and one keystone, which is the Sacred Name Jehovah, but in common with all Israel in exile it can give that Name only with the pointing of Adonai, and in so doing it is ruled out of court by the voice of the whole tradition.
Christian Grades.—There remain, however, the Christian Grades of Masonry—as, for example, that of Rose-Croix, understood as a typical instance. They know nothing of Israel and its tradition of secret theosophy, but only that the quest of the Craft Grades is left in fine unfinished. For them and their votaries the eye is not satisfied with seeing nor is the ear filled with hearing the Divine Name, whether read and written as Jehovah or Adonai. Their hypothesis does not say that it is imperfect: it is the sum of perfection and Providence within the measures of the Old Law, but this is an unfinished experiment, and with all respect to the Masonic Grades which subsist under that obedience the Word of Quest is not to be found therein, till that which makes for completion is added thereto. Herein lies the office of the Holy and Christian Grades, and the work is done by taking the letter Shin—which is called the letter of the Spirit—and inserting it in the Name יְהוֹה, the result of which is יְהוֹשׁוּה, being the Name of Jesus and the Word of the New Law. It will be seen therefore that the Grand Master did not come to set aside or destroy but to fulfil the Sacred Name of old, which stands about His own symbol as the hills stand about Jerusalem. He came also to fulfil the Law by the work of its transmutation from that of bondage to the Law of Grace. But the corner-stone of the New Temple was rejected by Jewry and the walls of Zion fell down. There was no Temple henceforth in Israel and no place for the chosen people. The amplius et perfectius tabernaculum, non manu factum rose up in the Gentile world and not in Palestine. For the Christian Grades of Masonry it was obvious therefore that the experiment of the Symbolical Degrees could be finished only in the Light and Law of Christ. In Him also the Master-Builder—whom the Craft had mourned so long—must arise if he is to restore all things.
Christian Kabalism.—If the sources of Craft Masonry—taken at its culmination in the Sublime Degree—are thus found in Kabalism, what manner of people were those who grafted so strange a speculation and symbolism on the Operative Procedure of a Building-Guild? The answer is that all about the period which represents what is called the "transition"—and indeed between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries—many Latin-writing scholars of Europe were animated with zeal for an exposition of the Tradition in Israel, with the result that memorable and even great books were produced on the subject. Materials were thus provided and were ready to the hands of symbolists. What purpose had the latter in view? The answer is that in Germany, Italy, France and England the zeal for Kabalistic literature had more than a scholastic basis. It was believed that the texts of the Secret Tradition shewed plainly—out of the mouth of Israel itself—that the Messiah had come. This is the first fact. The second is in Ceremonial Masonry itself and namely, that although the central event of the Third Degree is the Candidates' Raising, it is not said in the Legend that the Master-Builder rose, thus suggesting that something remains to come after which might at once complete the Legend and conclude the Quest. The third fact is that in an important High Grade of a philosophical kind, now almost unknown, the Master-Builder of the Third Degree does actually rise as Christ—as we have found in its proper place. It follows that although the Opening and Closing of the Third Degree and the Legend of the Master-Builder, with all their speaking mystery, may seem to come from very far away, they are not so remote that we cannot trace them to their source.
Of Spiritual Building.—If there were ever emblematic in the sense of spiritual builders, we must count the Jewish theosophers of the greater exile as first and chief among them. The Kabalists were builders of a city not made with hands, of a heavenly Zion, of a Temple and Sanctuary within the walls thereof, of which the Sacred House of the Eternal King in the earthly Jerusalem was but an imperfect external sign. The world for the Kabalists was full of palaces and sanctuaries, while visible creation—in particular, this lower world, the sphere of the Kingdom—was viewed as the House of Adonai, the abode of the Indwelling Glory. It will be seen how readily this conception lent itself to the institution of multitudinous analogies in the fervid mind of Jewry; how the outward Sanctuary was transfigured by many meanings, so that it was now the body of man enlightened by the abiding spirit—which was also the understanding of the Law; and now celestial Jerusalem; how the destruction—when this came about—of the material city signified the Secret Doctrine laid waste by the advocates of the letter, or again the chosen nation, the peculiar people delivered into hands of idolaters; and finally—if I may plunge for a moment more deeply into the complexities of Kabalistic reverie—how the external city and its holy places were symbols of the primeval world before the serpent ascended into the Tree of Life; how—from this point of view—their destruction typifies the Fall; how the later city stands for a restored world in Kabalism, which differs from the first in glory; and how there is yet another city, which is to come, and over this a new firmament shall shine. It is this dwelling of the elect that the Kabalist rebuilds in his heart; and as I know that its splendid spectrum, like a bow of promise, rests over all the later literature of Israel, I register an inward conviction that some shadowed reflections thereof have been derived into occult associations, not even excepting Masonry, from spiritual enthusiasts of the ghettos.
The Restoration of Zion.—I know that long after the golden age of Kabalism, yet far earlier than the earliest date which we can assign to any Rituals of Initiation now worked among us, the Rosicrucian Fraternity also symbolised a sacred city and house not made with hands; while at the very period when the wonder and rumour of the Zohar first astonished the academies and synagogues of Spain there fell that Order of Knights Templar which speculation has always accredited with the design of restoring Zion. From this source something also has been acquired by High Grade Masonry, which has drawn from many fountains, not excepting—however indirectly—the Christian Mystics, who in their own manner dreamed of a Spiritual Sanctuary, from the days of St. Augustine and The City of God to those of St. Teresa. The office and mission of the Church itself may be similarly regarded, for this is also a city of many palaces, which—in virtue of inherent vitality—builds itself up from within and is improved and beautified for ever by the continual transmutation of its living stones.
Of Words made Void.—The legend of a literal Master-Word which perished with a Master-Builder—or was hidden with him in a sepulchre—which connoted rank in a sodality, or a grade of skill in craftsmanship, can spell nothing whatever to us as Emblematical Masons, and from the moment that it might pass into desuetude for any reason it would lose all consequence to Operatives. Whatever substitution might be agreed upon would acquire at once the value and efficiency of the original. There would be nothing to connect, nothing to seek, for in fact there would be no loss. In certain Orders existing at this day there are Temporal Passwords which are replaced regularly by others at given times and seasons: when the old ones pass out of use they fall into the limbus of forgotten things, or are buried in the records of Minute-Books. If the Master-Word of Masonry was actually and literally a Word, then it belonged to this category, and the great quest of the Craft Degrees becomes nonsense, not only on the face of things but in their very heart. Put otherwise and more plainly, Emblematic Freemasonry is stultified at once as such. It is beyond all question therefore that those who made it, as now practised, were dealing in another subject, which they veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols. As to its real nature I have indicated in this section the direction in which we must look. But the Secret Doctrine of Israel is another illustration by allegory and another veil of symbolism: it is of no greater profit on the merely literal and formal side than is the Legend of the Master Grade, when the sense of this is restricted within its surface aspect. When both have dissolved there emerges that Secret Doctrine which is based on experience and which tells to those who have ears—meaning those who are capable of the experience or have already passed through it—(1) that the Word is Life; (2) that this Life is Divine; (3) that it must be made flesh within us, by realisation of its presence in the heart of hearts; (4) that until it has become so incarnate the Word is lost.
Verbum Christus est.—It is to be understood that I am speaking here from the deep root of things, remembering the place of the Logos in philosophy and its application to the Mystery of Christ. We have to remember, however, that the symbolism of the Word in Masonry does not stand alone, but calls for consideration in connection at large with the Craft Traditional History and with that which is enacted ritually and is built up on this basis. After passing therefore through the ceremonial experience of a figurative death and resurrection, we have to realise in the first place that the Craft Masters do not find the Word which was the secret and seal of Masters in the plenary light of Masonry: they make shift for the time being with a devised and arbitrary substitute. It is as if something had been enacted symbolically which must be fulfilled hereafter in life and experience, as if the Way of Divine Life and the Way of Truth had been delineated in a metaphysical sketch and its application left to themselves in their proper persons. A quest-motive arises in this manner, and we hear of a quest in Masonry; but within the measures of the Craft Degrees it is pursued always after the same manner and reaches the same suspension. The Candidate is told, however, the direction in which he must turn if he would attain his end in Masonry. It is to that bright and Morning Star about which it is said—“whose rising brings peace and salvation,” and of which we learn otherwise that this is the root and stock of Jesse, Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the First and the Last. It is obvious therefore that the Word in Masonry is Christ, and again that the finding of the Word is the finding also of Christ. In its preliminary meaning, the loss of the Word signifies the death of Christ. The three assassins are the world, the flesh and the devil—to make use of familiar technical and conventional terms. The Master-Builder who erected the House of Christian Doctrine is Christ Himself. From another point of view the malefactors were Pilate, Herod and Caiaphas.
A Practical Counsel.—Amidst the high technicalities and involved reveries of the Secret Tradition in Kabalism the Doctors of later Israel remembered from time to time, and indeed continually, that which is the life of Doctrine, its realisation in the heart of the student. The crown of their theosophy in respect of the Word is contained in a single sentence which is a guarantee of experience in Israel: “If man aspires after the Supreme and Holy Utterance”—Verbum ineffabile—“he draws it down from above.” It is not Jehovah or another—of the Royal Arch, the Militia Crucifera of the Temple and Holy Sepulchre, or the Rose-Croix, Ordo Sanctissima. As Mary conceived in the heart before she conceived in the body, so is the Word generated and so only is born in the heart of the Master Mason. The impregnation by which it is brought about is a seed of life; the Word is alive in the heart; it is an utterance found in life, a life which enters into expression. The ne plus ultra Grade of this Mystery had been taken by St. Paul when he said: “I live, but not I: it is Christ liveth within me.” Our verbal utterances are fore- and post-shortened, suspended and broken on our lips; they are shadows of Divine Utterance; and for want of power in speech we express only in the heart that which is the Word of Life. It is the other side of that story of secret life concerning the Temples and Palaces which we have pledged ourselves to erect for the Glory of God in the Highest: “Most Puissant Sovereign, for want of territory we build them in our hearts.” But there comes that time for some of us when we realise in our heart of hearts that there in our hidden centre—and in the last resource there only—have we been called to the work of such building.
The Question of Antiquity.—It is to be observed that the presence of a Kabalistic element in the Traditional History of the Craft—and elsewhere—by no means connotes antiquity; and antiquity is a difficult thing to predicate of the Third Degree, at least in its present form. By whomsoever created or developed its author was a student of the Secret Tradition in Israel and drew important lights therefrom, possibly at first hand, more probably perhaps from those Latin commentaries and synopses already mentioned. The great bulk of these were compiled already if we place his work early in the eighteenth century, as we must, almost beyond doubt. Much of it was available previously, supposing that more considerable antiquity could be postulated of the Third Degree. But we must be content with what is evidentially reasonable in this respect, until time or circumstances shall provide better warrants. If we cannot get behind Desaguliers I am prepared to abide by him, who was a man of learning in his way, had read in many directions and may not have been unfamiliar with Picus de Mirandula, Riccius, Capnion, Archangelus de Burgo Nuovo and Knorr von Rosenroth. At the same time I shall look with no unhopeful eye towards the ancient Masonry of York, where I feel that many things had a hidden repository for a period. For Speculative Masonry as a whole we may have to rest content also if we cannot date it much further back than the close of the seventeenth century, recognising that its present characteristic developments are to be sought in and about the Revival period. It puts an end to romantic hypotheses, but the great intimations of the Third Degree remain—a speaking pageant in symbolism, however late its origin. The Quest of the Word remains, with all Zoharic Theosophy behind it and all the Rites of Christian Masonry in front. That mythos connects our Order by reflection with the chief figurative Mysteries of past ages, while the Opening and Closing of the Lodge therein are much greater than anything extant in the memorials of Greece and Egypt.
Recurrence to Hermetic Schools.—We may therefore at this point reach a general conclusion on the Hermetic Schools and their alleged intervention for the transformation of an Operative Guild into an Emblematic Freemasonry, and it shall be expressed in such a manner as will be without detriment to ourselves or our connections as loyal and devoted Masons. In Dionysian architects, Roman Collegia, Comacines and Building Guilds of the Middle Ages I have failed to discover any traces of an art of building spiritualised. I have taken the Old Gothic Constitutions and have sought to digest them like Anderson “in a new and better method”; but however they were passed and repassed through the mental alembic they have yielded nothing corresponding to “a system of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols.” Not even the Regius MS. betrays a single vestige, though I have followed Gould anxiously.
As regards the Hermetic Schools, and speaking—if I may venture to say so—as one who knows the literatures, the allegation of Albert Pike—mentioned in a previous section—is true in respect of a few world-wide symbols which prove nothing and false in all things else. There is no legend of three Grand Masters in alchemy, there is no Substituted Word, and there is no Master of the Lodge, for there is no record of Ritual procedure among all its cloud of witnesses. The witness of alchemy to Masonry is the witness of Elias Ashmole, the sole alchemist in the seventeenth century whom we know to have become a Mason. The Rosicrucian influence I believe to have been marked in character and exercised for a considerable period; but we know it only in its developments, which belong to the eighteenth century and are of course beyond our scope. Provisionally and under all reserves, I am inclined to hold that it began earlier, in the sense of an atmosphere belonging to the formative period of Emblematic Freemasonry. But the great Rosicrucian maxim cited by Robert Fludd about 1630 must be ruled out unfortunately. Transmutemini, transmutemini de lapidibus mortuis in lapides vivos philosophicos does not signify that the Brothers of the Rosy Cross had either joined or invented our figurative and speculative Art: it is rather a contrast established between material and spiritual alchemy. For the present at least, we are called also to set aside the winning speculation concerning a secret school of Emblematic Masonry coexistent through several generations or centuries with the Operative Guild and sometimes identified with Rosicrucians. There are no Rosicrucian traces prior to 1598. Moreover, the alleged school is a notion arising out of a false construction of the Regius MS.
A Final Reduction of Issues.—We are left in this manner with the Kabalistic element, about which I have spoken plainly. But now as a last point: supposing that there is in reality no trace of the Third Degree prior to 1717; that after this epoch it was devised by a group of Masonic literati or alternatively by an anonymous Brother, whether famous like Desaguliers or obscure: what then is our position? My own at least is this—that the Third Degree was formulated on the basis of the Ancient Mysteries and illustrated by the lights of Kabalism—facts about which there is no open question; that it belongs as such to an old and secret tradition, though not in respect of time; that it stands on its own symbolical value; and that—in the words of Martines de Pasqually: We must needs be content with what we have. As a student of the past, I could wish that it were otherwise; but in this as in all else the first consideration is truth. There are High Grades of Masonry for which no one in their senses predicates antiquity, and yet they are great Grades. They are even holy Grades, which—from my point of view—carry on the work of the Craft towards something that stands for completion. I conclude, therefore, with an affirmation which I have made in other places, that antiquity per se is not a test of value. I can imagine a Rite created at this day which would be much greater and more eloquent in symbolism than anything that we work and love under the name of Masonry. Yet for what Masonic antiquity is—let us call it two hundred years, under all needful reserves—such an invention would not have the hallowed and beloved associations which have grown about our Emblematic Craft. Here is the matter of antiquity which really signifies: it is part of the life of the Order. And after all the fables and all the fond reveries, the false analogies and mythical identifications with other and immemorial Mysteries, it is again the life which counts, the life of that great world-wide Masonic organism, in which we ourselves live and move and have our Masonic being.
There was a wide and varied world of Initiation long prior to the modern schools, as there was a world before the Flood. It unfolds before us under many aspects and guises, but these seem to be concerned always with the symbolism of Mystical Death. In the Kabiric Rites of Samothrace we hear that the Candidate was brought into the presence of the gods and was there slain by the gods. It seems obviously a kind of mystery which the most enthusiastic disciple would have been disposed to avoid at that and any other period; but in the light of all that we know concerning Initiation at large we shall interpret the episode in a purely symbolical manner and shall conclude that the recipient was passing through an experience of figurative death, after which there followed a resurrection. Alternatively the Kabiric pantheon—if I may be permitted so to term it—had a myth of this kind in connection with one of their gods, in which case the Kabiric Rites, commemorating this event, were identical with other Instituted Mysteries, and notably those of Osiris, Ceres, Bacchus, Adonis and Rhea. Always, as Faber says, and as we have seen otherwise at length, "some ancient personage was first bewailed as being dead, or as having descended into hell," after which his or her "supposed revivification was celebrated with the most violent and frantic expressions of joy." We hear accordingly of a ceremonial observance which was called the Kabiric Death, celebrated precisely in the manner just indicated, that is to say, amidst darkness and sorrow, but afterwards in rejoicing and gladness. It was in commemoration of the mystical death and restoration of Kasmillos, the youngest of the Kabiric gods. I have failed to discover on what authority the Candidate for these Mysteries of Initiation is said to have taken the part of Kasmillos, suggesting that in the course of his experience he also was slain figuratively by the gods, that is by the officiating priests, and was thereafter restored to life. The assertion has been made, however, by more than one writer, and I remember indeed that "Kasmillos the Candidate" figures in one of the non-Masonic Rites which one meets with among modern inventions. As it is clear that the priests bore the names of their gods—Axieros, Axiokersos and Axiokersa, so it is not impossible that those whom they received were converted into their hierarchy and assumed the name of him who was least among them and was—according to Mnaseas—their servant. The point to be remembered is that we are dealing with pure conjecture.
Origin and Antiquity.—The Kabiric worship is supposed to have originated in Samothrace, whence it spread in several directions, at once the most ancient of Mystery-Worships, except the Egyptian cultus, and of all perhaps most obscure. Axieros and Axiokersos were male and female, otherwise Heaven and Earth; they produced as the fruit of their espousals the divinity termed Axiokersa: it does not appear in virtue of what circumstances Kasmillos was added to the trinity, but it was not apparently by generation. The scholiast on Apollonius is an authority for the names, but there is confusion regarding the order. It is of no consequence for my purpose, as I am concerned with the Initiatory Rites, not with the mythology itself and not with any public worship which prevailed in Samothrace. Those who would enter on this study, than which nothing is plus embrouillée dans l'antiquité, as Baron de Sainte-Croix tells us, may begin with the digression of Strabo in the tenth book of his Geography, and he will learn how the subject of Kabiric mythology and its cultus is mixed up with that of the Dactyli, Curetes, Corybantes and Telchines.
Diffusion of the Rites.—It appears from Diodorus and other classical writers that the Kabiric Priests threw open the gates of their temple to strangers as well as Samothracians and that people from all quarters came for initiation. The experience was supposed to ensure them against perils on the sea, as we learn from the Argonautica of Apollonius. According to Valerius Flaccus, the High Priest himself welcomed the arrival of ships, standing on the seashore, and led strangers to the Sanctuary. In this manner the wealth of the island grew as the cohort of initiates increased. But Samothrace had other talismans than those which keep from shipwreck, for the Rites sanctified recipients and the confessions which preceded them washed away stains of sin, though homicide at Samothrace as at Eleusis was liable to exclude Candidates and did certainly in aggravated cases and when complicated by sacrilege. We find also that, as at Eleusis, the popularity of Kabiric Mysteries led to initiation in childhood, that the dying man could atone at the last moment for lost time, while it would appear from the scholiast on Theocritus (Idyll, II) that even the dead might be purified and prepared by the Rites of the Sanctuary for the immortal beatitude which the Mysteries promised to adepts. Sages like Pythagoras and kings like Philip of Macedon sought the benefits of initiation.
Pageant of the Rites.—As regards the ceremonial procedure, the scholiast on Homer reports that Candidates presented themselves crowned with olive-wreaths and wearing a purple girdle, that they passed in the dark of the night amidst woods and waterways—according to the scholiast on Apollonius—and so reached the Temple. The Rite which they witnessed was essentially phallic and its traditional history was the slaying of Kasmillos by his own brethren and fellow-gods, who fled—bearing his genitals in a cistus or basket. This is according to Herodotus—Liber II, c. 51—who says also that his body was carried into Asia on a shield and was buried at the foot of Mount Olympus. The circumstances of his restoration to life have not come down to us, and it may even be supposititious, an argument from the analogies furnished by the Mysteries of Osiris, Iacchos and Adonis, though the force of the analogy is irresistible, and I have no doubt that those who mourned Kasmillos rejoiced afterwards with him. It is said by Herodotus that the Recipients were instructed in various historical traditions belonging to the Pelasgian race, and there is a suggestion otherwise—but I know not on what authority—that the Rite ended with the enthronement of Candidates. The Kabiric Mysteries passed from Samothrace to Lemnos, Crete, Phrygia and Rome. There is the evidence of Strabo to shew that they were still practised in Samothrace at the beginning of the Christian era.
Authorities.—Outside classical writers, the reader may learn what he can from the chaotic Dissertation on the Mysteries of the Cabiri, by the Rev. G. S. Faber, 2 vols., 1803, and from Bryant’s Ancient Mythology. There are gleanings also to be made from Cudworth’s Intellectual System, from Le Monde Primitif of Court de Gebelin and from Higgins Anacalypsis. The best and briefest account will be found in the work of Sainte-Croix, Sect. II, pp. 25 et seq., edition of 1784. There is, in conclusion, not the least reason to suppose, so far as any records are concerned, that the Candidates were more than spectators of a dramatic pageant and recipients of a subsequent instruction belonging thereto. The idea that they took the part of Kasmillos, suffered and arose with him, is exceedingly taking, but lacks all support, as does indeed the story of enthronement. It is difficult to believe that a Mystery diffused so widely and evidently of such great appeal carried no meaning and delivered no message to those who shared therein: we must be content, however, to assume that it did so as a working hypothesis only. I am quite certain that the death and resurrection of gods constituted a body of symbolism, to which a morality attached, and that for the sense of this morality we do right in looking to the records of Greek Platonism as the only testimony before us: it was the personal understanding of a great theosophical school, and it is reasonable to suppose that it was not without a certain root in the Mysteries themselves.
From whatever point of view we may approach it, this Grade is of considerable consequence and has a curious history in Masonry. It has suffered as many transformations as that of Rose-Croix, though not for the same reason. The story that it was invented at Lyons in 1743 appears to be without foundation, and there are several other myths as to the date and circumstances of its origin. In the present state of our knowledge they must be left open questions. Had the Council of Emperors of the East and West come into existence in 1758 with its full complement of twenty-five Degrees, the Kadosh would have been extant at that date, but we do not know its exact dimensions at the beginning nor the periods of its successive extensions.
Motive and Purpose.—The earliest Kadosh account which I have traced is that of Le Franc in Le Voile Levé pour les Curieux, but there is a slightly anterior record of Monjoie which I know at second hand only. He records that in the course of its ceremonial the Duc d’Orleans had to cast himself bodily from a ladder. However this may be, it is certain (1) that the earlier codices subjected the Candidate to severe trials as a test of his endurance, and (2) that all were concerned in avenging the death of Molay, Grand Master of the Temple, on the temporal and spiritual powers represented by Philippe le Bel and Pope Clement. In this manner there arises ab origine the question of Grade-motive, and it is exceedingly plausible on the surface to affirm that those who devised it aimed at the destruction of monarchical government in France and of the Catholic Religion. Under the auspices of Gérard Encausse, all French Martinism adopted this view at the end of the nineteenth century. Put quite simply, the thesis was that the Templar Grades aimed at revolution in France and that the French Revolution came. On the whole, it is perhaps too plausible to be quite convincing, and the hypothesis over-reached itself by seeking to include too much. There is nothing more certain in Masonic history than is the freedom of the Templar Strict Observance from any political taint, while in respect of religion it is sufficient to say that Baron von Hund, its creator to all intents and purposes, was reconciled to the Latin Church, for reasons connected with the Rite, when it was almost at the zenith of European power and influence. At a later period the French Ordre du Temple, depending from the Charter of Larmenius, had some leaning for a period towards jobbery in heretical religion, which caused a fissure in the Rite, but it had no cause in politics. The Military and Religious Order, which arose in England, so far as it is possible to say, and was certainly unheard of on the Continent during the eighteenth century, was from the beginning and remains now a high Catholic Grade without one tincture of concern in questions of earthly royalty. In the eighteenth century the Templar Grade of Kadosh may be said to stand alone, with little to account for its inclusion in the sequence of the Council of Emperors, wherein it is heard of first. The Sublime Prince of the Royal Secret is its supplement and figures later on in the same series. It is known only by comparatively late recensions, through the modifications and added pretensions of which there appears to emerge the original design of the Grade, being the old alleged Templar dream of rebuilding the Temple in Jerusalem: there is no vengeance motive, no cause against King or Pope. And lastly when the time came to devise or transform the Grade final of the Scottish Rite, being that of Sovereign Grand Inspector General, the alleged object was to wreak vengeance, as we shall see, on the Knights of Malta, to whom the treasures of the Temple had passed and from whom they must be wrested. It is the aftermath of the Kadosh judgment on the “sanguinary criminals” who proscribed the Order and martyred its illustrious members. After this manner did the job in revolution pass out by descent into the simple ridiculous, and a day of small things followed, when the Grade of Kadosh was philosophised, talking many platitudes under the aegis of Memphis and Mizraim. On account of its historical importance in the scheme of High Grade Masonry, let us observe how it stands ritually at three periods.
Views and Judgments.—The Kadosh is the regenerated man, for whom all ambiguity ceases, according to Abbé Barruel, whose account—though confessedly at second hand—does not differ essentially from antecedent reports of Lefranc and Cadet Gassicourt, on the hostile side, or indeed those of Thory and Reghellini, save only in respect of the design, with which I am concerned no further. We hear of a darksome cave, wherein the Candidate was left to himself, with ropes about him; of subterranean passages; of ascent performed in the darkness; of a sudden fall—though it involved no real danger; of a ceremonial vengeance achieved; of a solemn obligation taken with a pistol at the breast; and—after these ordeals—the ends and purpose of the Grade revealed. It is of course at this point that Barruel introduces his own personal views—the reduction of kings and pontiffs to the common level of citizens. There is not the least reason to suppose that the Ritual—whatever its concealed purpose—betrayed itself in this manner. There is not the least reason to admit Thory’s statement that the Degree was invented at Lyons in 1743: Kloss and the German Handbook alike lean towards its rejection. Its position one hundred years later is shewn clearly by Clavel when he says (1) that it cursed the memory of Philippe le Bel, Clement V and the traitor Noffodei; (2) that they were termed the three abominables; (3) that the Candidate ascended a ladder of seven steps; but so far from being steps of vengeance and revolution (4) that they were inscribed with the words Charity, Candour, Mildness, Truth, Perfection, Patience and Discretion. I make no doubt that the Grade in France had suffered a serious revision at that date. The so-called Kadosh of Martinism, Kadosh of the Jesuits, Kadosh of the first Christians and Kadosh of the Strict Observance are figments of imagination. About 1860 Ragon produced a Philosophical Grade which he described as designed to replace the Templar Degree of the Scottish Rite, on the ground that this was passing out of use. The proposed purpose was to make men virtuous and happy. The vengeance motive disappeared, and the Sanctuary became one of peace. The Candidate was called upon to express his views on civilisation, the world beyond, pre-existence, good and evil, etc. He ascended a ladder, the steps of which represented the seven planets, the order being—Saturn, Venus, Jupiter, Mercury, Mars, Moon, Sun; but what the progression signified and why the planets were appropriate symbols within the conception of the Grade I do not pretend to know. It was held to represent Rectified and Rationalised Masonry, but it was in every respect negligible.
Pike’s Reconstruction.—In the recension of Albert Pike the three abominables have become two wretches, being the particular Pope and King, while the vengeance of the past has become punishment of crime. In a dark apartment, under the glimmer of a sepulchral lamp, a knight lies mystically dead and within a coffin, but being dead yet speaketh. Beside him are three skulls, one wearing a tiara, the other a regal crown, and these are stabbed by the Candidate. But between them is a third skull, wreathed with laurels and immortelles, representing that of Molay, distinguished as “the immortal martyr of virtue.” In its presence the Candidate is pledged to punish crime and protect innocence. He is taken from apartment to apartment, oath is piled upon oath, while ever and continually he is threatened with the dreadful ordeals involved by his determination to proceed. By the hypothesis, he persists however, while from room to room and from pledge to pledge the “great instruction” that is said to replace symbols grows from more to more in the perfection of all banality. Notwithstanding the stabbing of skulls, the execration of Pope and King, the praise, reverence and incense poured out to the memory of Molay, there is nothing which it is proposed to avenge, while all the historical illustration is designed only to enforce the necessity of union in order to resist tyranny and unmask imposture. It does not follow in the logic of the endless verbiage that Kings are symbols of tyranny or popes of imposition. Nothing indeed follows, because nothing is specified; though the world appears to be groaning under the dual “disgraceful yoke.” In a word, the Pike recension is the Grade of Kadosh reduced to the ne plus ultra of foolish pretence. The Grand Elect Knights of the eighteenth century knew where they were, if ever they undertook explicitly to destroy royalty and religion, but when they play now at such destruction in the names of liberty, equality and fraternity, no one knows where he is, or in what sense he is saluted as Sacred or Holy Knight, Knight of the White and Black Eagle, and Grand Elect Knight. Better the Philosophic Kadosh of the Grand Orient—when it happened to have a Kadosh—better Memphis and Mizraim, “false in sentiment and fictitious in story,” than the deep below the deep in this gulf of unreason.
Baron Von Knigge
The disillusion which awaits some amiable minds as a last result of the Masonic adventure is exemplified by the story of one whom I have had occasion to name already—Adolph Franz Friedrich Ludwig, Baron von Knigge, a native of Hanover, who was born on October 16, 1752, and died in the prime of life, in 1792. He is still remembered in Germany as a novelist and poet. At the age of twenty years he entered Masonry under the obedience of the Strict Observance—which was then at the flowing tide of its fortunes—and assumed the chivalric title of Eques a Cygno, in remembrance—I presume—of Lohengrin. He does not appear to have been satisfied, on completing his advancement through the Grades in 1779. He conceived projects, however, for the improvement or reform of Masonry and was proposing to present them for consideration at the Convention of Wilhelmsbad, the arrangements for which were being made some two years in advance. He met, however, the Marquis of Constanza, who told him that the Order of Illuminati had already forestalled his plans. With all the enthusiasm of his nature, the Knight of the Swan became Philo in the foundation of Weishaupt, but only to find that it was the uncompleted invention of a contemporary German mind. Beyond the Minerval Academy, there was only a batch of materials for the Higher Grades. The materials were placed in his hands, and recurring to his former ambition he effected a kind of marriage between Masonic advanced Degrees and those of Illuminism. But he and Weishaupt are affirmed to have quarrelled over details of the resulting Rituals, whereupon he abandoned the Order and is said also to have retired from Masonry.
The Rites, Orders and Degrees of Masonic Chivalry occupy a very considerable place in any comprehensive nomenclature of Grades; but seeing that they are names only, I do not propose to make an exhaustive tabulation. It will be understood that the Council of Emperors, the Ancient and Accepted Rite, the Rite of Mizraim, the Oriental Order of Memphis, and the other great collections incorporate knightly sections. The content of each is given in its proper place, and repetition would serve no purpose. Where it happens that these collections include great and important Grades of chivalry they are considered at length under their proper titles. I have made a selection also of certain minor examples and believe that the result will be adequate for ordinary student purposes. In the present place my intention is to glance briefly at the things which remain over—a great cohort indeed—as a guide to those who come after me and may be prompted to attempt research where—so far at least—I have not been able to follow it, in Continental Masonic Libraries. Who shall say that there is no Star of Symbolism and Ritual among all the radiant stellar dust of titles? The principle of that old counsel, ex uno disce omnes, is unsafe to accept where Masonic Grades are concerned, and though it must be confessed that in the minor chivalries of the Order there is nothing to encourage research—there is no certitude. Among all Masonic historians past and present, it is I only who have seen and hold the great treasure of Rituals in the Régime Écossais Ancien et Rectifié and in that Ordre Intérieur which arises out of it. I tend therefore to think that other quests might not prove unprofitable.
Meanwhile I am dealing here chiefly with detached Grades, but so far as their titles go they may be taken in certain groups.
Metropolitan Chapter of France.—The Grades of Chivalry included by this great list, which belongs to the matter of archives rather than of a working Rite, are enumerated like the rest of its series in an entirely haphazard manner, and the fact that some are reproduced in other nomenclatures may mean (a) that the Grades travelled from one to another obedience, (b) that distinct Degrees existed under more or less identical titles, or (c) that later Rites could not in every case have produced Rituals of the Degrees enumerated as part of their systems. The Metropolitan Chapter claimed the following Knightly Grades, which are numbered according to their list, (1) Knight of the Lion, 20th Grade. (2) Knight of the Two Crowned Eagles, 22nd Grade. (3) Illustrious Knight Commander of the Black and White Eagle, 24th Grade. (4) Knight of St. John of Palestine, 48th Grade. (5) Knight of Beneficence, otherwise Knight of Perfect Silence, 49th Grade. (6) Knight of Unction, 51st Grade. (7) Knight of the Eagle, 56th Grade. (8) Knight of the Eastern Star, 57th Grade. (9) Grand Scottish Knight of St. Andrew, 63rd Grade. (10) Knight of Jerusalem, 65th Grade. (11) Knight of the Triple Cross, 66th Grade. (12) Knight of the Sun, 72nd Grade. (13) Knight of St. Andrew of the Thistle, 75th Grade. (14) Knight of the Black Eagle, 76th Grade. (15) Knight of the Kabalah, 80th Grade.
Initiated Knights and Brothers of Asia.—We have seen that this Order or Rite originated in Vienna about 1780 or alternatively in Berlin and that the founders were schismatic Brethren of the Rosy Cross—presumably Fratres Roseae et Aureae Crucis, who had an earlier revolution in 1777. See De Luchet: Essai sur les Illuminés, who recounts an extraordinary reception on the authority of an Eclectic Journal. I recur to this occult and spiritual chivalry to distinguish it from a semi-chivalrous Rite at Lyons under the name of Perfect Initiates of Asia. It was supposed to work seven Degrees. The symbolical quest of the Initiated Knights was that of an Elixir of Life.
Knights of Light.—The story of the Fratres Lucis belongs to the late eighteenth-century developments of the German Rosy Cross, and its presentation in full must be reserved for my work on that subject which is designed to follow immediately on the present publication. So far as Masonic historians are concerned it is confused with the Asiatic Brethren, being referred also to the same place and date of origin. Another error connects it with the Reformed Rite of J. A. von Starck, which arose by scission from the Strict Observance and has been miscalled the Relaxed Observance. For ordinary purposes there is a sufficient account of the Knights of Light in my Secret Tradition in Freemasonry: see Vol. II, pp. 218, 369-71. The known Grade system comprised (1) Knight-Novice of the Third Year, (2) Knight-Novice of the Fifth Year, (3) Knight-Novice of the Seventh Year, (4) Levite and (5) Priest. They suppose something antecedent, for the preparation of Postulants, and it has been thought that something came after. We hear also of Knights of Purity and Light—apparently an alternative denomination.
Hermetic Rite of Montpellier.—It is almost impossible to disentangle the confusions respecting this foundation, which is referred to 1760, 1770 and 1778; to Avignon, Paris and Montpellier; to Abbé Pernety; and to an unknown Mason named Boileau. A harmony between them suggests that the Rite originated at Avignon, migrated to Paris and settled ultimately at Montpellier, the conflicting dates being those of its travels. It may be suggested in the same spirit that Boileau assisted Pernety. The concern in any case was alchemy, in the masque of chivalry, and the Grade conduct was as follows: (1) The True Mason; (2) The True Mason in the True Way; (3) The Knight of the Golden Key; (4) The Knight of the Rainbow; (5) The Knight of the Argonauts; (6) The Knight of the Golden Fleece. According to Clavel it assumed at Paris the title of Rite Fcossais Philosophique, but this is another story of uncritical confusion.
Ars Latomorum.—A number of Grades belonging to Masonic Chivalry are mentioned by Thory in his work under this title and were incorporated subsequently by the great list of Ragon. Some of them belong to minor High Grade Rites and some are detached. The following enumeration will be adequate for all purposes. (1) Crusading Knight, otherwise Chevalier Croise. (2) Knight Evangelist, preserved in the archives of the Lodge St. Louis at Calais, together with (3) Knight Mahadon, a word of unknown meaning, if indeed any; (4) Knight of the Reversed Eagle; (5) Knight of the North; (6) Knight of the Rosy and Triple Cross; (7) Knight of the Sacred Mountain, or Knight of Sacrifice, otherwise Chevalier Sacrifiant; (8) Knight of Athens, said to have been included among the archives of the Scottish Philosophical Rite; (9) Knight of the Morning, Chevalier de l’Aurore, described as a Grade in the Rite of Palestine, possibly L’Ordre de la Palestine, mentioned by Tschoudy and otherwise unknown; (10) Knight of Masonry, (11) Knight of Palestine, being an alleged Grade in the mythical Reform of Saint-Martin; (12) Knight of St. John of Jerusalem, said to be a mystical Grade in three Points and distinct therefore from the Masonic Order of Malta; (13) Knight of the Comet; (14) Victorious Knight of the East; (15) Knight of the Prussian Eagle; (16) Knight of the Pyramid, specified as the seventh Grade of a Kabalistic Rite, about which there are no particulars; (17) Knight of the Two Eagles; (18) Royal Victorious Knight.
Collection of Fustier.—It should be explained that this person was an officer of the Grand Orient early in the nineteenth century, that he made a large collection of Grades and dealt in transcriptions. His archives included: (1) Knight of the Altar, a Grade in an alleged Rite of the East; (2) Grand Scottish Knight of St. Andrew; (3) Knight of the Arch; (4) Knight of the Pillars; (5) Knight of the Precincts, another Grade in the Rite of the East; and so also are (6) Knight of the Portal; (7) Knight of the Interior; (8) Knight of the Purificatory; (9) Knight of the Sanctuary; and (10) Knight of the Throne; (11) Knight of Perfumes; (12) Knight of the Ever-Burning Lamp; (13) Knight of the Morning Star, in the archives of the Scottish Philosophical Rite; (14) Knight of the Star of Jerusalem; (15) Knight of the Tabernacle of Divine Truths.
Other Private Collections.—They are those of Peuvret and Pyron, known in Masonic annals, and are said to have included: (1) Free Knight of St. Andrew; (2) Knight of the Crown; (3) Knight of the Eastern Star; (4) Knight Jupiter; (5) Knight of the Golden Eagle; (6) Sublime Knight of the North; (7) Knight of the Red Eagle; (8) Knight of the Star; (9) Star of the Lyrian Knights, in three Points, being (a) Novice, (b) Professed, (c) Grand Patriarch.
Nomenclature of Ragon.—The enumeration which follows must be regarded as mere gleanings, being items of things not otherwise cited in this section or included in the contents of the great Rites. (1) Knight of the Triangle, forming part of a Hermetic system, together with (2) Knight of the Fulminating Star; (3) Sublime Knight of God and His Temple; (4) Knight of the Eight Stars; (5) Knight of the Mother of Christ; (6) Knight of the Kabalistic Sun; (7) Knight of the Apocalypse; (8) Knight of Patmos, which is mentioned also by Oliver; (9) Knight of the Temple of Truth.
Knight of St. Andrew
Alternative to this title is that of Patriarch of the Crusades, and the Ritual represented by both constitutes the Twenty-ninth Degree of the Scottish Rite, an introduction by its hypothesis to the Grade of Kadosh, which follows next in the series. Yet another alternative in the past was Grand Master of Light. These exalted denominations notwithstanding, the procedure is a mere vestige, and of the two claims concerning it—as practised in the United States—one perpetuates an old historical blunder, while the other is a simple mendacity. According to the first, the Knight of St. Andrew constituted the First Degree of the mythical Ramsay Rite, while the second affirms that it was grafted on the Écossais system, circa 1786, by Frederick the Great. The latter invention has been dealt with broadly elsewhere and need not now detain us. As regards the ceremonial itself, for some unimaginable reason the Candidate is told that he is admitted into the true Eden, understood as the dominion of everlasting truth and fraternity. He is to learn (1) perseverance; (2) repose of heart and mind; but his opportunities in these respects lie within the measures of certain official secrets, which signify nothing, since they are apart from all connections. There was a legend in the past by which the Degree was linked up with the Crusades, but it has fallen long since into the limbus, and it would appear, even in America, where many vain observances are in the activity of occasional working—by travelling Masonic Companies and otherwise—that one becomes a Knight of St. Andrew by what is called communication, there being in reality nothing to confer. The connection instituted with the patron saint of Scotland is not only arbitrary but outside of reason. The Degree, from my point of view, is devoid of a title to existence and is not that which it pretends, namely, an introduction to the Masonic Kadosh—not even when it talks aridly about the necessity of creating a strong wall around the institution of the Rite and entrusting it to the guardianship of tested and valiant knights, whose learning and power may not only defend it against attacks on the part of its enemies but will cause them to shake on their thrones, beneath their crowns and tiaras. It should be noted, however, that this is the Kadosh motive ab origine symboli: it had a meaning in the eighteenth century, among the preludes to the French Revolution, but has none now, when there are no kings left who can be regarded as hostile to Masonry and when the Vatican fulminates in vain. It may be added that—according to a tabulated scheme of all Grades in the Rite which is delivered to the Candidate of the Thirty-first Degree, or Sublime Prince of the Royal Secret—the Edenic state signified by the chivalry of St. Andrew is explained in the statement that when the Ancient and Accepted Rite has accomplished its mission, man will repose in the true Eden, being a realm where peace and brotherhood will reign. The belated assurance does not save the Grade, more especially as it relegates fruition to a speculative future time and to circumstances which may never mature.
Knight of the Brazen Serpent
The seven planets of old astronomy illuminate the Court of Sinai, according to the symbolism of this Grade, and in its centre is the Burning Bush. There are also twelve pillars, in correspondence with the twelve signs of the Zodiac. The High Priest Aaron is dead, but Moses the Lawgiver is still in the manifest land of the living and is represented by the Master of the Lodge. The Mount of Sinai is shewn on a Tracing-Board in the North, but an illuminated transparency in the East exhibits a Tau Cross, encompassed by a serpent. The planetary lights are referred to traditional angels in the following order: (1) The archangel Saphael is the president of the Moon, and he is termed the Messenger of God; (2) the healing influence of God is represented by Raphael, whose rule extends over Mercury; (3) Hamaliel is the governor of Venus, and he is called the merciful kindness of God; (4) The Sun is emblematic of the Good Principle, a reflection and image of the Divine, and its archangel is Zerachiel, understood as the uprising of God and the Sun of Righteousness; (5) Auriel is in correspondence with the fire and light of God, and it is he who is Lord of Mars; (6) Jupiter is under the obedience of Gabriel, the strength and might of God ; (7) Saturn is under the rule of Michael, who is also described as the semblance or image of God. Attributions of this kind are drawn in most cases from the dregs and lees of Kabalism and differ in every text.
Procedure of the Grade.—The Candidate is presented in the guise of a wayfarer and he is promptly loaded with chains, though he comes as a son of the Tribe of Reuben, announcing a great misfortune which has befallen the people of Israel and imploring relief in need. They are fleeing before venomous serpents, sent in punishment of their sins. He has withstood the stiff-necked generation on his own part when they rebelled in the wilderness against the long exile therein, against the burdens of forty years, against the manna which was given them when they called aloud for bread. But he is now an intercessor for his people, in humility before the face of their leader, and seeing that he has done well, remembering his duty to God, he is relieved of his yoke of manacles, while the Grand Master as Moses retires to call upon God, that He may have mercy on those whom He has chosen. The Master returns bearing a symbol of salvation, being a Brazen Serpent entwined about the Tau Cross. It is presented to Eleazar—the High Priest in succession—who is told to erect it in sight of the people, that they may look thereon and live. It is given thereafter to the Candidate, as a symbol of faith, repentance and mercy. Such is the sense of the Grade, as represented by Pike’s codex: it will be seen that it is without title to existence, as a mere replica of the Scripture narrative, though in the mania of the scheme it is communicated under solemn pledges of secrecy and with heavy penalties attached. It is the Twenty-fifth Degree of the Scottish Rite and is supposed to inculcate the doctrine of liberty, equality and fraternity, but under veils that are past removing. A French codex belonging to the first half of the nineteenth century is consecrated to civil freedom, a subject which does not seem to arise out of the narrative in Holy Scripture. There is finally an Order of the Brazen Serpent, which is a chivalry referred to Crusading times, and is so distinct from other Degrees existing under this title that I have dealt with it in a separate notice. See Knight of the Serpent.
Knight of the Christian Mark
A Second Advent motive would seem to be implied in this curious impertinence, which has been saved—perhaps inadvisedly—-from complete oblivion by the care of the Early Grand Rite. It constitutes the Twenty-sixth Degree under that miscellaneous Obedience and forms with the Holy and Illustrious Order of the Cross two additional Grades superposed on the triad comprised by the Grand Conclave of the Red Cross of Constantine. It is difficult to say whence it came, but as to whither it leads the answer is assuredly nowhere: it is apart from significance or consequence. The Candidate has seen the Cross in the East and has read the Mystic Words. He seeks therefore to be numbered among those "who have been marked with the mystic mark of the Council." The explanation as regards that mark is given in a verse of the Apocalpyse: "Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads." The Candidate is sealed accordingly and is numbered in this manner among the "one hundred and forty and four thousand," set apart in the Sacred Book from among all tribes and peoples and nations. This is clear after its own manner and suggests the Second Advent motive which I have mentioned. But an amazing thing follows. The newly dubbed and created Knight of the Order of the Christian Mark is informed that he represents "one of the Guard supplied by the Grand Master of the Knights of St. John, to Pope Alexander, those Knights being well known as zealous and devoted Christians. With what ulterior purpose this representation is instituted may seem unsearchable. The final counsel of the Grade is: "Go thou and do likewise"; it is not, however, a recommendation to join the ranks of any existing Papal Guard but rather, like the Religious Orders of Chivalry—ex hypothesi at least—to go about "doing good, and following the example of our Illustrious Master, Jesus Christ."
Knight of the East
A Grade under this title is found in a great number of Rites, and they offer not only many variations but constitute sometimes quite distinct Degrees. In the present place I will take one of its salient examples, and thus distinguish it from similar denominations with which we shall be concerned—under the heading of Prince Mason —in certain preliminaries to the Royal Arch. The Knight of the East, under the present particular denomination, is concerned with a period long subsequent to the building of the Second Temple. It is that of its profanation by Antiochus Epiphanes in the days of the Maccabees. The Candidate is introduced as “a wanderer from Jerusalem, seeking the lost treasure of the Holy Place”; but he is told that the Pillars of Wisdom are destroyed and that he must pursue his quest in darkness, “amidst the woods and mountains, in search of the Lost Word.” In a sense, he is taking the part of Judas Maccabeus, and receives a sword emblematical of that which the son of Mattathias is said to have obtained in a vision at the hands of the prophet Jeremiah.
Compass of the Grade.—This is the sum of the proceedings, for the rest is expatiation by way of morality thereon. In some manner that is past finding out amidst the maze of vague wording, the defilement of the Second Temple signifies a change that has come over the life of thought, from which the veil of superstition has been removed. The Temple of Jerusalem is the grand type of Masonry—otherwise “solid principles and pure morality.” While these flourished the sun shone at its zenith in respect of Freemasonry. But there came an age of degeneration, which is represented “by the burning and sack of Jerusalem and its Temple.” The foundations, however, were preserved and the treasures contained therein. It was so too in the Order, and as it came about that the sacred edifice was erected again in the Holy City, so Masonry “resumed its ancient glory.” The Master-Builder is the model of true Brethren, and his assassination “indicates the danger of violent passions.”
A Sacred Myth.—Such is the best explanation which can be given to a newly made Knight of the East concerning this “sacred myth of the Craft.” It should be added that in a French Ritual of the early nineteenth century the Grade is divided into nine points or sections, dealing with Biblical episodes, such as the sacrifice of Abraham and the consecration of a priest of Jehovah.
Knight of the East and West
According to the traditional story of this Degree it originated in Palestine when the Patriarch of Jerusalem convened a Council in 1118 and accepted the pledges of eleven Knights, who were incorporated under this title, which is synonymous transparently with that of the Order of the Temple, founded at the same date and in the same holy land. The similarity ends at this point, for the fabulous chivalry of the East and West works an apocalyptic Grade, the original recension of which is presumably in general correspondence with some at least of the versions which are now extant. These are numerous enough, and I must be content to summarise that of Albert Pike, though he has managed to obscure the issues by reducing the Christian elements after his invariable manner. The Tracing-Board exhibits Him Who was “like unto the Son of man,” the Divine Vision of Revelation, “clothed with a garment down to the foot,” or in white—as it is said in the Ritual—“girt about the paps with a golden girdle,” having “in his right hand seven stars,” a two-edged sword in his mouth, and being encompassed by “seven golden candlesticks,” which are identified in the symbolism of the Grade with the Seven Churches of Asia, as in that of the sacred text. In the angles of the Council Chamber, Preceptory, or Lodge—as it is called in England—there are placed seven pillars, and on the respective capitals of these there are the initials of the words Beauty, Divinity, Wisdom, Power, Honour, Glory and Fame, while on the pediments are those of Friendship, Union, Resignation, Discretion, Fidelity, Prudence and Temperance.
Grade Procedure.—Prior to his Obligation the Candidate is directed to wash his hands in a basin of perfumed water, because he only whose hands are clean and whose heart is pure shall go up into the Mountain of the Lord or stand in His Holy Place. When the pledge has been imposed, the “all puissant” Master anoints him with perfumed chrism, and it is after such manner that he is received into the chivalry, apart from any knightly accolade. This reception is sealed with the blood of the Candidate, who is lanced slightly on the arms, and as if in a blasphemous travesty he were somehow taking the part of the Mystic Lamb Who was slain and so “redeemed us to God” by His blood—the Master seems enabled thereby to proceed with the next point of the mummery. On the pedestal before him there is a Bible, to the markers of which are attached seven seals, like that mysterious Book in the Apocalypse which was “written within and on the backside”—intus et foris scriptus. These seals are opened or broken successively and the things which follow are removed: (1) a bow, quiver and crown; (2) a sword; (3) a balance; (4) a human skull; (5) a cloth stained with blood; (6) in this case no material object is produced, but the sun and moon in a certain transparency are darkened and stained red; (7) incense, and a vessel containing seven trumpets. We may compare the events which follow the procedure in the sacred text, with these fantastic toys—which are taken out of the seals themselves in the Masonic caricature: (1) the vision of a white horse, “and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him”; (2) the vision of a red horse, and to him that sat thereon was given “a great sword”; (3) the vision of a black horse, and the rider “had a pair of balances in his hand”; (4) the vision of a pale horse, “and his name that sat on him was death, and Hell followed with him”; (5) the vision of souls that were “slain for the word of God”; (6) the vision of a great earthquake, “and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood”; (7) the vision of seven angels, “which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets,” together with another angel, who “came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer.”
Counsels of the Grade.—We know the devastation which followed these events in the great Biblical Allegory: in the trumpery Masonic reflection the counsels of intention connected with the seals are (1) to continue the conquest, presumably that of all hearts by Masonry, but the question is left open; (2) to destroy peace among the profane and wicked brethren; (3) to dispense unto these justice of the kind called rigid; (4) to convince them that the wages of sin is death; (5) to thirst after that time when vengeance shall overtake those who have destroyed their brethren by false accusations. But all that follows hereon is that four Venerable Ancients, who are placed at the four quarters, whisk about four large inflated bladders, representing the four winds, and are directed to abstain from hurting the profane and wicked members of the Order until the true and worthy Masons have been set apart: compare: “Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.” Of these servants and true brethren the Candidate is obviously one, and indeed a typical representative.
End of the Business.—His next and final symbolical experience is that the seven trumpets are sounded—we know with what results in the great spiritual cataclysm. But when the first sounds in the ears of the new knight the insignia of his previous Grade are removed; the second peals forth and he is clothed with another apron and jewel; the third utters its warning, and he is invested with a long white beard, for such is the custom with all in this ineffable Grade; when the fourth is blown he receives a golden crown; at the fifth he is girt about the loins with a golden girdle; at the sixth he receives the official secrets; but when the seventh trumpet sounds he is placed on a throne at the right of the all-puissant Master and becomes one of the twelve Venerable Ancients, who are presumably two in one, since they answer to the four-and-twenty elders about the throne set in heaven.
Knight of the Holy Sepulchre
Ragon’s Nomenclature of Grades mentions an Order or Degree under this title, but therein or elsewhere I have failed to find particulars, or any trace of its working. Prior to the time when it was brought into the series of the Red Cross of Constantine, this chivalry on paper was therefore without a history, as it was also without a knighthood. On the surface its similarity—at once fundamental and verbal—to the Rose-Croix of Heredom seems indicative of simple plagiarism. I have suggested elsewhere that the two Grades and their Rituals may have sprung from a common source; but in the absence of evidence any personal impression stands at its value and may be slight enough. Both are concerned in their symbolism with those three mystical days—curiously fore and post-shortened—which intervened between the Divine Death on Calvary and the Resurrection of Easter Morning.
Theological Virtues.—In the Rose-Croix this motive is interwoven with that of the Second Advent, to which there are no references in the Grade of the Holy Sepulchre. But both Rituals are designed to recall the Candidate to the great hope of his salvation by an inward understanding and practice of the Theological Virtues. While these are a matter of instruction in one case they are a ground of quest in the other, to which distinction it may be added that the Rose-Croix quest-formula is replaced in the Grade of the Holy Sepulchre by one of warfare. But after all the chief difference resides in the fact that the Eighteenth Degree is consistent within its own measures from the beginning even to the end, while the other endeavours to combine elements which do not belong to the same scheme and cannot be reconciled together.
Grade-Legend. The historical time of the Grade is the same as the Red Cross, being the reign of Constantine, for the legend is that of St. Helena and the Invention of the Holy Cross, when the chivalry is supposed to have been instituted to guard the Holy Sepulchre, so that it is part of the history appertaining to the devotion towards relics and sacred places. Now, it is clear that an Order so originating—hypothetically or actually—has no relation to the period of the Resurrection in Palestine. The undertaking to watch for three days—which are, however, diversified by battle against Saracens—over a figurative rock-hewn sepulchre, and the event at the end of the vigil, depicting the Risen Christ, are unqualified anachronisms in the supposed historical setting. The truth is that fatuous editors have been at work in making a marriage between things mutually intolerant, and the Helena Legend has been dragged into the Grade, to which it never belonged originally. I do not pretend to say when the impossible contract was made and ratified between them; but I know that, generally or always, what is deficient in Masonic Ritual is brought from bad to worse by additions, revisions and other works of emendation. It is a recurring fever, to which unofficial “workings” in schools of instruction furnish their own quota of additional distemper. So it comes about that we have prayers sacrificed on altars of “improvement” by persons who can improve nothing and can never have prayed in their hearts; we have symbolism modified by those whose sense of symbolism is like their knowledge of the high art of literature; and out of these sorry alembics the things issue more debased than previously, in thought and word and act.
Casual Intimations.—While it must be said that this Ritual of the Holy Sepulchre is nothing and less than nothing in respect of achievement, it has casual intimations and moments belonging to these—which make one regret the follies of its ineffectual pageant. It is testified on behalf of the Candidate that he has served the Church and its members, yet he says on his own part that for want of an abiding-place he and his fellow-servants in Christ can only build their Temples and Tabernacles in the heart. Here is the root-matter from which might have unfolded a truly Christian Order of Spiritual Chivalry, teaching its inheritors that the Church Catholic, of which Christ is the Head and the Crown, the defence of which is the Word of God and the Sword of the Spirit, is built up of living stones, each of which is itself a chapel or tabernacle and is the part of our own selves. The Church is therefore within, and so is the ordained priest. The official institutions about us are in a state of loss and dereliction, maintaining a formal succession, a sacerdotalism set apart and guarded, the powers and prerogatives of a hierarchy, the exclusive sacramentalism of the literal Word, apart from any Word within. This notwithstanding, in an external sense they remain the Church of Christ, and our duty is still to guard it against unprovoked attacks of its enemies, against that which is worst of all, the spirit of the world abiding within its own gates.
Second Point of the Grade.—It must be added that very strange intimations spring up like exotic flowers all over this particular field of Ritual, while after the Legend of St. Helena there is that of the Second Point, described as an allegorical sequel to the History of the Holy Royal Arch. It deserves to be termed amazing, not alone in the particulars narrated but by the fact of its presence in such a Grade as is that of Knight of the Holy Sepulchre. At the period of its origin as an institute of Masonic chivalry there were several manufactories of Rites, Orders and Degrees, and one of these centres seems to have represented the interests of the Latin Church. Now, the Grade of the Holy Sepulchre bears all the marks and seals of this particular genesis, as the whole atmosphere of the Ritual and the Legend of St. Helena combine to testify. But out of that house of symbolical merchandise the supposed sequel to the Royal Arch Degree was never put forth: it belongs to another concern. I believe it to be later than the Ritual on which it has been grafted, indeed much later; but this is a subsidiary consideration.
Traditional History.—It is to be observed in the first place that the Legend is allegorical by its own claim, and the meaning on its surface is not therefore the true meaning, as indeed is obvious. It deals (1) with a defection of Israel, or at least of some School in Jewry, represented as a Masonic Academy; (2) with the rejection of a cornerstone; and (3) with the subsequent betrayal and crucifixion of Christ, symbolised as a Mystic Rose, which is also the True Word. In this allegory the Stone is not therefore Christ, and I can understand it only as a Secret Wisdom-Tradition, which subsisted by the hypothesis in Jewry, which also—as that Tradition itself affirms—was committed to Seventy Elders by Moses. It passed long afterwards into writing under the name of Kabalah. In the mind of the Grade-allegory the supposed maintenance of this Wisdom-Tradition among the people and through their teachers should have led them to recognise Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah Who was to come. His rejection rent the veil of the Temple, which means that it put an end to the Old Dispensation and the old election of Israel.
The Elect Brethren.—There was, however, a little company of True Initiates, otherwise of True Masons and Elect Brethren, who were so to speak saved from among the castaways. They possessed, as it is said, relics of the former Temple, which I understand as signifying that the old secret knowledge had been kept alive in their hearts. They understood also the Signs of the Times; they knew that the Deliverer Who was foretold was already born among men; and since it is affirmed that they followed His hallowed footsteps for thirty-three years, it is to be understood that—according to the allegory—they were present from his birth even to his death.
A Mystic Confraternity.—Mysterious and vague rumours concerning this Little Company of Perfect Masters are recurrent in High-Grade Masonry. By Baron Tschoudy, in his L’Étoile Flamboyante, they are called Knights of the Morning and of Palestine; for others they are Thebaid Brethren; and Werner, the German poet, terms them Sons or Children of the Valley. I have followed the track of this strange Confraternity through several literatures, or at least through various paths of independent allusion, and far beyond what would be understood as the Masonic field. It seems to me that in the Grade of Knight of the Holy Sepulchre we have another note of warning concerning its existence and its peculiar dedications. It has been regarded as the Brotherhood of Initiation to which Christ Himself belonged, wherein the Mystery of Redemption was prepared from unknown ages for a birth in place and time. It seems hinted at in Gospel records by the flight into Egypt, and is represented in Biblical criticism and speculation by the suggestion that Christ was possibly connected—during the Hidden Life—with one of the Essenian Brotherhoods. Eckartshausen’s Cloud on the Sanctuary is really its story at large, told behind an embroidered curtain. The Russian mystic Lopukhin made guesses concerning it in tracing the Characteristics of what he called the Interior Church. And last, but not least, the most curious intimations of all are found in anonymous communications addressed to the London Philadelphian Society at the end of the seventeenth century and extant in Transactions which were published at that period.
A Secret Tradition.—I am giving but the heads of personal researches, and that in most summary form. I am asking no one to join with me in an act of faith; but they have taught me to see that Christian literature is full of omens and signs respecting the perpetuation of a Secret Tradition through Christian Times, from a very far past. Concerning this Tradition I have spoken at large in several other memorials, and something may remain to be said at a later stage of the present book of research. Whether of the East or West, there is no knowledge concerning it in the Official Sanctuaries of Faith, and in this respect the Church itself is in a state of loss and dereliction. In the Grade of the Holy Sepulchre it is as if the makers of the Ritual were offering veiled intimations on this subject. The inference put forward by these is that the external Churches are official institutions only, and that the true building is within. There is a Church behind the Church, and because of that which is hidden our reasonable devotion is due to that which is without. This service is symbolised by the vigil over the Holy Sepulchre, which is not represented as empty and a mere relic, as it is in the Order of the Temple. There is obscurity about it; there is even darkness within; but the Day-Star is hidden only, and the chivalry looks for its rising. The Star is in the occultation of the Tomb, and this is the cloud on the Sanctuary. But a moment comes in the pageant when it is said to have arisen in splendour, and then the Christ of Glory is revealed in the transparency of the Grade, a Church emerging out of darkness into perfect light and life. We are shewn in this manner that somewhere within the manifest Sanctuary, and not elsewhere in the world, there lies the hidden treasure, whereunto that is a witness which I have called the Secret Tradition.
Cardinal Virtues.—When I hear, also in this Grade, that the Elect Brethren who had followed the footsteps of the Redeemer, began to teach others that there are three Pillars of Instruction inscribed with the words Faith, Hope and Charity, I know that these are Keys to a greater Sanctuary: but they must be understood in a living sense. The greatest of these is charity—which is another way of indicating that the three are indeed one. When they pass from intellectual understanding into the grade of experience they cease to be evidence at a distance of things unseen and the shadowed substance of things for which we look. We begin—in a word—to see, to know, and to realise what God has prepared for those who love Him. With Christendom in corporate disunion and all its churches penetrated by the spirit of the world, the imagery of obscured light and a word lost in the darkness is just and perfect symbolism; but beyond the Pillars which I have mentioned a path opens towards an Inner Sanctuary, and it is a Church within the Church. There the Day-Star rises; a light is seen in the Holy Sepulchre, a light is above the Sepulchre; and the Resurrection of the Lord of Glory is declared on the altar of the heart.
Knight of the Red Eagle
A Grade under this title figures as No. 24 in the Rite of Memphis, and stands 12th in its reduction as the Antient and Primitive Rite. It is typical of the metaphysical principles—at once false and shallow—and of the mendacity by which the Rite is characterised. If the red double-headed eagle which constitutes the jewel of the chivalry conferred its title there is no reason on the surface or within why such an emblem was chosen; but if the title of the Grade governed the choice of the jewel there is nothing in the Ritual or procedure to explain, much less to justify, the name, except the purely arbitrary proposition that an eagle with two heads is indicative of aspiration to truth and of the bold spirit which looks steadily thereat, "as the eagle contemplates the sun." According to the wording of the Ritual, "the groundwork of true philosophy" is embodied in the conviction that a true Knight-Mason adores God, distinguishing sacred from profane and light from darkness. In order to receive this revelation the Candidate renounces the world, passes through the abode of death, is purified by the four elements and certifies his belief that the soul is an analogue or "emanation from God." He is further bound by what is termed "a terrible oath," though the clauses which are not purely formal prove—on administration—to be somewhat banal in character. He has yet to learn and now receives assurance (1) that the origin of the Rite of Memphis is lost in the night of time; (2) that the most judicious historians assign as its birthplace the plains of Tartary and trace it "through the sages of India, Persia, Babylon, Ethiopia and Egypt."
Traditional History.—So much in respect of claims advanced on behalf of a Rite which came into being during the first half of the nineteenth century, incorporating Ritual elements belonging to the second half of the preceding period. The Candidate is informed further: (1) that the Master-Builder belonged to the confraternity of Dionysian Artificers; (2) that the King of Tyre was a High Priest of the Kabiric Mysteries; (3) that St. John the Evangelist was an initiate of the same sodality; (4) that the Essenes were depositaries of the Rite in the time of Christ, Who was most certainly familiar with it; (5) that the Essenes admitted into their Order men of every religion and every rank of life; (6) that they continued in existence till about the middle of the fifth century, when persecution by the Romans ended in their final abolition.
Claims of Memphis.—Such are a few examples of the manner in which the history of the Secret Tradition was manufactured by the Rite of Memphis, which ends its discourse on the old Mysteries much after the way that it began. It is the Venerated Ark of Memphis which has preserved “the real secrets of Masonic principles,” the reason being that “it has come down on the stream of time, pure and unchanged, as it was when from the Temples of Thebes and Eleusis it excited the veneration of the world.” It is therefore “among the successors of the Sages of Memphis” that the Masonic philosopher will come, if he would ascend to “primary causes in the study of our institution.” On the various counts that have been cited it would appear to be more especially a study in the whole art of lying.
Knight of the Serpent
The story is that an “illustrious knight,” not otherwise specified, founded the Order of the Brazen Serpent—“in the time of the Crusades”—for the relief of pilgrims to Jerusalem. The allusion is of course to the Serpent uplifted in the wilderness by Moses for the healing of the children of Israel. There is no very convincing analogy between ministration to pilgrims and the restoration of those who had been punished for their disobedience and rebellion, nor can we look for any light of symbolism in the parable of the Brazen Serpent, for the Rite of Memphis—which dispenses this Grade—carries little of such light in its wallet. The Candidate and his sponsor in the Ceremony are children of Israel who have been “wandering in the wilderness for many days” and for no particular reason are arrested as spies. When they have justified themselves there is nothing to do but to pledge, invest and entrust the Candidate, who receives thereafter the accolade of the Grade and then listens to a discourse on the antiquity and diffusion of serpent-worship. It contains no single allusion to the Christian understanding of the story in the Book of Numbers, nor to the commentary of alchemists thereon, though in the classification of 1856 this Grade was included in the Senate of Hermetic Philosophers. It ranks as No. 25 in the general enumeration of the Rite of Memphis and as 15 in the reduction of the Antient and Primitive Rite. It is nothing and leads to nothing.
Knight of the Sun
Let us understand in the first place the kind of claim which is put forward by the Twenty-eighth Degree of the Scottish Rite, more especially in the recension of Albert Pike. By the title it suggests various solar connotations found in the Grades of Hermetic Masonry, but it is not Hermetic in character. By the hypothesis, it gives instruction in those great primitive truths which are treasured in Masonic archives. The alternative denominations are Prince Adept, Key of Masonry, Prince of the Sun, Philosophical Lodge, and Chaos Disentangled, the last suggesting investigations belonging to the realm of material alchemy. In the codex under notice the sun is always at its meridian in respect of the Chivalry of the Sun, and it directs along the path of virtue, following that law which is engraven on the heart. Truth is the sponsor of the Candidate, who—after all his initiations, all his raisings and elevations—is still in search of the light; but—owing to the poverty of invention by which Pike was always characterised—it is not the “more light” of Goethe: it is rather an elementary instruction which will enable him to rise above the “juvenile prejudices of error,” and thus—in a word—be brought forth from darkness. So continues the weary iteration from Grade to Grade of the Rite. And so it comes about that in the successive procedure of the Knightly Council he is liberated ceremonially from ignorance, prejudice, intolerance, vice, hypocrisy, bondage, vanity, pride and avarice. He receives the Caduceus, understood as a symbol of peace, and thereafter beholds the Cross, but such is the illumination about to be conferred upon him that it is said to signify equality—that false doctrine against which both Nature and Grace have testified from the beginning. Among the truths which are communicated, presumably that he may be clothed thereby, having been stripped as we have seen, there is that of the unity of God, coupled with a practical counsel on the necessity of reserving wisdom to a few, as otherwise it will be overlaid with fiction. There is a recital of things expressed and implied in previous Degrees, more especially in those of the Craft, but it must be said that it is a vapid presentation which carries no conviction and misses all vital points. The Candidate hears that Masonry is identical with the Ancient Mysteries, though in an exceedingly qualified sense, being an imperfect image of their splendour and the ruins of their ancient greatness. The Master Grade above all is corrupted, mutilated and a poor substitute for the grand finality of the Greater Mysteries of old. But of that finality and of those Mysteries this poor brother in a state of darkness of course hears nothing at all. On such warrants and exhibiting such credentials Mackey felt empowered to say that of all High Degrees the most important is perhaps Knight of the Sun, and that it is of most interest to the scholar who “ desires to investigate the true secret of the Order.”
Earlier Versions.—That which is manifestly false in respect of Pike’s recension is by no means true of any earlier version. There is an old story that the Grade was devised originally by Pernety and was therefore Hermetic in character, but I have not met with an earlier version than that which was used by the Supreme Council of France prior to 1850. Under this obedience the Chivalry of the Sun was represented as a school of the natural sciences, or an academy in which the great Book of Nature was interpreted and its laws were studied. The universal spirit was represented by the symbol of a dove, and it was said to communicate life in the three kingdoms— animal, vegetable and mineral.
Knight of the Tabernacle
It is possible to become Chief and Prince of the Tabernacle on the path of Kadosh, under the obedience of the Ancient and Accepted Rite. A simple knighthood was once available in the 23rd Grade of the Rite of Memphis and in the 14th of its reduction. The Tabernacle is that of Moses, who appears in the ceremonial as Orator, while the Grand Commander is Aaron and the Marshal Joshua. Aholiab and Bezaleel take inferior ranks. It is above all things an Aaron Grade and the Candidate is anointed by his representative after the manner of Eleazer and Ithamar. As he receives in this way a pseudo-sacerdotal consecration, it is—I suppose—within the unsearchable logic of extra-Masonic Grades that he becomes Knight rather than Levite. Yet the dignity is without prejudice to priesthood, and he receives the white robe of the latter. The Banners of the Twelve Tribes are explained and their several colours spiritualised. The Tabernacle is carried in procession and there are various expatiations upon it, as for example (1) that it was “created to answer the double purpose of a Temple and a Palace,” though (2) it was “only a large Tent,” but (3) it will be perceived by reflection thereon that it “had great affinity to architectural structure.” The reason does not emerge; but it is explained later that Jewish Masonry was Jewish religion and “was made up chiefly of ceremonies, types and figures,” denoting things intellectual and duties of the moral order. The statement stands forth amidst all the verbiage and ineptitude like the vestibule of a great truth, for above Emblematic Freemasonry and its ethics of the man in the street there is a High, Holy and Spiritual Order, so far externalised only in the souls of an elect few. Therein is a sacramental architecture, full of grace and truth.
The Resurrection Body.—We may note also one other suggestive sentence: “even as the Tabernacle of Moses was a type of the more glorious Temple of Solomon, so is this frail body of the glorified body which shall be hereafter”—a house not made with hands but meet for the habitation of the self-knowing spirit.
Knight of the Temple
In the ordinary records of history and of the literature arising therefrom a Knight of the Temple is of course a Templar Knight; but in High-Grade Masonry certain distinctions are apt to be drawn finely, and they beget confusion, not only in the world without but also in the circles within. It comes about therefore that when the reputable Thory mentions with great seeming plausibility that the denomination Chevalier du Temple belongs generally to all Rites of the Templar system, the statement obtains generally but is subject to particular exceptions. The 69th Grade of the Metropolitan Chapter of France bears this title, and it may be a Templar Grade; so also the 8th Grade of the Rite of the Philalethes; but the canon of distinction operates respecting the 36th Grade of Mizraim and the 34th of Memphis, being No. 13 in the reduction of the Antient and Primitive Rite. It is a chivalry which is no chivalry and it is one of those Grades which by a salutary lapsus memoriae bears witness unwittingly to the fact, for there is no accolade and there is no ceremony of knighting. The Candidate is received upon four so-called points of geometry, formed by the square and compasses. When he has been pledged, invested and entrusted, the Brethren form a circle about him and he is the point within the centre. This stands at its value and so does also the explanation, for he is told that the circle represents the Deity “whose centre is everywhere and the circumference nowhere.” Unfortunately for the image, a circumference which is nowhere can nowhere represent the Deity, not even in that world of chaos which is called the Rite of Memphis. Were there any object in making such a comparison on either side of the given symbol, it is the Candidate who represents the Deity, and then—also unfortunately—in respect of him and his analogical position the Brethren are nowhere. It is a pity that the makers of Grades should quote Hermetic—or any other writings if they cannot make sense out of them.
Emblematic Geometry.—There is great insistence on geometry, and it is spiritualised for Knights of the Temple after the following manner: (1) There is another geometry besides that which relates to lines and angles. (2) It sees God behind the circle and triangle. (3) Those who can penetrate its intellectual mysteries will understand the geometrical point as representing a given disposition in the state of inaction. (4) A symbolic right line is duty persisted in, uninterrupted pleasure, happiness and so forth. (5) As regards a symbolic right angle, the perfect sincerity of one right line to another is as the line of that angle, the line of duty being radius. (6) An acute angle is imperfect sincerity. (7) An obtuse angle is injustice. (8) A perfect junction between sincerity and duty forms justice, and is equal to an angle of ninety degrees. (9) A symbolical perpendicular signifies fortitude, prudence, temperance; while (10) a symbolic solid “is the whole system of Divine Laws as existing in practice.”
Nota Bene.—A Ritual of this kind is unworthy to wrap the worst commercial fats which are used as substitutes for butter, but it belongs to the Senate, and its “moral geometry” is supposed to purify the Temple of the body. Hence, presumably, its initiates are Knights of the Temple: in any case no other warrant transpires for the name of the Grade and the dignity conferred therein.
According to an almost uniform sequence of authorities, the two words ΚΟΓΞ ΟΜΠΞ were used at the end of the Greater Mysteries as a ceremonial formula of dismissal from the Temple of Eleusis, and an altogether extrinsic importance has attached to them, owing to the many speculations which have been hazarded respecting their place of origin, root in language and meaning. They are no concern of Masonry but have been reflected into its side issues; they could have been of no consequence to the Mysteries themselves, but a long debate has placed them in a false light, as if something essential were communicated in this manner: it is desirable therefore to ascertain how the subject actually stands. The authorities to whom I have referred are not of course classical, and a first question arises as to the source of the statements made by writers like Warburton, Creuzer, Schelling, Munter, Lemprière and Ouvaroff—among many others. It is from these or their still later followers and echoes that most of us have heard of the formula. Did they simply take over, one from another in succession, a report supposed to be accurate? This has been the case indubitably with a number of modern references, but by others we are carried back to what is after all little more than a conjecture on the part of a Dutch writer named Meursius, who belonged to the late sixteenth and early seventeenth century. This is the furthest point to which I can trace the question of authority, and his words are: Atque hunc in modum initiatis acclamatum mox; κόγξ ομπαξ, adding: “And as if dismissed by this acclamation, they scattered and gave place to others who desired to be initiated.” Now, the classical source quoted by Meursius is the Greek Lexicon of Hesychius, who is said by some to have been a disciple of St. Gregory of Nazianzus, while his compilation shews that he was a Christian. Hesychius explains the words as a form of acclamation used at the completion of anything, comparing them also to the sound of the judge’s ballots and of the clepsydra. He makes no reference to Eleusis. In the late eighteenth century the Baron de Sainte-Croix approved the conjecture of Meursius because it was plausible; but the fact remains that the use of Konx Ompax as a valedictory formula at Eleusis has no evidence to support it, on the part of any writer by whom it has been cited and explained.
Views of Lobeck. The next question is that of alleged significance Warburton calls the words barbarous, and they are met with in no archaic lexicon, except that of Hesychius. In the year 1829 a German writer named Lobeck hazarded the emendation κόγξ ΄ομ πάξ being an abbreviation for ΄ομίως : κόγξ ΄ομιως vel οΐν πάξ = konx similiter pax. The presumed meaning of the words would be in this case that whatever is understood by konx is comparable to whatever is signified by pax. Now, the word κόγξη signifies a bivalve or shellfish of the oyster kind, and πάξ, according to Liddell, is equivalent to the Latin pax in its interjectional form, meaning: Peace, be still, etc., the equivalent precisely of our colloquial: “Shut up.” Lobeck was concerned with shewing that there could be nothing more ridiculous in the mouth of a Hierophant than the use of such a formula, especially the ludicrous word pax. But his emendation is not put forward seriously and could be turned against himself, for the counsel of the Mysteries was silence, otherwise, that “Peace, be still” which is an accredited meaning of pax in the Greek as in the Latin form, while the closeness of Eleusinian secrecy was certainly comparable to the sealed mouth of an oyster and the way in which it shuts up. So far at the moment in respect of one explanation.
Other Hypotheses.—By others the words are represented as corruptions of various formula in languages foreign to Greece. (1) According to Le Clerc, Konx Ompax was a corruption of Kots Omphet, which is said to signify in the Phoenician tongue: Watch, and abstain from evil—an appropriate valediction at the end of the Greater Mysteries. (2) On the other hand, a certain Captain Wilford, writing in the Asiatic Researches, claimed that he had discovered the real origin in Sanskrit, which he termed "the language of the gods” i.e. in the view of Indian legend. According to this hypothesis, the true words are Kansch, Aum, Paksch, meaning—says Wilford—“The object of my most earnest desire is holy rest with God. He affirmed that even in his own day they were used at the conclusion of religious rites, to shew that they were over. Lobeck rejected this explanation with disdain, but there is not much force in his contention that κόγξ nec significant unquam nee significare possit "the object of my most earnest desire," as Wilford was asserting the meaning of a Sanskrit term and not that of its alleged Greek corruption. However this may be, (3) Le Piongeon intervened at a much later day, and having cited Wilford's speculation he carried the question from East to furthest West and affirmed that the words were not Sanskrit but Maya, being vocables of the language spoken by the ancient inhabitants of Yucatan and still extant among its descendants. On this hypothesis, the reading offered in substitution for Konx Ompax was Con-ex Oman Panex, signifying: "Go, stranger, scatter." But it is nonsense as a supposititious synonym for an Eleusinian Valete, fratres, since the initiates of Demeter and Persephone were neither strangers nor profane. (4) As much and more may be said for a preposterous invention which proposes an alleged Egyptian derivation, namely, Khobs am Pekt. This is accredited with the meaning: "Light in extension," and could, I suppose, only be regarded as a form of dismissal by the fanatics of a Bacchanalian orgy. We can rest in peace over all these explanations: I do not know that I have exhausted them and most certainly a little questing in the phonetics of other languages might produce other vocables equally plausible and worthless; but what would be much more to the purpose would be an attempt to determine whether the mysterious words can be traced anywhere in the byways of literature and its remains prior to the period of Hesychius. So long as they stand within the measures of his explanation the meaning of Konx Ompax can matter to no one, but least of all to students of the Mysteries and Masonry.
Bibliography.—(1) The editions of Hesychius are numerous: I have used that of Joannes Albertus: Hesychii Lexicon, cum Notis doctorum virorum integris, vel editis antehoc, nunc auctis et emendaiis, etc., 2 vols., folio. Lugduni Batavorum, 1746-66. A note suggests βομϐαξ as a possible emendation for ΄ομπαξ (2) Joannis Meursius: Eleusinia, sive de Cereris Eleusinia sacro ac festo. Liber singularis, 1619. (3) Warburton: Divine Legation, Book II, Section 4, in any edition. He does not cite Hesychius, or indeed any authority. (4) Christian Augustus Lobeck: Aglaophamus, sive de Theologiae Mysticae Graecorum causis libri ires, 2 vols., 1829. See Liber Secundus: Orphica, cap. xvii, § 4, pp. 775 et seq. His emendation is contained in the following passage: Quid enim, quaeso, respondebimus, si quis hoc monstrificum ομ ex adverbio ΄ομιως decurtarum esse dicat? As regards origin he says: Sciunt omnes, qui Meursium trivere, in exitu hujus sacri, quum pia mirteretur concio, abeuntibus acclamatum esse κόγξ ΄ομπάξ The ponderous volumes of Lobeck are of great importance for their period, but his criticism on the claims made for and on behalf of the Mysteries and their theologia sacra ac mystica is one of marked hostility. (5) For Le Clerc see Bibliothèque Universelle, t. vi, p. 86. (6) The essay of Captain Wilford may be consulted in the Asiatic Researches: see Vol. V, p. 300 et seq. Creuzer, Schelling, Munter and Ouvaroff embraced his speculation with zeal. (7) Augustus Le Piongeon: Sacred Mysteries Among the Mayas and Quiches, 3rd edition, 1890. It must be said that he was an inaccurate writer, and in the present instance—quoting apparently from memory—he gives Wilford's rending of his Sanskrit emendation as "Retire, O retire, profane" and compares it unthinkably to the Ite, missa est of the Latin Church. Subsequently, he corrects the rendering.
Karl C. F. Krause
The Masonic activities of this German philosopher belong to the early part of the nineteenth century. He has been represented as devising a system, but the most that he attempted was to influence the spirit of Masonic workings after a somewhat fantastic manner. An evident believer in the efficacy of words, he counselled that those of the Rituals should be treated in such a fashion as to ensure a plenary manifestation of the spirit within them. Here is a question of delivery, or if there is something beyond this I confess that it escapes me. To this very reasonable recommendation was added an opinion that the explanation of symbolic meanings should be delivered over to the private judgment of every member as a thing of secondary importance. Krause was above all a philosopher and a Göttingen lecturer on philosophy. Kenneth MacKenzie suggests that he has been regarded as the original of Carlyle’s Teufelsdröckh in Sartor Resartus, but on what ground he leaves in the clouds as usual. I mention it only to indicate the kind of person with whom we are dealing—one of the idealistic order and possibly by no means a sound guide in matters of practice. The discussion of his proposal as regards Masonic symbolism need not detain us; it is a question of things which have either a ruling law or are pure nonsense.
Masonry Spiritualised.—His opinion notwithstanding, Krause offers a personal construction of emblematic architecture considered as a spiritual science, terming it an august art, the first and proper occupation of the new initiate. The work given him is upon and within himself; it is purification, the search for perfection and for the conformity of the individual with the law of humanity at large. For Masonry may be regarded as the principle of universal alliance and its efforts for the good of mankind should be understood and realised solely in the Spirit of God and conformably to the Divine Essence. In this manner it can lead on to the deification of man—a conventional expression which has caused Krause to be accused by the enemies of Masonry as representing a dangerous theology. It was no doubt used by him in a fluidic sense and it is justified moreover by its history in Christian doctrine, as belonging to a spiritual state recognised by the mystical school of Dionysius.