Acacia ⬩ Adonhiramite Masonry ⬩ African Builders ⬩ Ahiman Rezon ⬩ Alchemy and Masonry ⬩ Aldworth and Kindred Mysteries ⬩ Allied Degrees ⬩ All-Seeing Eye ⬩ Ancient Mysteries ⬩ James Anderson ⬩ Angels in Masonic Ritual ⬩ Anthropomorphism ⬩ Anti-Christ and Freemasonry ⬩ Anti-Masonic Congress at Trent ⬩ Antiquity of Masonry ⬩ Apollo ⬩ Architect ⬩ Architecture and Masonry ⬩ Ars Latomorum ⬩ Jonathan Ashe ⬩ Ashlar ⬩ Assassins and Anseyreeh ⬩ Association and the Mysteries ⬩ Astrology ⬩ Astronomy and Masonry ⬩ Australasia ⬩ Austria
In so far as this Tree, which is connected with a memorable event in Masonic Legend, may be regarded as a symbol of immortality, the notion may be referred to its extraordinary persistence, for Du Pratz says that if any of the bark be left on its branches they will take root if planted as posts. There are several species, among which the Acacia vera is called the Egyptian Thorn—otherwise Acacia seyal—and produces gum-arabic. It is identified with the Shittah Tree and Shittim-Wood of Exodus and Isaiah. It was used in constructing the Ark of the Covenant and the Altar of the Tabernacle. Christian Legend tells us that the Crown of Thorns was made of its spiked twigs, and in the curious pseudo-historical account attached to the Grade of Novice and Knight of St. John the Evangelist, the wood of the Cross is said to have been of this tree. I do not know whence this fable derives, but perhaps on account of it Horace Walpole calls the Acacia “the genteelest tree of all,” following the Elizabethan dramatist who terms Christ “the first true gentleman that ever breathed.” The Burning Bush has been identified with Aqua nilotica, by a reflection from Rabbinical Tradition, which calls it simply a thorn-bush. The red and white blossoms were regarded as sacred in Egypt, and in one of the folk-tales ascribed to the nineteenth dynasty the hero is represented as placing his soul for safe-keeping within the petals of the topmost bloom growing in a Valley of Acacia. For Paracelsus it was a healing tree; he used it with other ingredients as a plaster for wounds and apparently to stop bleeding.
A Sign of Immortality.—I have failed to trace any real connection with funeral rites, and it seems certain that there is no sense in which it can be called emblematic of burial. It belongs to the analogies of hope beyond and life continued henceforward: it is to this that the Master-Mason testified, according to an old French Catechism, when in proof of his status he answered: “The Acacia is known to me.” It has been said that it was consecrated to the sun in Arabia, but no evidence is offered. It has been identified also, though in an arbitrary manner, with the Golden Bough of Virgil; but this was evergreen oak. In the Third Symbolical Grade, according to the classification adopted by the Masonic Order of Memphis, the Worshipful Master explains that “the Branch of Acacia . . . is an emblem of that ardent zeal for truth which should be cherished by every Master, encompassed as he is by corrupted men who betray it”; but this is a flimsy artifice, characteristic of the Rite which devised it and of the Masonic period in France to which it belonged at its origin. To sum up therefore, the emblem is—on the surface—funereal in Masonry, but in itself is a sign of life, and it has to be remembered that the great pageant with which it is connected is unquestionably one of resurrection. It appears to form part of a story which has a deeper meaning than is found on the surface.
The Hermetic Rose.—From my own point of view as a mystic, it is a figurative representation of our inward nature, like the Hermetic Rose itself. As that Rose out of a rude mountain, so issues from the inchoate nature of the man of earth the many-petalled flower of spiritual being: so gradually and slowly unfold our potencies—like petals—from within. As the beautiful blossoms of the Acacia are put forth successively till the branch is covered and weighed down, so from one root and stock are the powers of our interior and centre manifested outwardly. As the life of the young Pelicans was sustained by the resources of the parent bird of the legend, so are our exterior forces fed from the spirit which is within; so from within is sustained the life of the outward man. And that which is interior is the larger part; our possibilities are greater than our attainments, but there are greater attainments to come; while the mystics tell us that he who is within is older than he who is without. On such a priori considerations, the Acacia typifies that which is immortal in our nature; when planted to signify the place of rest where lay that which was perishable it testified that the Master lived, and so also that which he denoted. The plans of the unfinished temple were not wanting but hidden; the Word was reserved somewhere and would be restored by time or circumstances; and after the shadowed lights of figurative resurrection, there would come the Orient light, the bright and morning-star, heralding a resurrection in the spirit, in the real and imperishable man, full of grace and truth. The motto to be inscribed on the Acacia is therefore Resurgamus nos.
A Sign of Innocence.—The Acacia in Greek is ή άκακία and the same word signifies simplicity, innocence and the mind turning from evil, as if with instinctive horror. There are no pitfalls comparable to those which are dug for the unwary by mere intimations of words, and I question whether I should have mentioned this fact at all if it had not been cited by others, more especially as the innocence of the Master-Builder was not a subject at issue when the Acacia was planted over his grave, any more than the legendary choice of shittim-wood for the cross erected on Calvary signified—in the opinion of those who crucified Christ—that He was the unspotted and stainless victim of the Supreme Sacrifice. It was the makers of the Hiramic myth who saw to it that a thing which was implied in their minds should be symbolised on the grave of their symbolic Master. They placed therefore a sign of resurrection and immortality, as if in some later mystery the grave should give up its dead in the fashion of one who henceforward would be alive for evermore. Meanwhile, in the person of their Candidate of the Third Degree, they indicated this implicit and shewed forth this mystery to come, as in a glass and darkly, making the darkness for the moment only more visible. As we know, however, the intention which I have ventured to predicate, on the expressed authority of all the Ancient Mysteries and on the transparent implicits of the Master-Grade, came to nothing. But on the continent of Europe, in the holy places of Lyons, under the auspices of Martinism and the Strict Observance, there were those who had eyes for symbolism and they saw clearly. They saw to it also after their own speaking manner, and it came about therefore—before the end of the eighteenth century—that Hiram rose. I say therefore with Eliphas Levi: “I also believe in the resurrection of Hiram.” Meanwhile, those who are pleased to affirm that the Acacia is a symbol of innocence shall pass unchallenged, but the point is not of consequence to the subject. Could funerary connections be established ever so clearly, they would be of no consequence either, for the greatness of the Third Degree does not consist in the death or burial of the Master-Builder but in the Raising of the Candidate, I observe that Dr. Frederick Dalcho, famous as a High-Grade Mason in South Carolina, affirmed the connection in an Oration belonging to the year 1802, namely, that the ancient Jews were accustomed to place the Acacia over graves, not as a symbol of immortality—about which they knew but vaguely—and not as a sign of resurrection—about which at that time they knew nothing at all—but as a warning to their priests who were “prohibited from crossing a grave.” The fact—if it be a fact—would signify less than nothing, for we are dealing with symbolism and not—as it happens—with signposts. I have checked the reference, however, and find that Dr. Dalcho was speaking of the matter as if it were common knowledge and cited no authority. It has been advanced also that Blount in his Levantine Travels includes the planting of evergreens on graves as a Jewish custom belonging to that region. Unfortunately, the Acacia is an evergreen, but all evergreens are not acacias. Moreover, on recourse to these curious old travels it proves that the custom in question is Turkish and not Jewish. The actual terms of the statement are: “They plant such kind of plants or flowers as remain green all the year.” I shall remain content therefore with that which I have in evidence: a token of immortality is better than a graveyard warning, and a sign of resurrection shall be preferred before one of death.
Authorities.—See (1) Dr. Frederick Dalcho: Orations on Freemasonry. Dublin Reprint, 1808, pp. 23, 24. (2) Sir Henry Blount, Knt.: A Voyage into the Levant: a Brief Relation of a Journey lately performed, etc. 5th Edition. London, 1664, pp. 196, 197.
The Hebrew name אדונירם = Adoniram, occurs three times in Scripture, namely, 2 Samuel xx. 24; 1 Kings iv. 6, where it is said: “And Adoniram the son of Abda was over the tribute”; and lastly, in ib. v. 14. He was one of the titular princes of Solomon in the early part of his reign and prior to the building of the Temple. The attributed meanings are “My Lord is most high,” “Lord of might and elevation,” or in brief “High Lord.” He seems also to be reasonably identified with the Adoram of 1 Kings xii. 18, and with Hadoram in 2 Chronicles x. 18. From the obscurity of these references Adoniram emerges into singular but confused importance in the conventional traditions of Masonry. (1) In the Cryptic Degrees he is not even in possession of that Master-Word, to reserve or attain which there is strife in the Temple itself and the Holy Place is desolated. (2) In the Grade of Secret Master the inspection of workmen on Mount Lebanon is entrusted to his care. (3) In that of Perfect Master he has the charge of erecting a suitable monument to the memory of the Master-Builder. (4) In certain secret workings which cannot be specified here he is seen acting as a kind of Intendant of the Building, and (5) he is otherwise represented as the lawful and elected successor of the great Son of the Widow: on him therefore devolved the completion of the sacred edifice. Most of these stories exclude one another, and it is difficult at this day to speculate how or with whom they originated. Adonhiramite Masonry itself—as the name of a specific system—arose in France. It has been referred to Baron Tschoudy and alternatively to Louis Guillemain de Saint-Victor. In either case evidence is wanting to determine whether the one or the other compiled the system or wrote only the accounts concerning it.
Contradictions and Confusions.—It is not less uncertain whether it emerged into the activity of a living Rite, or whether it remained on paper within the covers of the volume by which we are acquainted with its content. However this may be, it consisted of Twelve Grades, being (1) Entered Apprentice, (2) Companion, (3) Master, (4) First Elect,(5) Second Elect, (6) Third Elect, (7) Little Architect, (8) Grand Architect, (9) Scottish Master, (10) Knight of the Sword, otherwise Knight of the East, or of the Eagle, (11) Knight Rose-Croix, and (12) Noachite, or Prussian Knight. Of these Grades, those which are superposed upon the Craft system are mostly familiar in other and also in earlier Rites, so that Adonhiramite Masonry added little to Masonic symbolism or knowledge, as variants in liturgies and ritual procedure do not belong to these categories. The contradictions and confusions which characterise the Elect Grades seem, if anything, to be brought out more clearly; there is no logical sequence, for there is nothing to fill the great spaces of time between the erection of Solomon’s Temple and that of Zerubbabel, or between the epoch of Cyrus and of Christ. The Grade of Rose-Croix in the series is a miserable vestige of a great mystical ceremony, and by such substitution we are introduced to the crown of the whole symbolical edifice, namely, Prussian Knight, wherein we are transferred suddenly from the Christian Dispensation to that of Noah and Babel. It will be dealt with in the proper place; in this I am concerned only with exhibiting the supreme unreason of the Ritual procedure. It follows that Adonhiramite Masonry leads nowhere, as indeed its title indicates, the raison d’être of which is an arbitrary substitution of the son of Abda in place of Hiram Abif, as King Solomon’s Master-Architect. We know that there are insuperable difficulties in respect of the latter when the traditional story of Masonry is checked by Holy Scripture; but neither these nor any other consideration can excuse the change, which confounds confusion further.
Other Adonhiram Grades.—I have intimated, however, that Adoniram is a person of the drama outside the late and formal system which passes under the name of Saint-Victor. In addition to the Grades which I have mentioned he is prominent in Mark Masonry, in the Degrees of Royal Master and Intendant of the Building. From the last it follows that the Adonhiramite motive in Masonry goes back to the Council of Emperors of the East and West. From the Grades of Royal and Select Master it follows—as we have seen—that it enters also into Cryptic Masonry, about the symbolical importance of which in connection with the Holy Royal Arch I hold strong views and on occasion have expressed them strongly. These are titles of honour, if I may venture so to express it, but none of them compares with the consequence attaching to the fact that Adoniram belongs also to the Honourable Degree of Mark Master Mason, not only in the Ceremony of Advancement but in the secret workings attached thereto. Adonhiramite Masonry is therefore of great importance in High Grades connected with the Old Alliance, and this fact justifies a reasonable resentment against the unprovoked invasion of another field of symbolism by an attempt to take it into the Craft itself.
Origin of the Rite.—The introduction of Adoniram into Symbolical Masonry of the King Solomon period can be accounted for in an obvious manner. We have seen that he was placed over the tribute, as chief receiver, and indeed held this position during the successive reigns of David, Solomon and Rehoboam, as we learn by 2 Samuel xx. 24; 1 Kings iv. 6, and ib. xii. 18. He was stoned to death, while exercising the duties of his office, by the people—then in revolt. It follows that he was not the Master-Architect of King Solomon’s Temple, as pretended by Adonhiramite Masonry—though he is connected with the work on the timber in the forest of Lebanon—and that he did not succeed Hiram-Abiff. These are Masonic inventions and legends. But he was a person of importance during a long period in Israel, and as such was recommended to the early makers of Rituals and the founders of mythical Masonic history. It happened unfortunately for the subject that these alumni worked independently of each other and produced mutually exclusive accounts, among which I have selected a few only. As regards that Rite which is officially La Maçonnerie Adonhiramite, we have to thank Saint-Victor for collecting and editing its Grades, which—also most probably—were never worked as such. At a later period he produced what purports to be an account of the origin of his invention, but it is the mere fashion of a title, dealing neither with Adonhiramite nor Hiramic Masonry, but with (1) the philosophy of the Magi, regarded as a general name for the antique priesthood; (2) the origin of the Instituted Mysteries as they were practised in Egypt and Greece; (3) the sciences possessed by their hierophants; and (4) the modes of reception into the Mysteries. To Operative or Emblematic Freemasonry—as the terms are understood by us—there is no word of reference throughout.
Authorities.—The authorities for this notice are (1) Louis Guillemain de Saint-Victor: Recueil Precieux de la Maçonnerie Adonhiramite, contenant Les Catéchismes des Trois premiers Grades, etc. 2 Vols. Philadelphia (Paris), 1785. (2) The same: Origine de la Maçonnerie Adonhiramite, ou Nouvelles Observations . . . sur la Philosophie, les Hiéroglyphes, les Mystères . . . et les vices des Mages. A Heliopolis (Paris), 1787. (3) A. E. Waite: The Secret Tradition in Freemasonry. 2 Vols., 1911. Vol. I, pp. 158, 159, 163, 164,166, 168, 169, 172, 174, 255, 256.
Adonis and His Mysteries
There is neither space nor occasion to consider at length those Rites by which Greece commemorated the death and resurrection of Adonis. Their reflection from the cultus of Tammuz is also no part of our research, as it belongs to the antiquities of a subject with which we are concerned in respect only of its inward and deeper life. It should be understood, however, that the Mysteries of Adonis are comparatively speaking late—in contrast, for example, with those practised at Eleusis. They have been referred to the epoch of the Seleucides. We must set aside what is said of them on the part of Masonic Writers, who have supposed fondly that they are in close “connection with the early history and reputed origin of Freemasonry,” because in the Phoenician and Tammuz period they were celebrated at Byblos, otherwise the scriptural Gebal, inhabited by the Giblites or “stone-squarers” of Solomon’s Temple. Hereof is the finding of A. G. Mackey, who discourses also on the secret promulgation of “the once hidden doctrine of a future life.” But that which was hidden was the kind of life to come, as this was opened to the vision of the epopts; the matter of survival itself was in no sense reserved by the Keepers of the Mysteries to such as were brought within them, for Elysium and Tartarus were open dreams of doctrine. If, however, there was a time when the Rites of Adonis gave any message to their initiates, such as that which is connoted by Eleusis, the record is wanting concerning it; but it would appear more than doubtful. They were also Rites of Venus, and the myth of the pageant in all its versions is a servile copy of those belonging to Demeter—produced on a lower key. I do not propose to recite all the variants, but if we take the version of Bion—to which the others bear a root-likeness—Adonis was the favourite of Venus, on account of his beauty. When he was killed by a wild boar, and went down to the underworld, Proserpine became enamoured of him also and refused to restore him to earth, notwithstanding the prayers of Venus. An appeal followed to Jupiter, with the result that the youth’s future was divided between them—six months in the bowers of earth and six in Tartarus. It will be seen that the purity of Eleusis is contaminated by the later pageant.
Venusian Mysteries.—I have indicated that the Mysteries of Adonis are those also of Venus, and although it seems possible that in Phoenicia and at Byblos there may have been a time when they were not apart from purity, that period had passed when they were imported by Greece. In the Phoenician story Adonis was the wife of Astarte and with the help of Ammon his father he had civilised Egypt. He travelled thereafter to Syria and was supposed to have been slain by a wild boar, while hunting on Mount Lebanon. Phoenicia, Egypt and Astarte combined to mourn him, but it had been decreed that he who was accounted dead should yet return to life, and there was joy among all the peoples. If this was the dramatic pageant presented in the Mysteries of Byblos, they may well have been like those of Eleusis in their reticence and the concealments of their modesty: then either would reconstruct easily along spiritual lines, for those who wish to transmute them. But the records are doubtful, and I question whether this form of the mystery was not more especially on paper in the testimony of Phamutus, for Lucian—or whoever was the author of De Deâ Syriae—gives another picture. In any case the Adonia of Greece corrupted the Eleusinia in their reflection by filling the heart of Proserpine with desire for the beautiful youth whom an untimely chance had taken into the underworld. By shadowed shrines and in the half light of encircling groves there were enforced sacrifices of womanhood, on sale for the profit of the temple, not to speak of any host of courtesans trafficking on their own part in the grades of love.
Adonia and Eleusinia.—Adonis was virile youth and glory of physical beauty, but the house of Venus was a brothel, and thus the Rites were stained, as if from flower to root: acacia maculata indeed, and all the feasts were orgies. If it is possible to set apart for a moment this mise en scène and dwell upon the so-called Resurrection of Adonis, it has nothing to communicate which cannot be received under different circumstances in the pageants of Eleusis. The return of Adonis from the underworld is but a poor copy of the annual rendering to earthly life of her who was Proserpine and Ceres. I know that both are but shadows and feeble substitutes of the mystical truth in experience which they are held to adumbrate: they are the back parts of the Divine Mysteries. There is in truth neither mystic death nor resurrection in the one or the other case. It was not given to mythologies to do more than distort in reflection the divine and eternal mythos which is exemplified once and for ever—as pattern and prototype—to all the ages of sanctity in the Christ-story of Palestine. The adumbration and shadowing of the Master-Grade in Masonry is nearer than anything put forward by Egypt and Greece.
Authorities.—It would serve no purpose to make a display of knowledge by citing classical authorities and commentaries on these. I have mentioned Bion’s Epitaph on Adonis, the work of Pharnutus and the tract attributed to Lucian, about the authorship of which there is grave doubt. The fifteenth idyll of Theocritus should also be remembered and Ovid’s Art of Love, Lib. I. The Adonia are mentioned by St. Melito, St. Clement of Alexandria, St. Jerome, St. Cyril, and by Julius Firmicus Maternus, Ammianus Marcellinus and Procopius. A good general account of the Adoniah will be found in Baron de Sainte-Croix: Mémoires pour servir d l’Histoire de la Religion Secrète des Anciens Peuples. Paris, 1784; pp. 441-454. It may be thought, however, that he exaggerated the corruption of the Mysteries by an insufficient distinction between their earlier and later forms.
A German official named C. F. Köppen, who was born in 1734 and died in 1797 or 1798, was the founder of an association at Berlin which rose to some celebrity under the name of the African Builders or Architects, and he is said to have expended much of his time and means in furthering the work of his Order. It was incorporated for the primary purpose of literary culture and particular intellectual studies; but the names of its Degrees intimate defined objects connected with research into the Instituted Mysteries. Special Masonic qualifications were required of members, and some of the distinguished German and French literati of the period (circa 1766, for the date of foundation is not entirely certain) were drawn into its ranks. In a comparatively short time it had branches at Worms, Cologne and Paris. There is, however, considerable confusion as to its organisation. A connection has been asserted between the African Builders and a society of Alethophiles, or of those who love the Truth, being a title ascribed to one of its own Grades. I suspect also some connection with the Krata Repoa—another foundation of Köppen, in connection with J. W. B. von Hymmen. One distribution of the Degrees has been tabulated as follows: A. INFERIOR GRADES, (1) Apprentice of Egyptian Secrets; (2) Initiation into Egyptian Secrets; (3) Cosmopolitan, or Citizen of the World; (4) Christian Philosopher; (5) Alethophiles, or Lover of Truth. B. HIGH GRADES. (1) Esquire; (2) Soldier; (3) Knight. At the beginning, therefore, we appear to have an Egyptian interpretation of the Mysteries; in the middle a Christian construction of Masonic research; and at the end a series of Grades which embodied, by possibility, a Templar presentation of Masonic Chivalry.
Grade Titles.—As regards the Alethophiles, I leave the dilemma as I find it. Whether the association bearing that name—and said to have been instituted at Berlin in 1736, or two years after the birth of Köppen—was independent of his African Builders or was absorbed thereby remains an open question. It is in the cloud of its own darkness as to origin, intention and history. If it were worth while to hazard any opinion over so obscure a matter, I should question the date of its foundation. We know nothing concerning it, not even whether it wore a Masonic complexion or demanded Masonic qualifications of its members. The African Builders is in several respects second only in obscurity to itself. Another account gives the Grade-Titles as follows, apart from any distinction between inferior and superior classes: (1) Knight, or Apprentice; (2) Brother, or Companion; (3) Soldier, or Master; (4) Horseman, or Knight; (5) Novice; (6) aedile, or Builder; (7) Tribunus, or Knight of the Eternal Silence—all independent of and—I presume—presupposing the Three Craft Degrees. The classification is insensate and—if correct—sheds a fantastic light upon the alleged culture and intellectual attainments of those by whom it was devised. I incline, therefore, to the alternative sequence, as one who exercises a prerogative of mercy in the absence of knowledge.
Fri Köppen and von Hymmen.—Like the Strict Observance, the African Builders are affirmed to have worked in Latin. For the rest, it is reported to have died before its founder, or otherwise some ten years after it came into existence. All dates, however, are dubious, and as to this in particular it must be remembered that in 1806—with Constantinople as the pretended place of publication but signifying Berlin in reality—there appeared a pamphlet of fifty-one pages, entitled A Discovery concerning the System of the Order of African Architects. Outside his connection with the African Builders and the Krata Repoa, Fri Köppen wrote an essay on the Mysteries, designed to explain the true purposes of Freemasonry, and also a work which is still well known and once circulated widely under the title of The Most Secret Mysteries of the High Grades of Freemasonry Unveiled, or the True Rose-Croix. This was published in 1776. Concerning von Hymmen I can say only that he was a Prussian Judge who was born in 1725 and died in 1786. He wrote a number of legal works and was a member of the Strict Observance, to which it would seem that we can trace—practically without exception—every important personality in connection with French Freemasonry, not to speak of Germany itself. Von Hymmen was himself one of the African Architects. So also, it may be added, was a certain Baron von Gugomas, an occult personage of the period and probably an impostor, like the majority of his dubious school. He addressed a circular to the Brethren of the Strict Observance, inviting them to a Convention at Wiesbaden and pretending to have extraordinary powers from some Unknown Superiors in Cyprus, under the protection of the Holy See, for the promulgation of a pure and authentic Masonry. He is comparable therefore to Starck, another thorn in the side of Baron von Hund. Those who used to see Jesuits everywhere supposed that von Gugomas belonged to the Society of St. Ignatius, but it is said that he and his claims were credited by many distinguished German Masons. He is accused of confessing his Jesuitical connections in 1786, the very last thing that would have been done by a secret emissary of the Order and positive proof, to my mind, that he was never its delegate. While the Jesuits have not proved especially wise in their particular kind of wisdom, they have had the common prudence of preserving their circle of operations within their own community, and all mendacities and romances notwithstanding they have not had lay members. Another associate of the African Builders was Karl de Bose, a chancellor of the Prussian Court, who belonged—if report can be credited—to the Rosicrucian and yet other occult or mystical Fraternities. Speaking under proper reserve, in view of our available knowledge, I am disposed to think that the African Builders were not without importance for the deeper side of Masonic Initiation in Germany and that sidelights from the Krata Repoa—considered merely as an essay in compilation—help us to understand the aims and interests of the Order in which Köppen and von Hymmen played an important part.
Authorities.—There is some information concerning the African Builders in the Handbuch der Freimaurerei, a third edition of which appeared in 1900, 1901, the original publication as an Encyclopädie belonging to the years 1822-28, under the authorship of Lenning and Mossdorf; in Thory’s Acta Latomorum, 2 vols., 1826; and in my Secret Tradition in Freemasonry, 2 vols., 1911, vol. i, p. 128. The Discovery of 1806 is not available in England, or at least I have sought it vainly in several directions. It suggests that the association was not extinct so early as stated in my text, for it would be unlikely that a work on the subject, under such a title, which is one of divulgation, would have been issued some years after the Builders had ceased to meet. I observe that according to R. F. Gould: History of Freemasonry, 3 vols., 1886-87, vol. p. 244, the Builders came to an end only with the death of Köppen, but it is a casual reference and he offers no authority.
This is the title which Laurence Dermott chose for the Book of Constitutions edited by himself and issued in 1756 for the use of the so-called Ancient or otherwise Schismatic Masons. It is of Hebrew origin, meaning faithful Brother Secretary, according to the Rev. Morris Rosenbaum, and not the will of a prepared brother, or the will of Ahiman, a name occurring in Numbers xiii. 22, and elsewhere. As might be expected, Kenneth MacKenzie gives a muddled explanation of the title. Eight editions were produced up to and including the year of the Union, 1813. It is important for the general history of the rival factions, but I am concerned with it here in respect only of its non-contentious elements.
Content of the Work.—As it must be said notwithstanding that it is much more interesting and important in respect of the first than it is in the second respect, I shall deal with it shortly in the present place. There is an Address to the Reader which occupies sixty-two pages of the third edition, and this recites the points of the debate in a manner which is entertaining as comedy—at least for that dull period, which was 1778. The Book of Constitutions follows and comprises (1) a quasi-historical account of the Institution of Freemasonry, much as we might expect it and of interest for comparison with Anderson; (2) Payne’s Old Charges, to the number of seven; (3) a Short Charge, addressed to a newly-admitted Brother; (4) the Ancient Manner of Constituting a Lodge; (5) Prayers adapted to several occasions: it was a forgotten art at the period; (6) General Regulations—the Old and the New printed in parallel columns; (7) Regulations for Charity. They belong, however, to another part of our subject. Mr. Rosenbaum’s study of the words Ahiman Rezon is exceedingly valuable and will be found in Ars Quatuor Coronatorum, vol. xxiii, pp. 162 et seq.
Alchemy and Masonry
The descent from Mysteries of Egypt into those of the classical world has been compared with the descent of the soul into material things. It is a false analogy, marking personal predilection; but it connotes an idea of derivation, that Greece inherited from Egypt, nor that at so great a distance. I suppose that the scholars of both subjects would challenge the assumption, which is crude enough in its derivation. The quest of Persephone is not the quest of Isis; the story of the rending of Iacchos has no real connection whatsoever with the dismemberment of Osiris; and those Masonic virtuosos who mistook accidents of analogy for root-identity and essential consanguinity were misled herein, as in most of their other reveries. It goes without saying that there is a general likeness between all mystical traditions and all modes of mystical symbolism because there is a veridical and vital likeness in all mystical experience. That which is at issue is not a question of descent but one of common origin in the science of the soul, which science—so far as it existed in Egypt—has the appearance of being more overlaid and encumbered than it was in the classical world. Egypt, however, was the conventional fountain-head for the earlier Masonic literati, and perhaps after all the reason is not far to seek. They had heard, on very high authority, that Moses was learned in all the wisdom of Egypt, and they magnified the measures of that wisdom because of the mission of Moses, their mythical first Grand Master. Outside Masonic circles, in those days when the world of learning stood agaze at great masses of hieroglyphical writing which no one could read, Egypt was a world of wonder. It was a mystery written large upon the face of history, and the eyes of learning turned instinctively where Pythagoras had turned on his own part. A land of mystery was also the natural accredited home of things that were in themselves mysterious, and it came about—in the absence of all evidence—that the cryptic literature of Alchemy was assigned its origin in the ancient world of the Delta.
Mystic Alchemy.—The question concerns us only for the registration of a definite negative, as a preliminary clearance of issues. So far as concerns the world lying West of China, the earliest alchemical codices are of Byzantine origin and belong to the fourth century, A.D. This stated, my next purpose is to indicate that in our country, and elsewhere, there has been much fantastic speculation as to the real purpose which lies behind the intellectual puzzle presented by the literature of transmutation. On the surface it deals solely and only with the conversion of putative base metals into the modes of gold and silver—which the alchemical hypothesis qualified as perfect metals. Some interpreters of the concealed art have been disposed to regard it as dealing exclusively with experiences of the soul in its progress and have said that what was changed in the figurative alembics of the philosophers was not metallic substances one into another: on the contrary, it was human nature which was transmuted into a condition that—so far as its form permitted—became akin to Divine Nature. The lessons of alchemical history and the fuller understanding of its literature do not take us in this direction, and by those who are qualified to judge there is no question that Alchemy is regarded as an experiment made in physics—at least in its primary aspect.
Graeco-Alexandrian Texts.—It will be a matter of astonishment to most persons that there should be any need to insist on a point which is to all appearance obvious. Some twenty-five years ago the researches of Berthelot, who edited the Byzantine, Arabian and Syriac alchemists for the first time, read the alternative view an undesigned but remarkable lesson, which, so far, none of his readers have appreciated. He traced the indubitable metallic experiments of the Graeco-Alexandrian period right through mediaeval times and exhibited in this manner the physical concern of a long line of Latin-writing “adepts” in Europe, while he created a strong presumption as to the express objects of the art, by whomsoever practised or essayed. There will be no need to add that with any other point of view he, as a pure scientist, was quite naturally unacquainted.
Two Alchemical Schools.—All this notwithstanding, the truth seems to lie rather in a middle ground, and the literature as a whole justifies us in regarding the experiment of Alchemy as to some extent twofold in its character: this is to say that in part it was a mystery of science, but in part also the symbolism of this science was pressed into the service of another order of experiments. It follows that those who have regarded the soul, its phases and developments, as the particular object of research have not been far astray in respect of certain schools. The subject has been unfortunately too long in the hands of persons who understood neither material alchemy nor the term of mystical research, and it calls for adequate treatment under other auspices. Here I can say only that there came a time when the claims of the work on metals had fallen into serious disrepute and when there was—by the evidence of the literature—an increasing tendency to use the terminology of Alchemy in a transcendental and spiritual sense. Writers like Khunrath seem to have concerned themselves solely with the latter, and when, a little earlier, Jacob Böhme come forward to interpret the Secret Mysteries of Religion, he used largely the symbolical language of Alchemy as a ready method of expression.
A Masonic Analogy.—It came about in this manner that Hermetic literature and the practice which lay behind it followed the same course that we are able to trace in Masonry. At a certain period in England the operative craftsmen and Masters in Masonic Arts began to be outnumbered by those whom we call Speculative Masons, persons of other business, or perhaps of no occupation, who had been drawn in various manners within the ranks. It would seem that the Lodges must in the effluxion of time have lost their raison d’être and survived for social reasons. So also it would appear that experiments in the transmutation of metals were less and less practised as scientific chemistry emerged slowly into being and provided a practical field where success tended more and more to crown individual effort instead of failure. The old books continued to be studied, but it was by another class of people, with other hopes and dreams. A new construction was placed upon the cryptic symbolism, and there opened out another field of research, having very different ends in view. But just as it is difficult to determine at what period the first elements of a Speculative or Emblematic Masonry arose in the Operative Art, and just as the researches and tentative hypotheses of writers like Mr. R. F. Gould endeavour to put back that period, so does a better and fuller knowledge of alchemical memorials encourage us to recognise a spiritual aspect of the Magnum Opus as present far back in the literature, not excluding even certain Byzantine texts. When, in and about the year 1717, Emblematic Freemasonry began to assume a definitive and concrete form, it was not for such hypotheses a new thing, though it incorporated new elements. In like manner, when Böhme, Khunrath and the makers of many other memorials, began to speak of eternal things and the mysteries of transmutation in the soul, it was no novel and arbitrary adaptation which began suddenly, for its roots go back—as I have said—and this also may have been even the concern of Zosimus in the fourth or fifth century of the Christian era. Finally, as Mark Masonry, through all its clouded past, has proclaimed its operative concern, and as we have among us at this day a so-called operative body which has come forward recently with a claim on antiquity in an unbroken line of descent, so—in a sporadic fashion—we have continued, on the Continent especially, to find the quest of physical Alchemy pursued, while a Société Alchimique de France has existed for a number of years in the interests of the physical work, knowing little or nothing of its alternative, and affirming that it has not been altogether unsuccessful in the path which it has followed.
Hermetic Masonry.—Many schools of varied zeal, many hopes and dreams, many forms of faith in science, religion and philosophy gathered under the Masonic Banner in the eighteenth century, above all in France and Germany. It drew within its ranks such Alchemy as there was at the period, and there is considerable evidence that it was still a living concern. It came about in due course that Hermetic Grades and Hermetic Rites grew up. Being numerous and curious, I shall deal with the chief among them in their proper place. In the present one it calls to be said that—except in Rosicrucian circles, which were also Masonic—there is very little to connect either founders or members with a serious pursuit of the practical side of metallic Alchemy. The Rituals for the most part are unfortunately not available, for which reason—and also on other grounds—it should be understood that I am not adjudicating in any authoritative manner, but rather conveying an impression on the facts of the evidence before me. There is perhaps no subject which commandeered the whole man and his undivided attention like the research of Alchemy pursued in the domain of metals; but there is nothing so scattered in concern and so apart from the life of the laboratory as are the histories of people like Abbé Pernety and Baron Tschoudy, to name two Masons who stand out prominently in the story of Hermetic Masonry. I have no doubt that they followed chemical experiments, as and when their scattered and sporadic opportunities permitted; but they led restless lives and both were men of numerous activities, who carried the dossiers of several distinct interests. Their practical researches bore no proportion to the reality of their theoretical interest, and I think that they pursued Alchemy as others pursued mesmerism under the Masonic aegis. Their studies were those of the students’ closet rather than the laboratory: it is to this fact that we owe the works of Pernety and the Hermetic Catechism of Tschoudy. On the other hand, there is no trace in either of the spiritual side of the Hermetic work. For Baron Tschoudy Masonry may be described as moralised Alchemy, while in the alchemical writings of Pernety there is no trace of Masonry at all, as there is no derivation of moral or mystical lessons.
Authorities.—The invaluable researches of Berthelot will be found in (1) Collection des Anciens Alchimistes Grecs . . . Publieé par M. Berthelot . . ., avec la collaboration de M. Ch. Em. Ruelle. 3 vols., Paris, 1887, 1888. The Greek texts are accompanied by French translations. (2) La Chimie au Moyen Âge. 3 vols., Paris, 1893. The first volume contains Berthelot’s Essay on the Transmission of Antique Science to the Middle Ages. The second volume is devoted to the texts of Syriac alchemy and their translation by M. Rubens Duval. The third volume comprises the text and translation of Arabian alchemists by M. O. Houdas. (3) Les Origines de l’Alchimie, Paris, 1885, and (4) Introduction à l’Étude de la Chimie des Anciens et du Moyen Âge, Paris, 1889, are other essays Berthelot, which should be taken in connection with the above. For the religious and mystical side of Alchemy see Heinrich Khunrath: Amphitheatrum Sapientae Aeternae. Hanover, 1609: a French translation appeared at Paris, with all the symbolical plates, in 1900. As regards A. J. Pernety, see (1) Les Fables Égyptiennes et Grecques dévoilées et reduites au même principe. 2 vols., Paris, 1786. (2) Dictionnaire Mytho-Hermétique. Paris, 1787. The Hermetic Catechism of Baron Tschoudy will be found in any edition of L’Étoile Flamboyante, which appeared originally in 1766. The full title is Catéchisme ou Instruction pour le Grade d’Adepte, ou Apprenti Philosophe Sublime et Inconnu. There is no evidence that a Hermetic Degree under this particular title was ever in activity, though it may have existed on paper. There is no evidence also in support of Eliphas Levi’s statement that the Catechism was founded on an unique MS. of Paracelsus in the Vatican Library. This notwithstanding, it is a most interesting work—alike from the Hermetic and Masonic point of view. A translation in full of the Hermetic part is included in my edition of The Hermetic and Alchemical Writings of Paracelsus, 2 vols., 1894; vol. i, pp. 289-305. The Masonic part is collated and summarised in my Secret Tradition in Freemasonry, 2 vols., 1911; vol. ii, pp. 65-69. The Société Alchimique de France has no Masonic connections; its official organ—suspended during the War—is called Les Nouveaux Horizons and its director or president, F. Jollivet Castellot, is the author of Comment on Devient Alchimiste, Paris, 1897. There was not much Alchemy to be found of recent years in the official organ, and the treatise just mentioned is a little fantastic, as indeed its title suggests.
Aldworth and Kindred Mysteries
It is not of any real consequence whether or not the Hon. Elizabeth St. Leger—daughter of Viscount Doneraile and afterwards Mrs. Aldworth, of Newmarket, County Cork—was initiated into Freemasonry under peculiar circumstances. It is similarly unimportant whether certain other women at a later date were admitted under analogous circumstances. Amidst the obscurities and contradictions of the Aldworth story three things emerge as certain: (1) That her portrait in Masonic clothing is still extant; (2) That her apron and jewels are still preserved by the family; and (3) That her name appears among the subscribers to Dassigny’s work on the decay of Freemasonry in Ireland, published in 1744. She is variously described as born in 1693 and 1713, as married in 1713, as dying in 1773 and in circa 1800. She was initiated—according to one story—because she hid in a room adjoining the Lodge and removed some of the brickwork, so that she could witness all that took place. This was at Doneraile Court, her father’s mansion, where a Lodge—described as aristocratic—used to meet regularly. Miss St. Leger is said to have been still in her girlhood. The alternative version places the story later, and the lady was already Mrs. Aldworth. She made arrangements with the landlady of a Cork hostelry, where a Lodge used to meet, and was concealed in a clock situated in the room itself. She betrayed herself in both cases and was admitted formally, in order to ensure her secrecy. This story is said to have been vouched for by two members of the Lodge in question, being No. 71, but it did not meet at Cork till 1774, and whether or not Mrs. Aldworth died in 1773 it is moderately certain that she was already a Mason when Dassigny’s Inquiry was issued—more than thirty years previously. I infer that if we are concerned sufficiently to have any opinion on the matter we shall reject this version and abide by the former, which appears to be that of the family. There are level-headed persons, however, who reject both, the second presumably because of its contradictions and the inherent unlikelihood of a lady in her position conspiring with a tavern-keeper on a question of mere curiosity, but the former because of the many years which had elapsed between the speculative date of the event and the family statement in 1811. The history of Masonry would be in a parlous condition if we ruled evidence out on this basis. It is out enough too often on all manner of counts. I incline to think that Elizabeth St. Leger was initiated in her father’s house as the consequence of a girl’s escapade, but it does not matter two farthings if others prefer to deny it. The statement is that she received two Degrees, committing one thus to the hypothesis that this number was worked in Ireland prior to 1717. Kenneth MacKenzie says that she was not admitted to the Third, because it was obviously impossible—meaning on account of her sex: but this is nonsense. The real reason would be because it was not in existence at that time in that place.
Mrs. Beaton.—There is cited also the case of Mrs. Beaton, who died at St. John Maddermarket, Norwich, in 1802, at the age of eighty-five. Twenty-seven years after her death it was put on record that she concealed herself one evening behind the wainscot of a Lodge-room, “where she learned the secret” and carried it with her to the grave. How she became a Freemason in view of this incident I do not pretend to explain, but she is said to have passed by this title among the people about her.
Madame de Xaintrailles.—The heroine of this story—concerning which the common conventional trumpery has been talked by Masonic annalists—was the wife of a general who obtained a commission and served as an aide-de-camp, wearing masculine attire. On a certain occasion the Lodge of Frères-Artistes in Paris had opened in the First Degree, when a visitor presented himself in the uniform of a captain of cavalry, and being asked to produce his Certificate handed in his commission. It was altogether plain and certified that Madame de Xaintrailles had prosecuted the campaign with great zeal and fidelity, and had won her spurs—so to speak. It was “reprehensible,” it was “outrage,” but it is pointed out that the Master and Brethren were Sons of France and—fired with the sense of her valour—they offered her initiation on the spot. She replied, with the perfection of gallantry: “I have been a man for my country, and I will be a man again for my Brethren.” They made her an Entered Apprentice. The Rev. A. F. A. Woodford, Past Grand Chaplain of England, says that he fails to see how the French Brethren were to blame, or how they could have done otherwise under the circumstances. We who know the heroism of English womanhood—not to speak of other peoples—in the adjourned war of the world cannot help speculating humorously what might have been done by himself under similar circumstances, had his gracious presence filled the Chair in the East during any of these recent years.
Authorities.—For accessible authorities at their value, see: (1) In respect of Mrs. Aldworth: Ars Quatuor Coronatorum, vol. viii, 1895, and ib., vol. xviii, 1905, pp. 46, 47, being a genealogical note; Freemason’s Quarterly Review, 1839, p. 322 et seq. (2) In respect of Mrs. Beaton: General History of the County of Norfolk, 1829, vol. ii, p. 1304. (3) In respect of Mme. de Xaintrailles: Clavel’s Histoire Pittoresque de la Franc-maçonnerie, p. 34. There is little reason for supposing that the romantic episode is other than matter of romance: but it is a good story.
A Grand Council of Allied Masonic Degrees was constituted about thirty years since for the primary purpose of administering the following Grades described in Article IX of the Constitutions as “already owning the supremacy of this Grand Council.” (1) The Order of St. Laurence the Martyr. (2) The Order of Knights of Constantinople. (3) The Grand Tyler of King Solomon. (4) The Order of the Secret Monitor. (5) The Order of the Red Cross of Babylon. (6) The Order of Grand High Priest. The qualification for each and all was the Degree of Mark Master Mason, and the Grand Council may be said to have emanated from the Grand Mark Lodge of England and Wales. The statement made in the Constitution must be taken as subject to an unchallengeable fact that the Order of the Secret Monitor had its custodians already in England and was actively at work. Into the difficulties which arose as a consequence there is no need to enter here, more especially as they are things of the past. The second purpose in view—and as much to the front as the first—was to take under the direction of the Council all Lodges of Degrees or Orders “having no central authority or common form of government,” whether existing in England and Wales or in the Colonies and Dependencies of the British Crown, together with all such Degrees and Orders as might be established subsequently within the said jurisdiction, by the consent of (1) the Supreme Council of the 33rd Degree, (2) the Great Priory of the Temple and Hospital, (3) the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons, (4) the Grand Council of Royal and Select Masters, and (5) the Grand Imperial Conclave of the Red Cross of Constantine. It follows that there was a compact between these Bodies and the new Grand Council to bring whatsoever was then existing or might be hereafter established or imported within their own jurisdiction, the Royal Order of Scotland not being a party to the scheme. It was declared further that “no new Body purporting to be a Masonic Body” could be legally established “in England” without the consent of the six Grand Bodies enumerated. So far as I am aware the only jurisdiction affected vitally was the only one in activity, namely, the Secret Monitor, by which the declaration was ignored. That it was otherwise ultra vires of course goes without saying, but it would be effective in prohibiting lay members of the six Obediences in question from combining without licence to work and confer any of a thousand independent Grades which are to be found among the general archives of Masonry. Thirdly, in the Constitution of the Grand Council—under date of 1902—it was affirmed that the following Degrees and Orders had been taken under its jurisdiction. (1) Funeral Master. (2) Master of the Blue, otherwise Knight of Solomon. (3) Most Excellent Master. (4) Excellent Mason and Master of the Veils. (5) Sublime Master, otherwise Jacob’s Wrestle. (6) Fugitive Mark. (7) Architect. (8) Order of the Scarlet Cord. (9) Knight of the Three Kings. (10) Knight of the North, (11) Knight of the South. (12) Knight of Patmos. (13) Knight of Redemption. (14) Knight of Death. (15) Knight of the Holy Grave. (16) Knight of the Christian Mark. (17) Knight of Bethany. (18) Knight of the Royal Prussian Blue. (19) Knight of Eleusis. (20) Knight of Palestine. (21) Knight of St. John the Baptist. (22) Knight of the Cross. (23) Knight of the Black Cross. (24) Knight of the White Cross. (25) Knight of the White Cross of Torphichen. (26) Knight of the Suspended Cross of Babylon. (27) Knight of the Red Cross of Jerusalem. (28) Knight Roseae Crucis. (29) Knight of the Triple Cross. (30) Grand Cross of St. John. (31) Holy Royal Arch Templar Priest. (32) Grand High Priest of the Tabernacle. A considerable proportion of these Degrees was held already in custody by an independent jurisdiction in Scotland—namely, the Early Grand Rite—but this was not recognised in England. The Grand Council had also (1) The Link or Chain, (2) The Heroine of Jericho, and (3) Five Androgyne Degrees. The protective custody of these detached Degrees, existing only on paper—so far as England is concerned—has been probably effective in checking sporadic attempts to establish and propagate Rites, the great majority of which have no defensible title to exist. They are of interest historically in their proper place—namely, in High Grade Archives.
The instruction of this symbol is concerned with the watch and ward of Providence, “Whose eye never slumbers nor sleeps,” or as it is said in one of the Masonic Text-Books, “Whom the Sun, Moon and Stars obey, and under Whose watchful care even Comets perform their stupendous revolutions.” But it is an Eye also which “pervades the inmost recesses of the human heart, and will reward us according to our merits.” Beyond the limits of these familiar intimations there are deeper aspects of the symbol. One of the Secret Rituals which are not of Masonry or any of the conventional Mysteries has this sentence: “It is called the Closed Eye of the Unknown Darkness,” by allusion to the darkness of unmanifest Spirit “before the creation of beings and of things.” But in that which is called creation it is said that the Eye opened, and then “the radiance of the Ineffable Spirit poured through the aeons and the spaces.” Plutarch says that the chief deity of Egypt was represented under the symbol of an Eye, and such an emblem encompassed by solar flame recurs in the old theosophies. The meaning does not belong to the order of stock moralities current in the eighteenth century and later. It is of that which is seen in the Vision which is called Blessed—when the eye of the soul is opened and God is known of the heart. Hereof is the restoration to light, about which Masonic ceremonial has produced its wonted platitudes.
Eye of Mind.—The vigilant eye is one of the characteristic symbols of the Royal Arch, but it refers here more especially to the eye of mind, a providence after its own manner, reflecting that Providence which is eternal. It is also the eye of prophecy, the vision and prevision which “look before and after,” discerning the trend of events and whereunto they lead.
The opinions entertained on the subject of Ancient Mysteries by early Masonic historians and masters of speculation which passed under the name of history do not evince any special or independent research. They relied mostly on writers of the same period who pursued their individual inquiries without reference to any question of Masonry. As regards the purpose of the Mysteries, one of the favoured hypotheses is reflected in the finding of Faber:
“They displayed the lapse of the soul from original purity into a state of darkness, confusion and ignorance. . . . They affected to teach the initiates how they might recover what they had lost, how they might exchange darkness for illumination, how they might pass from the gloom of error into the splendid brightness of a regained paradise. They claimed to confer upon the epopts the glorious privilege of seeing things clearly, whereas before they were floundering in a turbid stress of error and misapprehension. The Mysteries, in short, treated of a grand and total regeneration, a regeneration which alike respected the whole world and every individual member as part of the world.”
Eleusis and Thebes.—It will be observed that this view is suggestive of the myth of Eden and the Fall of man, about which Eleusis and Thebes knew nothing. It was replaced by that of pre-existence, the state of the soul therein and the descent into generation subsequently, as into the region of all our woe. In this form, my personal belief is that it is founded on a great truth, for the most part only partially understood. For the rest, as it was the most popular, so it is the most persuasive of all the old explanations. As regards general proceedings and their analogies with modern initiation, there is more than one work dealing with the alleged Masonic nature of Dionysian, Eleusinian and other of the Greek Mysteries. They dwell much upon the striking similarity believed to have existed between the outward forms of these secret associations, as well as the identity of their object and of this with the ends of Masonry. The general conclusion was that Masonry and the old Mysteries “were only different streams issuing from a common fountain,” or otherwise the same stream flowing onward into modern times. Opinion was divided in the past as to whether the Masonic fraternity was merely a later development of the Mysteries or whether it was actually their prototype. Some writers revolted from the opinion that it was second in the field and merely a Daughter of the Mysteries. They established it in their own view as that original system from which all forms of initiation have sprung subsequently. In other terminology, it was the sole repository of every surviving vestige of that science which ex hypothesi was lost to humanity at the Fall. It was the tradition of a vanished perfection, the witness to its actuality in the past, the path of its reconstruction, a hostage even from the beginning of its ultimate and certain return. Some particulars of the plea read strangely enough at this day—as that of Oliver for example, who affirms as follows:
“The Rites of the Science which is now received under the appellation of Freemasonry were exercised in the antediluvian world, received by Noah after the Flood, practised by man at the building of Babel, conveniences for which were undoubtedly contained in that edifice, and at the dispersion spread with every settlement, already deteriorated by the gradual innovations of Cabiric priests, and moulded into a form, the great outlines of which are distinctly to be traced in the Mysteries of every heathen nation, exhibiting the shattered remains of one true system whence they were derived.”
I suppose that this was written in good faith; I suppose that it was accepted as such by the Masonic imbecility of the early nineteenth century. It matters little at the present day what views we take on the subject, for the fact remains that between the dreams and fooleries of research, ab origine symboli with Anderson, the claims of the Emblematic Order became a byword and a scorn to all that was sane in scholarship.
Signs and Symbols.—In respect of the further contention which was pressed by these early writers and to which I have made allusion already, the Mysteries were affirmed to be fundamentally the same in all countries; that is to say, they were united in method and purpose and were indifferently spiritual in character. Amidst distinctions of title and signal variations of pageant, there is no question as to the force of this view—so far as root-questions are concerned—and it could be otherwise scarcely if they were directed to one end. The same modes of indicating that process which is called Regeneration were said to be in use among all; all shrouded their Rites under similar veils of secrecy; all pursued the same method of communicating instruction by symbol, allegory and purposed fable; all shrank from committing their Mysteries to writing; all inculcated the immortality of the soul and a future state of retribution and reward; all had analogous ways of exhibiting their doctrinal system in the pictorial ceremonies of initiation. It was even maintained—but in this case against all likelihood—that, although bearing many names in different countries and referred to various founders, they were all regulated by the same Ritual when in their first and purest condition, and that therefore when the records distinguish between Orphic, Thracian, Isiac, Bacchic, Kabiric, Eleusinian, Adonic, Mithriac, Venusian, Vulcanic, Osirian and other Mysteries, “the reader should understand that one and the same series of Sacred Ceremonies is intended, one and the same initiatory process and revelation; and that what is true of one applies with equal certainty to all the others.” Classical authorities can be cited in this connection, though they are witnesses to close analogies rather than to uniform identity. It is recorded by Strabo that the Curetic Orgies, which were celebrated in memory of the mystical birth of Jupiter, resembled those of Bacchus, Ceres and Phrygian Cybele; the Orphic poems compare the Rites of Bacchus with those of Ceres, Rhea, Venus and Isis; Euripides connects the Orgies of Cybele, as celebrated in Asia Minor, with the Grecian Mysteries of the Bromian Dionysius and with the Cretan Rites of the Kabiric Corybantes.
Errors of Enthusiasm.—We shall have full opportunity as we proceed of comparing one with another the extent and value of this alleged resemblance, but we have seen already that Biblos is not Eleusis—in the sense of the Mysteries or in that of geographical location. I am reminded of other follies which have identified Osiris and Christ, the mythologies of Greece and Rome with the cryptonomy of the Great Work of transmuting metals, and Eleusis with the sum of all perfection in mystical realisation. The purpose meanwhile of the present brief consideration is to summarise an exploded Masonic point of view in respect of the Ancient Mysteries and not to enlarge on their nature.
Authorities.—It would serve no useful purpose to multiply these. For the scope and nature of the Mysteries, as understood at the period to which I refer, see G. S. Faber: The Origin of Pagan Idolatry, 3 vols., London, 1816, and also his Dissertation on the Mysteries of the Kabiri. He was a great authority for Oliver, though he regarded Masonry as a miserable relic of idolatrous procedure. As regards the Rev. George Oliver himself, it will be sufficient to mention his History of Initiation, London, 1841; but there are also The Antiquities of Freemasonry and The Star in the East.
The “father of Masonic history” occupies—for better, for worse—what I must suppose to be the first place among immortals of the Brotherhood. The maker of the first Book of Constitutions, by the fact of that compilation, stands alone among his peers of the Revival. We may forget the very names, as most have forgotten the books, of the literati who came immediately after; but we can never forget him and that which he did on being empowered by the newly-constituted Grand Lodge “to digest the old Gothic Constitutions in a new and better method.” That he was aided in this task, over the Regulations by Payne, the antiquary, and in the preface by Desaguliers, nearly every one has been content to ignore. He it was who digested and he who edited, so the Constitutions are his and no other’s, for all the trumps of fame. The old materia gothica might be a figment of Grand Lodge imagination for all that it has counted in the memories of those who preceded us, for all that it will signify probably to the rank and file of our successors. He has had a niche in the reverence of Masonic generations; his errors, omissions, inventions have been dealt with gently and tenderly—for the most part; if a voice has been raised occasionally in tones that are strident, compared with the critical camouflage of prevailing Masonic courtesies, it is as if no one had heard it. But praise or blame of opinion, and blunders or follies notwithstanding on his own part, he made the Book of Constitutions, and this is his title to immortality, whether it is a keystone which completes the edifice of Masonry or a rock of offence and scandal.
Biographical Summary.—It would be scarcely within my province to dwell upon the life of Anderson, apart—I mean—from Masonry, supposing that this were possible. It is as much in a cloud of obscurity as that of Cagliostro or Saint-Germain, but the cloud in their case is one of romance and mystery, while in his it is one of dullness. There is nothing more banal in Masonic history than is everything that connects with him who was employed to digest the Old Gothic Constitutions. As regards uncertainties, he may have been born in 1680, and he may not: nobody knows, and even his warmest admirers do not seem to care, or they might have carried their inquiries farther. It is only in a spirit of persiflage if I venture to point out for the first time that Andrew Michael Ramsay—a most interesting son of Ayrshire and Chevalier of the Order of St. Lazarus—was born in the year suggested above. Anderson was a son of Aberdeen and in that city may have earned his degree of doctor. Somehow also and somewhere, he became a Presbyterian minister and ultimately drifted to London, prior to 1710. There is a ray of sunshine for a moment on this part of the narrative, as it is certified by State Records that he purchased the lease of a Huguenot chapel in Swallow Street, French Protestantism finding itself unable at that period to pay its way in Piccadilly. Anderson may have fared better, but the clouds gather again and on this occasion are those of the South Sea Bubble, in which he lost heavily. He contrived, however, to print some occasional sermons, which are his only memorials till 1721, being the time at which he received the commission of Grand Lodge. When the new Constitutions were published in 1723, it is on record that he was Master of Lodge No. 17, and his industry was rewarded by the office of Grand Warden. As to the circumstances under which he was made a Mason and the date of his admission, once more the cloud is over them. As a matter of speculation, it has been suggested that he was received in Scotland and became a member of an English Lodge only in 1721. At some period subsequent to the revival—in which apparently he had no part—he joined the historic, “time immemorial” Lodge, original No. 4 in 1717, namely, the Old Horn. Of his Masonic activities after 1723 we know very little indeed, and his career in this respect might be said to have closed in 1738 when he published a second edition of his Constitutions. As a matter of fact, it closed only with his death, for on June 1st, 1739, his remains were interred with Masonic funerary honours in Bunhill Fields.
Printed Sermons.—The press of the period described Anderson as “a dissenting minister,” but his Scottish congregation in Swallow Street—or perhaps the discontents among them—gave him the title of Bishop, on account of a certain “pushfulness” by which he is said to have been characterised. There are extant some five of his sermons issued in pamphlet form between the years 1712 and 1737. (1) The first was preached in Swallow Street on January 16 of the former year, the keynote being Jer. viii. 15: “We looked for peace, but no good came: for a time of health, and behold trouble.” Whether the unrest and anxiety were part of the political complexion worn by the time I do not know, as the only extant copy is in the Advocates’ Library, Edinburgh. (2) The second appeared under an exceptional title, namely, No King-Killers, and was preached on January 30, 1714-15. But it was the beginning of Georgian “pudding-time” and the object was to defend and maintain Presbyterian loyalty to “King George and our happy Constitution.” (3) The third sermon was preached “to a Religious Society” on August 1, 1720, and was purely theological in character, a Presbyterian understanding of “the faith once delivered to the saints.” (4) The fourth and penultimate printed discourse—so far as I am aware—was delivered on October 27, 1723, and was an anniversary sermon in commemoration of the Rev. William Lorimer, one of the ministers who had officiated at his own ordination. (5) Finally, on July 3, 1737, Anderson preached in the Old Bailey to “the prisoners for debt” on the passing of the Act for Insolvents.
Other Writings.—Mr. W. J. Chetwode Crawley has characterised Anderson’s literary life at large when he applied to him the quotation—at once apt and overwhelming—“Densely, darkly, desperately dull.” Having such warrants, he betook himself to the colossal enterprise of translating and extending the Royal Genealogies of Johann Hubner, beginning with Adam and brought up to date between the two writers, so that it included the actual reigning families of Europe and the Britannic Isles. The work appeared in 1732 and was reissued—with additions and corrections—in 1736. In 1733 Anderson published Unity in Trinity and Trinity in Unity, in opposition to idolaters, Jews and Deists. A posthumous publication belonging to 1739 is entitled News from Elysium, or Dialogues of the Dead, and this was followed in 1742 by a Genealogical History of the House of Yvery, the contemporary representative of which ancient Irish family was the Earl of Egmont. To this a second volume was added from materials remaining over among Anderson’s papers, the work of editing and revising being that of William Whiston. It would serve no purpose to describe any of these works, which are nothing to our purpose and are not only dead but incapable of resurrection, destitute of the least claim or the slightest consequence. They are enumerated only because it is instructive to be made acquainted with Anderson’s general claim on literature before we pass to the consideration, at a later stage, of the manner in which he digested “the old Gothic Constitutions” and are called to decide whether his was indeed “a new and better method.”
Authorities.—The chief authorities for the life and writings of Anderson are (1) The Dictionary of National Biography; (2) The Rev. James Anderson and the Earls of Buchan, by J. T. Thorp: Ars Quatuor Coronatorum, vol. xviii; (3) The Rev. Dr. Anderson’s Non-Masonic Writings, by W. J. Chetwode Crawley, ib.; (4) Dr. Anderson of the Constitutions, by A. F. Robbins, ib., vol. xxiii. See also W. Wilson: The History and Antiquities of Dissenting Churches . . . in London, etc., 1814.
Angels in Masonic Ritual
The Hierarchy of the Blessed Angels is a great host of messengers, witnesses and adoring spirits congregated about the Throne of God. It is presumably only the elect in literature who are acquainted at first hand with their names, orders and offices in the mammoth epic of Heywood, published under this title in 1635. He reflected of course the Celestial Hierarchy of Dionysius the Areopagite, or rather of that fourth century grand master of theosophy who assumed the title. Emblematic Freemasonry of the eighteenth century in all its Rites and Grades knew little or nothing of either: whatever they had learned of individual angels had come to them direct from Scripture, or in so far as there was anything beyond this measure it was derived from late Kabalism. That it is a subject of considerable complexity the work of pseudo-Dionysius shews; that it has a side of wonder and beauty the lovers of Dante know. Masons under the obedience of the Craft Degrees and the Royal Arch may be surprised to hear that there are angels at all in Masonry: it is only over the wide-extending field of the High Grades that the flash of their wings is seen; but even then the visits are few and far between, which—the proverb tells us—is after the manner of angels. If the enumeration which here follows does not exhaust the subject, it is at least representative and sufficient, for no especial interest attaches to the question, and there is no need to enlarge thereon.
(1) Adarel, the Splendour of God, is the Angel of Fire, according to the twenty-eighth Degree of the Scottish Rite, being that of Knight of the Sun. There seems no authority for the attribution, and in late Kabalism the archangel Michael presides over that element. The speculative derivation of the word is from אדד = “Splendour”, and אל = a title of Divinity. (2) Arelim, more correctly Aralim = אדאלם in Hebrew, correspond to the Thrones and the Sephira Binah on the Tree of Life in Kabalism. The name occurs in Isaiah xxxiii, 7, and is translated angeli pacis in the Vulgate or “valiant ones,” according to the Authorised Version and “mighty ones” in the usual Kabalistic understanding. (3) Ariel is the spirit of air and in High Grade Masonry appears connected with the idea of innocence, for which there seems to be no authority. According to debased Kabalism, Ariel reveals treasures, discovers secrets of Nature and shews desired objects in dream. (4) Azrael is the angel of death, and is now a familiar name in the angelology of literature. (5) Casmaran is the angel of air, according to the twenty-ninth Degree of the Scottish Rite, being that of Knight of St. Andrew. But according to late Kabalism the archangel of air is Raphael. Casmaran appears to be a nonsense word, or name without meaning. (6) Gabriel is Kabalistically the archangel who presides over water, but in Talmudic literature he is connected with fire and thunder. (7) Hamaliel is said on Masonic authority to govern the planet Venus, but the Kabalistic attributions are as follows: (a) Cassiel; (b) Sachiel; (c) Zamael; (d) Anael; (e) Raphael; (f) Gabriel; (g) Michael. (8) Israfel, or Israfeel is the angel of the Last Judgment according to Mohammedan angelology. The immortal poem of Edgar Allan Poe says—on the authority of the Koran—that his “heart-strings are a lute” and that he has “the sweetest voice of God’s creatures.” (9) Melechim, on which see the Apparatus of Knorr von Rosenroth: Kabalah Denudata, tomus primus, pp. 537, 538. They are angels of Tiphereth on the Tree of Life. (10) Michael is the Great High Priest who—according to the Zohar—offers up the spirits of the Just on the Supernal Altar as a sacrifice to the Holy One, and they remain in the joy of Paradise. In later Kabalism he is the angel of the Sephira Hod on the Tree of Life, and—as we have seen—he connects with the Sun, which, however, is referred also to Raphael, there being little uniformity in attributions of this kind, (11) Ruchiel is an angel who rules over air and winds in the mind of High Grade Masonry, but the real attribution to the elements are these: Air=Raphael; Fire=Michael; Water=Gabriel; and Earth=Auriel, otherwise Uriel. These are ex hypothesi archangels, and the angels of the four elements are: Air=Chasson; Fire=Arel; Water=Phorlakh; and Earth=Taliahad. The rulers of the elements are: Air=Ariel; Fire=Seraph; Water=Tharsis; Earth=Kerub. All this is late and debased Kabalism of the Clavicle and Grimoire order. (12) Taljahad is another angel of water, on the authority—at its value—of the Grade of Knight of St. Andrew. (13) Tsaphiel is an angel attributed to the Moon, but we have seen that there is another in command. (14) Uriel, otherwise Auriel, is the angel of fire according to certain Hermetic Degrees, but kabalistically we have seen that he is an archangel who governs earth. (15) Zadkiel is better known in popular astrology than in Masonic or other angelology, but he is referred to Jupiter in one of the lists, while (16) Zariel—according to yet another attribution—governs the Sun.
The Grand Architect of the Universe is the lineal descendant or successor of the Jehovah revealed by the Pentateuch, when that sheaf of documents is taken in the most literal sense of its wording, and is if anything materialised a trifle further. The Pentateuch in Holy Scripture is relieved by the great light of the prophets cast on Divine things. There is no such light reflected by Grade upon Grade within the limits of the Craft and Arch. It is possible to read in Genesis that God walked with Adam in the cool of the evening and to remember that the myth of Paradise opened many vistas of inward meaning to the theosophists of later Israel; but it is not possible to read and to hear the crude, unqualified anthropomorphism of Masonic prayers or disquisitions and to find refuge in any second sense reposing in the minds of their writers. They are transcripts of notions derived from archaic theology into the pitiful forms and modes of conventional terminology belonging to the eighteenth century. One wonders how they would have struck Hegel, had Hegel happened to be an English Mason of that period. One wonders how their German adaptations did actually strike Franz von Baader—who was, I believe, one of the Brotherhood. I am speaking, however, to some extent on the academic side and there remains a very practical question, which is one also of sincerity: I mean, what is the position of a cultured and religious mind in the presence of these grave offences against the fitness of theological faith? Against Divine Immanence and Transcendence? Against the God mystical Who dwells in the heart and the Higher Doctrine of the Absolute? In the last resource, I suppose that we must bear and forbear with them as we do with their prototypes in the canonical literature of ancient Israel, remembering that the Christian Dispensation came to shed light upon their crudities and to dissolve them, partially at least, by the messages of Divine Love. It must be said further that the great majority of formal prayers in all the accepted liturgies are better than those which prevail in Masonry because they are better dignified in the heaven of mind, because the so-called Book of Common Prayer is in pure and noble English, because those of the Latin Rite are veiled by all the glory of devotional Latin. These advantages apart, it is only on rare occasions that they strike the authentic note of inspiration. Even Masonry has its moments—very few, very far between. The prayer at the beginning of Advancement in the Mark Degree carries a certain conviction by its air of high simplicity, while there are some in the other Orders which could be tolerated in their spirit, were they amended sufficiently in the wording. The justification of public and of any formal prayer is in so far as it contains real openings into things of the spirit, so that in the collective net of worship it is possible for the individual to get behind the prayer. This is essential above most things in procedure like Masonry, which claims to be a veil of symbolism and the inward grace behind the outward sign should not be hidden out of reach.
Antichrist and Freemasonry
When the late Monsignor Benson, now ten years since or more, decided that the Coming of the Destroyer was a fit and proper subject for treatment in romance, he looked about him for certain materials which might answer as antecedents of the evil time and the all-malefic persona. He would find many naturally, and amidst the abundance he chose a few. That, however, which proved most to his purpose and most after his own heart—as a militant ecclesiastic of the Roman type—was the Masonic Order; and he may have even laid down on paper—to be re-embodied subsequently—a kind of ground-plan or schedule of future Masonic development, which hypothetical schedule it remains easy to extract from his tale of wonder. I will present it in so far as it seems necessary to set out the object of these critical remarks. It may be termed a prophetic scheme of Masonic Constitution, some presumable century hence, and it includes: (1) a great hypothetical access of Jews to the Fraternity; (2) the abolition of the idea of God therein; (3) special disclosures with regard to Mark Masonry—doubtless because it suggests readily the Mark of the Beast; (4) responsibility of Masonry in its Higher Grades for a movement against religion over the whole world; (5) admission of women as a master-stroke; (6) affiliation of Antichrist with Masonry, and this as the only known antecedent concerning him; (7) surrender of all schemes for future progress and the brotherhood of nations into the hands of the Order, to counterbalance false notions of unity and spiritual fraternity as conceived by the Church; (8) establishment of a non-theistic form of religious observance—a religion infâme—based on Masonic Ritual; (9) the Church as before and now to go on denouncing. Now this may strike a reader who is versed in romances rather than matters historical as a curious piece of invention, signifying and producing little beyond some element of doubt on the part of young ladies and inexperienced wives as to what in the world’s name takes either father or husband to the Lodges of the Masonic Society. The Mason on his own part, coming across the romance, would say that Mgr. Benson was a priest of that Church which has always vilified Freemasonry; that he was, moreover, a convert in his day; and that such people lean to extreme sides. Were the position exhausted in this manner, nothing would be offered to criticism, but there is more than appears on the surface, and for this reason I have thought it worth while to extract a schedule containing fantastic accusations—which matter nothing at the root—against certain Hidden Mysteries—which on one side of them do.
The Church and the World.—Behind the forecast there lies an old, familiar dream—that when the present world-order draws to its close, the last struggle, symbolised by the word Armageddon, will be that of the Roman Church—as the surviving witness of Christ—with all the powers of Apollyon, as the sum of the spirit of this world. Seeing that there will never be any such struggle—for the Spirit of God by the slow process of centuries will change the substance of the spirit—both in the Church and the world—it is sufficient to make note of the dream as typical of Roman claims to be regarded as the only Church of Christ. Out of the whole presentation, however, there arises one fact as a particularly clear issue, and this is that the Latin Church—for reasons of which some are obscure and some moderately transparent—has agreed to regard Freemasonry and the Secret Societies which are connected by imputation therewith as the culminating type, representative and summary of those forces which are at work in the world against the work of the Church in that world. Now supposing that this view had in its support that historical evidence which we who are Masons have been looking for our enemies to supply—but which they can supply only in one limited direction—we should be left simply in the position of the Latin Church itself when confronted by competitive exponents of the truth of God. It remains unaffected from its own standpoint by the pretensions of rival orthodoxies, pure apostolic Christianities and sects generally. So also the Mason, who knows well enough what is the true purpose, what are the explicits and implicits of that Mystery which Initiation has reposed in his heart, will know that Masonry would remain—and will believe that it would emerge ultimately—unaffected if Grand Lodges, Grand Orients and Supreme Councils passed into corporate apostasy. If in certain countries and at certain distracted periods we find that the apparatus of the Lodges has been made to serve the purpose of plot and faction, or of false philosophy and religion, Freemasonry as an Institution is not more responsible for such abuses than is the latin Church as a whole for the poisoned Eucharists of a Borgia pontiff.
Mark Masonry.—So far on the general subject, and as regards the titles of Mgr. Benson to speak at all about Masonry, there is one element of joy in the whole collection. By an intervention of the special Providence which sees to it that indiscriminate hostility shall make itself ridiculous in the end, he selected for the central point of his scheme that Order of Mark Masonry which—among all Grades external to the Craft itself—is the least known on the Continent, which of all and above all has the least connection with any event in history, which in fine is the most simply symbolised of any and all. Masonry could ask nothing better of its enemies than to choose Mark Masonry as their object of attack on the score of any disaffection—political or religious.
The Church Mystic.—I hope to make it plain that certain High Degrees—like those of the Craft itself—carry a second sense in their symbolism; but it is not of so-called Natural Religion, Idealistic Pantheism, Monism and much less of Materialism or Positivism. It is of that great experiment which is at the heart of all true religion, being the way of the soul’s reintegration in God. I believe that the sacramentalism of the Christian scheme holds up the most perfect glass of reflection to the mystery of salvation, and in this sense that the Church contains a catholic scheme of the Mysteries; but I know after another manner—though essentially it is the same manner—that there are Instituted Mysteries which are not of this fold, and that it is given unto man to find the hidden jewel of redemption in more than one Holy Place. As a mystic, and carrying as such in my heart an eirenicon for all the faiths, I can recite with the same sincerity as Mgr. Benson every line and phrase of the Pange, lingua, down even to those last words which he heard in his dream rising clear and high over the dissolution of the cosmic order—
Procedenti ab utroque
Compar sit laudatio.
I know also that a time comes when this world passes and the glory of it—though it is not in the sense pictured conventionally—and that the sacraments of the Church Mystic—suffering, militant or triumphant—are of those things which emerge into the new order when the Mystery of God is declared to each soul of us, as that order comes down out of heaven. I say therefore, with the Welsh bards, that I despise no precious concealed Mysteries, wherever they subsist; but I have no part in those Wardens of the Gates who deny in their particular enthusiasm that things which are equal to the same are equal to one another, since those Wardens are blind. The Catholic scheme of Masonry in its root-understanding and in its upward growth from that root, as this will unfold in the Brotherhood with the help of those forces which are now at work in the world, is one at the root with the Church behind the Church, and will yet—as I hold—enter into one consciousness therewith.
Anti-Masonic Congress at Trent
A great Council of the Latin Church was summoned to meet at Trent in 1545 for the condemnation of Lutheran and cognate heresies and for the further definition of Catholic and Roman faith at a time when the Christian world was rent by the conflict of doctrine. It issued at the end of its labours an ever-memorable Catechismus Concilii Tridentini, at the command of Pope Pius V. But the heresies continued to spread. In the year 1896 there was held—also at Trent—an Anti-Masonic Congress under the aegis of the same Church, and in due course it issued a voluminous Report, based—by its hypothesis—entirely on books and “official acts” of the Masonic body itself. It found that the religious doctrines by which Freemasonry has been inspired are those of Nature-worship and that the various beliefs professed in public by Freemasons, though under many different names, might be summed up as Monism, Idealistic Pantheism, Materialism and Positivism. The connecting link between all was identification of the universe with God. The Report otherwise did little more than italicise the salient points of the Humanum Genus Encyclical. In answer to that Encyclical the Grand Lodge of England protested that Freemasonry in this country had no opinions political or religious.
Immutable Dogmas.—This statement notwithstanding, there remain its immutable dogmas, God and the immortality of the soul, and there is the fact that it is unlawful for anyone who denies these to be made a Mason. There is very little question possible that the personality of the Divine Nature is an inevitable corollary from all Masonic Rituals, Constitutions and Landmarks. It is separated in English-speaking countries for this reason in the most distinct manner from the philosophical notions of Monism, as also from Materialism, Positivism and above all from Pantheism. At the same time I do not question that Masons here and there—without prejudice to their best intentions—will be liable to talk Pantheism through simple intellectual confusion, when discussing the relations between God and the universe; but so will as large a proportion of persons outside Masonry; and so also throughout the ages of the Church have its great mystical doctors appeared to do and have been charged therewith by enemies.
Trent Findings.—The lesson of the Trent findings is that the Catholic Church, with all its opportunities, misconceived the real issues in the year 1896—as it misconceives them now—in respect of Freemasonry, and was then, as it still is, entirely in the dark as to the great body of mystical fraternities. The fact is stamped upon every line of papal encyclicals. Freemasonry at its manifold centres all the wide world over represents in its membership the constant flux of modern opinion upon all speculative subjects. At the period in question there is no doubt that it included in its ranks the shades of philosophical thought which corresponded to the findings of the Trent Congress. Most of them are dead now, like the persons who held them; but they have been replaced by others, for the most part also fashions of a day. As then, Masonry numbers now all classes of Spiritualists, disciples of Swedenborg, representatives of modern schools of occult thought and even convinced mystics, not to speak of every shade of opinion in churches and sects. If it is said that there are Mormons among Masons I know that it cannot be denied. In the days when there was a Protestant England it was in England a Protestant Institution, in the sense that the preponderating sentiments of its members was under the obedience of the Thirty-nine Articles or some other Reformation standard.
Varieties of Masonic Belief.—At this day there is no preponderating religious sentiment, but a tacit agreement to abide informally by certain conventions on condition that they exact nothing outside the terms of those conventions; and thus the Church in England gives Grand Chaplains to Masonry in the same way that the Imperial Power or its delegates gives Prelates to the Church. Herein, as in other matters, it is among the signal ingenuities of modern social arrangement that the old offices and the old orders prevail on the condition that there is no authoritative construction of their importance. One is less or more on the side of the Churches as one is on that of order and culture; one is not especially on the side of the Bethels for the same reason that one shrinks from the egregious conventions and ineffable woodenness of Tracing Board Lectures, charged with the spirit of Dibdin and redolent of his literary method. But one must not “take sides” too seriously on such subjects, in case we magnify their importance. As to the ultimate opinions of any person thereon—in or out of Masonry—they are under the obedience of predilection afloat on a sea of speculation, and the result is chaos magnum infirmatum. It follows that the findings of the Trent Congress were meagre and insufficient. The varieties of religious belief are indefinitely more complex and manifold among Masons than its rulings shew. For Rome it is of course out of question that the institution as such is heretical, being composed of heretics, but it seems scarcely worth while to call congresses to pronounce upon a matter which is beyond challenge and about which the opinion of the Latin Church is indifferent to those who are concerned. Were it not for the folly of that Church there would be many thousands of Roman Catholics in English-speaking countries under the banner of Masonry without detriment to their position in religion and with great possible benefit to Rome itself, for it would render yet more efficient the counterpoise of English Freemasonry to that of several continental countries, the Latin especially.
Roman Catholicism.—It calls to be recognised, however, that behind the folly which I have mentioned there lies all that which belongs to the fundamental claim of Rome: it may be summed up in the arrogation to itself of the term Catholic, to the exclusion of all other Christian systems. The una sancta, catholica et apostolica ecclesia of the Nicene Creed, from the standpoint of Vatican Christianity, is the particular body of believers which is ruled from the Vatican centre. The Greek orthodoxy is in schism and is cut off from the Catholic communion; the Anglican Church is in heresy and is in the death of complete separation; the sects are—I suppose—if possible, in a deeper rut of rejection: it is Rome only which—established on the rock of Peter—publishes urbi et orbi its indefectible titles, as the faith once delivered to the saints, the one fold and the one shepherd. I know of course that on such height of exaltation she who “stands triumphant” by no means allows that she is composed of her body of believers: her spirit of grace and life comprises them, a form in which they are contained and to which they contribute nothing which itself is formative. This issue of high subtlety does but bring forth the claim more fully and construct it on a loftier platform.
A Question of Consistency.—An institution making claims like this within the body-general of Christendom can tolerate nothing in the common course of logic which seeks to co-exist therewith, and while independent thereof lays claim—intentionally or otherwise—on any shadow of its own prerogatives. An Order, for example, which calls itself a “system of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols” is judged by such a definition out of its own mouth. The Latin Church ex hypothesi is the sole custodian and the sole canon of criticism in respect of ethics and morality. Masonry would be condemned if it taught in public, but it teaches under a veil and exacts pledges of secrecy. It is no wonder therefore that it was suspect ab origine and that it had scarcely manifested on the Continent when Bulls went forth against it. The two institutions are incompatible one with another, and there seems no common ground on which it is possible for them to meet. Rome is a spiritual Kaiserism which would be false to its own nature on the day that it renounced its mission to bring all under its yoke, which yoke is labelled “the freedom of the Sons of God.” All intellectual, all moral life, science and philosophy have been meant by God to wear it, and emancipation therefrom is a fact which can connote nothing but willing entrance into the bondage of Satan.
The Case Stated.—Such is the position and I am seeking to define it only: its values are another question. It is idle therefore for Speculative Masonry and the cohort of the High Grades to protest and wonder at judgments pronounced. The sooner it is recognised that Rome and Masonry are placed in an inevitable competition the better, I think, for both: it is not beyond possibility that they might be then honourable enemies.
Arena of Debate.—Meanwhile—and taking things as they are—the follies on both sides are not short of preposterous. There is no rag-fair of literature to compare with the books and periodicals put forward in the Roman interest on the subject of Masonry during the twenty-five years which preceded the Great War. The text-books of Robison and Barruel are full of light and leading in comparison, while Abbé Lefranc speaks with the authority of learning. I must recur to this subject in the consideration of Palladian Freemasonry, an imposition made possible only by the combined ignorance and imbecility of the Latin centres. But this is not to say that in the headquarters of Masonry there is any educated opinion of consequence on the relations between the Church and the Fraternity. The unholy rubbish which is met with from time to time in Masonic periodicals—those of America especially—is only a degree less stultifying than the Anti-Masonic gutter-press of the Continent until it was swamped by the War. I do not wish to be invidious, but the illiterate vapourings and ravings of writers like J. D. Buck—who has the plaudits of the Southern Jurisdiction per saeculas et aionas—is one case in point.
Conclusion Drawn.—To make an end for the time being, or until time and circumstances offer another opportunity, the Latin Church is justified from its own standpoint in denouncing all secret systems and schemes of moral or religious instruction under banners other than its own, on the understanding that its titles are valid only for those who belong to its obedience. Masonry, on the other hand, has a right to its own freedom, and the findings of Rome are to be judged largely by the literature which they have brought into existence.
Antiquity of Masonry
Antiquity per se is not a test of value, as there should be no need to say, but the warrants under which it is claimed or assumed should not for such reason be regarded as of little consequence. It is difficult to believe that a platitude of this kind can need to be formulated; but after the lapse of two centuries the status of Masonic criticism offers still some very curious aspects, more especially as regards the insolence of old legends presented in the guise of history. Let it be premised in the first place that on the hypothesis of our Emblematic Art being a development from operative Masonry by the way of natural growth the problem before us is how and when it originated; while on the hypothesis that Speculative Masonry was superposed or grafted on the old Guild-system there arises the same question as to time and circumstance. The position is remarkable in respect of both alternatives, for we have on the one hand a tacit assumption that the further it is possible to extend knowledge in the direction of old Building Guilds the more and better light shall be cast on our Speculative Order. Whether and to what extent this is the case at all will emerge as we proceed through the varied considerations of the present work. What appears certain at the moment is, firstly, the new light which is being cast from time to time on the general history of architecture and, secondly, the manner in which particular aspects of that history are being collated, summarised and made available for the purposes of Masonic study.
Building Guilds.—If it prove in the end that the connection of Symbolical Masonry with Building Guilds has not been materially illustrated by all this zeal of quest, the paths of inquiry will not for such reason have been unprofitable paths to follow. On the other hand, the notion that Speculative Masonry was “once in time and somewhere in the world” grafted on the old operative system has scarcely advanced a few paces from its primitive position, the chief thesis of which was summarised by the French Mason Ragon about 1860. It affirms that the class of interests and objects for which Elias Ashmole stood in the mid-seventeenth century and the personalities belonging thereto—with him as a working head—took over Operative Masonry and adapted it to their own purpose. This is not of course the only thesis, but it may be taken as typical of all by the fact that all indifferently give expression to matters of invention in the terms of history. It would seem in some cases to be invention for the sake of invention, and in others as if part of a plan to drive any alternative hypothesis out of the lists. It was postulated otherwise by Ragon—it went, I mean, without saying—that circa 1650 English Masonry was in possession of Three Craft Degrees, identical in matter at least with those which he knew and worked. That supposition is of course no longer tolerable. There is not the least reason to assume any Ritual procedure worth the name in Masonry of the seventeenth century or a division into distinct Grades, any more than we are justified in believing that the Rosicrucian Society of that period worked in Ritual. When we begin to speak therefore about the antiquity of Emblematic Freemasonry we must understand clearly the limits of possibility therein.
Masonry and Old Mysteries.—The purpose of this brief statement is not to prejudice the issues which will present themselves for consideration at a slightly later stage but to make a preliminary clearance under a specific head. The debate on Masonic antiquity lies within the measures of those alternatives which are here contrasted. It cannot be so extended that it shall include any question of relation to anterior Instituted Mysteries. That a root-relation subsists no one can hold more definitely than myself, but the closer it is the more essential it must be held to be that certain distinctions which obtain in the nature of the subject shall not be obliterated. The Mysteries of Eleusis and Thebes were not Masonic Mysteries because they were not concerned with an art of building spiritualised. If this art should be found on examination to embody a figurative presentation of similar spiritual truths it does not follow herefrom that the later has descended from the earlier unless the line of descent can be traced, and this is wanting. If I established at the present day a Rite incorporating the sum and substance of the old Mysteries, my new system would not be descended from these: I should have made something in their likeness. The Masonic Grade of Master may have come about in the same manner, as indeed it must be held that it did in the absence of rebutting evidence. A bond of intellectual affinity would remain in both cases: in that of Masonry it has become a representative bond through general use and wont during a space of more than two centuries.
The Apollonia was a festival in honour of Apollo and Diana, not a Mystery of Initiation: it was, moreover, a local observance and not a celebration of universal consequence or repute. But Apollo presided over the liberal arts and sciences; the Muses and Graces were his handmaidens; he was the god of music and harmony, from whom poets derived inspiration and the celestial spheres that mysterious melody which marks their courses through space. On these considerations he might have been the Genius of Emblematic Freemasonry—as well as the Athenian providence—had this institution flourished in ancient Greece, equipped with its present peculiar set of mental and moral conventions. But he was also an interpreter of hidden things and a great oracle of destiny, the inventor of the healing art and a lawgiver in the land of Arcady. Lastly, in astronomical symbolism he is the sun personified, the source of light and fruitfulness, dispensing his influence over all created things. There is, however, no death in his legend, as if the sun of Athens were at its meridian always, as it is in respect of Freemasonry—according to a familiar thesis. There are blots on the scutcheon of his legend, as there are spots on the solar disc; but he overcame Python, the serpent generated from the slime of the Deluge, as one who conquers corruption and inherits eternal youth. He is youth therefore and strength, in commemoration of which he established the Pythian games. He was a builder also, who erected the walls of Troy, or at least assisted therein, and also the fortress of Megara. The Caduceus which raises the dead and bestows sleep—its brother—was originally his but he exchanged it with Mercury for a lyre, because music is the law of life and more than sleep or resurrection. It seems to me therefore that in the world of symbolism Apollo is above the Mysteries, being he who expounds them: he is the spirit which interprets them, from within the veils of the Temple; he is also the spirit which inspires, abiding behind their forms.
The Architects in Masonry are many, but most are characterised by the dignity of some important qualification, such as Grand, Perfect or Sublime. The Degree of Architect—apart from other appellation—occurs only in the Collection embodied by the Early Grand Rite, which drew from many sources and a considerable number of these cannot now be identified. In a list of Hermetic and other Grades, amassed by a French Masonic virtuoso in the latter years of the eighteenth century—Fr∴ J. E. Peuvret—there is a Ritual called Architect of Solomon, but the fact of its existence is known solely through a bare enumeration by Thory, apart from all particulars. There is also that of Little Architect, incorporated by the Rite of Mizraim, but the details which I have met with concerning it are confined to the decorations of the Temple and the nature of the Official Secrets.
Lodge of Sorrow.—The Architect of the Early Grand Rite is one of many devices for filling up vacant spaces in symbolical chronology by a supposition of events which offer no obvious outrage to the scheme of possibilities within measures of Masonic Legend. In the present case we make acquaintance with a Lodge of Sorrow for the death of the Master-Builder. It is perhaps the last conceivable occasion for any advancement of Candidates, the business in hand being solely one of mourning. In due course, however, there arrives and is admitted a stranger who “having made suitable proficiency in the preceding Degrees” desires to be received as an Architect. The qualification of a Lodge of Sorrow, commemorating the loss of its Grand Master, for conferring this dignity is of course the patent folly of the affair; but the Applicant is called upon to testify his abhorrence of the “treachery and crime” which brought about the great loss of Masonry, and to signify his personal integrity he partakes of the heart of the victim as a bond of union. The heart is understood mystically, seeing that the Urn of Communication contains Milk, Flour, Oil and Wine—described as Consecrating Elements.
Mark Masonry.—It is a futile proceeding, apart from all action and conveying no message. Why it has been connected in the mind of the Early Grand Rite with theOrder of Mark Masonry may appear past speculation, but it is consistent after its own manner. The Fellow Craft Mark preceding the Third Degree by the hypothesis of its name and symbolism, a Lodge of Sorrow follows naturally enough on the events in the Traditional History concerning the Master-Builder. So far as chronology is concerned, the anachronism and impertinence is really the Grade of Marked Master. It may be added that three points of information are communicated to the new Architect: (1) that Gaboan is the proper and original name of the ground on which the Sanctuary was built in the days of King Solomon; (2) that the first word uttered by the first man when he opened his eyes in Paradise was Gomar; (3) that the murderers of the Master-Builder were discovered in their place of concealment by a Mason named Stolkin. Such is the profit of the Candidate’s journey and such the kind of architecture.
Architecture and Masonry
Although by the hypothesis of Masonry there was a time in its traditional history when Moses the Lawgiver sat as a Master in the East of the Lodge, with Aholiab and Bezaleel as his Wardens, that was a symbolical period when there was no architecture in Israel, for the chosen people were at the foot of Mount Horeb in the wilderness of Sinai, or otherwhere on the quest of the Promised Land. They were therefore dwellers in tents and they built only the Tabernacle, a movable structure which accompanied them in their wanderings. But the Holy Lodge gave place to the Sacred Lodge, and the Tabernacle of David—which had succeeded that of the desert—was itself replaced by the magnificent temple of Solomon, the traditional crown and glory of the art of architecture. It comes about therefore that architecture is reflected into Masonry in a literal sense as well as in that which is emblematic and the enumeration appended hereto gives account of certain technical terms occurring in various Degrees, for the most part outside those of the Craft. The Pillars of the Temple, the Key and the Corner Stone excepted—seeing that these call for consideration otherwise—their symbolical importance, if any, is slight and the notices are therefore brief.
(1) Architecture.—Masonry recognises only the five pre-Christian Orders, namely, the Doric, Ionic, Corinthian, Tuscan or Etruscan, and Composite or Roman. So far as there is any Masonic purpose in specifying regarding these, they will be mentioned in their proper places. Two things call to be noted here. To such extent as Emblematic Masonry is concerned, the styles known as Byzantine or Lombardic, Saxon and Norman, or those which were developed subsequently, the glorious, spiritual order of Gothic architecture, the Decorated and Tudor styles, might never have come into being. The explanation is to be sought in the period round about the year 1717, when the Gothic signified barbarism and a debased classical taste prevailed in art and literature. (2) Baldachin. In great churches of the Latin Rite the Altar is encompassed not infrequently by pillars, supporting a Baldachin or canopy. It is bad symbolism because that which is offered on the Altar goes up from the Altar, by the hypothesis of sacrificial doctrine, and the space should be free above it. The technical term has been applied to the covering over the throne of the Master in Craft Lodges. (3) Balusters are the pillars supporting a balustrade, as—for example—at the sides of a staircase. Certain Grand Bodies, like the Thirty-third Degree of the Scottish Rite, have decorated their official documents by the title of Balusters, much as in French Freemasonry the minutes of a meeting are called a planche tracée. Such devices are innocent enough and yet a little ridiculous. (4) Basilica. The Christian Church is the Temple of God, His Royal Palace on earth and the Court of His Justice. The Roman Basilica became the Christian Church, and when Masonry enters into the true consciousness of its scope, purpose and prerogatives, the Lodges, Chapters and Preceptories will become Divine Temples, Courts and Palaces of Spiritual Mysteries. (5) Cope or Cope-Stone is the uppermost stone of any building, and its symbolical applications are obvious. After what manner they have been utilised in certain High Grades will be intimated in the proper places. (6) Catenarian Arch. There are two points from which this form of arch can be approached; the first is that of architecture, and it is proverbial in this respect that there is no curve in Masonry which approaches the catenarian in strength; as regards the second, it is summarised in the simple statement that in its due and proper arrangement every Royal Arch Chapter approaches as nearly as possible the form of a catenarian arch. Of all that arises herefrom and belongs hereto it is not possible to speak: the motto is: Come and See. The word catenarius signifies chained or linked. (7) Chapiter. This is the head or summit of any column or pillar, called otherwise capital. It has been said that the term Chapiter was— “once in time and somewhere in the world”— interchanged synonymously with Chapter, which is likely enough, having regard to the recurring misuse of words. The chapiter of a pillar is capitulum, and this word signifies also a chapter in a cathedral-church. But a chapter-house is exedra, in the sense of any place for private discourse or study. (8) Column. The distinction between this and a pillar is that the Column is always circular in shape, while a pillar may be four-sided and can be otherwise varied in configuration. I do not know of any symbolical values in respect of the distinction. (9) Composite. The fifth Order of Architecture is a kind of marriage between Ionic and Corinthian. I have read somewhere that it is held in little esteem among Freemasons, as if their opinion upon a certain style might be of some consequence. (10) Doric. The Pillar of the Senior Warden represents this oldest of the Greek architectural styles, for a technical description of which there are many popular handbooks open to consultation. Emblematic Freemasonry being a spiritual subject the only order of architecture which ought to concern it is Gothic, about which it knows nothing, (11) Corinthian. The Pillar in the South of the Lodge and in relation to the Junior Warden. (12) Footstone. It is agreed that this word—which has passed out of knowledge—was synonymous with the corner-stone. (13) Ionic. The pillar in the East of the Lodge represents this style and is in relation to the Worshipful Master. It is held to be a symbol of wisdom, as that in the South is of beauty and that in the West of strength. It will be seen in this manner that the three orders of Grecian architecture are attributed to the three principal officers of a Lodge. While it is obviously possible for pillars to connote strength or beauty, it is difficult to see how they, or a certain one among them, can be a symbol of wisdom, and we may look for an arbitrary reason. The explanation is that the judgment and skill displayed in the construction of the Ionic style has led to this ascription, as if such qualities were absent from the other orders. (14) Lily-Work. An ornamentation of the Pillars J∴ and B∴ See 1 Kings vii. 19: “The chapiters were of Lily-work in the porch”; and ib. vii. 22: “On the top of the pillars was Lily-work.” This is the Authorised Version; compare that of the Vulgate: Capitella aulem, quae erant super capita columnarum, quasi opere lilii fabricata erant in porticu quatuor cubitorum; and Super capita columnarum opus in modum lilii posuit. (15) Pomegranate-Work. See 1 Kings vii. 18: “And he made the Pillars, and two rows round about upon the one network, to cover the chapiters that were upon the top, with pomegranates.” But the Vulgate says: Ut tegerent capitella quae erant super summitatem malogranatorum.
See also 2 Chronicles iii. 15, 16: “Also he made before the house two Pillars of thirty and five cubits high, and the chapiter that was on the top of each of them was five cubits. And he made chains . . ., and put them on the heads of the Pillars; and made an hundred pomegranates, and put them on the chains.” But it must be confessed that the lily and pomegranate-work belongs to metal-craft and not to architecture. (16) Propylon, or Propylaeum, the court in front of a building. (17) Tuscan. This is described as the simplest of all the orders of architecture, but it is of modern origin, as compared presumably with Masonry, whence it is (a) without value in Masonic symbolism, (b) and has no connection with Masonry. Such is the testimony. (18) Kystus. A court for athletic exercises, but used also for walking, out of the sun or rain.
The Building Art of Masonry—understood in its true emblematic sense—is an Art of Life, an Art of the Building of Life; and in the Degree of Entered Apprentice—as we shall see more fully in its place—there is imposed upon the Candidate such an edification of his own temple as shall in fine produce a structure “perfect in its parts and honourable to the builder.” Here is a work on the microcosm which comes into the hands of each one of us, to be done with all our might. In so far as we are men of desire, the plans of this temple are treasured up in our hearts, in which also we build it continually, looking towards the day of our perfection. The day does not come on this earth, for it is only very hardly and slowly that the operative House of Man is taken over and changed into a Spiritual House of God. But if we have desired the beauty of that House—as a place where His glory dwelleth—we die at least with our faces towards Jerusalem, that Salem which is above Zion, where the true Solomon, as an eternal King of Peace, is building up the House Beautiful of Universal Humanity through all the ages of our manifestation—into a spiritual edifice, “a house not made with hands eternal in the Heavens.” Here is that higher sense in which we speak as Masons of a Great Architect of the Universe; this is also the sense in which it is true to say that Masonry is universal, for everywhere in this world of ours—-among all the lets and the hindrances—there are men and women who, within their measures and capacities, are preparing and shaping themselves as living stones fitted for a mystical house which shall be meet in fine for His habitation.
It is customary to depreciate The Masonic Manual as a mere echo and reflection of Hutchinson’s Spirit of Masonry, written nearly forty years earlier. It is customary to belittle the author as a person of small consequence and intelligence. He and his book are entitled to their place in the Masonic chain which began with the Book of Constitutions and ended with George Oliver. The Masonic Manual is not much better nor worse than the rest of the canon of incompetence to which it belongs, and among those who have judged it there is one at least whose verdict upon any Masonic subject is utterly out of court.
A Middle Way.—I observe that the Rev. A. F. Woodford took a reasonable middle course when he said that “Ashe is not without his own merits”—meaning of course for his period—though it does not excuse piracy to allege that “other Masonic writers in their turn have copied Ashe without recognition.” It must be acknowledged that The Masonic Manual is not unlike a new and revised edition of The Spirit of Masonry over the signature of another writer, yet the personality of Ashe emerges there and here. We know very little concerning him, except that he was a clergyman of his period, a doctor of divinity and a resident of Bristol. The Manual first appeared in 1814, again in 1825, and finally it was edited by George Oliver in 1843, with notes that have been called valuable. In so far as may be needful I shall recur to it in the consideration of Hutchinson.
The stone is brought from the quarry and the stone is rude: this is the Rough Ashlar. It is made subject to the work of the Craftsman and becomes the Perfect Ashlar. The distinction between the two states belongs to Emblematic Masonry and is late therein. As regards the etymology of the word, we must reject its derivation from Assula = board, lath, slate, chip and splinter: it does not belong to the subject. Moreover, Ashlar connotes free-stone, the Latin equivalent of which is Saxum vivum, while a squared stone is Lapis quadratus, and wrought or hewn stone is Lapis ferro politus. The word in English does not seem to have been traced further back than the first half of the fifteenth century, when it occurs in the poems of John Audelay. In respect of moralisation there is nothing more obvious in opportunity and the answers are from all quarters. As the stone comes from the quarry, so comes every man and woman from the mother’s womb, and that into which they shall be shaped depends on many craftsmen. But in the last resource the craftsman is always oneself, and as the work of our development—for every earnest heart—goes on from day to day, all let and hindrance notwithstanding, it does not yet appear what we shall be. The last touch which we can give with our own chisel in this particular life is when death—like a Worshipful Master—adjourns the Lodge of our earthly existence, looking for it to be reopened immediately in another and Grander Lodge. I speak in the symbolism of Masonry, for these Ashlars are Masonic emblems, and though I know that they connote many speaking types in the figurative story of stones, it is better to keep them separate, lest analogies that are rigorous enough pass into confusion when they are drawn too closely together. There is, however, one which belongs to Masonry itself; and I would say therefore that in the deeper consideration of the Rough and Perfect Ashlar, we can do nothing better than betake ourselves to the eloquent Grade of Mark Master, to the high spiritual aspiration which petitions that we may be “built up as living stones into a spiritual house,” meet for God’s service. That is the state in which the Mason becomes the Perfect Ashlar, and that is also the state in comparison with which all Ashlars here are rough, however we seek to hew them.
Assassins and Anseyreeh
The sect of Ishmaelites, which goes far back into the history of Islam, gave birth in the last quarter of the eleventh century to that of the Assassins. Its political and philosophical doctrine is supposed to have been unfolded slowly and with great circumspection in nine Degrees. The Assassins were contented with seven—for what the statement is worth. On this sect, order or society it has been affirmed that Hugh de Payens modelled the Knights Templar, notwithstanding the fact that a rule was conferred on the latter subsequently by a certain Council of Troyes, notwithstanding also the exhortation and blessing of St. Bernard. The Templars were divided into classes, and foolish persons have credited them not only with an over-elaborate mode of initiation—which was obviously one of profession—but with Grades of Advancement towards the real secrets of the Order. Finally, the Anseyreeh are said to have arisen about the same time as the Assassins, to have possessed a secret religion and used secret modes of recognition. In this manner a likeness to Freemasonry has been traced as regards all the foundations, and in the hands of the uncritical a casual resemblance passes rapidly into affinity, or even consanguineous relation. The alleged connection between the Order of the Temple and Masonry calls for consideration elsewhere in the present work, but the hypothetical resemblances offered by the others can be dealt with at once, as they embody nothing to detain us.
Ismaelites, Order of.—Behind this sect there lies of course the historical fact of the Fatima Kaliphate incursion. The thesis is that the Ismaelites were a secret Mohammedan Order, working nine Degrees, embodying the following successive instructions: (1) That the Koran was to be understood mystically—as a storehouse of hidden truths beneath the written word; (2) that an infallible authority was vested in certain Imaums, or Spiritual Teachers; (3) that these Teachers were seven in number; (4) that Allah had commissioned Seven Legislators to man, who were called Speakers, and that they had seven immediate subordinates, termed Mutes; (5) that each of these subordinates had twelve Apostles; (6) that religion was subordinate to philosophy; (7) that (apparently) the guides in philosophy were Plato and Aristotle; (8) that the principles of Mohammedan jurisprudence were to be understood in a special sense; (9) that nothing was to be believed, and that all things were lawful. The Order is said to have lasted for about a century. It is perhaps by an oversight that Masonic analogies do not happen to be more especially affirmed, or the existence of Signs, Tokens and Passwords. The authority for the enumeration is Von Hammer, who drew from various sources, oriental included, and was a man of great learning but not of a critical mind, as his Mysterium Baphometis Revelatum proves abundantly. However, I am concerned only with pointing out that a graduated course of instruction bears no relation to Degrees, in the Masonic understanding of the word: otherwise our colleges and universities could be said to wear our likeness. There is, moreover, the fullest evidences in Von Hammer’s own materials that the so-called Order of Ishmaelites had a curriculum and nothing else. It was originally that of a college at Cairo, called the House of Wisdom, and in the days of the Fatimite rule there was nothing secret about it, though it had begun otherwise. The Kaliph Hakem-bi-emr-illah threw open its doors to all comers, men and women indifferently. There were professors of medicine, professors of mathematics and logic, and it would appear in the part of philosophy that Arabian metaphysics were not only tinctured deeply by derivations from Aristototelian and Platonic sources but also by those of India. This is sufficient to indicate that the Ismaelite sect is important for the history of Mohammedanism, but Masonry has no concern therein. It is open to grave doubt whether its votaries were landed—as alleged—in complete atheism; the general course of instruction is definitely against this view, but there is neither need nor opportunity to discuss the question here.
The Assassins.—According to Godfrey Higgins, this sect was neither more nor less than an oriental Freemasonry, and Von Hammer is so unwise as to suggest that there were Apprentices, Fellows and Masters in the Grades of reception and advancement. The old thesis concerning them finds a strong expression by Edward Gibbon as follows:—
“The conquest . . . of Iran, or Persia, was achieved by Holagon Khan . . . I shall not enumerate the crowd of sultans, emirs and atabeks, whom he trampled into dust; but the extirpation of the Assassins, or Ismaelians of Persia, may be considered as a service to mankind. Among the hills to the South of the Caspian, these odious sectaries had reigned with impunity above a hundred and sixty years: and their prince, or imam, established his lieutenant to lead and govern the colony of Mount Libanus, so famous and formidable in the history of the Crusades. With the fanaticism of the Koran the Ismaelians had blended the Indian transmigration and the visions of their own prophets: and it was their first duty to devote their souls and bodies in blind obedience to the vicar of God. The daggers of his missionaries were felt both in the East and the West. . . . But these daggers, his only arms, were broken by the sword of Holagon, and not a vestige is left of the enemies of mankind, except the word assassin, which in the most odious sense, has been adopted in the language of Europe.”
This is the extreme view, in opposition to which Masons have been asked to regard the Assassins as (1) an association with a secret, esoteric doctrine, (2) a graduated series of initiations, (3) permeated by Sufic elements, while (4) the old belief that they represented a confederated murder-system is the last word of credulity belonging to past centuries. Founded in 1090, or thereabouts, by Hassan Saba, they produced—according to Von Hammer—treatises on jurisprudence and mathematics, while their leader had a profound knowledge of philosophy and metaphysical science. There is good reason to believe in the correctness of Sir John Malcolm’s conclusion that the Assassins, like their progenitors, were the intellectual and religious kinsmen of the Sufis; and the innumerable sects of Islam had mostly a side of learning. But the proposition that the Assassins were not assassins in the literal understanding of the word belies history. If it were true that they had Grades and Degrees then the Grade ne plus ultra superimposed upon all was most certainly a Grade of the Dagger. It was their weapon of offence and defence, not that they killed without reason, as Thugs were supposed to strangle, because it was part of religion. They destroyed those who were obnoxious, either to their safety or designs. Godfrey Higgins has been quoted in defence of the Assassins, but his views on the association which had at its head “the probably much-calumniated man of the mountain” are made ridiculous—like all his theses—by the ravings of his etymological mania. For him the sound of a word brought the four quarters together and the Himalayas and Andes touched. The Assassins were (1) a link which connected ancient and modern Freemasonry; (2) identical with the Druses, who were identical with Druids and Culdees; (3) not to be distinguished from the Kurds; (4) in religious consanguinity with Manichaeans and by no means remote from Buddhists. A defence which is rooted in such reveries as these is out of court from the beginning. Now, the best that can be said for the Assassin is that in the midst of murderous nations and of a religion which lived by the sword they happened to make use of the knife. There is nothing to shew that they were a sanguinary sect per se; but the success of the knife depends upon the victim being unsuspicious and unprepared, which makes the position equivalent to a distinction between war and murder.
Distinctive Ranks.—As regards the alleged Degrees of the sect or sodality, they prove on examination to be ranks pure and simple:
(1) The Sheikh of the Mountain or Supreme Head, who seems to have been called also Seydna = Our Lord; (2) The Great Missionaries = Dai-al-Kebir, of which there are said to have been three, appointed to the three provinces of the sect—namely, Jebal, Kuhistan and Syria; (3) The Dais; (4) The Refeck; (5) The Fedaree; and (6) The Lazik, being postulants awaiting reception or perhaps novices. The Teaching Rule of the Sodality was sevenfold, consisting in: (1) Knowledge of duty; (2) Winning confidence; (3) Hermeneutical, but this is a guess-work word, for the actual intention was to exhibit the absurdity of understanding the Koran literally; (4) Silence and obedience; (5) The conformity between the doctrines of the association and those of the greatest men in the world of Islam beyond its gate; (6) Confirmation in the knowledge acquired; and (7) Instruction in Allegory, or the only true mode of interpreting the Holy Koran. We find in this manner that in the constitution of the Assassins there is no likeness whatsoever to the Masonic Order and that the suggestion is not less ridiculous than might have been expected antecedently.
The Templars.—There is no particle of evidence that the Order of the Temple was framed on that of the Assassins ; there is no evidence that the Templars and Assassins made common cause together. It is ridiculous to suggest that the attempt to exchange Damascus for Tyre—which to the Templars would have been of vital consequence—offers proof of collusion with the infidels, much less of a secret understanding. The scheme failed. There is one glaring and shameful instance of communication between Templars and Assassins which is a blot on the knightly scutcheon, and nothing can scour it off. The people of the mountain paid tribute to the Templars and a messenger was sent to the Christian King of Jerusalem, petitioning him to obtain its remission, in consideration of which the Assassins were prepared bodily for conversion. The King rejoiced, and to secure the consent of the chivalry he promised himself to meet the amount of the tribute. The messenger was returning home in the belief that his mission had been successful, when he was attacked by a party of Templars and murdered basely. Such was the relation between the Orders, and the Grand Master was not only privy to this particular affair but is said to have arranged it. Were it necessary to suppose that in the course of their long sojourn in Palestine a part of the Templars had become tinctured by the spirit of eastern lore, eastern theosophy, eastern hidden practices—all of which is part of the charge against them—there were sects enough in that region from whom they could have drawn and at whose questionable fountains they might have drunk deeply, without postulating the Assassins as a particular and only source. For the rest, it cannot be said that the Old Man of the Mountains and his votaries were desirable or decent neighbours; but it is to be questioned whether the Templars were a marked improvement on them.
Druses.—Godfrey Higgins affirms (1) That the Assassins were also called Druses; (2) That a golden calf is still worshipped by the latter sectaries, though I have found no record of idolatry among the People of the Mountain; and—in some confused way—(3) That they connect with the old legend concerning Prester John. In Masonic speculations we find (1) That the Druses were divided into three classes or degrees; (2) That a regular system of signs and passwords was in use among them; (3) That the Templars drew all their Secret Mysteries from this source; while it is even suggested (4) that the Grade called Prince of Lebanon has reference to this Syrian sect. By other sources of instruction we are assured (1) That Druses are a mixture of Kurds, Mardi-Arabs, French colonists and Crusaders; (2) That in religion they are a compound of Jewish, Christian and Mohammedan elements, the last prevailing; (3) That they have an order of priesthood, sacred books and secret religious assemblies. On the other hand, Sir M. E. Grant-Duff records the result of investigations made by a certain Ayoub Abela, according to which (1) No books written upon the Druses and Anseyreeh were of any value; (2) That he had failed to obtain any idea as to their beliefs; (3) That he had examined fourteen Druse treatises in Arabic without ascertaining what they were really about; (4) That a key to their meaning is necessary and that the Druses have the key but have never entrusted it to any one outside their own circle; (5) That the Druses and Anseyreeh were remnants of two idolatrous tribes who had inhabited the Lebanon district before the Christian epoch; and (6) That the real bond between them was “a kind of Freemasonry, about which the outside world had not the smallest inkling.” The last statement means only that there was a common mystery shared among them and not that it had the least analogy with any mystery which is found in the West. We have also the authority of Lady Hester Stanhope concerning the existence of Druse books and the impossibility of unravelling their meaning: they were mysteries dealing with mysteries and written in a mystery-language. It is an old story now that whosoever has recourse to the Druses finds them professors of precisely that faith and doctrine which he is led to expect antecedently, and so also as regards practice and discipline. When therefore Colonel Churchill testified in 1862 (1) That there was an Order among them which had many analogies with Masonry; (2) That it imposed a probation of twelve months prior to admission; but (3) That both sexes were eligible—we have no real evidence before us. Reports are unanimous as to the fact of a mystery, while the alleged admission of women sets aside Masonic analogy. Finally, there is no warrant for accepting the opinion of Laurence Oliphant that the Druse and Anseyreeh religions conceal under their esoteric veils “a far higher theological system than is apparent to the uninitiated inquirer.” The statement is antecedently improbable and anything that he may have heard on the spot to countenance his views is—under the circumstances—no evidence. The Druses of Mount Lebanon are to be ruled out of Masonic concern, unless and until we are in a position to reach a solid stratum of fact.
Anseyreeh.—Between this sect and Freemasonry the kind of subsisting analogy has been defined rather fortunately since 1852, when the Rev. S. Lyde affirmed it to consist in secret prayers “which are taught to every male child at a certain age, and are repeated at stated times, in stated places, accompanied with religious rites.” It is therefore the kind of Freemasonry which is learned at one’s mother’s knee and under the obedience of any church or sect in Christendom. It is not very often that the Masonic atmosphere is cleared so completely, however apart from intention. For the rest—and notwithstanding the common bond of mystery between them—the Anseyreeh have been often said to be at enmity with the Druses: but perhaps this breach is healed. It is nihil ad rem nostram. Giving no particular reason, the Hon. F. Walpole identifies the Assassins and Anseyreeh as regards origin, and produces a vast record of travels in three volumes, having their name as the title: it is incredible how little they contain on the supposed subject. His testimony belongs to the year 1851 and we learn among other points which I have no occasion to cite: (1) That the Anseyreeh are a large, fine race, having more bone and muscle than is characteristic of Orientals; (2) That they are Turks in dress; (3) That—at the time of his travels—the nation was capable of mustering forty thousand warriors; (4) That there were Sheiks of religion and Sheiks of government; (5) That those of religion were regarded as almost infallible; (6) That the lower classes are not initiated into the higher or more mystical aspect of the religious belief; (7) That they practise the rite of circumcision; (8) That when a candidate is ready for initiation—but into what we do not hear—a white cloth is placed about his head; he is conducted into the presence of the sheiks of religion, is cautioned against ever betraying “the great and solemn secret” and is then taught the articles of faith, a sign and “three words”; (9) That this is the first lesson, but it is all apparently of which Walpole had any particulars. On the exoteric side they are called worshippers of Ali, as above all and a kind of “God Almighty,” yet Mohammed is the beloved prophet of God. For the rest, their belief is described as a confused medley—an unity, a trinity, a deity—and is apparently defined thus in their theology: “There are five; these five are three; these three are two; these two, these three, these five—all are one.” I suppose that even an Anti-Masonic Council of Trent would not institute a connection between this credo and the alleged faith of Masonry. For the rest, the Anseyreeh are affirmed to believe in the transmigration of souls: those of good believers become stars; others return to earth and again become Anseyreeh; yet others—the bad namely—reincarnate as Jews, Christians and Turks; while unbelievers enter into the bodies of pigs and other animals.
Authorities.—For the Ismaelites and Assassins: (1) Joseph von Hammer-Purgstall: Die Geschichte der Assassinen. Stuttgart, 1818. (2) The same, translated by O. C. Wood, London, 1835. (3) Edward Gibbon: Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, c. lxiv, any edition. (4) De Sacy in Le Journal des Savants, for the year 1818. (5) Sir John Malcolm: History of Persia, 2 vols., 1815. (6) Godfrey Higgins: Anacalypsis: An Attempt to draw aside the Veil of the Saïtic Isis, etc., 2 vols., London, 1836. For the Templars: So far as we are concerned with a bibliography of works on the Knights Templar it belongs to a later consideration of the whole subject. At the moment I need mention only: Raynouard: Monumens Historiques Relatifs à la Condemnation des Templiers. For the Druses: (1) Godfrey Higgins: The Celtic Druids, London, 1834. Also Anacalypsis, as cited, vol. i. (2) Sir M. E. Grant-Duff: Notes from a Diary, London, 1900, pp. 241, 242. (3) Memoirs of Lady Hester Stanhope, London, 1845, p. 355. (4) Colonel C. H. Churchill: The Druses and Maronites under Turkish Rule, London, 1862. (5) Laurence Oliphant: The Land of Gilead. For the Anseyreeh: (1) Rev. Samuel Lyde: The Anseyreeh and Ismaeleh: London, 1853. (2) Hon. F. Walpole: The Ansayrh, or Assassins, with Travels in the Further East, 3 vols., and especially vol. iii., London, 1851.
Association and the Mysteries
As a natural instinct of men compels them to seek association for avowed and public advantage in the open life of communities so does a deeper instinct prompt them to secret association in the midst of the general community for the attainment of some particular purpose or the pursuit of some special interest. Both instincts are older than history and as regards secret association it is common to every kind of civilisation and almost every form of savagery. It is connected in particular with the history of religion, when it assumes invariably the form of a Mystery worked by means of conventional ceremonies to which symbolic meanings are attached. In this way a peculiar knowledge has been supposed always to be communicated to the initiate. In secret political societies the knowledge imparted regarded only the designs particular to the cabal and the methods concerted for their attainment. In the vast majority of cases they were neither veiled in allegory nor illustrated by symbols. In those which were devoted to science—and there are traces of such association in alchemical literature—an inherited experimental Mystery was claimed to be imparted, but under what circumstances of procedure, if indeed any of a Ritual kind, we are altogether in the dark. There remain the arts and crafts, as these were pursued and protected at various periods but more especially during the Middle Ages: in most or all cases they appear to have had a primitive form of reception, the chief feature of which was of course a pledge of secrecy. There is little doubt that more than one valuable process must have been lost to the world because the sodality which possessed them has become inoperative. But the Religious Mystery has been always the most important and most widely diffused.
Secret Religions.—It is this that is assumed to have perpetuated the true doctrine which is veiled by the external dogmas and official systems of ruling religions in the world, the Religious Mysteries of ancient Greece being a palmary case in point. Societies claiming to connect with others of a high antiquity behind them are heard of even at this day in several countries of Europe, and whatsoever the worth of their pretensions they are always theosophical in character, which is to say that—by their hypothesis—they communicate to those who can receive a deeper understanding of the relations between man and God. At one or another time most people have come across something concerning them—some book which hints at their existence, some person who might have belonged to them. The knowledge possessed and the objects proposed to themselves by these secret fraternities are difficult questions to approach from an external standpoint. There is in the first place a multitude of false witnesses, not only on the point of antiquity but on the so-called treasures of the Sanctuary, which is too often empty of anything excepting vain pretence. It must be recognised also that associations for the pursuit of iniquity under the cloak of religion have taken all evil as their province and that the crude name of Satanism covers an abyss of abomination, on the edge of which it may sometimes prove only too easy for the unwary to find themselves. The business that walks in the darkness is worse than the noon-day devil.
Theosophical Mysteries.—But since there are thousands of individuals here and now among us who have set before themselves as their real end in life the attainment of an assured knowledge concerning the soul, its nature, origin and destination, concerning God, His relation to the Universe and to the soul of man, so are there secret religious Orders which by their intention at least—and by something more than this—are on the side of God and the soul. It is taught in these circles that the soul of man is not so wholly set apart in isolation from his manifest part that he cannot enter into its sanctuary and leam something at first hand on these ever-recurring problems. The claim is, moreover, that within these secret circles there are aids to advancement in these directions. This is as much as can be said in the present place.
Masonry and Secret Religion.—The place of Masonry among secret associations is notable in comparison with these exotics of hidden life and activity. On the surface it is a system of morality, and we shall see in the proper place that it has no reasonable title as such to be classed among Instituted Mysteries. Its “sublime principles” are brotherly love, relief and truth, by the last of which, as by a gate opening on the infinite, it begins to issue at once from the region of ethics. I suppose it is obvious that morality is not truth but one of its attributes. Moreover, as we proceed through the Craft Grades, and as I shall shew fully hereafter, we find that Emblematic Freemasonry becomes in the Third Degree a summary reflection of the old Instituted Mysteries and that it portrays the story of the soul in paths of spiritual experience. And beyond the Craft Grades there is the Holy Royal Arch, with its great theosophical intimations on the powers, the graces, the mysteries of Divine Names, on the Triune Nature of God, the Ark of our Salvation and the soul in the Presence of God. But in fine there are the Christian Grades, full of gospel tidings concerning Christ Mystical and the way of truth in Christ. They are not only—like those other Rites which I have mentioned without naming—on the side of God and the soul but delineate the relations between that which is Divine in the Universe and the Divine part of our nature. It will be seen therefore, as regards the place of Masonry among secret associations, that it is no outcast, pariah or orphan but a legitimate child of the Mysteries, bound up with its peers and co-heirs in the universal bond of their brotherhood.
Among those who regard Astrology as a kind of experimental science it has been said to shew links with Freemasonry. The first of these is historical, and the argument concerning it is—broadly speaking—as follows: (1) The Temple of Solomon was constructed on a Babylonian plan, according to Professor Sayce, and was a model of the universe. (2) Babylon derived from Chaldea, in which the stars were worshipped. (3) The Legend of Craft Masonry is concerned with King Solomon’s Temple, and as there is no doubt that Masonry is of immense antiquity, it is valid to infer that it connects with Chaldea, and consequently with the worship of the stars—in other words, with astrology. Such are the historical links, the gulf of many centuries being bridged by a single affirmation on the point of Masonic antiquity and the Temple legend being presumed to be a part of Craft Masonry, ab origine symboli. As the reverie continues, it is found, however, that there is astrology in modern Masonry. For example: (1) The ancient world recognised seven planets, and there are seven officers of the Lodge, including the Outer Guard. (2) A simple septenary correspondence is, however, insufficient—even for a speculation of this order—and a planetary allocation of the officers has been devised thus. (3) The Master answers to Mercury, because its symbol is composed of a circle which typifies spirit, a semicircle signifying the moon and a cross representing matter. (4) The Senior Warden is referable to the Sun, the Junior Warden to the Moon, while the Deacons correspond respectively to Venus and Mars, the Inner Guard to Jupiter and the Tyler to Saturn. (5) There are some reasons assigned here and there, as e.g. that Saturn connects with impoverishment and the Tyler removes possessions from the person of the Candidate; Jupiter is a revealer of secret things and the Inner Guard admits. Other alleged analogies stand at their own value, for I meet with no explanation. The answer to all is in Masonic Ritual itself, where the chief officers, without representing the Sun, mark three stages of its diurnal progress—the Sun rising in the East, the Sun at its meridian, and the setting Sun.
Planetary Influences.—It should be added that the thesis comes from an occult source, an origin which connotes usually what is arbitrary in assumption, false in history and in reasoning. As regards the alleged planetary influences, they are not specifically true, for there were many others, according to old-world lore, those cited being the least among them, while each and all were liable to be changed and counter-changed, qualified, reduced or extended, in accordance with environment, the operation of personal factors and so forward. It is enough to make old masters of the speculative sciences, like Junctinus de Florentia, writhe in their graves to see planetary forces violated and made absolute where they were never supposed to work alone. But it is well within the genius of such inventions that their makers mispresent matters of their own subject—not to speak of Masonry and the Mysteries. The Craft Degrees are not to be explained by hypotheses of Solar Mythology, nor to be illustrated by Astrology, with which Masonry has no connection. Finally, a Legend of the Temple current in the eighteenth century is not evidence of derivation from Babylon.
Astronomy and Masonry
The Sun in official Freemasonry is an emblem of the call to labour, which is balanced by the conception of repose, the two notions being united in the idea of refreshment. It represents also the progress of human life from infancy, through manhood, to old age, and the coming of the better day. An analogy to these is found in the work of the Lodge. The figurative time of its Opening is the dawn of day, and this is done by the Master; but it is the Junior Warden who calls off the Brethren from labour, symbolically at the high noon; and the Senior Warden Closes, at what is symbolically the set of Sun. The complementary symbol of the Moon in Masonry may be said to enforce the doctrine that “the highest saints of earth and heaven, and the most glorious angels, only reflect the light of the Sun of Righteousness”—whether this Spiritual Luminary is the Great Architect of the Universe under the aegis of the Craft Degrees or the Christ in Christian Masonry. In these and other manners it is intimated that “Heaven is the mirror of the human soul, and when we think that we are reading in the Stars it is in ourselves we read.” This is the sense in which every Lodge is shewn to be a measure of the Universe—“in length from East to West, in breadth from North to South,” in height as heaven itself, while at the opposite pole of that zenith extends the immeasurable nadir. In a word, the Lodge is a minutus mundus, even as man himself. It has been said well that the astronomy of man’s soul is greater than that of the starry heavens. The true heaven is within, a “firmament of possibility, of central and celestial light.” The light of the Sun signifies also the influx of God into the soul, while the Moon is the soul principle within us which receives that glory from beyond. In another form of symbolism the Moon is the reflected light of mind, of the reasoning and logical faculty, while the Sun corresponds to the higher mind, the inspired part of our nature, imagination in its creative state, the congeries of modes which, so far as they can pass into expression, are of the nature of pure being and are summarised as the gifts of the Spirit.
I am concerned with other subjects than the gradual distribution of Freemasonry over the surface of the globe, for accessible sources of information can be found by any one concerned. A word should be said, however, about the beginnings of the Order, both in our colonies and in other countries, as a starting-point for research. So far back as 1906, Mr. W. F. Lamonby—some time Grand Master of Victoria—published his Notes on Freemasonry in Australasia, and I do not know that a better work on the subject has appeared since. I shall merely summarise a few of its historical points. (1) The first Australian Lodge was founded at Sydney in 1803 without the permission of the Governor—a certain Captain King—who either suppressed it promptly or took such steps that it dissolved of its own accord. There is a suggestion indeed that some of the members were arrested. Considering the status of Freemasonry in England at that date, the proceeding may seem characteristic of Papal Rome and its handmaid the Holy Inquisition; but we are told that the Governor of an antipodean colony at that period of colonial life was dealing with stormy elements and had to rule vi et armis or renounce rule entirely. The veto that he put on the Lodge was not against Masonry itself but against an act of insubordination which had to be dealt with as such. However this may be, the Lodge in question does not appear to have been warranted by any Grand Obedience, and after the little storm in which it perished Masonry fell asleep in Australia for seventeen years. (2) In 1820 the 46th Regiment was stationed at Sydney and thereto was attached the Lodge of Social and Military Virtue, No. 227, having a charter going back to 1752, under the Irish Constitution. (3) Under the maternal providence of this military body the Grand Lodge of Ireland warranted the first regular Lodge in Australia, meeting at Sydney as from 1820. (4) It bears the Number 1 on the Grand Roll of New South Wales, with the title of Australian Social Mother Lodge. (5) There came also a period when its sponsor, the Lodge of Social and Military Virtue, must have ceased to travel with its regiment, for it “became No. 1 on the Roll of the Grand Lodge of Canada.” (6) So far as regards Sydney, and in respect of Australasia generally, it was Masonically colonised under the three Grand Lodges of England, Scotland and Ireland. At the present time—having passed through the period of its tutelage under these auspices—Australasian Masonry is now ruled by seven autonomous Grand Lodges, which preside respectively over South Australia (1884), New South Wales (1888), Victoria (1889), Tasmania (1890), New Zealand (1890), Western Australia (1899),and Queensland, dating from 1904, but not recognised till later. The status and diffusion of the High Grades, the Royal Arch and the Mark, would exceed the scope of this notice, and will be omitted also in the brief correlated monographs which are designed to follow throughout these volumes. It will be understood that wheresoever the Craft lives, moves and has its being there also dwell and flourish the Grades of Exaltation, Advancement, Installation and Perfection, not to speak of the many inventions which carry their particular banners behind the Masonic standard in the United States. The foundation of Grand Lodges in South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland forms an interesting chapter in Masonic history. The difficulties which attended Queensland on account of divided interests and rival Mother Obediences were perpetuated for more than twelve years and will be within the remembrance of many. They are now things of the past and remain as warning counsels in the wise art of procedure, a lesson to future Masonic Districts and a message to Grand Lodges themselves.
The Latin Rite of Catholicism having been always the predominant and only recognised religion of Austria until all such landmarks were effaced at the close of the Great War, it follows that Freemasonry in that country was always under a ban and that in so far as it has existed even in modern times it has been a secret society in a sense other than its own. It comes about therefore that it is practically without a history excepting that of taboo, in succession to enforced proscription. It is also without interest, and I do not know that any useful purpose would be served by naming the sporadic Lodges which sprang up from time to time. That of the Three Cannons in 1742 represents the beginnings of the Brotherhood, so far as Austria is concerned: it lasted something less than twelve months and led to the imprisonment of its members. There were other foundations later on, but the hand of Maria Theresa came down thereon in 1764 and there was total prohibition for sixteen years, during which clandestine meetings were held occasionally in Vienna and elsewhere throughout the Empire, but they were few and far between. The sentence extended its effects further than Prague and westward to the Austrian Netherlands. There ensued, however, the more clement period of Joseph II, who at least tolerated the Order: the proscription became a dead letter for that comparatively liberal season, and though it is not to be supposed that a multitude of Lodges was established, it can be said that Masonry was represented everywhere; notwithstanding hostile activity on the part of the Church. The best evidence is the foundation of a Grand Lodge of Austria in 1784 by Masonic representatives drawn from all parts of the Empire, including Bohemia and Transylvania. It is said to have had forty-five Lodges under its obedience. Whether as a consequence of this ambitious enterprise or for other reasons—by example, the power of the Church—an Imperial Edict was issued in the following year, suppressing all Lodges not established at a seat of political government, and reducing these to three at each seat in question. The Grand Obedience passed therefore from the scene, having existed for about the same period as the first Lodge of the Empire and probably not so long as a more or less clandestine attempt to create in 1775 a Grand Lodge of Liberty, called otherwise Masonry of Freedom. During the French Revolution the Austrian Lodges are supposed to have suspended of their own accord, as a matter of prudence, seeing that they were by no means free from the suspicion of political motives. The shadow of the Grand Orient fell upon all its kinship over the continent of Europe. The wisdom of this course was shewn by the dissolution of all Secret Societies in 1795 throughout the Austrian dominions. The French occupation of 1805 is said to have brought Masonry in its train—probably within the limits of Vienna; but to all intents and purposes the star of the Craft had set. Nor can it be said to have risen again—except, as we shall see, in Hungary—for the Edict of 1795 was never repealed. It does not yet appear what Masonry shall become under the new order in the second of the Central Empires—as they were denominated heretofore. There is at present no reason to suppose that it will win recognition by the Craft in England or America for a considerable time to come. Some points of this brief but sufficient notice have been drawn from R. F. Gould’s Concise History of Freemasonry, 1903.