Jean Marie Ragon ⬩ Ramsay ⬩ Rawlinson MSS. ⬩ Records of Old Lodges ⬩ Marco Di Reghellini ⬩ Régime Écossais ⬩ Regulations ⬩ Reincarnation and Masonry ⬩ Relaxed Observance ⬩ Religion and Freemasonry ⬩ Religious Aspects of Early Freemasonry ⬩ Resurrection and Rebirth ⬩ Rite Des Élus Cohens ⬩ Rite of Mizraim ⬩ Rite of Black Eagle ⬩ Rite of the Philalethes ⬩ Rite of the Strict Observance ⬩ Rite of Unknown Philosophers ⬩ Rite of Zinnendorf ⬩ Rites and Ceremonies of the Essenes ⬩ Rites and Their Message ⬩ Rites or Mysteries of Mithra ⬩ John Robison ⬩ The Rose in Symbolism ⬩ Rose-Croix ⬩ Rosicrucians ⬩ Royal Arch ⬩ Royal Arch of Enoch ⬩ Royal Ark Mariner ⬩ Royal Master ⬩ The Royal Mystery ⬩ Royal Order of Scotland ⬩ Russia, Poland and Hungary
Jean Marie Ragon
I suppose that there is no more distinguished literary name in the annals of French Freemasonry than that of J. M. Ragon. He was, however, a native of Belgium, born at Bruges in 1781 or thereabouts, and initiated in that city in the year 1803. The event marked a point of departure in his career, and his activity is indicated by his share in the foundation—also at Bruges—of a Loge des Vrais Amis. By or before 1815 he was resident in Paris, for in that year he was founder-in-chief of Les Trinosophes, a Lodge of considerable importance and one which must have owed much of its position to his zeal and the ability which marked his lectures delivered therein. Three years later he established a Masonic review, under the title of Hermes, devoted to the antiquities of Masonry and the investigation of its archives. This experiment evidently proved a failure, and the periodical was discontinued in the following year. In 1843 he collected his lectures into a volume, and they were published as a Cours Philosophique et Interprétatif des Initiations Anciennes et Modernes, in two parts, for the second of which he was censured by the Grand Orient on September 29 of that year. His works are numerous.
The memorials of Andrew Michael Ramsay, Chevalier of the Order of St. Lazarus, are scattered all over these volumes by a sacred necessity of the case, it being inevitable that the creator unawares of all that deserves the name in High Grade Masonry should move continually through the pageant of those Great Rites which are his. I would sometimes that the mythical Rite of Ramsay—to which every one testified in the past and which no one of all had seen—were truly a thing in being, the work of his heart and head. We should know then how the Mysterium Magnum of Masonic implicits unfolded for him who wrote the Travels of Cyrus and has left us also in another memorial his understanding of the spirit of Fénelon. But it is doubtless better as it is, for he left open a great field to all competitors and established only on his own part the principles which should guide activity therein. I select the following points from his ever-memorable Oration as sufficient for my purpose and because there is a more extended notice in my previous work: (1) The Masonic Order arose in Palestine during the Crusades, certain nobles and burgesses associating themselves together under solemn pledges for the restoration of Christian Churches in the Holy Land. (2) When these Brethren returned to their own countries, they established Lodges therein, the inference being that they had the same practical object at home as abroad, being the development of architectural art and its dedication to the sacred purpose of Temple building. (3) There came a time, however, when the Masonic Order was neglected in most countries, with the exception of Great Britain—and of Scotland most especially. (4) The Scottish nation preserved the Order in all its splendour, and in the year 1286 the illustrious Mother Kilwinning arose in the mystical shadow of Mount Heredom. (5) From this time forward "Great Britain became the seat of our sciences, the conservatrix of our laws and the depository of our secrets." In accordance with this thesis the Grades of Masonic Chivalry centre their legends in Palestine and vary the myth of Masonic origins in a hundred decorative modes, springing from this one root; the building myth reappears in several forms, but above all as a scheme for erecting a great Temple at Jerusalem; the living source of the Order in all its developments is located in Scotland; and Kilwinning is the fruitful Mother of all the Great Rites. Moreover, as Ramsay's Oration alludes to the Ancient Mysteries of Isis, Urania, Diana, so in the High Grades we hear of other roots than those of Palestine, of Masonry as the Daughter and last custodian of all the old illuminations. In fine, as the Ars Latomorum for Ramsay was a Christian Art and Mystery, so shine the great High Grades as Lamps in the Sanctuary of Christ. Hereof is the work of Ramsay.
A Biographical Note.—And now as to his external life the chief points of fact can be drawn briefly together: (1) born about 1681 at Ayr in Scotland, he was the son of a prosperous baker, who saw that he was schooled well in his native city and then sent to the University of Edinburgh. (2) In 1709 he became tutor to the sons of the Earl of Wemyss, but he was in the midst of religious problems and went presently abroad, where it came about that at Leyden he met an eccentric mystic of the day named Pierre Poiret. (3) Poiret was not among the luminaries of Divine Science, though he was not without certain lights, so it will be understood that Ramsay went further, and that quickly. (4) In 1710 he visited Archbishop Fénelon, a great mystical doctor, became his guest for a period and was soon under such auspices, reconciled to the Latin Church. (5) Later on he was appointed preceptor to the Duc de Chateau-Thierry and afterwards to the Prince de Turenne. (6) Being thus known and distinguished, he was made a Knight of St. Lazarus and was called by the Chevalier St. George, otherwise the Old Pretender, James III, to Rome, for the instruction of Prince Charles Edward and Prince Henry, the one destined to be a centre of Masonic romance as the Young Pretender, while the other became Cardinal York. (7) Dates are uncertain, but this event occurred about 1724; it is said, however, that the factions of the Eternal City offered no place of repose to the contemplative mind of Ramsay. (8) In 1728 he was living in England with the family of the Duke of Argyll, and the Oxford University conferred on him the degree of Doctor of Laws. (9) I do no know when he returned to France, but it was to spend the rest of his life in the family of his old pupil, the Prince de Turenne. (10) Andrew Michael Ramsay died on May 6, 1743.
Works of Ramsay.—(1) The Travels of Cyrus; (2) Life of Fénelon; (3) History of the Viscount Turenne; (4) Philosophical Principles of Natural and Revealed Religion, unfolded in a Geometrical Order, published posthumously in 1748. I have heard also of a Life of the Prince de Condé, but this is probably apocryphal, and so also is a Rélation Apologique et Historique de la Société des Francs-Maçons, by J. G. D. M. F. M., issued at Dublin in 1738 and burnt at Rome by the public executioner in 1739, as directed by the Holy Inquisition. I do not know why Kloss attributed this pamphlet to Ramsay. The Oration has been printed several times.
These are preserved in the Bodleian Library, and they were examined with considerable care by R. F. Gould, who gives also some account of the collector’s life. Dr. Richard Rawlinson was a son of Sir Thomas Rawlinson, once Lord Mayor of London. born in 1690, he graduated at St. John’s College, Oxford, is said to have been ordained, and even consecrated in 1728. He became a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1714 and of the Society of Antiquaries in 1727. He died at Islington on April 5, 1755. His initiation into Freemasonry is fixed by Gould between 1726 and 1730, and his active life in the Order does not seem to have extended much further than 1738. In 1714 he edited some Miscellanies on Several Curious Subjects, and in 1719 the posthumous work of Aubrey, entitled Natural History and Antiquities of Surrey, as also Ashmole’s History and Antiquities of Berkshire, another posthumous publication. He has been accused of tampering with the documents which came into his hands; but the charge does not concern us. The papers under the name of Rawlinson preserved at Oxford are of interest for the period of Masonry, and a few may be called important. I append some particulars extracted from the Catalogue of MSS. in the Bodleian Library. They do not claim to be exhaustive, but the collection is available for all who have occasion to pursue the subject.
Rawlinson Collections.—I. MS. Rawlinson, C. 136, 18th cent., 196 leaves.—Collections by Dr. Rawlinson, printed and MS., relating to the Freemasons; containing the Constitutions of the Freemasons, “copyed from an old MS. in the possession of Dr. Rawlinson”; a List of Lodges in London, with the names of the members of some of them, paragraphs from newspapers, pamphlets (which are entered in the General Catalogue of the printed books in the Library), Forms of Summonses, etc. The details are as follows:—(1) Constitutions, Fol. 8; (2) Prayers to be used at the introduction of a new member, Ff. 1, 1b; (3) Short Charge to be given to new Brethren, Fol. 82; (4) Forms of Summons to Lodge Meetings, Ff. 5, 7, 26, 36-39, 51, 57, 64. 71, 171-2, 191-2, 195. II. MS. Rawlinson, C. 918, 18th cent., 4 leaves.—The Book of the Provincial Grand Master of the Freemasons in the City and County Palatine of West Chester. The volume is blank with the exception of the first four pages, which contain directions for keeping a Record of Grand Masters and Wardens, with their arms, and of all General Orders. III. MS. Rawlinson, C. 358, 18th cent.—Names of the Masters of the Temple, from Cotton, Nero E. vi, in the British Museum, fol. 26b. IV. MS. Rawlinson, D. 1194, Fol. 44.—Memorandum by Richard Rawlinson of a Procession of Freemasons from Grosvenor Street to Mercer’s Chapel, June 7th, 1738. V. MS. Rawlinson, Part II, 18th cent—Miscellanies in prose and verse by Robert Samber, containing (a) Masonic Signs of London tradesmen. Fol. 6; (b) Some Masonic Formulae, Fol. 4; (c) Song on Masonry, Fol. 80; (d) List of Lodges in London and of some in the Provinces, Ff. 16b-70, 94-104; (e) Rules of the Lodge held at the Three Tuns in West Smithfield, 1731, Fol. 137b; (f) Rules of the Lodge held at the Rose Tavern, Cheapside, Fol. 109; (g) Song about a Lodge-Meeting and one Alderman Perry, Fol. 148b; (h) Memorial from the Lodge held at the St. Paul’s Head in Ludgate Street to the Grand Master Montague, respecting the carrying off the Sword of State, Fol. 150; (i) Orders of the Grand Lodge, Nov. 21st, 1724, Fol. 178; (j) The same 1734-35, Fol. 176; (k) Resolution submitted by the Committee for regulating the General Charity, Fol. 180; (l) Minutes of Meetings of the Charity Committee, March 30, 1736, and Dec. 8th, 1735, Fols. 187, 189; (m) Letter from the Grand Lodge to the Lodge at Calcutta, not dated, copy, Fol. 193; (n) Petition to the Grand Master from W. Reid, late secretary, Fol. 194; (o) Order for Masters’ Aprons.
Records of Old Lodges
Those Four Old Lodges which met together in 1717 for the foundation of the first Grand Lodge are known in history by the taverns at which they were convened. The adoption of a particular style and title belongs to a later period. Outside the City and Westminster they were identified by the town to which they belonged—e.g. the Lodge of Kilwinning, a House of Sacred Memories; the Lodge of Edinburgh; the glorious Lodge of York. Their very names are part of our Masonic heritage. The history of the Four Old Lodges has been written by Gould, but Mr. A. F. Calvert has recently extended our knowledge concerning them in his work on The Grand Lodge of England. (1) Goose and Gridiron. It is said to have had a marked Operative complexion and to have resented the tendencies represented by Anderson’s Constitutions of 1723. It was known subsequently as Old Lodge of St. Paul’s, then as West India and American Lodge, but ultimately as the Lodge of Antiquity, under which title it is now No. 2 on the Roll. (2) Rummer and Grapes. It appears in the Engraved List of 1736, but was struck off the Roll in 1740. (3) Apple Tree Tavern. In 1768 it became the Lodge of Fortitude, and is now represented by Fortitude and Old Cumberland, No. 12, with the date 1723. See Gould’s Time Immemorial Lodges, in The Freemason of May 5, 1900. (4) Old Horn Lodge. It was erased in 1747, reinstated in 1751, taken over about 1774 by the Somerset House Lodge, and in 1828 it absorbed the Royal Inverness Lodge, when it assumed the title of Royal Somerset House and Inverness, which it bears to this day, and is No. 4 on the Roll of Grand Lodge.
Old Scottish Lodges.—There are four Lodges in Scotland which are known by their records and otherwise to have existed prior to the year 1600, namely, (1) Mother Kilwinning, (2) Mary’s Chapel, (3) Melrose St. John, (4) St. John Kilwinning, Haddington. The following are of various dates prior to 1717: (1) Aberdeen, (2) Canongate Kilwinning, (3) Scoon and Perth, (4) Glasgow St. John, (5) Canongate and Leith, (6) Old Kilwinning St. John, Inverness, (7) Hamilton Kilwinning, (8) Journeyman, Edinburgh, (9) Dunblane St. John, (10) Haughfoot Lodge, (11) Ancient Lodge, Stirling, (12) Atcheson Haven, (13) Dumfries Kilwinning, (14) St. John’s, Kelso, (15) St. Ninian’s, Brechs, (16) St. John, Jedburgh. It would seem therefore that as traditionally, according to the general witness of the High Grades, so also historically the spring and fount of Masonry is in Scotland, and yet—as shewn otherwise—there is no evidence that any Old Charges and Constitutions originated outside England. The History of the Ancient Lodge of Edinburgh—which is Mary’s Chapel—including its earliest records, has been written by David Murray Lyon, to whom also we owe a History of the Mother Lodge Kilwinning. Both are important Lodges on the historical side and one—as we have seen continually—is pre-eminent on that of the glory of legend. There are hallowed associations belonging to the Lodge of Melrose and that at Haddington is not without its nimbus. Among those in the second rank (1) the Ancient Stirling Lodge has an important codex of the Old Charges. (2) An account of the Measson Charter belonging to the Lodge of Aberdeen was published by W. J. Hughan in 1895. (3) The history of Canongate Kilwinning was written by A. Mackenzie, 1888. (4) The great Historical Lodge of Scoon and Perth has many memorials and among others there is the History of Mr. D. Crawford Smith, 1898. (5) An account of Glasgow St. John was issued by James Cruikshank in 1879. (6) Freemasonry in Inverness, by Alexander Ross, 1877, is compiled from the Minute Books of Old Kilwinning St. John and St. Andrew’s Kilwinning. (7) On the Journeyman Lodge at Edinburgh we have Incidents in the History, by William Hunter, 1884, and a summary of its contents in The Freemason of February 2, 1907. (8) The story of the Haughfoot Lodge is told by John Yarker in A. Q. C., Vol. XVI, pp. 177 et seq. (9) As regards Dumfries, Mr. J. Smith has written on St. Michael’s Kilwinning and the Operative Lodge, both pamphlets appearing in 1891, as also on the Lodge of St. Andrew in 1901. (10) To his industry we owe furthermore the story of St. Bernard Kilwinning at Kirkcudbright, 1904. (11) The Annals of Lodge Fortrose, at Stornaway, were compiled from the records by J. Campbell Smith and appeared at Toronto. (12) An account of the Lodge of Falkirk, by Thomas Middleton, appeared in A. Q. C., XXII, pp. 56, 57. (13) Aitcheson’s Haven Lodge has been always a centre of interest, but it should be noted that no such refuge appears in modern maps. It lay to the east of Musselburgh, between Levenhall and Morison’s Haven in Midlothian. The Lodge was a party to the first of the St. Clair Charters. The earliest Minute Book begins in January, 1598. There is another in the Library of the Grand Lodge of Scotland, dating from 1636 and ending in 1764. There is evidence of mixed membership as from 1672.
Swalwell Lodge.—Among English Lodges outside York and London, there is a talismanic attraction about the old Swalwell Lodge, Durham, with its rumours of a Book M—like a reflection from the Rosy Cross, its story of Harodim workings, and claims to precedence in its particular province. Unfortunately most of my knowledge concerning it comes from John Yarker and is the usual mass of confusion. It was brought under the London Grand Lodge in 1734. The Minutes are said to begin in 1725, but there came a time when it had to seek for a new Charter, which it obtained in 1771, with the number 61 on the Grand Roll. In 1794 it assumed the name of Industry and removed to Gateshead in 1845, where it now works, being No. 48.
Lodge Histories.—The following bibliographical notes are compressed of necessity into the briefest possible space for the assistance of those who have occasion to consult the published records of particular Lodges. The Lodges are arranged alphabetically, followed by the names of their historians and the dates of the printed accounts. (1) Alnwick, W. J. Hughan, reprinted from A. Q. C. (2) Anchor and Hope, Bolton: G. P. Brockbank, 1882. (3) Antiquity, Bolton: J. Newton, 1882. (4) Antiquity, Wigan: J. Brown, 1882. (5) Apollo, York: W. J. Hughan, 1889. (6) Arboretum, Derbyshire: J. Bland, 1908. (7) Albert Edward, Huddersfield: E. Sikes, 1900. (8) Bandon Lodge: W. J. Chetwode Crawley, A. Q. C. Reprints. (9) Britannic: F. W. Shields, 1870. (10) Brotherly Love, Yeovil: W. B. Collins, 1910. (11) Caveac: J. P. Simpson, 1904. (12) Concord, Carrick-on-Shannon: Ab. O’Conor, 1897. (13) Derwent: Arthur Carpenter, 1913. (14) Domatic: G. B. Abbott, 1886. (15) Economy, Winchester: Freemason, February 11, 1911. (16) Etruscan: W. R. Blair, 1907. (17) Fairfax, Guiseley, Yorks: T. Woodhead, n.d. (18) Falcon, Thirsk. E. Charlesworth, 1910. (19) Felicity: William Smithell, 1892. (20) Fidelity, Leeds: Alfred South, 1894. (21) Fidelity, Towcester: T. P. Darwen, 1912. (22) Fortitude and Old Cumberland: R. F. Gould, 1900. (23) Fortitude, Bolton: G. P. Brockbank, 1888. (24) Friendship, Yarmouth: A. E. Richmond, 1909. (25) Friendship, Manchester: Nathan Heywood, 1901. (26) Globe: Henry Sadler, 1904. (27) Grey Friars, Reading: G. T. Phillips, 1912. (28) Halsey: E. P. Debenham, 1904. (29) Harmony, Faversham: Francis F. Giraud, 1900. (30) Harmony, Fareham: W. Barrell, 1909. (31) Harmonic, Liverpool: J. Hawkins, 1890. (32) Hengist, Bournemouth: C. J. Whitting, 1897. (33) Honour, Wolverhampton: T. J. Barnett, 1896. (34) Hope, Bradford: Charles Gott, 1894. (35) Hope and Unity, Brentwood, Essex: John Ramsey, 1909. (36) Howard Lodge of Brotherly Love, Littlehampton: Francis Thomas, 1898. (37) Home Lodge: A. D. Brooks, 1901. (38) Humber: G. A. Shore, 1912. (39) Huddersfield: W. L. Wilmshurst, 1893. (40) John of Gaunt, Leicester: J. J. Thorp, 1897. (41) Kirkcaldy: Rev. H. Guy Sclater, 1909. (42) Knights of Malta, Hinckley: J. J. Thorp, 1899. (43) Leicester Old Lodge: J. J. Thorp, 1898. (44) Lion, Whitby: History of Freemasonry in Whitby, 1897. (45) Lion and Lamb: G. Abbott, 1889. (46) Lodge of the Marches, Ludlow: T. J. Salwey, 1892. (47) Love and Honour, Falmouth: W. J. Hughan, 1888. (48) Lodge of Unions: R. R. Davis, 1885. (49) Maid’s Head, Norwich: W. H. Rylands, A. Q. C. Reprints. (50) Marquis of Granby, Durham: W. Logan, 1886. (51) Menturia, Hanley: E. V. Greatbatch, 1894, (52) Meridian, Cradock: A. E. Austen, 1896. (53) Mizpah: W. H. Cole, 1908. (54) Mount Moriah: J. D. Butler, 1904. (55) Neptune: F. W. Golby, 1910. (56) Nine Muses: Walter Webb, 1877. (57) North York Lodge: A. Sockett, 1905. (58) Old Cheltonian: the story of this Lodge appeared at Cheltenham, 1913. (59) Old King’s Arms: A. F. Calvert, 1899. (60) Old Lodge at Lincoln: W. Dixon, 1891. (61) Original Lodge, Cowes: W. J. Hughan, 1890. (62) Percy: George Cowell, 1902. (63) Philanthropic, Leeds: C. L. Mason, 1894. (64) Phoenix, London: Alexander Howell, 1894. (65) Phoenix, Hull: J. H. Ferris, n.d. (66) Phoenix, Sunderland: T. O. Todd, 1906. (67) Pomfret, Northampton: T. P. Dorman, 1910. (68) Prince of Wales: Thomas Fenn, 1890. (69) Probity: H. Crossley, 1888. (70) Prosperity: C. E. Ferry, 1884. (71) Prudent Brethren: Harry Guy, s.v. Historic Records of, 1906. (72) Robert Burns: Henry Sadler, 1910. (73) Roman Eagle: A. A. Murray, 1908. (74) Royal Alpha: S. H. Clerke, 1891. (75) Royal Chester: John Armstrong, s.v. Time Immemorial Lodge, 1900. (76) Royal Inverness and Somerset House: G. B. Abbott, 1891. (77) Royal Kent of Antiquity: H. F. Whyman, 1910. (78) Royal Lodge: Gordon P. G. Hills, A. Q. C., XXXI, pp. 69 et seq. (79) Royal Naval: Canon J. W. Horsley, A. Q. C., XXIII, pp. 152 et seq. (80) Royal Sussex: E. A. T. Breed, A. Q. C., XVII, 37-55. (81) Royal Union, Cheltenham: G. Norman, 1888. (82) Royal Oak: see J. Armstrong, History of Freemasonry in Cheshire, 1901. (83) Royal Yorkshire, Keighley: J. Ramsden Riley, 1889. (84) St. Andrews: G. A. T. Wilson, 1894. (85). St. David, Edinburgh: Freemason, February 24, 1912. (86) St. George, Doncaster: W. Delanoy, 1882. (87) St. George, Exeter: Claude Penderleath, 1909. (88) St. James, Halifax: Austin Roberts, 1895. (8g) St. John’s, Bolton: G. P. Brockbank, 1880. (90) St. John’s, Enniskillen: J. L. Carson, 1895. (91) St. John’s, Sunderland: W. Logan, 1889. (92) St. John’s, Torquay: J. Chapman, 1894. (93) St. John Baptist, Exeter: A. Hope, 1891. (94) St. John Baptist, Bedfordshire: W. Austen, 1891. (95) St. Mary’s, London: C. C. Adams, 1908. (96) St. Mary’s, Bridport: A. M. Broadley, 1907. (97) St. Oswald, Pontefract: see E. Lord, Freemasonry in Pontefract, 1902. (98) St. Patrick’s, Newry: F. C. Crossle, 1895. (99) Salopian Lodge: see A. Graham, History of Freemasonry in Shropshire, 1892. (100) Scientific Lodge, Cambridge: A. R. Hill, 1892. (101) Shakespeare, London, or Red Apron Lodge, See A. F. Calvert’s Red Apron Lodges. (102) Shakespeare, Warwick: S. W. Cook, 1912. (103) Strong Man: F. W. Driver. 1904, (104) Swaffham Great Lodge: Hamon le Strange, A. Q. C., XX, 232-248. (105) Thornhill, Huddersfield: W. A. Beevers, 1895. (106) Union, Norwich: Hamon le Strange, 1898. (107) Unity, Lowestoft: G. S. Knocker, 1914. (108) Unanimity, Stockport: J. Cookson, 1892. (109) Warrant Lodge, No. 7: W. J. Chetwode Crawley, n.d. (110) Westminster and Keystone: J. W. S. Godding, 1907. (111) Wigan Grand Lodge, being the undisclosed Records of another English Grand Lodge: E. B. Beesley, 1920.
Scope of Old Minutes.—As I have not taken all Lodge Histories for my province, I do not claim that this list is complete, and furthermore it is confined to the United Kingdom, not including the colonies. In conclusion, it is not to be supposed that the records of Operative Lodges, in the cases where they remain in evidence, contain anything which is in analogy with the living purpose of Emblematic Freemasonry. That they are so few and far between is regrettable historically, but I am quite sure that prior to 1717 the Minutes—if they ever existed—of Masonic Meetings held at the Rummer and Grapes or Apple Tree Tavern would be of moment only on points of fact. So also the Spirit of Masonry is not to be looked for in the Minutes of Symbolical Lodges: they are not annals of a Rosicrucian House of the Holy Spirit. Yet they serve their purpose, and are sometimes things of great price among the local and temporal concerns belonging to the external body of the Craft.
Marco Di Reghellini
To be born on the island of Scio in the Asgean Sea, with Smyrna on the East, Mitylene to the North and Samos lying South-by-East; to know that Lemnos is not so far away, while all Greece is westward: so ordered those stars which brought Marco di Reghellini into manifest existence about 1780, his parents being Venetians. But in August, 1855, there died at Brussels—in what is called a House of Mendicity— the author of La Ma^onnerie consid£r£e comme le Resultat des Religions Egyptiennes, Juive et Chretienne: so ordered those stars which withdrew Marco di Reghellini into the unmanifest world. He has been accused of theosophy by one who added—possibly as a rider—that he had very bold opinions; but I infer that a certain treatise—which few have heard of and no one has seen—comprehending an examination of the Mosaic and Christian Dispensations, was bold only in the sense of free-thought. Most certainly he was not a theosophist, as Le R£sultat exhibits sufficiently. The latter was not his only work on I'Art Sacerdotal et I'Art Royal, and I would give something to consult certain Annales Chronologiques, Litterarires et Historiques de la Maqonnerie des Pays Bas, which seems to have appeared in parts between 1822 and 1829. Reghellini was a maker of many reveries, but his title in this case opens a vista of possible materials, to whatever use he may have turned them. There was also L'Esprit de la Ma<jonnerie, but its absence from all our libraries may not be so great a loss. This account is extended from pp. 135, 36.
The title adopted by the Loge de la Bienfaisance at Lyons for that signal transformation of the Strict Observance to which I have referred previously was Régime Écossais Ancien et Rectifié. The use of the term “ancient” does not authorise an adverse judgment on the score of insincerity. There was no material as yet for the evidential history of Masonry. We do not know definitely when the great revision took place, except in the broad sense that it was subsequent to the appointment of the Martinézist Rose-Croix Willermoz as Provincial Grand Prior of Auvergne for the government of the Strict Observance in that Province, and this was in 1773. On the other hand, it was prior to the Convention of Lyons in 1778, held under the auspices of the Loge, presumably for the main purpose of approving the transformation, which was ratified at Wilhelmsbad in 1782. Again we do not know definitely who rectified the Rite, except that it was done under Martinistic influence, of which there is the fullest internal evidence, and it is probable that Willermoz had an important hand therein. I have no doubt that in his opinion and that of his coadjutors they were recurring to Masonic first principles and that in this sense the Rectified Rite was ancient. It remained also Écossais, conserving vestiges of the Aumont legend, though the Templar claim was abandoned. Moreover, the Régime Écossais denoted more especially the two Grades of Saint Andrew. Behind them lay that which was called L’Ordre Intérieure, being the Chivalry of the Holy City, and behind this—as I have indicated—in a much more hidden Sanctuary, were two ceremonial memorials, also mentioned previously, of which I can say only that they were of deep spiritual import and embodied the understanding of the Rite on the catholic Masonic subject. As regards the Novitiate and Knighthood I have spoken at reasonable length in The Secret Tradition in Freemasonry, and I do not propose to retrace the same ground, as the present encyclopaedic work is not intended to replace that which preceded it. I shall say therefore only that the Holy City of the Grades is that which is built up in the life of the true Mason as a glory to God in the highest, is that into which he is built as a Living Stone, and that it is a city in the world which binds its freemen to the service in peace and goodwill not only of those within but of those who dwell without. And as I have indicated in the other work, it is the witness of Masonry to Christ “as the term of Masonic quest.” Op. cit. Bk. IV, § 7.
We have seen that the General Regulations were compiled by George Payne in 1720, he being Grand Master, and that they were printed in the first Book of Constitutions, 1723. When Anderson brought out his second edition of 1738 he made such alterations that he ended by printing both recensions, calling the amended version New and the original Old Regulations. Successive editions from that time forward have altered, extended, omitted, as required by changing times and circumstances. It is not without interest to compare matters as they stood in 1720 with arrangements that obtain now, and in the following schedule I give the gist of Payne’s compilation, which can be compared with any modern edition, entrusted to the hands of Masons at their reception, or with that which is now current.
General or Old Regulations.—(1) The Grand Master or his Deputy has the right to be present and preside in any Lodge. (2) The Master of any Lodge has the right to congregate Members at pleasure, and in his necessary absence the Senior Warden shall act as Master pro tempore, failing a Past Master of the Lodge. (3) A Book of By-Laws shall be kept by the Master or one of the Wardens. (4) No Lodge shall make more than five new Brethren at one time, nor any under the age of twenty-five—except by dispensation. (5) No man can be made member of any Lodge without notice of one month. (6) The consent of members to the admission of any one must be unanimous. (7) Every new Brother shall clothe the Lodge—i.e. present white aprons and gloves—and contribute to the relief of indigent Brethren, promising also to observe the Constitutions, Charges and Regulations. (8) Brethren shall not withdraw from the Lodge in which they were made or admitted subsequently, unless it becomes too large, in which case they must join another existing Lodge or petition to forn a new one. But no recognition shall be extended to any Lodge formed in the absence of the Grand Master’s Warrant. (9) Failing the submission of any Brother who shall have been twice admonished on account of misbehaviour, he shall be dealt with according to the By-Laws. (10) The majority of every Lodge shall be privileged to instruct their Master and Wardens before the assembling of Grand Lodge, (11) All Lodges shall observe the same usages, as far as possible. (12) Grand Lodge consists of the Masters and Wardens of all Lodges on record, with the Grand Master, his Deputy and the Grand Wardens, the same holding Quarterly Communications, and determining all matters by a majority of votes. (13) Apprentices must be admitted Masters and Fellow Craft only in Grand Lodge. This Regulation is exceedingly long, dealing with the duties of Masters of Private Lodges, matters of charity, the appointment of a Treasurer, etc. (14) In the absence of the Grand Master, his Deputy, some Past Grand Master or Past Deputy, the chair shall be taken by the oldest Mason then filling the Chair of any Lodge. (15) In the absence of the Grand Wardens, the Grand Master shall order private Wardens to act pro tempore. (16) Grand Wardens and others shall first advise with the Deputy about all Masonic business, the Deputy to communicate with the Grand Master, (17) No Grand Master or Grand Officer can at the same time be Master or Warden of a Private Lodge, but having discharged his Grand Office he returns to that post or station in his Lodge from which he was called. (18) In the necessary absence of his Deputy the Grand Master may choose any Fellow-Craft to act pro tempore. (19) Should a Grand Master render himself unworthy of obedience, a new Regulation shall be made to deal with the case, there being at present no precedent. (20) The Grand Master, his Deputy and Wardens shall visit all Lodges about town at least once during his Mastership. (21) On the death or incapacity of the Grand Master, Grand Lodge shall be congregated forthwith by his Deputy; whom failing, by the Senior Grand Warden; whom failing, by the Junior; and in his absence by any three present Masters of Lodges. They shall send two of their number to invite the last Grand Master to resume his Office, whom failing the next last and so backward; but all failing then shall the Grand Master’s Deputy act, or, in his absence, the oldest Master. (22) The Brethren of all Lodges in and about London and Westminster shall meet at an Annual Communication and Feast on St. John Baptist’s Day or St. John Evangelist’s Day. (23) When it is agreed to hold a Grand Feast the Grand Wardens shall make arrangements, assisted by a certain number of Stewards, whom the Grand Master shall appoint. (24) They shall report to the Grand Master and account to the Grand Lodge. (25) A Committee of Private Lodges shall receive applicants for admission to the Feast, thus insuring that only true Brethren are present. (26) The Grand Master shall appoint Doorkeepers, to be at the command of the Committee. (27) The Grand Wardens or Stewards shall appoint sufficient Brethren to serve at table. (28) The Members of Grand Lodge shall be at their place before dinner and with the Grand Master or his Deputy shall retire to receive appeals, prevent differences, deliberate on all that concerns decorum at the Grand Assembly, and consider any momentous affairs brought forward by particular Lodges through their Masters and Wardens. (29) The Grand Master and his Officers shall then withdraw, leaving the Masters and Wardens free to appoint a new Grand Master or re-elect the old one. The person chosen shall be called in and shall be desired to rule for the ensuing year, whether he accepts or not being made known after dinner (30) Thereafter the Brethren may converse till the time comes to take their seats at table. (31) The Grand Lodge shall be formed after dinner in the presence of all the Brethren. (32) If the present Grand Master has agreed to continue in Office a Member of Grand Lodge gives account of his good government, requests him thereon to continue as their Grand Master and after he has signified consent proclaims him in due form. (33) In the contrary event the outgoing Grand Master nominates his successor, who, if elected, is proclaimed and the outgoing Grand Master instals him. (34) If ^a^ nomination is not unanimously approved a ballot shall take place and that man whose name is first taken out by the retiring Grand Master casually shall be Grand Master for the ensuing year. (35) When a Grand Master continues in Office he shall appoint or reappoint his Deputy and nominate his Wardens, to be approved by Grand Lodge. If not unanimously approved, they shall be chosen by ballot. (36) In the unavoidable absence of a newly nominated Grand Master he cannot be proclaimed, unless the outgoing Grand Master—or some of the Masters and Wardens of Grand Lodge—can vouch that he will accept Office. (37) This business finished, the Grand Master may allow any Fellow Craft or Apprentice to speak and propose anything for the good of the Fraternity. (38) Thereafter the Grand Master, his Deputy or a Brother by him appointed, shall address all the Brethren; and “after some other transactions that cannot be written in any language,” the Brethren may go or stay, as they please. (39) Every Annual Grand Lodge has an inherent power to make new Regulations, provided that the Old Landmarks be carefully preserved and that such alterations be agreed by a majority at the third Quarterly Communication preceding the annual Feast. It follows from Regulations 18 and 37 that there was no Master Grade in 1720: otherwise, in the first case a Master Mason would have been chosen to act as Deputy and in the second would have been given an opportunity to speak. Further as regards No. 18, the Grand Master could not appoint the Master of a Lodge because of Regulation No. 17, which seems, however, to be abrogated by Nos. 14 and 15.
Reincarnation and Masonry
The idea of re-embodiment, and more especially that form which restricts the mode of its operation within a single planet of the solar system, occurs definitely in only one Masonic Rite—as it happens, being that of Memphis. A so-called Indian Catechism is attached thereby to the Second of the Craft Degrees, and supposes an amicable debate between Reason and Divine Wisdom. It affirms that the souls of men are distinguished from those of other animals by rationality including a knowledge of good and evil. The souls of good men are liberated from their bodies by death, and being absorbed in the Divine Essence are no longer reincarnated on earth. But the souls of the wicked remain clothed by the four elements and—after a period of punishment assume new bodies. Those who are neither wholly good nor wholly bad suffer in proportion to their guilt, after which they ascend into heaven, to receive a temporal reward for their good actions and then reassume flesh. That participation in the Divine Essence which is the recompense of real virtue does not depend from a doctrine of pure pantheism, as the terminology seems to indicate; for it is said that “the soul is plunged in eternal felicity,” implying preservation of identity. Presumably the catechism is called Indian, because it is thought to reflect doctrines of eastern psychology, concerning which, however, no real knowledge is exhibited.
The best monograph on the Strict Observance, its connections and its counterblasts, is in the colossal work of Gould, and it is in most respects excellent. The section here referred to may be cited in opposition to those who have called the production uncritical throughout. It is chaos magnum infirmatum and confusing as such, but it is analytical and closely reasoned. According to Gould, the apostles of the Strict Observance were accustomed to stigmatise any other Masonic system as Observantia Lata, translated and understood as Lax Observance, Observance Relâchée. In this case the denomination applied could be only Observantia Laxa vel Relaxata. Setting this aside, Gould’s statement seems to be derived from MacKenzie, but no authority is quoted in either case, and we have no evidence before us as to how or when the designation was actually used. French writers have applied it to an alleged schism in the Strict Observance which arose in Vienna about 1767; but Gould points out acutely that what was established in that city at that time was a “Spiritual Branch of the Templars,” otherwise a Clerical Chapter—Clerici Ordinis Templarii—the founder and promoter of which was Johann August von Starck. So far from being a schism, it was an independent system grafted upon the Strict Observance, for the purpose of turning that great “comet of a season” to the purposes of Latin Catholicism, to which Starck had a strong leaning. On this subject Kenneth MacKenzie furnishes two accounts which are mutually exclusive.
Religion and Freemasonry
There are certain recurring questions, of importance within their proper measures, which imply something beyond their own field, and that which they imply belongs very often to the psychical and intellectual fact of their existence—how it is, for example, that they have not been determined years or centuries ago—and the singular want of realisation which characterises certain subjects and a number of real interests. This illustrates the difficulty with which large bodies of intelligent persons penetrate to the root and foundation of their own concerns and principles. We know that in a very true sense Freemasonry is a living moral and intellectual force in the lives of many thousands of people who—taking them altogether—are men of understanding and education. It would seem almost impossible antecedently that such as these should still be discussing at this date the Religion of Freemasonry and what is to be held concerning it, assuming that there is a religious side. The figurative and symbolical system which passes under this name has been in existence—on the most restricted hypothesis—for something over two hundred years, while the more particular form under which we are acquainted with it is marked in an especial manner by that memorable meeting at the Apple-Tree Tavern in 1717, when the Grand Lodge of England was founded. And yet the Religion of Freemasonry remains a matter of debate, on which thoughtful people take sides and on which more or less learned people continue to write.
Masonry Universal.—A beginning is made commonly with the familiar adage that Freemasonry is universal and admits, or is prepared to admit, all good and true men, “provided they believe in a Supreme Being.” There is a sense in which this has been the departing point of all the rival considerations in English-speaking countries from that time which is called “immemorial” in the terminology of the Craft, when it signifies usually anything that is sixty years old and upward. For example, the Premier Conclave of the Red Cross of Constantine is time immemorial because it existed previously to the present Grand Jurisdiction located at Mark Masons’ Hall; but its history prior to the year 1860 is for those who can find it.
Latin Freemasonry.—As regards the alleged universality and the assumed condition of membership there uprises the body-general of Latin Freemasonry, which—if challenged on the subject—would hold that Freemasonry is universal since it receives all honourable men, whether or not they believe in a Supreme Being. It is obvious that neither contention is precisely true, nor can an institution be termed universal accurately which is thus divided against itself, more especially when those of Theistic persuasion have cut off communion with the free-thinking and agnostic branches. It will be seen also that under such circumstances the Religion of Freemasonry must be a keen question of debate. It becomes complicated when we remember that original Operative Freemasonry, the hypothetical source of all, was Catholic as well as Christian; but the Constitutions adopted by Grand Lodge in 1717 were so muddled in expression that it appeared doubtful whether any form of faith was required on the part of a Candidate.
Belief in God.—In 1738 new Constitutions were promulgated, these being Deistic in character and thus requiring belief in a Supreme Being. There arose soon after that host of inventions denominated High Grades, the most important among which were militantly Christian in character. These facts will indicate that the Religion of Freemasonry is not only an unsettled question but one the determination of which offers grave difficulties. Intelligent and experienced persons, not to speak of many who are scarcely within that category, will continue to raise the point and settle it after their own manner. A very usual course is to affirm that true Masonry is neither a religion nor consisting of religious aspects and supposing religious experience. A more muddled point of view is scarcely within the range of conception. In such case, why does it insist on that root of contention, faith in a Great Architect of the Universe? Why does it require an intellectual adherence to the notion of resurrection to a future life—however resurrection is to be understood? Why are its Rites in all Degrees and under all systems in reality neither more nor less than pageants of prayer and aspiration? Can the Third Degree of the Craft, apart from religion, teach a man how to die—as it claims to do? What does the lesson of the Mystical Lecture in the Holy Royal Arch, by its own claims, impress on its members concerning the Royal Arch Degree? The answer is (a) that it inspires its members with the most exalted ideas of Deity, and (b) leads to the practice of the purest and most devout piety. What is this but religion? And what is reverence to the incomprehensible Jehovah? Is it less of the root-matter of religion than the search for the Lost Word in the Grade of Rose-Croix, which Word is Christ, or the finding of the Key-Stone in the Honourable Degree of Mark Master Mason, which Stone is also Christ, as the Ritual indicates in recurring Apocalyptic extracts? There is a fund of inconsequence which characterises a great many good people under our various obediences who pass for serious, and they would I presume—be astonished beyond words if they were told that apart from religion Masonry has no title to existence, because its much-lauded “system of morality” is either a gate which leads to religion or a gate which leads nowhere.
Religious Aspects of Early Freemasonry
There was a time in Western Europe—let us say, in France and England, for example—when the performance of any external ordinances of religion, in so far as they were imposed upon the individual as apart from the community—and apart therefore from the public ceremonial of religion in the ecclesiastical life of the Church—was distressed by no reluctance, by nothing, or very little, that is understood nowadays as the reticence of the religious temperament. In a word, the Sacramental Mystery of Religion was not thought to be commonised or belittled by its open acknowledgment. If we turn to the old romance-literature of the Middle Ages, especially to books of chivalry, we shall find the religious sentiment and its public expression wholly natural and unforced, permeating ordinary life at every turn and entering into its minute details. To us at the present day, the forms—trivial in themselves—which prevailed even at greeting and parting—as equally in a hundred kindred accidents of the moment—assume spontaneously the aspect almost of religious exercises, so that the characteristic of human existence was really an inherent sanctity, rough as it appears, and was in many other respects. Without any formal thought on the part of those who made use of such conventions, and also without any sense that they were conventions, something hallowed the round of the hours. The fact is more conspicuous possibly among the better classes of the period; it is exhibited to us especially by the Institutes of Chivalry, and yet it was in no sense limited to these.
Immanence of God.—If one sought to state the position in metaphysical terms, it was a direct result of that sense of the Immanence of God which stands out so clearly at some periods when the mind is unobscured by extraneous issues of knowledge. It was accompanied by much that was inexact in opinion as to the precise nature of the interpretation of things material by spiritual things, and in this way no doubt many causes of obscuration arose which it would be wrong to minimise, though they served often to intensify even when they misdirected the sense. It would be impossible also to deny that, being formula of speech and conduct, connoting habits of thought and word and action, they followed the course of conventions and for want of the spirit of life on their own part could do little to permeate the life of those who used them. It remains, however, that an immediate interference of the hand of God was recognised, not alone in the conduct of the world but in the daily affairs of individuals.
Religion and Trade.—That it was recognised in commerce is made evident to this day by the archaic forms of our bills of lading. Indeed every trade may be said to have had its surface-colouration of religion, whether or not it had also—as occasionally it did have—its particular Mystery. Any religious aspect was of course distinct from the Mystery in all that concerns object. There can be no question that the first office of a Trade Mystery was to keep trade secrets within the groups of the fellowship, as the second was consolidation for support and profit in common. In many cases the religious aspect was a natural outcome of the temper of the time, and it is by reference to this disposition that we can look also for a simple explanation of the fact that the Mystery itself assumed on occasion something of the guise of religion. It took such form of necessity, but as vesture and not essence. The imposition of duty, in particular, was always an act of religion and an appeal to its high sanction. For example, when—in order to increase solemnity, with a view to impress on a Candidate the importance of obligations about to be administered, some kind of ceremonial was adopted—it was frequently religious in character—within certain limits. At the same time the Mystery was a Craft Mystery, and its religious aspect was the recognition of a bond subsisting between duty and religion. If there was one Trade Guild in which—from theoretical conditions—a more profound tincture of religion could be assumed, it would be that of architecture. It was the craft which above others was most pursued under the influence of Church patronage, under the guidance of monastic orders, and it had as a chief object the erection of cathedrals, churches and conventual houses.
Gothic Architecture.—Those whom the genius of Gothic architecture has possessed sufficiently to confer upon them—as it were—the freedom of the spirit of that architecture, will understand me well enough when I speak of its religious character, outside all that can be explained merely by the association of ideas. It is difficult to suppose that the artists in stone who planned and executed the great triumphs of Gothic building-art were themselves wholly unfamiliar with its spiritual message. Those achievements are as sacraments to us at this day, and in some measure and proportion they must have been sacramental also to their makers.
Resurrection and Rebirth
There is one form of Sacramentalism which characterises the highest Orders of Initiation, and is found—at least as an implicit—in all their Grades. It is usually overlooked because it is easy to miss the great things unless they are in patent evidence and are written so to speak—in the starry heavens. It is comprised in the simple statement that all true initiation is concerned with communicating, by the mediation of symbols, a new life, the pageant of an inward generation. It proclaims, in other words, to every Candidate that “except a man be born again” he shall not enter—that is, essentially and truly—into the Secret Kingdom of the Rites. There are of course lesser Orders, Assemblies and Confraternities which, having little or no inheritance from the past, are neither built upon nor offer any trace of that sacramental life which is understood in the idea of rebirth. But it is met with—by implication—or otherwise under many conditions; and among all the Holy Houses which can be held to count as such there is scarcely one where we shall not find it enshrined, sometimes visibly on the surface, sometimes far below the common plummet of the interpretation of symbols. It is not by this alone, but it is by this above all that all are interconnected, as by one root belonging to a great tree of concealed life and brotherhood.
A Mystery of Initiation.—It is this which makes the Mystery of Redemption in Christ a Great Mystery of Initiation and Attainment. It is this which makes Masonry a mirror not only of all the Instituted Mysteries which went before it but of some which once subsisted concurrently, and also the elder sister of a few that are still among us—less obvious than she but less unconscious on the surface of their proper geniture and pedigree. It is in the consideration of this thesis that the depth and height of the Masonic Message to Humanity finds a natural utterance and can hence be put forth most simply. It is by no means the only witness here and now among us; could I speak of all—but some of them are in a sacred cloud of hiddenness—it might not prove the greatest of all, but it is of all most obvious, the nearest at our doors and the most universally diffused. It can stand as a pattern or illustration at large of the others, for which it testifies as well as for itself, and hence for the present purpose it can be held to include them.
Symbolism of Rebirth.—In the light of that experience which is brought away from the chief Degrees of Masonry, let us consider therefore the idea of Rebirth. Those who have failed to gather fruit of knowledge concerning it within the circles of initiation will remember at least the words of him—a great Apostle and Master—who has told us that we do not put into the earth that which will come forth out of earth, but that we sow something which is natural to reap what is spiritual in a due season. It follows also from St. Paul that we sow what is dead, but that we look for something which is alive, and will live indeed for ever. Now, certain Schools of Symbolism and several Secret Orders teach, and have long taught, that a sacred and highly symbolic object—which varies in each Confraternity—once entered into the region of death, with sacramental accessories in the Legends of certain Rites, whereby the conditions of death and even of corruption are made indubitable; but that something issued forth subsequently and is found to be alive. It is not exactly the same for even in the symbolic order a substitution has occurred, and this is really a vital point of the Mystery.
A Legenda Magna.—Let it be remembered that in the great sacramentalism of the Legenda Magna of Christendom a place of rest was prepared for One Who was a Man of Sorrows and acquainted with infirmity, after the payment of the last farthing exacted by His enemies, while that which emerged upon the third day was manifested as the Lord of Glory. There are certain Grades on the continent of Europe which in spite of their comparative antiquity—so far as High Grades go—and their great historical importance are scarcely names in England: therein the Mystery now in question is presented to the Candidate as the final evolution of the traditional history in the Third Craft Degree. I have referred to it at length in these pages, and it will be enough if I remind my readers that he who was Master Builder under the aegis of the Old Law rises under the New Law as Christ. The Christ of Nazareth rises in the power of the Word made flesh, but the Candidate at a memorable moment in Masonic Ritual is raised, and it is not in his own power. His story is to continue thenceforward like that of Craft Masonry itself, which is left at a loose end and requires a sequel to complete it. But this sequel—as we shall see—is not the Royal Arch, which is an intermediate or sub-Grade, a preamble to the Most Sacred Mysteries of True Christian Masonry.
Death and Resurrection.—The death on the Cross was mystical in the sense that He of Whom it is said, in the Apostolic Symbolum, passus et Sepultus est, was by the same great hypothesis the Lord of Life. The Candidate passes also through a figurative death, and the only kind of resurrection which is possible to him at the epoch ensues thereafter. It is sometimes understood as a crude dramatic presentation of natural decease, followed by physical resurrection, as this is expected to take place at the last day and for the purposes of a general judgment. In accordance herewith the Royal Arch offers some clumsy and ineffective symbolism on this subject. It is all far from the real purpose of the Mysteries, and especially of that Mystery which is in Christ. We have heard that He is the first-fruits of them that have risen—a reference not to something postulated as taking place near or far in the future—at a hypothetical end of the world—but to something actual and present, and this is therefore not material but spiritual. Christ is the first-fruits because man can be born again. The resurrection is like another rebirth, and the risen life which follows it in the order of human attainment is symbolised by that mystical period of forty days which intervened between Easter and Ascension Thursday.
Life Mystical.—The passage of the soul from a sacramental death into a mystical and immortal life is the subject of all those old Mysteries which know nothing of material resurrection. For the present we must regard Egypt as belonging to another category, out of compliment or deference to the present findings of scholarship. Interpreting the word in its broadest sense, regeneration is root and branch of the Instituted Mysteries, and—however deeply implicit—of Masonry in common with all. It has been said by one of the Masters that
“The Divine Spirit of a man is not one with his soul until after regeneration, which is the beginning of that intimate union which constitutes what is called mystically the marriage of the Hierophant. . . . When regeneration is fully attained, the Divine Spirit alone instructs the Hierophant.”
Communion with God.—I believe that this calls for translation into another form of language, but the fact is sufficient for my purpose that it presents regeneration as a beginning and not the end of a process. Those who having experienced it proceed on the path which it opens and walk thereafter through another world of life, even as the Entered Apprentice—from the moment of being made a Mason—receive the freedom of a new world of experience, wherein it is open for them to travel far and wide. We are dealing with veridic experience in both cases, but the doctrine of the New Birth is one of awakening from material life into that of the soul, and the realm of travel is therein. It is of practice rather than of doctrine: more truly there is a doctrinal theory of the work which becomes profitable only when it is applied. The term of application and of practice is communion with God, a recovery of that state which, on the hypothesis of all the Mysteries, was once enjoyed by the soul and to which it must return for the attainment of its end of being.
Immemorial Experience.—-I have spoken of the new birth as it is intimated in the symbolism of Instituted Mysteries, but have made it obvious by various allusions that it is not confined thereto, nor is it peculiar to one creed or one ecclasiastical system. It has been insisted upon in every age and experienced among all peoples, though it has not been called invariably by the same name. Even among savages of Africa I have heard somewhere that there is a tradition concerning regeneration. It is known to the Latin Church and to the followers of Calvin, for the Master taught this mystery. It was experienced by Newman at the age of fifteen, and the author of Natural Law in the Spiritual World speaks of having witnessed its visible and physiological workings. It pervades the literature of Christian doctrine, but it was acquired ex hypothesi in the far past—by means of ascetic processes and otherwise—throughout the Oriental world. It has been sought otherwise in the sacramental application of supernatural grace, and by free, conscious, determined self-direction towards the absolute standard of perfection followed in paths of love. I have intimated that the change which it comprises has received many names, from that of conversion, so long familiar among us, and made subject to the commonising effect of universal handling, to the high-sounding equivalent which we have borrowed from the Greeks—namely, palingenesis. What is this process, so indefinable in its nature, so curiously, though appropriately named, and so inscrutable in its workings, as those who are acquainted with it affirm? It is a quickening, a manifestation, an unfoldment of some new quality of conscious life, which is at once turned to God and derived from Him. It is a new form of perception, to which a new order of the world and a new spirit therein reveals itself and unfolds. The soul no longer looks in some remote future “to see the good things of the Lord in the Land of the Living” but moves and has its being among them. Before we can understand, however dimly and within measures of material mind, what is intended by a new life we must have within us the potentiality at least of regeneration immediately below the surface of our daily life. This is what is meant by the Spirit blowing “where it listeth” and so also by the statement which recurs often, that initiation of itself cannot impart the faculties upon which alone its process works, whensoever it works vitally.
The Soul’s Experience.—In this manner I return to my starting-point, having made a designed digression, the purpose of which is to shew that the Mysteries in their highest understanding portray matters of experience belonging to the life of the soul on its Godward side, that they deal in old truth and not in vain images or fond inventions. To sum up therefore, regeneration is the root and branch of any true and living system of initiation, while at the same time the symbolism, the mise-en-scène of the Mysteries—as, for example, the symbolic birth in the lunar ship—is only the drama of regeneration. It is not of course regeneration itself, which may be defined shortly as a beginning of correspondence with the original fountain of experience.
Rite Des Élus Cohens
There was a period in the latter part of the eighteenth century, and more especially in France, when the evolution of High-Grade Masonry embraced within the circle of its concern the chief branches of occult science. We have seen otherwise that Rites were established in which the symbolism and procedure of Alchemy were illustrated and explained, while more than one among these laid claim to a peculiar knowledge concerning this Mystery. For the most part, however, they were instituted to incorporate persons having a common interest and to place at the disposal of Lodge, Chapter or Conclave whatever individual discoveries within the circles might be made from time to time. They were therefore circles of research, not of attainment, whatever their external pretensions. So also there were Grades for those who were inclined to the study of Astrology, while systems were devised to elucidate under the pretext of Masonry, sometimes in a practical manner, the phenomena of Animal Magnetism, Somnambulism and Clairvoyance. The so-called Egyptian Rite of Cagliostro bore this complexion, though it had other and wider aims. Finally, there were Grades which belonged in one sense or another to the multifarious concern of Magic. Most of these inventions were of an exceedingly puerile kind, and speaking on the basis of research into their now obscure byways, it is difficult to understand how they were tolerated even for a moment, above all in Paris—perhaps in that day the most enlightened city of Europe.
Martines de Pasqually.—But though this criticism is of wide application it must not be supposed that it obtains everywhere. As the great hosts of High Grades are negligible for the most part—and in the majority even worthless—but a few items shine forth as stars in the emblematic firmament, and are not for an age but for all time in Masonic Ritual, so in those particular sections which belong to the occult Order there is one Rite which emerges, at once peculiar in its claims and important in respect of its brief history, because of the personalities connected with it. This was the Rite of Elect Priests—otherwise, des Élus Cohens, the last word being corrupt Hebrew, as it is supplied with a French plural. It appears to have had a Sovereign Tribunal at Paris in the year 1767, at the head of which was that mysterious, magnetic personality, Don Martines de Pasqually. He himself is first heard of at Toulouse in 1760, furnished with a hieroglyphical charter and the title of Inspector-General. About 1762 he proceeded to Bordeaux, where he instructed certain Brethren, and laid, apparently, the real foundations of his Rite.
Grades and Rituals.—To what extent he may have been the actual creator of his own Grades and their Rituals must be left an open question in the present state of our knowledge. That they do not come before us, so to speak, ready-made, like Minerva from the brain of Jupiter, is shewn by the fact that in the autumn of 1768 he was working towards their completion, seemingly amongst many distractions. That in their root-matter they were not of his own invention would follow from a statement made by himself in which I am disposed to register my personal belief—at whatever value may attach to it. He testified as follows, on the occasion in question: “I have never sought to lead anyone into error or otherwise deceive those who have come to me in good faith, that they might share in certain knowledge which has been handed down to me by my predecessors.” It has been suggested that those predecessors were Brethren of the Rosy Cross, which is by no means impossible, having regard to Rosicrucian activities at and about out the time; but evidence is wanting on this point.
Spiritual Meanings.—The Rite itself, as we, know it, made use to a certain extent of Masonic symbolism, subject to a particular unfolding of its inward spiritual meaning. It will be seen how far it differs from Masonry—more especially in the Craft and its immediate dependencies, where interpretation does not extend beyond the simple matter of ethics. While the Apprentice of the Emblematic Order is instructed to act always as a moral man and a Brother, the Novice of the Elect Priesthood was—at least by the hypothesis—taught (a) the knowledge of the Great Architect, (b) the spiritual emanation of man from a Divine Centre, and (c) his direct correspondence with his Master. The distinction thus established leads to another which is neither of symbolism nor instruction of the intellectual kind. It separates as such the Rite of Elect Priests from anything that is called Masonry in the recognised acceptation of the term. Masonry is circumscribed always within measures of symbolism, figurative procedure and Emblematic Ritual hereunto belonging. Pasqually came forward under warrants of another kind.
A Magical Rite.—As a man of interpretation, he was unquestionably in the chain of the mystics, but in his practical work he was a magus, and his Rite was a Magical Rite. However much it may have been “veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols”—so far as liturgies are concerned—behind all this there lay a very remarkable form of occult procedure, by the hypothesis concerning it and actually—on the faith of the records. It may have taken place only in the inner circles—that is to say, in the highest Grades of the Order—but there were certain ceremonial workings which produced actual results, according to the available records. It seems to have differed considerably in method as well as by intention utterly from extant processes and formulae of the thing called Practical Magic, yet it had sufficient analogies with this to shew whence it was in part at least derived. It is possible, indeed, to identify the actual sources up to a certain point. They are scarcely of our concern here. The purpose in view was not one of communication with either good or evil spirits belonging to the dubious hierarchies of occult literature and undertaken for the trumpery—if not evil—concerns with which we are all acquainted by the reports of Grimoires and so-called Keys of Solomon. It was, according to one of its descriptions, “the acquisition—by bodily, psychic and spiritual purity—of powers which enable man to establish relations with invisible beings, called angels by the churches, and to attain thereby not only the operator’s personal reintegration”—or restoration of the bond of living union between the human and Divine—“but also that of all his disciples who are persons of goodwill.”
The Unknown Philosopher.—It was more, however, than this, and was actually designed to manifest within the circle of assembly a Being, Who is described after a veiled manner as the “Unknown Agent charged with the Work of Initiation” and “the Unknown Philosopher.” But He was believed unquestionably to have been a manifestation of the Christ of Nazareth—whether in visible form, after the manner of materialisation, or only to clairvoyant eyes the records do not specify, though an incident of a subsequent period implies the former, as we shall see. The depositions affirm that He came among the Brethren as a Teacher, and—if we may judge by the literary remains of Pasqually, as a reflection of things so received—that which He taught was a hidden meaning and wisdom behind the letter of Christian Doctrine.
Sanctuary of the Rite.—The instruction was reduced into writing, for it is said that “the Agent dictated,” and in this manner it became available for a period within the Sanctuary of the Rite—presumably the centre at Lyons. It has been said that a part of the record was incorporated subsequently by Louis Claude de Saint-Martin into his first work, entitled Des Erreurs et de la Vérité. This is possible in respect of the spirit, on the assumption that we are dealing with genuine archives of the Order. Something—that is to say—may have been reflected of the ideological and doctrinal kind, but of the letter nothing. Saint-Martin’s work is far too individualistic in style for there to be any mistake on this score. As a young man and a member of the circle he would have been influenced, and in this connection we may remember that he wrote usually under the pseudonym of the “Unknown Philosopher.” He stated at a much later period his certitude: (a) that a great power was manifested in the presence of Pasqually; (b) that it was the power of the “Repairer,” or Christ; and (c) that there was every token not only of the Christ-Presence, in the sense of the Divine Man of Nazareth, but also of the Divine Word. This is high testimony on the part of a distinguished and saintly witness, who is unimpeachable onthe score of good faith, whether or not it may be possible to accept his verdict as to the actual source of communication.
Order of Martinism.—The evidence otherwise rests upon certain archives which came—it is thirty years since—into the possession of the Supreme Council of the Order of Martinism. There seems no real question as to their general authenticity, and a mass of similar material has been said to be in private hands. So far as it has been made public we are indebted to the zeal of the late Dr. Gérard Encausse, who was President of that Order. Unfortunately he was not a man of critical mind and was not a safe guide on matters of research, or on inferences drawn from facts. Independent writers in France, who have had access to other memorials and by no means challenge his own, have thrown a curious light on some of his views and findings. There seems no question, however, as to the end of the story.
Sovereign Tribunal at Paris.—The Rite of the Elect Priests had not only its Sovereign Tribunal at Paris, its active centres at Bordeaux and Lyons, but Lodges in various places were in some way attached thereto, when Martines de Pasqually was called to the West Indies on personal business—pour alter recueillir une succession—on May 5, 1772. He died at Port-au-Prince on September 20, 1774. In this manner the medium of communication, magus, or whatever he may be called, was removed from the Rite. The Rituals thereunto belonging and certain very curious catechisms attached to the Grades remained, but the phenomena within the secret circle passed into suspension. The most active members of the Order seem to have regarded it as in a state of paralysis, and even thought that its extinction was at hand. The body-general of Elect Priests at Lyons went over to the Rite of the Strict Observance, Willermoz—perhaps the most active among the disciples of Pasqually—becoming Provincial Grand Master of Auvergne. All this notwithstanding, the Order of Elect Priesthood did not perish utterly till it was swallowed up in the Revolution; according to the archives, Willermoz himself began to develop some of his master’s powers, and they are said to have reached their culmination in the year 1785.
The Unknown Agent—The result was that the Unknown Agent reappeared within the circle. Presumably his instructions continued, but in the early part of the year 1790 one-half of the dictated record is said to have been destroyed by the Agent Himself—as it would appear, in visible person and not by mediation of a clairvoyant. He “desired to prevent it falling into the hands of the emissaries of Robespierre, who were making unheard-of efforts to secure the whole.” There was seldom an occult story with a more apocryphal air; but so it stands in the records—if Papus is a faithful witness. Here ends the history of the Elect Priests, for the Revolution was raging already, and—as I have mentioned—it engulfed the Rite. Enough has been said to justify a general conclusion that it was something which belonged to itself, having neither precursors nor successors in the great field which is covered by the name of Masonry.
Psychical Phenomena.—And now as regards the phenomena affirmed to have been produced: it is stated that they occurred in full light, while the manifestations were sufficiently substantial to handle and destroy documents. We may draw circles and inscribe Divine Names therein, may light ceremonial tapers and burn consecrated incense, may observe certain fasts and wear certain ritual-clothing, may clear and sanctify precincts, may “accompany and terminate the stances” by “most ardent prayers,” and may submit ourselves utterly to “the will of heaven”—all of which was done by the adept-priesthood—but stances remain stances. My personal certitude is that whatsoever took place in the secret workings of Pasqually’s Rite was in virtue of psychic powers possessed by him or his pupils, and that these powers were identical with those with which we have been familiar for nearly seventy years under the name of mediumship. Moreover, as is also the case in phenomena of the modern denomination, Pasqually could by no means invariably command his gifts, and there was one occasion when his complete failure caused him to be regarded as an impostor in a Lodge at Toulouse, from which he was driven forth in disgrace.
A Disciple of the Rite.—The Abbé Fournid was another disciple of the Rite, who offers a still more signal instance of continuous or recurring mediumship, and we have the advantage of his personal record in a printed book. I have said elsewhere that he was filled at an early age with “an intense desire for a demonstration of the reality of another life and the truth of the central doctrines of Christianity.” He came to know Pasqually and was brought within his occult circle, though it is possible that he did not attain the Higher Grades, and was therefore a stranger to the experiences of the “Unknown Agent.” He describes himself as a simple, unlettered man: “I have no knowledge of human sciences, without being for such reason opposed to their culture. I have been a student at no time. The only books which I have read are the Holy Scriptures, the Imitation of our Divine Master Jesus Christ, and the Book of Prayers in use among Catholics under the title of Petit Paroissien.” Presumably he was not therefore a priest, but only belonging to the diaconate, though he held the courtesy title of Abbé. He became more and more consumed with a desire of God, more and more haunted with the dread of annihilation.
The Master’s Voice.—Two years after the death of Pasqually, he heard his Master’s voice in the evening, and—turning round—saw him with his own eyes. “With him,” the Abbé adds, “were my father and mother, both also dead in the body.” The conversation which they held together “might have passed between man and woman under ordinary circumstances”—shewing that it was an example in advance of the identical phenomena which occur under the modern name of Spiritualism. The manifestations continued, and a day came when he saw the Christ of Nazareth on the Cross of Calvary, afterwards in the Resurrection State of Easter, and finally in the Glory of Ascension. He saw Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and other persons. As regards the visions generally, he says: “I have beheld them during entire years; I have gone to and fro in their company; they have been with me in the house and out of it; in the night and the day; alone and in the society of others; together with a being not of human kind; speaking one with another, after the manner of men.”
Christ-Visions.—The inspiration following on the Christ-Visions enabled him to write his one book with extraordinary celerity. It should be added that he lived to a great age, and died probably in London. The work itself is a pious memorial, rather of the nature of reverie, and there is nothing sufficiently distinctive to demand quotation. So also there is nothing in the Abbé’s experiences to distinguish them from natural vision and the phenomena common to mediumship. The apparitions of the Divine Master were unquestionably of that picture kind with which we are familiar, as much perhaps in these days as in the old annals of Christian seership.
The Unknown Agents.—As regards the Unknown Agent, that final destruction of documents is sufficient of itself to determine in the negative any question of identity with Him Whom we call Christ and to forbid us regarding seriously the claim that this was a being “charged with the work of Initiation.” Such an ambassador from beyond would have found other ways of dealing with alleged devices of Robespierre. Moreover, the whole scheme was frustrated otherwise, and came to nothing in the end—after the manner of so many missions from the world unseen. The Unknown Agent expounding Mysteries of God, man and the universe, reminds me—amidst many distinctions—of that other Divine Master and Christ of Palestine Who guided St. Catherine of Siena through long years, speaking the language of the Vatican. These things are veridic as experiences, but the difficulty concerning them is just this—that while some of them are good and some wholly admirable within their own measures, they cannot be that which they seem or that which they may claim to be.
Rite of Mizraim
The following particulars of this Grade-System are based in the main on Ragon, who, notwithstanding his loud and recurring condemnation of all Rites outside the Craft, was a grand dignitary of the Order and had an active part in its working at one period of his life. He had therefore every means of knowing the content of the scheme, and his enumeration can be accepted on better grounds than usual. I have checked them, however, by a special Tyler of the Rite which was printed in England some years ago under the auspices of John Yarker, and by other sources of knowledge.
First Series: Symbolical
Class I.—(1) Apprentice. (2) Companion. (3) Master. These are the Craft Grades, but they are said to follow the peculiar working of the Scottish Rite, meaning that adopted by the Supreme Council of the Thirty-third Degree for France.
Class II.—(4) Secret Master. (5) Perfect Master. (6) Master by Curiosity, otherwise Intimate Secretary. (7) Provost and Judge, otherwise Irish Master, or alternatively Master in Israel. (8) English Master. The Grades in this Class which correspond by their titles and numbers to others of the Scottish Rite offer variations therefrom.
Class III.—(9) Elect of Nine. (10) Elect of the Unknown, otherwise Elect of Perignan. (11) Elect of Fifteen. (12) Perfect Elect. (13) Illustrious, otherwise Illustrious Elect.
Class IV.—(14) Scottish Trinitarian. (15) Scottish Companion, or Fellow-Craft. (16) Scottish Master. (17) Scottish Panissière, a term of doubtful meaning, unknown to the French Academy in 1814. An unauthorised recension of the Grades substitutes Scottish Parisian, but it is more probably a blunder than a correction. (18) Scottish Master, differing from No. 16. (19) Scot of the J. J. J., an allusion to the three following words: Jourdain, Jaho, Jochim. They appear to be without meaning. (20) Scot of the Sacred Vault of James VI. (21) Scot of St. Andrew, having variants from the Twenty-ninth Degree of the Ancient and Accepted Rite, as also has No. 20, compared with No. 14 of that Rite. The word which I have translated Scot is écossais in French, and though used here as a substantive there seems no warrant for it in that language.
Class V. (22) Little Architect. (23) Great Architect. (24) Architecture. (25) Perfect Architect: Apprentice. (26) Perfect Architect: Companion. (27) Perfect Architect: Master. (28) Perfect Architect. (29) Sublime Scot. (30) Sublime Scot of Heredom—translated from the English.
Class VI.—(31) Grand and Royal Arch, otherwise Royal Arch simply: compare the Thirteenth Degree of the Ancient and Accepted Rite, which is Royal Arch of Enoch. (32) Grand Axe, otherwise Grand Arch, identified by Yarker with Interior Temple or Grand Ark. (33) Sublime Knight of Choice, Chief of the First Symbolical Series; otherwise Key of the First Series and Sublime Knight of Election. The variations from corresponding Rituals of the Ancient and Accepted Rite are confined for the most part in all the Symbolical Series to the Batteries, Passwords, etc.
Second Series: Philosophical
Class VII.—(34) Knight of the Sublime Choice, otherwise Sublime Election. (35) Prussian Knight, or Knight of the Tower: compare the Twenty-first Degree of the Scottish Rite. (36) Knight of the Temple. (37) Knight of the Eagle. (38.) Knight of the Black Eagle. (39) Knight of the Red Eagle. (40) Knight of the White East, or—according to Kenneth MacKenzie—White Knight of the East; but this is a mistranslation. (41) Knight of the East: compare the Fifteenth Degree of the Ancient and Accepted Series.
Class VIII.—(42) Commander of the East. (43) Grand Commander of the East. (44) Architecture of Sovereign Commanders of the Temple—sometimes called Architect simply. (45) Prince of Jerusalem: compare the Sixteenth Degree of the Ancient and Accepted.
Class IX.—(46) Knight Rose-Croix of Kilwinning and Heredom, otherwise Sovereign Prince Rose-Croix: compare Perfect and Puissant Prince Rose-Croix of the Eighteenth Degree, A ∴ and A ∴ R ∴. (47) Knight of the West. According to Yarker, Class IX begins with this Grade. (48) Sublime Philosopher. (49) Chaos the First: Discrete. (50) Chaos the Second: Wise. (51) Knight of the Sun.
Class X.—(52) Supreme Commander of the Stars, otherwise Sovereign Commander. (53) Sublime Philosopher: compare No. 48. (54) Miner, being the First Grade of a Series termed Clair-Maçonnique by Ragon. This seems untranslatable, and Yarker substitutes Key of Masonry. Other alternatives have been offered, but they involve mistranslations. (55) Washer: Second Grade of the Key of Masonry. (56) Blower: Third Grade of the Key of Masonry. (57) Founder or Caster: Fourth Degree of the Key of Masonry. The titles of these Grades are references to working procedure in Alchemy or stages of initiation and advancement in that Mystery. The suggestion is that Alchemy is the Key of Masonry, but this is in nowise borne out by the Rite of Mizraim at large. (58) True Mason-Adept—involving also an attainment in Alchemy. (59) Elect Sovereign. (60) Sovereign of Sovereigns. (61) Grand Master of Symbolical Lodges, otherwise Lawful Master. Compare the Twenty-first Degree of the A ∴ and A ∴ R ∴. (62) Most High and Most Powerful High Priest-Sacrificer, otherwise Very High and Very Powerful. (63) Knight of Palestine. (64) Grand Knight of the Black and White Eagle, otherwise Knight of the White Eagle. (65) Grand Elect, Knight Kadosh, Grand Inspector, otherwise Sovereign Inspector and alternatively Sovereign Grand Inspector or Grand Elect Knight Kadosh. Compare the Thirtieth Degree of the A ∴ and A ∴ S ∴ R ∴. (66) Grand Inquisitor Commander, Chief of the Second Series—otherwise Grand Inquiring Commander—which is a weak way of translating proffered by MacKenzie—or Grand Judge.
Third Series: Mystical
Class XI.—(67) Knight Beneficent. (68) Knight of the Rainbow. (69) Knight of the Banuka—otherwise Kanuka, otherwise Hanuka. According to Ragon, Hanuka is a title given to the old Jewish Feast of Lights. The alternative Hinaroth is called by Yarker a Culdee word, signifying Fire. (70) Most Wise Prince—Israelite.
Class XII.—(71) Supreme Tribunal of Sovereign Princes Talmudim. (72) Supreme Consistory, otherwise Sovereign Prince Zadkim. (73) Supreme Council General of Sovereign Princes Grand Haram, otherwise Grand Haram simply.
Class XIII.—(74) Supreme Council of Sovereign Princes Haram, otherwise Grand Prince Haram. (75) Sovereign Tribunal of Sovereign Princes Hasidim, otherwise Sovereign Prince Hasid.
Class XIV.—(76) Supreme Council of Governor Grand Princes Hasidim, otherwise Sovereign Grand Prince Hasid. (77) Supreme Grand Council General of Grand Inspectors Intendant, Regulators General of the Order, Chiefs of the Third Series. Several minor variations occur in the different lists.
Fourth Series: Kabalistic
Class XV.—(78) Supreme Council of Sovereign Princes of the Seventy-eighth Degree. (79) Sovereign Tribunal of Sovereign Princes of the Seventy-ninth Degree. (80) Supreme Council of Sovereign Princes of the Eightieth Degree. (81) Supreme Council of Sovereign Princes of the Eighty-first Degree, otherwise Supreme Consistory General, etc. (82) Supreme Council of Sovereign Princes of the Eighty-second Degree. (83) Grand Tribunal of Illustrious Sovereign Princes of the Eighty-third Degree. (84) Supreme Council of Sovereign Princes of the Eighty-fourth Degree. (85) Sovereign Council General of Sovereign Princes of the Eighty-fifth Degree. (86) Supreme Council of Sovereign Princes of the Eighty-sixth Degree. According to MacKenzie, the titles of Grades included in Class XV are known only to the possessors, which is obviously untrue, seeing that Ragon had long since published full particulars concerning them, while Woodford in England had given the bare names, following Ragon.
Class XVI.—(87) Supreme Grand Council General of Grand Ministers Constituant of the Order for the First Series: Sovereign Grand Princes of the Eighty-seventh Degree. (88) Supreme Council of the Eighty-eighth Degree: otherwise Grand Ministers Constituant of the Order for the Second Series. (89) Supreme Council of the Eighty-ninth Degree: otherwise Grand Ministers Constituant of the Order for the Third Series. (90) Supreme Council of the Ninetieth and Last Degree: otherwise Absolute Grand Sovereign, Supreme Power of the Order. It appears from Ragon’s Tyler that the Orient of Naples adopted certain variations in arrangement and Official Secrets for the last Four Grades of the Rite.
Rite of the Black Eagle
In the collection or system of the Metropolitan Chapter of France the Seventy-sixth Grade was entitled Chevalier de l’Aigle Noir; in another great garner of Rituals—being that of Le Morge—it is said by Thory to be included under the combination-title of Grand Inspector, Grand Inquisitor and Grand Elect, it constitutes further the thirty-eighth Grade of the Rite of Mizraim, it would appear also to represent the Rose-Croix Hermétique mentioned by Ragon. These things are names only, but I suspect that the last may lead us direct to that which I have termed in my sectional heading the Rite of the Black Eagle, a system of three Grades, which I transcribed long ago from French originals in manuscript belonging to the second half of the eighteenth century. They are all exceedingly bizarre, partly in respect of procedure and for the rest in the elements which they combine, a medley of Christian doctrine, philosophical Hermeticism in the terms of figurative alchemy and a loose kind of Kabalism. I believe that they may represent the first three Grades of that Scottish Philosophical Rite which is noticed elsewhere and which in this case was made up from several sources—as suggested otherwise by the names and titles of all its component parts. However this may be, the Rite of the Black Eagle is so militantly distinct from the rank and file of High Grades that I propose to notice it at length. The distinction, however, is not intended to signify of necessity and per se an evidence of innate value.
First Grade.—The Officers or Celebrants of the First Grade were the Grand Master, Grand Prior and Grand Warden. An elaborate transparency or tracing-board depicts: (1) The copse of acacias which grew in the vicinity of the spot where the body of the Master-Builder was very unskilfully interred by his assassins; (2) a cloud descending from heaven to conceal the place, so that the assassins might be unable to find it; (3) nine candlesticks, by allusion to the Nine Elect Masters who were sent in search of the Master, as ordained by Solomon the King; (4) the place of entombment; (5) the sun and moon which enlightened successively the Brethren who went on the quest, so that neither cloud nor darkness hindered them; (6) the Blazing Star, which shone over the grave of the Master; (7) the triangle—inscribed with the initial letter of the Great Name of Mystery—which appeared when the body was exposed; (8) the eagle which guarded the grave for the space of nine days and which took flight with the legendary branch of acacia when the body was found.—It will be seen that we are in the presence of remarkable symbolical materials. The predominant colour of the Chapter-draperies and clothing is black, relieved by white, gold and red. Between the Pillars of the East is a great black eagle, having the Sun on the right and the Moon on the left side.
Pageant of the Grade.—The Candidate is prepared in a Chamber of Reflection by being stripped almost to the skin. A short, blood-coloured garment is then put over him and he is given a pair of slippers, after which he is left in solitude, the door being guarded by two Brethren, having drawn swords. His preparation is reported in the Chapter, and the whole assembly passes in procession through the Chamber with drawn swords and so back to their places, with the exception of the Chief Officers, among whom the Master cries out that the innocent man has perished while the criminal still lives. This alludes to the Candidate, whom the guards bind with his arms behind him, and he is then led to an apartment draped throughout in black and lighted by a single lamp, obscured by fumes of sulphur. Clothed only in a bloodstained apron, one of the Brethren has assumed the attitude of a corpse. The eyes of the Candidate are unbound and he is told to contemplate the remains of one who has perished on a false suspicion, remembering the punishment which shall be visited on his own guilt. He is again left alone, the guards being still on the watch without, in case his condition should demand their aid or in the event of his attempting to escape. A second procession, headed by the Master, approaches in a short time, to ascertain whether he has remained unmoved during the ordeal. He is again hoodwinked, and then it is announced by the Warden that he has proved to be more unfortunate than guilty, that the great criminal is he who has suffered already, but that an accomplice has been found who must also die. He is under arrest already, is charged, condemned and executed in dumb show. All depart, with the exception of the Grand Prior, who again unbinds the eyes of the Candidate and leaves him with the supposed corpse, returning after a space, once more replacing the hoodwink and so leading him to the door of the Chapter, into which he is introduced as a worthy Mason who desires to become a Knight of the Black Eagle. He is praised for his fortitude, is pledged on the Holy Gospels and receives the Secrets of the Grade, together with its proper insignia.
The Grade Expounded.—An instruction by way of Catechism explains the ceremonial procedure, as for example: (1) That the Chapter is hung with black to illustrate the impenetrable obscurity which must cover the Mysteries of the Grade; (2) that the Pillars are white, to signify the candour of the chivalry; (3) that the gold of their chapiters and pediments represents the purity of the Order, (4) that their number is twelve, by allusion to the Sacred and Mysterious Names inscribed on the Pentacle of Solomon; (5) that the clothing of the Brethren is black, to commemorate their grief for the murder of the Master-Builder, but is relieved with white in token of their innocence concerning it, while it is embroidered with red as a symbol of his blood poured out; and finally, (6) that the Battery of six knocks has reference to the six modes of pronouncing the Sacred Word kabalistically: but these modes are not to be disclosed in this Grade.
Second Grade.—The Officers and the general arrangements are identical in the Second Grade, but the Brethren are addressed in the Opening as Princes who dwell in the Zodiac, and they are counselled to be precise in their work of developing the three kingdoms of Nature. The Candidate is placed in the West and affirms his anxiety for further instruction on the significance of his previous experience. He is shewn the method of passing from West to East by the steps of the four elements, and takes the Pledge of the Grade on his knees, before the Throne of the Master.
Grade Symbolism.—The rest of the procedure is expository, and in the first place—as regards the Tracing Board—is as follows: (1) It depicts the Chapter itself in the form of an oblong square, the greater extension being from East to West, because the sun never leaves the tropics and because antique science never attained the poles. (2) The grand circle in the centre of the diagram represents the Zodiac and its twelve signs encompass a dead body, being that of the Master-Builder, whom the Great Work must bring back to life. (3) This is effected by the divine virtue of a Pentacle which vitalises dead matter. (4) The sun signifies the end and object of the Rosy Cross attained in the Quest of that Sun of Life which insures the happiness of man in the present world and also in the world to come. (5) The Blazing Star represents that stage of the work when the Matter assumes colour. (6) The fire on the altar signifies the elementary fire which purifies the three kingdoms of Nature.
Hermetic Parables.—In the second place, the Master proposes such an instruction of the Candidate that he shall discover by his own efforts the principle of life hidden in the heart of matter and known under the name of Alkahest, being a spirit of the four elements extracted from the three kingdoms of Nature. But in the Catechism which follows the heads of the consideration are these: (1) That the Brethren must accompany the Sun in its journey through the twelve Houses of Heaven; (2) that these Houses are governed by twelve Sacred Names; (3) that twelve Spirits operate therein by the will of the Supreme Being; (4) that the power of the Divine Name inscribed on the Grand Pentacle is that which moves the Universe, and those who can pronounce it kabalistically shall have at their disposition the forces which dwell in the four elements, and will possess all virtues possible to man; (5) that the Knights of the Black Eagle are called Brethren of the Rose-Cross in commemoration of the Rose Nobles made by their Brother Raymond Lully, a great Mason, the coins in question having a Rose on one side and a Cross on the other; (6) that the work upon base metals for their transmutation into gold is performed by the Balance of Solomon, the use of which has been known to many ancient and modern philosophers; (7) that Solomon made use of the square of 5=25, the square of 3=9, the square of 2=4 the cube of 2=8 and the square of 4=16, the numbers in question being said to represent weights; (8) that whosoever would be initiated into the Kabalistic Art must be like unto the Master-Builder, who chose death rather than betray the secrets committed to his charge.
Practical Questions.—When the Chapter is Closed in the Second Degree, the Master asks whether the work has progressed and the Matter has assumed form. He is told that the elements are joined, the seven planets are shut up within the Sanctuary and are covered with a white veil.
Third Grade.—In certain observations prefixed to the Third Grade it is affirmed that the Mason proceeding from Grade to Grade in the Order cannot fail—if properly instructed—to realise that the work must be other than raising edifices to the True God or the practice of moral virtues. So sublime an institution must have originated with a different intention. It is built in reality on that high philosophy which was known and practised by Solomon, who initiated certain favoured persons into the most hidden kabalistic secrets. These were the Masons of old, but they transmitted their knowledge to Brethren of later ages in types and hieroglyphs. Those who can interpret them truly will prolong their days and will not be corrupted by vice. The Order of Knights of the Black Eagle possesses the key of all, as transmitted by a Rabbinical doctor named Naamuth, who was chief of the synagogue of Leyden in Holland.
Drama of the Grade.—The procedure of the Third Grade is a servile copy of the First, including the simulation of death by one of the Brethren, and the hoodwinked Candidate is caused to touch the prostrate figure with his hand. Circumambulations follow, during which he who counterfeits death slips secretly away, leaving a bullock’s heart in his place, which the Candidate is required to stab. He is then led to the door of the Chapter, bearing the heart on the poniard, and this constitutes his title of admission as positive proof of fortitude. He is thereupon duly pledged, entrusted and clothed with the insignia of the Grade. The Tracing-Board exhibited is similar to that of the Second Grade, and the Candidate is taught that he must dwell from month to month in each of the Houses of Heaven, awaiting the beneficent visitation of the life-giving Star of Day. It appears for a moment as if there were some work which he must learn to perform on himself; but we hear immediately after of the four elements and of a matter which is to be regarded as dead. It is represented figuratively by the dead body of the Master-Builder, destroyed by bad workmen. The Philosophical Work is its restoration to life, by means of the Tree of Life, signified by the branch of acacia. Among the “instruments” mentioned as belonging to the art and essential thereunto are the before-mentioned Balance of Solomon and Kabalistic Pentacle, comprising all celestial virtues, being a faithful copy of that original which was carried by the Jewish king, the Master-Builder and other Masons of far-off time. The mind of the Candidate is directed also to the region of the Setting Sun and to the mystical Mount Hebron in that quarter. The two Pillars of Emblematical Masonry are said to be raised thereon. That which signifies Strength represents the matter of the work, while that which corresponds to Beauty typifies the work accomplished; but the text is exceedingly corrupt at this point. It is said that the Grade of Entered Apprentice is comparable to the beginning of the work; in that of Fellow-Craft the Mason sees the beauty of the elementary matter; and he becomes Master when he has designed upon his tracing-board the fixed path of the Sun. The Black Eagle appears to denote the fixed state of the matter, which in itself is formless. When form is impressed thereon it assumes various colours in successive stages, until a brilliant sun is manifested—meaning the change of the matter into gold. The successive stages are the Houses of Heaven referred to previously, through which the formless matter must be passed, that it may attain form and beauty. The birth of the Sun, or the fulfilment of the term of the work, is represented by the Blazing Star, and it is said that the Morning Star which heralds the birth of the Sun is accompanied by the silver freshness of the Moon. The Rough Ashlar represents the matter in its chaotic state and the Perfect Ashlar—or pyramidal Cubic Stone—is the same matter when the perfect form of gold has been impressed thereon.
Alchemical Propositions.—These considerations are elaborated further in a Catechism attached to the Grade. (1) It is explained that gold is not a metal, physically speaking, seeing that it is all spirit and is an emblem of Divinity because it is incapable of corruption. (2) It is produced by an intimate alliance of the six metals—Lead, Tin, Iron, Copper, Mercury and Silver, each of which contains a seed. (3) Raymund Lully was one of those great philosophers who accomplished the marriage of the spouse with these six virgins, and the Messias was begotten therefrom. (4) As regards the Alkahest referred to in the Second Grade it is composed by effecting an alliance between the four simple elements extracted from the three kingdoms of Nature.
Rite of the Philalethes
Among the several claimants to a general reformation of Masonry, a most particular interest attaches to the Rite of the Philalethes, which was founded in 1773 by Savalette de Langes, in conjunction with many prominent Brethren, and at one time some twenty Lodges seem to have been under its obedience. It was to some extent an eclectic system, and drew from various sources. Among those which have been cited as chief in respect of their influence are the Rite of the Strict Observance, but more especially as it was transmuted at Lyons by the so-called Elect Priesthood of Martines de Pasqually; the Rite of the Elect Priesthood; the Rite of the Illuminati of Avignon, its connections and transformations. From these sources it is believed to have derived something of concern in Alchemy, a certain tincture of Swedenborgian doctrine, curiosity in theurgic practices, a glimpse of the Secret Tradition in Christian times as it passed through the channels of Israel, and lastly a distinct leaning towards elements of chivalry in Masonry, including those which embodied the Templar claim. But the allocations are exceedingly doubtful, and some of the systems mentioned are of later genesis than the Rite. In any case, it attracted many cultured persons and counted distinguished names on its long Roll of Membership. I must be content with mentioning those of Court de Gebelin and Jacques Cazotte. It was instrumental also in organising the historical Convention of Paris in 1784, at which many princes, prelates and men of learning met together to discuss the true nature of Masonic science, its connection with occult arts and knowledge, and the pretensions of its manifold Orders. The Rite of the Philalethes itself acquired at the time unquestionably no little added distinction by reason of this Convention, but it proved inadequate to support its design for a world-wide Masonic reformation, the real nature of which by no means emerges in the records, and though its system was interesting, as I have said, and characterised by as much learning as could be expected at the period on the speculative subjects involved, the disintegration of the Society itself involved that of its ambition soon after the death of Savalette de Langes, which took place in the year 1788.
Grade Content of the Rite.—The following Grades were added to those of the Craft: (1) Elect; (2) Scottish Master; (3) Knight of the East; (4) Rose-Croix; (5) Knight of the Temple; (6) Unknown Philosopher; (7) Sublime Philosopher; (8) Initiate; (9) Philalethes, otherwise Seeker for Truth. The Grade of Unknown Philosopher connotes Martinism, which was a predominant element in the whole system.
Rite of the Strict Observance
As conceived and evolved in the mind of the Craft and its more immediate connections—like the Royal Arch and the Mark Degree—Freemasonry is a democratic institution, which elects its own rulers. The Order of the Temple, and some other systems of Masonic chivalry, are also elective in character. There is no need to say that this has been a rule of constitution from the beginning of Grand Lodge history. It has obtained also in several continental countries in respect of the Craft and of such appurtenances thereto as are recognised to be part thereof by the various Grand Obediences. France is a typical example. France, however, was the seminary-in-chief, and—so to speak—the forcing-house of the High Grade movement; and among the systems which arose in this manner—onward from the year 1740—many were irresponsible in jurisdiction, while a few made wide and arbitrary claims as to precedence and even government over the entire Masonic Order. While the principles of equality and fraternity were attractive novelties to the aristocratic classes in France, it has been suggested that the Grades of Chivalry were either due to, or at least were fostered by, a desire on the part of the noblesse to have something peculiar to themselves and something that was privileged like them. There may be a certain truth in the notion, but there were far too many interests at work for us to recognise one like this as predominant.
Sovereign Jurisdictions.—There were claimants to particular learning and authority arising therefrom, usually of an occult order, and out of this came all that may have held by derivation or pretence from the Brotherhood of the Rosy Cross. There were claimants to particular revelation, and among these must—I think—be included Martines de Pasqually and his strange Rite of the Elect Priesthood. Above all there were those which put forward—as I have said—under one or another form—a claim to sovereign jurisdiction. With his alleged title of Inspector-General, Pasqually is not free from a suspicion of this kind, but for the most part he had other business in hand. He would have sought, at the highest, a kind of pontifical supremacy, because he believed himself to be in touch with exalted sources of instruction in the spiritual world. But the Emperors of the East and the West, styling themselves Sovereign Princes among Masons, Substitutes-General of the Royal Art, Grand Wardens of a Sovereign Lodge located hypothetically at Jerusalem, had a material ambition before them, and might have done better regarding it but for the multitude of claimants and the vast cloud of Grades.
J. G. von Hund.—There was one among all which for more than a decade of years seemed to pause on the threshold of complete and unexampled success; and this was the famous Rite of the Strict Observance, founded in Germany by Johann Gottlieb von Hund about 1754. He claimed to derive his knowledge and authority from Unknown Superiors, to whom implicit obedience was due, and this accounts largely for the success of his system. It appears to have been his mode of expressing the fact that he had been initiated more than twelve years previously into a Masonic Order of the Temple, and had been deputed to spread it. On the whole, it is possible that there was some truth in this statement, but the existence of Templar Grades in 1742 is highly speculative, as there seems to be no evidence beyond legends attached to the Grades and that which follows from a general claim that the Knights Templar continued to subsist in secrecy after their proscription and spoliation in the days of Philippe le Bel.
Chevalier Ramsay.—When the Chevalier Ramsay pronounced his celebrated oration in the Grande Loge Provinciale d’Angleterre—between 1736 and 1738—there is nothing to shew that Grades of Chivalry were in being. The possibility to which I have alluded, and by which the bona fides of Baron von Hund can be saved perhaps in part, is that an Order may have existed in embryo—-many things were brewing at the period under the Masonic aegis—and that he may have had some kind of a reception almost apart from Ritual. An old report that he was admitted by the Chapter of Clermont has no foundation, for the very good reason that it did not exist at the period, nor indeed until twelve years later.
Knight of the Red Feather.—Whatever took place was at Paris, and—according to our deponent—in the presence of a certain Knight of the Red Feather, whose identity was not to be revealed, but who—in the belief of Baron von Hund—was the Young Pretender, Charles Edward Stuart. This has led to a notion that the Rite of the Strict Observance came to birth and grew up in a Jacobite interest, to which all its subsequent history offers no countenance. Personally, I incline to the opinion that von Hund was mistaken or had been deceived on the point of fact: otherwise it carried no political consequences in his mind, For himself it seems clear that he had no Jacobite concerns. His story as a whole does not strike us as deliberate and unvaried invention, and if it had this starting-point in actual occurrence we can begin to see how the whole unfolded in the course of the twelve years intervening between his reception and activity on his own part.
The Unknown Superiors.—From those who by the hypothesis empowered him to spread the Rite he expected further instruction, which did not come, and he made his own beginning in the last resource. In this case the Unknown Superiors were the less or more strange and unaccountable people who gave him his knightly Grade and then passed out of sight, having more serious business in hand at that period, supposing that they were really Jacobites. They were to be obeyed without question for the most effectual of all reasons, that von Hund could not appeal to them: meanwhile, he acted as their mouthpiece, from the moment that he founded the Strict Observance on his personal responsibility in Germany. Its system was his own creation, including the Rituals, subject to any help which he may have received from coadjutors of the ordinary kind among German Masons.
German Templar Provinces.—The most that he derived from his predecessors—if anything—was a Roll of the German Templar Provinces and a List of Grand Masters. Evidence is wanting for the transmission of either, but a document corresponding to the second is—I believe—in the custody of the Grand Priory of Helvetia. It transpires from the Rituals that the Master who succeeded Jacques de Molay was Pierre d’Aumont, the Templar Prior of Auvergne, and that he took the proscribed Order to Scotland. This is the central Legend of the Rite, and—I believe—the earliest distinct formulation of the thesis that Knight Templary, after its formal suppression, was perpetuated in secret under the veil of Masonry. If von Hund received and did not manufacture the List it came out of one of the French High-Grade mints, from which there had issued previously the chivalric materials of Ramsay’s Oration, or which that epoch-making discourse had brought alternatively into existence.
Mythical Foundations.—-From this tentative working hypothesis it would follow that the Rite of the Strict Observance rested of course on mythical foundations, but in this leading characteristic it did not differ from Speculative Masonry at large and all its developments. It proved a great success, almost from the period of its institution in 1754. There were times when it seemed likely to absorb everything. It spread from Germany into France and made rapid progress in Italy; it was established in Switzerland, and even penetrated into Russia. The two explanations are (a) the fascination of the Templar claim, and (&b) the mystery concerning those Unknown Superiors by which it pretended to be ruled. At that period the origin of Masonry was in the great darkness, so far as Europe was concerned: all claims were possible, and the most sensational was most eligible for general favour.
Doom of the Rite.—But the rock on which the ship of the Rite in fine foundered was precisely that of the Unknown Superiors, because no evidence could be adduced concerning the persons to whom the implicit obedience was due. Their spokesman could point to no one behind him whose traces it was possible to follow. A Masonic Convention was held at Altenburg, where Baron von Hund told his story of initiation and appointment, but appealed only to his knightly honour. The years passed on and reached the date 1776, being that of his death. The persecution of persistent inquiry into the ground of his claims had driven him previously into retirement. Another Masonic Convention, held this time at Brunswick, had led in 1775 to further difficulties, from which nothing could extricate the Rite, and these had been complicated by the pretensions of an important competitor, named Starck, who claimed a more intimate alliance with the Unknown Superiors than had been attained by von Hund himself.
Death of von Hund.—The papers left by the deceased chief included nothing of real importance, but they tended to confirm the fact that he had been admitted to something at Paris having a royal prince at its head. One would have said that the end was near, but the Order had struck its roots deeply. The great Lodge of Philalethes had taken the system into its heart. It was established also at Lyons, an important Masonic centre, and a disciple of Martines de Pasqually was Provincial Grand Prior of Auvergne. Pasqually was dead also, and his Elect Priesthood were attracted so strongly by the German system that it looked like replacing their own. I have searched all available memorials, and have come to the conclusion that they ended by marrying Martinistic teaching to the Strict Observance, eliminating the Templar claim and producing the whole along high spiritual lines. A Convention was held at Lyons, and this work was approved.
Transformation of the Rite.—The result was (a) two Grades of St. Andrew, of peculiar symbolical importance; (b) two Grades of Chivalry, being Novice and Knight of the Holy City ; (c) two Hidden Grades, embodying the inward history of Masonry ab origine symboli. The Strict Observance had worked (a) Blue Masonry, i.e. the Craft Degrees; (b) Scottish Master; (c) Novice; (d) Templar Knight, said to have been divided—possibly at a later period—into four classes, sections, or sub-grades. But this is not warranted by such Rituals as I have seen. The Convention of Wilhelmsbad was that out of which the Chivalry of the Holy City is supposed usually to have borne, but it seems to have ratified only what was done previously at Lyons.
Knights Beneficent.—The French Revolution followed, and the Strict Observance is often said to have been swallowed up. But we hear of it subsequently under the rule of the Prince de Camba-acérès, the French Grand Master in the days of Napoleon I. This is for a brief period only, and its story is to be distinguished from that of the Knights Beneficent which had been taken for custody to Switzerland during the evil days. The original Rite is believed to have perished utterly, but the system as it was reborn at Lyons is at work to this day under the obedience of the Grand Priory of Helvetia.
Historical Position.—In conclusion, the historical position of the Strict Observance is more simple than may seem at first sight. It is said that Baron von Hund testified on his deathbed to the truth of the story which he had told at Altenburg, and if we accept it, subject to errors of impression and inference on his own part, there were certainly Unknown Superiors in the far distance behind him, but he was left to his own resources and proceeded on his own initiative. There was in this case a root of fact in his system with a great superstructure of invention erected thereon or developed by himself therefrom. But it is to be observed that the Grades of his Rite make very little claim upon history in the way of manufactured legend, and although it cannot be denied that the Rite embodies a false claim: (a) in respect of the Templar survival and succession, and (b) in respect of predominance over the whole of Masonry, there are many who are partisans of neither side who will be disposed to point out that it compares rather favourably with the circumstances under which Craft Masonry emerged from its cloud of darkness in those years that succeeded immediately the foundation of the First Grand Lodge of 1717.
Templar Grand Masters.—The Roll of Templar Grand Masters— which no one has seen in England—is no worse than the fraudulent charter of Craft succession produced by James Anderson; the general Templar claim of the Strict Observance is a colourable romance of history when placed side by side with the ineffable mendacities which passed for literal Craft history in England during the eighteenth century, not to speak of forged documents, like the Charter of Cologne d hoc genus omne. It is true that imposition on one side is not an excuse for condoning it on another, but those Masonic writers who condemn the Strict Observance in no measured terms should remember that ab origine symboli, in all Rites and Systems, modem Masonry is rooted in historical fable.
The Secret Tradition.—There are elements, however, in Craft history which can be taken to indicate not literal facts but the legendary mode by which the Secret Tradition was supposed to be perpetuated, and these legends are very old. Enoch, Moses, Solomon and Zerubbabel, Prince of the People, are signposts in the path of this Tradition, and when Solomon’s Temple is spiritualised, I understand it only as a House of Doctrine, to which the theosophical literature of later Israel is a witness at large. The Masonic Legends of the Sacred Temple, centred in the Royal Arch, represent a revival in that doctrine. So also the Templar perpetuation in secret, under the saegis of Masonry, seems to embody the idea—now seven hundred years old—that the greatest of the Christian chivalries brought from East to West some elements of Secret Doctrine which the spiritual rulers of Christian Israel at Rome and Avignon were not able to tolerate, because it imperilled their own position—at least in their opinion. Now, there is a Secret Doctrine which is of vital importance; it is a doctrine of experience; and however Masonry in any of its Rites and in nearly all of its aspects may have come upon intimations concerning it, the fact remains that it is this and this only which constitutes its living interest, its title to a place among the religious activities of this day.
Clerical Knights Templar.—I have mentioned Johann August von Starck on two previous occasions. He was born at Schwerin in 1741 and died, I believe, at Darmstadt in 1816. As regards external and professional life, (1) he graduated at the University of Göttingen; (2) went to St. Petersburg in 1763 and taught in a public school; (3) became director of schools at Wismar in 1767; (4) was called to the chair of theology and the post of court chaplain at Königsberg in 1770, so that he must have entered the Lutheran ministry at some previous date; (5) became chief preacher to the Court at Darmstadt in 1781, a post which he held till his death. These matters are mentioned to shew that he was a man of position. In respect of his Masonic career, (1) he is said to have been made a Mason in a French Military Lodge, tempus 1761; (2) joined the Strict Observance about 1764; and (3) was a founder of the Lodge of the Three Lions at Wismar in 1767. To this was attached presently a Scots Lodge and Starck added later on an entirely new Masonic departure, termed a Clerical Chapter. It was the beginning of his personal conspiracy again the Strict Observance. The claims were (1) that the original Knights Templar were divided into two classes, military and sacerdotal; (2) that the Clerical Branch possessed the inner knowledge of the Order; (3) that it had been perpetuated in secret; (4) that Starck was its present ambassador; (5) that it was superior to the Secular Branch; and (6) that if recognised by Baron von Hund, the treasures of its knowledge should be opened to him and his Rite.
These claims and the undertaking arising therefrom were from first to last mendacious, and their motive is to be sought in the allegation of clerical superiority. The ambition of Starck was obviously to possess the Rite. As I am not giving the history of the Observance at full length, I can state only the fact of the conspiracy, which came to little at the end. Von Hund lent a willing ear, hoping that his own claims would at length be justified; a Convention at Kohlow in 1772 entered into a concordat with the so-called Clerical Branch, and it took part in that at Brunswick in 1775; but none of its promises were fulfilled for obvious reasons, and—after the death of Hund—at another Convention of the Order, held in 1778 at Wolfenbüttel, the concordat lapsed. Although a Clerical Chapter of Knights Templar appears to have existed at Darmstadt in 1792, it has practically no history. Starck is said to have superposed several High Grades on those of the Craft, but not the least reliance is to be placed on any published lists. He has been accused further of being connected secretly with Latin Catholicism in Paris, of introducing it into his Templar system, of restricting his Candidates to members of that faith. The evidence for all this is wanting; it is obvious that he lived and died officially in the bosom of the Lutheran Church, though the witnesses who make these statements claim to trace in his writings a disposition towards the Roman Communion. Among his literary memorials those which concern our subject are (1) Apology for the Order of Freemasonry, 1778; (2) Design of the Order of Freemasonry, 1781; Ancient and Modern Mysteries, 1782; and—if the attribution is correct—(3) the notorious anonymous work entitled Saint Nicasie, 1785, which is confessedly written by one who had belonged to the Strict Observance and the putative Clerical Branch, the claims of which are maintained.
Rite of Unknown Philosophers
Statutes of the Unknown Philosophers.—(1) The Roll of Membership shall be drawn from all nationalities, wheresoever there is a holy religion, wheresoever virtue is known and reason followed. (2) They shall be divided into various groups, with a defined locality for each, and no member shall be integrated otherwise than into the group of his proper district. (3) There shall be no rigid or arbitrary limit of membership, it being remembered always that true philosophy scarcely comports with a multitude. (4) The Roll of Membership shall be kept by the Senior Associate or Chief of each district and shall be complete for that district, according to date of reception. (5) Persons of all conditions and all religions are eligible for admission, so only that they love virtue and confess the Sacred Mysteries of Christian Faith, the atheist and idolater being consequently and hereby excluded. (6) While Jews shall not be rejected, in view of [that respect which is due to the Old Law, they shall be admitted but rarely and in cases only of assured probity. (7) The sole object of the Association being ministry to the poor and afflicted, there shall be no qualification in respect of social status or birth. (8) The discussion of matters of religion shall be and is hereby forbidden. (9) The principles of the Great Work are unfolded in the Philosophy of the Order, and it is held that the Grand Architect of the Universe will illuminate on these mysteries those only who have purified their hearts from all evil intention. (10) Those only who have ceased to be blind concerning the Mysteries of Faith may look for the light of the Order on the Mysteries of Philosophy. (11) Priests and monks shall be received seldom and with difficulty, but those especially who belong to the so-called mendicant orders, the exception to this rule being a great scarcity of suitable candidates otherwise. (12) The same rule obtains in respect of slaves, and generally of all persons who are at the beck or call of others, because philosophy postulates freedom and desires those only who have attained mastery over themselves, are in a position to work when they please and can devote their time and fortune to enrich philosophy by their discoveries. (13) Kings, princes and other sovereign rulers shall be received but rarely, and a like reservation is made in respect of high-born persons who are unfortunately of mean estate, because ambition is the dominant passion of all these classes, excluding active charity and general good-will towards man. (14) The exception shall be in respect of those who are distinguished manifestly by virtue, displayed in all their conduct, whether public or private. (15) In all cases and classes the first qualification shall be that of moral worth, it being understood as most desirable that each Candidate should profess the Christian Religion and be a zealous practitioner of faith, hope and charity. (16) The second is a true desire to penetrate the secrets of chemistry, according to the admirable operations of Hermetic Science, above all avoiding sophistic experiments and the false recipes of charlatans. (17) An essential condition is silence, that typical characteristic of a true and perfect philosopher. (18) As regards manner of reception, he who has been himself admitted can receive others in turn, paying heed to the requisitions of the present Statutes, consulting his own patron and doing nothing apart from his consent. (19) When an Associate of the Order is approached by a postulant, the mind and character of the latter shall be subject to special observation, and he shall be kept in suspense for a period until he has proved his capacity, unless indeed he is a person of known reputation. (20) In consulting his own patron an Associate shall not disclose the identity or name of a postulant, unless desired expressly by the latter, for the title of Unknown Philosophers implies that members are unknown to one another as well as to the world without. They are protected in this manner from traitors within the camp as well as from those snares which are so frequently laid for philosophers beyond the temple-gates. (21) The patron of an Associate who has a postulant under his eye shall pledge him to furnish accurate particulars after which the case shall be submitted to the assembly, meaning to the other Associates who are known to the senior patron, and their advice shall be followed. (22) The chief or elder of a colony shall be exempt in respect of this regulation and others of the same nature. (23) The headship or prerogative of such a chief shall lapse if the number of Associates in a given locality shall become diminished to a single assembly in an entire colony, and after his death there shall be no successor appointed unless and until the accession of membership necessitates division into several groups. (24) When all preliminaries have been observed, the reception of a postulant takes place as a solemn and religious public function, in a consecrated place conformable to the faith of the Recipient. The Light of the Eternal is invoked; the Postulant is pledged to observe the Statutes of the Order and maintain inviolable secrecy; to obey the laws of the land, keep faith with his king and the brethren; and should he enter into possession of the Stone he shall make use thereof according to the constitution of the Company. In return for these undertakings his patron pledges himself and the body-general of Associates, giving assurance of their friendship, fidelity and affection. (25) The words of the Order are then whispered in his ear, with the name of Magnesia—communicated in the Language of the Sages—being that of the true and only matter of which the Philosophical Stone is composed. (26) The new Associate assumes a Kabalistical Name, drawn either from his own or that of an ancient philosopher. He imparts it to his patron, and it is registered in the Roll of the Order. (27) The new Associate may also, at the discretion of his patron, be required to prepare an autograph schedule, reciting the things which have passed and the pledge which he has taken, in return for which he can demand a copy of the present Statutes signed with the Kabalistical Name of his patron, and it shall be his evidence of integration in the living body of the company. (28) He shall be at liberty to transcribe the Table of Kabalistical Signs and Characters used in the Art, together with their interpretation, by which means he will be in a position to prove others and obtain recognition from them. (29) Finally, he may transcribe also the Kabalistic Roll of membership. (30) At the will and discretion of his patron he shall have the other documents placed at his disposition, on condition that his subscriptions are paid and that he shews himself an exact observer of these Statutes. (31) As regards knowledge derived from sources outside the Order a new Associate shall be free to reserve or communicate them at his own choice. (32) His duties thereafter are the study of the books of the Order and those of other approved philosophers, either in private or with some of the Brethren, it being understood that speculation and reading are uncertain—apart from practice. (33) He is counselled to withstand weariness and restrain impatience, seeking consolation in the fact that all his Brethren are at work with him and for him, while his own labours must redound to their profit. (34) Year by year, on the anniversary of his reception, he shall offer the Holy Sacrifice to God, if he is Catholic and Roman by faith, as an act of thanksgiving, and to obtain light and knowledge from the Eternal. (35) Those of another faith shall proceed in like manner, according to the rule of their religion. (36) Members shall abstain from sophistic operations on metals, holding no commerce with charlatans, as there is nothing more unworthy of a Christian philosopher and seeker after the truth. (37) Those who are as yet inexperienced in the Mysteries of Fire may work upon minerals, vegetables and animals, and may even experiment in the depuration of metals, as these things are sometimes needful in the activities of the Order; but it is expressly forbidden to join metals with metals, for this is an evil work. (38) It is permissible to visit the laboratories and conventions of vulgar chemists, provided they are persons of repute, to undeceive them when they are in error, with modesty and in a spirit of charity, but taking care at the same time never to say too much, depending mainly on negative arguments, drawn from the writings of initiated philosophers. (39) It is permissible to promote a desire for integration in the Order in the case of persons who love wisdom and probity, and who are drawn to Hermetic Science by valid curiosity and not by greed. The fact of one’s own membership shall not be disclosed, however, save with the consent of one’s patron, for to act otherwise would be to forfeit the title of Unknown Philosopher. (40) Brethren who are acquainted with one another should meet from time to time, to talk over matters of the Order, personal studies, reflections and experiments. Such discussions should be followed by a meal in common, at which the rules of sobriety must be observed most strictly. (41) It is permissible also to correspond with one another in writing, the name and nature of the one essential thing being always concealed and communications being signed only with the kabalistic name of the Associates. Prudence may dictate further the use of secret ciphers, hieroglyphic characters and allegorical terms. Such correspondence may be extended to the most remote places, using patrons as intermediaries of communication. (42) Should it be seen that one of the Associates is failing to observe the Statutes, or maintain the standard of honour, he shall be warned in charity and with modesty, above all by his patron, and it shall be the duty of him who is corrected to hearken with good grace and docility. If he prove contumacious, let him be denounced to the Brethren of the same group or colony, that they may be on their guard against him. (43) Whosoever succeeds in bringing the work to perfection shall notify the fact in an undated letter addressed in a disguised hand to the chiefs and elders of the colonies, so that those who are unable themselves to see this favoured Associate may be inspired to persevere on their own part. He shall be at liberty to select those Brethren whom he desires to share in his discovery, and is pledged inviolably hereby and herein to take his own patron into his confidence—unless he has proved himself unworthy—and also those Associates who seek him out; but this only if they have kept the Laws of the Order, have shewn themselves discreet, secret and incapable of putting a grace so great to any evil use. (44) The mode of communicating the secret shall be at the discretion of him who possesses it, but the most expedient is to assist by advice the independent work of others, rather than to make a gift of the powder or explain its manufacture categorically. (45) Those who become instructed after this manner cannot transmit the secret to others till the consent of their instructor has been obtained. (46) The use of this great treasure shall be regulated in the following manner: a third shall be consecrated to the building of new churches or the repair of old ones, to the erection of public institutions and other pious works; a third shall be distributed to the poor, oppressed and afflicted; and a third shall be appointed to the personal use of the owner, for himself, his relations and friends, care being taken to do nothing that shall promote ambition in others or vanity in oneself. (47) The Statutes affirm further that he who accomplishes the Great Work and will not share his knowledge with Associated Brethren will be compelled ultimately—as if in virtue of some obscure fatality—to publish it before the face of the world.
Great Arcanum.—Two things are obvious respecting these regulations: (1) that notwithstanding the implied acquaintance with the mysterious First Matter, veiled under the name of Magnesia, the Order of Unknown Philosophers was not an Order of Adepts in possession of the Great Arcanum but of those who were on quest thereof and hoped to profit by combination as also by a community of interests and an undertaking to make a common share of important discoveries; (2) that although ex hypothesi members were acquainted with each other only under sacramental names, their personal identity, style and title were known of necessity, or they could not have corresponded together, and a prospective patron, moreover, could be acquainted with his postulant only under ordinary designations on both sides. In so far as the Unknown Philosophers were incorporated otherwise than on paper it was under the aegis of Baron Tschoudy, and if—as I believe—he made also their Statutes, the fact would indicate that at least in his strong personal belief, he was acquainted with the prima materia of Hermetic science. So also was Thomas Vaughan, but in both cases they failed to proceed further.
Rite of Zinnendorf
The Masonic history of Johann Wilhelm Ellenberger von Zinnendorf, whose birth took place at Halle on August 11, 1731, has been given already in brief. I recur to it again, on account of (a) his connection with the Strict Observance, (b) his importations from the Swedish Rite and certain serious problems imbedded therein, but above all (c) by the fact that on November 30, 1773, he concluded an agreement with the Grand Lodge of England, in virtue of which all Masonic Lodges in Germany were placed under his charge, with the partial exception of a Provincial Grand Lodge at Frankfort, which was given the alternative of maintaining its previous position during the life of its existing Grand Master. The arrangement came to an end in 1780, but in the meantime Zinnendorf was not only Grand Master of an organisation describing itself as the Grand Lodge of all German Masons but the King of Prussia had become its protector. The Grand Master of Sweden denounced his system, declaring that his Swedish Warrant was spurious, though it appears to have been granted by Count Eckleff, who to all intents and purposes was the founder of the Swedish Rite. This notwithstanding his rule extended not only over numerous Lodges under his direct jurisdiction, but over Provincial Obediences in Austria and even in Russia. Moreover, he maintained his position till his death in 1782. The Rite of Zinnendorf—which has been said, in the absence of all evidence and against all likelihood, to have combined the visions of Swedenborg with the vestiges of Pernety’s Hermetic Hluminism—was arranged as follows: I.—Craft or Blue Masonry: (a) Apprentice, (b) Companion, (c) Master. II.—Red Masonry: (a) Écossais Apprentice and Companion, (b) Master Écossais. III.—Capitular Masonry: (a) Favourite of St. John, (b) Chapter of Elect Masons.
Rites and Ceremonies of the Essenes
This is an American imposture and a variant of “clandestine” Masonry. I have seen two printed workings, one being that of the Orient of New York, the other that of Illinois. There are three Degrees which are a more or less slavish copy of the Craft, but I presume that no Masonic qualification is required. Why the whole has been fathered on the Essenes passes understanding. There is no claim made upon the past, and there is no connection with an American Order of Essenes which is said to be a religious sect.
Rites and Their Message
Every man of imagination and every spiritual aspirant has been conscious at some stage in his experience of a divine passion for Rites. It may have drawn him to the elaborate ceremonials of one or other of the great Christian Churches, or it may have taken him to those Secret Societies which—amidst strange solemnities and immemorial symbolism—hand on from age to age in almost every country the moving traditions of initiation. Sometimes the Rites have lost their deeper meaning; sometimes only a comparatively trivial significance attaches to striking ceremonies: occasionally the great sign can scarcely be said to signify. But even the outward pageant draws the man of desire, much as he may regret the hollowness within it of which he is conscious in his heart. There are, however, certain Orders in which symbolical procedure is married to great objects. It may be difficult to enter these, it may be difficult even to hear of them; while it must be added that some also may enter them without attaining their term. We must take into the Mysteries of Initiation nearly all that we desire of initiation—in the sense that it must be at least latent within us. Most of the Secret Societies, like the Churches, are for various reasons in a condition not precisely of decadence but of something which—for the world at large—approaches arrested ministry. This notwithstanding, it is possible for the really prepared neophyte to find what he wants in the one as it is possible for any devout person to receive a true leading and communication of supernatural grace in the other. Of course in the last resource the outward sign is always and of necessity insufficient; it is apt also to become worn by usage; but this disability is shared in common with the whole external economy, and for the same reason. It can be seldom indeed that the Rose-Croix Mason of twenty or thirty years standing assists at the Rite of Perfection with the same sense of spiritual zeal and awakening that he experienced at the beginning of its ministry to his own need and nature.
Ministry of Sacraments.—Throughout the centuries the great fathers and teachers of the Church Mystical have sounded in the ears of their disciples the doctrine of the insufficiency of outward things; but at the same time they have recognised, nor has any school of thought so strongly insisted on the sacramental importance of all that by which we are encompassed externally. The Church Mystical is made up of numerous confraternities, to each of which there is assigned, or by each has been created, a certain characteristic tissue of symbolism, wherein their peculiar instruction has received an outward shape and vesture. In this manner we have the symbolism of doctrine itself, which is delivered always—because it can be delivered only—by way of economy or approximation—a sign communicated to the mind in substitution for something signified, yet analogically in relation thereto. We have further the symbolism of those literary forms which are assumed by mystic thought, and in the schools of Christian Mysticism some of these have been elaborated to an extraordinary degree—as, for example, the symbolism of spiritual nuptials or of the Christ-Life in the soul. We have again the symbolism of pregnant Rite and Ceremony, while there are yet other veils and emblazonments which will occur to the reader who has explored in these fields.
Mode of the Sacraments.—The truth is that ideas of the absolute order are conceived only by representation, which is the mode of symbols and sacraments. There is in the soul of every true man an undoubted desire to overreach this ministry of representation and to obtain an immediate experience. It is in this sense that man and his best interpreters, the mystics, are conscious of the inadequacy of the several external orders—as, for example, the Church and the World, whereby man is initiated and advanced till the time comes for his translation from the symbolical death of this material life, and for his raising out of the Lesser Mysteries into the Grand Mysteries of the Ineffable Degree. But the great teachers who are immortal are not for such reason infallible, and their lessons of inefficiency have more often than not been drawn from a sense of the methusis and aberration which outward things produce in humanity at large, because humanity has—for want of any proper criterion accepted their ministration indiscriminately.
The Sense of Symbolism.—The awakening to the sense of symbolism is the first awakening from this sense of intoxication, and the initial gift which it bestows upon things without is the tincture of a great significance, behind which there is almost an infinite diversity, an unmeasured depth and wealth. They are a source of inspiration to the poet, to the seer a spring of prophecy, to the mystic a great font of correspondences, by which he forges the strong chains of union binding all worlds together. There is hence no warrant for affirming the insufficiency of external objects as regards the ministry of their symbolism; but undiscerning and simple sense fails to distinguish the ministry amidst the chaos of its appeal, while—as already said—there is a stage at which the tutored and consecrated mind can no longer rest content with the law of symbolic representation: it is a veil upon the face of reality. Whether in this life there is a field for the satisfaction of desire which is thus stimulated only the mystics can tell us, and the consideration of this question exceeds the limits of a work dealing with the peculiar sacramentalism of certain Instituted Mysteries. The fact that an answer is not sought generally in the one direction where it may be possible to find it may account for the supreme sadness, apart from all passion of the mind, which in fine settles down upon thought in the highest places, striving after that Infinite which eludes us.
Rites or Mysteries of Mithra
In their ultimate development the Mysteries of Mithra have been represented by modern scholarship as practically equivalent to a planned illustration of pagan theosophy in competition with that of Christ, by those who believed that, if put forward with all its highest adornments, it might yet hold the field. But on the manifest side Christianity ascended the imperial throne and the images of the old gods were buried in the ruins of their temples. On the inward side the mystery of redeeming love, the resurrection and the life in Christ were gospel-tidings to a sated world, in comparison with which the brilliant spectacles of the ancient cultus in all forms and variations, or the Mysteries behind the cultus, might raise up iridescent Bows of Promise but had nothing substantial to deliver. As it arose and developed in the near East, long centuries before the birth of Christ, there was an exoteric Mithra-Worship, exceedingly elaborate in its nature, as well as an inward or Mystery side. We are concerned only with the latter, and with this not indeed in its original form—a deep below the deep hidden in the twilight of the past—but as it comes before us in the West during the first few centuries of the Christian era. Mithra was originally the God and Lord of Heavenly Light and is represented on the monuments as a young man who, with face averted, plunges his sacrificial knife into the heart of a Bull.
Doctrine of the Mysteries.—It appears from the testimony of Porphyry that the Mithriac Mysteries depicted—perhaps in one only of their points, episodes or Degrees—the descent of souls into generation and their emancipation or ascent therefrom, by which they were delivered from the law of metempsychosis, one of the doctrines being that human souls “are clothed in bodies of every kind.” Such an ascent connotes readily enough the idea of regeneration, which has been called the Secret of the Rites. These were celebrated in caves, considered as an image of the world, and hence having two gates. That on the northern side symbolised the way of coming in, namely, by the law of generation; that on the southern side represented the way of going out and following a path of ascent from the life of humanity on earth to the life of the celestial gods. It will be seen that this is in close analogy with the mythos of the Garden of Pausanias, to which I have referred previously. Celsus, as quoted by Origen, speaks of souls going down and up through the planetary spheres and says that in the Mithriac Initiation this is represented by “a ladder with seven gates and at its summit an eighth gate,” corresponding to Saturn, Venus, Jupiter, Mercury, Mars, Moon and Sun, the eighth and last being presumably that of the soul’s deliverance.
The Seven Degrees.—As regards the stages of initiation and advancement through which the Candidate passed, St. Jerome speaks of Seven Degrees in which seven symbolical names were confirmed, being (1) Raven, (2) Griffin, (3) Soldier—i.e. in the sacred militia of the invincible god, (4) Lion, (5) Persian, (6) Runner of the Sun, and (7) Father, through which—as through the planetary spheres—the soul at length attained the Region of the Blessed. St. Gregory Nazianzus speaks of purifications by water, fire and fasting at the beginning of the ordeals; of a kind of baptism—involving complete immersion, according to Tertullian—and a seal set in the forehead; of a crown presented at the point of a drawn sword, but this was to be rejected by the Candidate with the words: “My crown is Mithra”; of anointing with oil; and finally of investiture with armour and a wreath of olive. As recounted by St. Jerome the ceremonial which followed these preliminaries by no means inspires confidence, presupposing as it does seven successive caverns: (1) in total darkness, unless riven by lightning, and therein reverberated the cries of wild beasts, who fell upon the Candidate, but they were only masquerading adepti; (2) a cave of reverberating thunder; (3) another of storm-driven waters, which had to be crossed by swimming, (4) a place of severe fast; (5) a dreary and terror-stricken desert; (6) an icy region, (7) a place of light, in which the Mysteries were consummated and the secret teaching was imparted. With all this imputed mummery we may compare the Greek Mithriac Ritual translated by Mr. G. R. S. Mead and regarded by him as representing the innermost Rite, performed by the Candidate alone. It contains the Prayer to be recited by “the Father,” or Adept of the Seventh Grade, the exercises which accompanied each and the visions which—ex hypothesi—were supposed to follow thereon. The last of all was that of the God himself, a vast, transcending presence, “with golden locks, in flower of age, clad in a robe of brightness” and wearing a golden crown. Mr. Mead presents a personal interpretation of the procedure, acknowledging its speculative character. See Echoes from the Gnosis, Vol. VI, 1907. For myself and for the present purpose, I am content to take the text as it stands, the only Mithriac Ritual which has survived the process of the centuries.
Mithriaca and Masonry.—Among Masonic commentaries on the Mysteries of Mithras, I observe that A. G. Mackey speaks of a Mithriac death, “just as there was a Cabiric death in the Mysteries of Samothrace”; but I have not found the evidence. There were also some papers on Mithriac Worship in The Freemason of 1898. They are anonymous and embody an attempt to institute idle and arbitrary Masonic correspondences.
The Memoirs of Barruel appeared almost simultaneously with the Proofs of a Conspiracy of Robison, whose work has the natural advantage of being contained within the compass of a single volume. It lies open to many strictures, but it has been the fashion to vilify it without analysis or criticism. Perhaps the worst thing that could happen would be for it to fall into the hands of an intelligent non-Mason, who has chanced already upon the mouthing ruffianism of MacKenzie and Woodford, with both of whom may be compared the sane and tolerant condemnation of Gould, who knew perfectly well, and admits—at least, implicitly—that the charges brought against continental Freemasonry had a solid root in fact, much as they have been coloured and highly as they have been exaggerated in various briefs for the prosecution. Professor Robison, Abbé Barruel and Counsellor Eckert would all repay reading at the present day, especially by a student who could be at the pains of checking them one against another. The two first authors wrote with no notion that each had a competitor who was covering the same ground. The complete distinction between them in style and treatment only serves to bring out the analogies of their intent and the practical identity of their conclusions— whatever their value, Eckert of course was far later in the field, as it was the Revolution of 1848 and not the French Revolution that inspired his pen. He had every opportunity of profiting by both his precursors.
The Rose in Symbolism
One into another the gods and kindred symbols of the Eastern mythologies melt “like shadows in a dream.” And thus it is that here as in so many departments of human imagination—we find the same thing everywhere, yet always with a certain difference. Buddha is not Indra, but they have characteristics and offices in common, while some things in legend and doctrine which are told of the one are told also of the other. For example, the same allegorical story ascribes to both of them an identical death—in so far as death is possible to immortals. Both had robbed some figurative garden of a flower. That flower does not need seeking, for it was the Rose—ever sacred and mystical. The surface meaning of the legend may be of an obvious order, because in all mythologies the Rose has been a flower of love and a talisman embodying that kind of seeming fatality which works in love. But this is not the only, much less the ultimate significance; and in some of those deeper meanings which it would be possible to unfold from the story any wayfaring man might be liable and quick to err—supposing that he quested. It happens sometimes with such old-world apologues that there is meaning within meaning, as there is petal within petal in the Rose itself. Apart from this multiplicity, the myths of the Rose are not less numerous than the varieties of the flower with which modern horticulture is familiar, although the flower of the Mysteries is not itself the multiplex personality of the garden, but a simple bloom of five petals.
Garden Mysteries.—There were gardens of old as now, but the enclosure, too often famous for its conventions at this day, if not its vulgarities, was celebrated then for its mysteries, which are numerous in mythologies; and the Rose stood chief among garden mysteries, as it is still chief among the adornments and fragrance of the parterre. The suggestions which attach to it are not less profound than those which have been connected with the fir-cone, but these are more sombre in character, as if instinct with “sad experience.” Indeed it may be said that the Abiegnus is a sacrament of knowledge and sorrows, while the Rose has been related always to sacraments of joy, since it is love—radiant, enchanting, innocent, prior to the experience of good and evil. For this reason, to rob the garden of its flower, or to scatter the petals of the Rose was to profane the Mysteries; and this again was to unveil sacred things to the vulgar that crime of Prometheus, as indeed of the son of Noah.
Buddha and Indra.—In this way we begin to understand, after another fashion, the kind of spoliation attributed to Buddha and Indra, and the reason of the punishment that it involved. Both after their own manner were saviours of man, and to save man is to initiate humanity; in a word, it is to make known the Mysteries, to communicate the fire from heaven. Although this is a divine act and those who perform it are gods, in some mysterious way it is done at the peril of the gods, and hence they die mystically. The pantheon changes when the revealers come forth, and the revealers perish, that they may be assumed subsequently and re-enter the pantheon after another manner. There is then a new heaven, corresponding to that new earth which has been made or attempted by their revelation.
A Garden of God.—Without proceeding any distance into paths of etymology which—by their difficulties—connect rather with a crown of thorns than a garland of roses, it may be mentioned in this connection that the name Nazareth, by the testimony of St. Jerome, signifies a flower, and that it was situated in the district of Carmel—otherwise, the Garden of God. It will be seen, therefore that there was no intention among the makers of symbols to exclude the most sacred mission of revelation from the most usual drift of the floral legend; and there are strange fables which tell us that Jesus of Nazareth was Himself a flower, a flower plucked from a garden and afterwards crucified, that is, put up or extended on a cross, thus providing a significant explanation of an emblem which has become familiar in Christendom—namely, the combined Rose and Cross.
The Rose of Sharon.—Here is the whole meaning of that beautiful sequence of allegory expressed in the typical symbols and Ritual of the Masonic Grade of Rose-Croix—the Rose of Sharon uplifted on the Cross of Calvary; and it is more especially to Brethren of the Eighteenth Degree—conventionally so-called in the numeration of the Accepted Rite—that this brief study is addressed.
Rose Colours.—Another legend—which deals with the colours of the Rose—narrates how the red variety sprang from the embers of a fire which had been kindled at Bethlehem for the burning of a saintly maiden who had been accused wickedly, and in answer to whose anguished prayer the fire was quenched miraculously, while “its brands originated the first Red Rose that ever man saw.” There are many slighter explanations, from all of which it seems to follow that the original Rose of Legend was simple white and that it became red—after some miraculous manner—for the increase of its meaning and mystery. It became red, for example, from the spilling of the blood of Adonis, who on this and other considerations seems to have been regarded always as a sacrificial victim. Obviously the same effect might be held to follow from a certain accident to Venus, as she hastened to the relief of Adonis. But the red colour is referred also to the libation of some Olympian nectar by Cupid in the midst of his dancing. That generous drink overflowed the Cup of Mysteries and the Rose came up on the ground fertilised thereby. In any case, the transformation is at its best a work of love, and the primeval white of the flower represents more especially the condition of maidenhood—that of virgo intacta.
The Rose of Silence.—Now, the same symbol seems frequently to contain an antithesis of its most characteristic meaning. Though the Rose connects, as we have seen, more especially with the Revelation of Mysteries, for which reason Apuleius—whose Golden Ass belongs to the literature of betrayal—depicts himself as being given Red Roses to eat; yet the flower—taken generically—was sacred to silence and to Harpocrates, the god of silence. There is a reference to this symbolism in the Grade of Rose-Croix. But it is more correctly the White Rose which is so attributed, and the underlying notion was probably the reluctance and reserve of virginity. At the same time—if in another order of symbolism—it is the virgin invariably and only who breaks the seals by which the Great Mysteries are protected, and this notion is as old as the Legend of Eden, which of course is also a Garden Legend. Under the same order of ideas the Rose became a preservative or talisman against intoxication, because of the temperance and restraint belonging to the root-notion of virginity. And so finally it was taken for a funereal symbol, the last episode in the grand reserve of humanity, being that which takes it into aeonian silence.
The Rose of Eden.—The Egyptians, who congregated about their dead all symbols which belonged to the idea of death, made use of the Flower of Silence for embalming purposes. All this is to touch but lightly on matters which might serve very far purposes of research. The legendary history of the Rose remains to be unfolded fully, though it has offered an opportunity of speculation to many writers. One point more may be mentioned in conclusion: the ministry of the Rose in legends here noted increases the significance of those myths with which it is connected; and this is the proper office of all symbols. When we are told that Eve sinned through plucking Roses, and that in Mexican Antiquities these flowers are said to have been termed “the fruit of the tree,” we know that the makers of such a fable are suggesting and bodying forth “the forms of things unknown”; and since the old myths are generally truths under a veil—as distinct from idle fictions—we can say with Alfred de Vigny, at least in one sense, that legend is truer than history.
Chef d’oeuvre as it is of the old Rite of Perfection, the Grade of Rose-Croix is not a perfect Grade, though ex hypothesi it confers perfection. It contains, however, great and significant intimations. I could wish that it might be possible to set out the scheme of procedure, and thus indicate at what points it speaks to the Candidate with a most eloquent tongue of symbolism and where the voice flags. It will be understood that in these words I am concerned only with the Grade as it is conferred under the obedience of the Supreme Council of England and Wales, and of those other Supreme Councils that are united in using the one form of this Ritual which is alone of consequence, being concerned with the finding of Christ as the True Word in Masonry. It must be stated that there are follies and abominations of philosophical Rose-Croix Grades, Deistic Rose-Croix Grades, and other devices which are part of an apostasy in symbolism. They are all indifferently false in doctrine and fictitious in Masonry. The true Grade is concerned with the search, suffering and attainment of those who have come out of Craft Masonry demanding a better title than that which distinguishes Brethren who have been raised to a substituted Masterhood in the kind of light which only makes darkness visible, and have found no lasting profit in reunion with companions of their toil whose position is no better than their own.
The Rock-Hewn Sepulchre.—To these it is shewn that the way of the Cross and Calvary, of Gethsemane and the Rock-hewn Sepulchre is the way of Resurrection and Ascension into Blessed Mansions, where the Word is not found merely but the soul is united therewith, world without end. This is the Word of Life, as distinguished from that which I have called elsewhere a Word of Death in Craft Masonry. Those who can follow this Rose-Croix quest with an open eye of mind, those who can attain its term by a living realisation in the heart will see that they have travelled in their search round six circles, which represent the creative period of a world of Masonry—Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft, Mark Mason, the Crypt below the Temple, and the Holy Royal Arch, after which there is the Sabbath-Rest at the end of the Eighteenth Degree, in which the time of quest is swallowed up in that end attained.
It is more than one hundred years since that the historical origin of Emblematic Freemasonry was first referred to the Brotherhood of the Rosy Cross, which is supposed to have disappeared from the horizon at the very time when the Masonic Fraternity first began to diffuse its hght in public. I do not propose to consider this question in the present work, further than has been done already under other headings, as e.g. the influence of Hermetic Schools. The evidence—such as it is—has no particular bearing on Rosicrucianism per se, which has been used largely as an uncritical synonym of Hermeticism. The latter consisted of many schools, in which the Brotherhood of the Rosy Cross was one only, whatever its place in the series. With the whole problem of this organisation, as it was in the beginning, as it developed subsequently, as it stands at the present day, I am proposing to deal separately, together with its direct and indirect connections, in a new book on the subject. It will be sufficient to say here that when Elias Ashmole is called—as Masonic writers have called him—a Brother of the Rosy Cross, it means only, within the measures of the evidence, that he was a student of Alchemy, for there was a misdirected opinion in the past that every alchemist belonged to this Order—-or otherwise that it was a synonym for Alchemy and alchemical research. When it is said that there was a meeting of Rosicrucians in London at or about the time that Ashmole was made a Mason, it means only that a sort of alchemical association, composed of like-minded persons, met occasionally together for the discussion of their common interest. There is nothing to shew that they were incorporated even as a body of scholars.
The English School.—The Ghost Clubs at the present day would most probably offer a correct analogy of their particular integration and their activities. Incorporated occult or mystical schools cannot be said to have had any place in England during the seventeenth century: if there were any, they have left no record behind them, except in so far as Freemasonry is to be counted among them. There are certainly traces of Rosicrucian influence, and some of them are marked, but they are not of an ordered character, as if a definite sodality were at work. Fludd may have been a Rosicrucian, but if so he stood practically alone in England, and had no following. He is a likely instance, and so also is Thomas Vaughan, but the latter expressly denied any such connection. Eirenaeus Philalethes would be another persona grata on any hypothesis of the subject, and he confesses that he was bound by a vow; but similar testimony is borne by other alchemists, concerning whom no such presumption could be made by any one acquainted with Rosicrucian history.
The German Legend.—There is, however, one point to which I must call attention before leaving the subject. If I may assume acquaintance with the German Legend of the Rosicrucian Order first made public in the earliest years of the seventeenth century—I would ask my readers to recur for a few moments thereto. Let them remember how Christian Rosy Cross went eastward on the quest of wisdom; how he attained a certain proficiency in some of those Mysteries which were treasured ex hypothesi in the East; how he returned finally to Europe, bringing a record of his travels; and how he attempted a reformation of arts and sciences, only to meet the derision which—more especially at that period—attached to efforts of the kind. He was moved in the end to adopt a resource which has been not unusual, presumably, among the custodians of unrecognised knowledge; and the new birth of time—if I may borrow for a moment the phraseology of Francis Bacon—was committed to the faithful and loving care of a Secret Society which he founded, under the name of Rosicrucians. The Brethren of this Order drifted apart from one another on various missions belonging to the general dedication, and it is said that in the course of time other associates were received, who do not appear to have participated in the full knowledge of the Founder’s men of election, and were unacquainted with his person, as also with his resting-place—when the hour came for him to pass from this life. It was discovered ultimately by a seeming accident, as in the case of the Master-Builder of Masonic legend.
House of the Holy Spirit.—Certain investigations, which are veiled by a pretext of repairing a House of the Holy Spirit, uncovered the Sepulchre which had been made for himself by Christian Rosy Cross, and therein he proved to have been “very decently” interred. There is a full and significant account of the whole procedure and its reward given in a Manifesto of the Fraternity. It is of course a symbolical account, and its meaning has received earnest consideration from students following different lines of research and producing different results. However this may be, our purpose at the moment is to know that the tomb was opened, and among all that was discovered thereby was the body of the Master, but in a condition which suggests that—in some sense—it had become immortal and incorruptible. In other words, that which had been put under the altar had undergone the change of the altar. We might have expected that the tomb of Christian Rosy Cross would have been empty, like the rock-hewn Sepulchre of Christ on the morning of Easter; but we are not exactly in the same field of symbolism. The sacramental analogy belongs to an earlier epoch of the great Christian mythos—being the mystic death of the Sepulchre.
Resurrection of C ∴ R ∴ C ∴.—But we know that Hiram was meant to rise as Christ in one of the pregnant Grades of Christian Masonry; so also there are Secret Orders, possessing an inheritance front the past, which celebrate at this day the Resurrection of C ∴ R ∴ C ∴ as the chief development of their Rites. It follows that there is a very intimate and significant analogy between the higher symbolism of Masonry, as developed outside the Craft, and Ritual procedure—so far as this can be traced—-in Rosicrucian circles. It does not prove that one was derived from another, but only that they had a similar concern in symbolism. That they reacted one upon another at various periods of development is no matter of speculation. There is a mass of unpublished material to shew that about the year 1777 the last transformation of German Rosicrucianism was drawing on the Masonic Fraternity to recruit its own ranks, like other secret societies imbued with kindred aspirations. A Masonic qualification in Candidates was the first title for admission.
Hidden Doctrines.—We have further to remember that the Rosicrucian Mystery was one of Divine Rebirth, such indeed as we meet with—though under many veils—in the ceremonial of Masonry. It sought also that hidden knowledge which Masonry and several early aspects of the Secret Tradition in Christian times supposed to have been lost with Adam. In a word, the mystical character of the Fraternity founded ex hypothesi by Christian Rosy Cross cannot be questioned by criticism. Unfortunately it had many imitations in the past, as it has at this day, to confuse research, while there is evidence also that on many occasions it lost sight of its own real or highest purpose.
The Holy Order of the Royal Arch—that strange and pregnant Ceremonial which stands apart from all else in Masonry—is an oracle, by the hypothesis, which answers every question arising out of the Craft but is silent on its own genesis and the source from which its authority is drawn. It is said to be no separate Degree but a completion of the Master Grade. So far as a certain discovery is concerned, it is such indubitably; but the circumstances and place of the finding are unintelligible in the absence of a general preamble to the whole quest, as provided, for example, by the Royal Master and Select Master Grades. There is nothing in the Third Degree to suggest that any precious objects were laid in a place of concealment: on the contrary, the genuine secrets had living custodians. It follows that in the Royal Arch we are entering a new field of Masonic Symbolism, a new thesis on the preservation and perpetuation of the Secret Tradition, postulating antecedently a traditional history which is not comprised in the Craft. It follows also that, as now known and worked among us, the Arch never formed part of the Third Degree. The Royal Arch of Enoch and the Cryptic Grades which I have mentioned are not of course the original preambles, prefatory points or acts, but they indicate the fact of a prototype now unknown which filled the great lacuna in time and symbolism between the Masonic conception of the First Temple under Solomon and the undertaking to erect the Second under Zerubbabel, which is the subject-matter of the Royal Arch. They indicate also a logical preoccupation throughout, being (1) foresight concerning a possible need to come, (2) preparation made thereto and (3) the coming of the need, for Zerubbabel and his company returned indeed out of exile into the land which was theirs, but the science of the old Temple was not treasured up in their hearts.
Historical Traces.—It is regrettable that Masonic research during recent years has failed—not indeed that investigation has been wanting—to throw light upon the origin and early history of the Royal Arch. I can do nothing therefore but summarise familiar knowledge of the past. (1) In the year 1743 it is on record that the Royal Arch was carried by two Excellent Masons during the course of a ceremonial procession in a Lodge at Youghal, Ireland. This is the earliest allusion, but it is a reference to the name rather than the Grade, while that which was actually carried is another question. (2) In his Serious and Impartial Inquiry, already mentioned, Dassigny speaks on report of a meeting held by Master Masons at York “under the title of Royal Arch Masons.” His book was published in 1744. (3) He speaks also of “that excellent part of Masonry” being worked in London and of “a Brother of probity and wisdom” who had attained thereto unmasking an impostor who claimed to have brought it from York. (4) We know also that Laurence Dermott became a Royal Arch Mason in 1746, that the Minutes of the “Ancients” Grand Lodge refer to the Degree in an entry of March 4, 1752, and finally that it was actually conferred on December 22, 1753, in the Fredericksburg Lodge, Virginia, U.S.A., holding from the “Ancients” in England. This evidence does not warrant us in supposing that the Royal Arch originated in York or in Ireland, though it may be noted that the “Ancients,” who are always connected with early Arch workings in London, were originally an Irish Masonic colony, according to Mr. Sadler. In Ireland, however, the Royal Arch is not concerned with the building of the Second Temple but with its repair by Josiah.
A Note on its Deeper Aspects.—The beauty, sublimity and importance which have been attributed to this Degree have suffered, as usual, in the hands of successive generations of muddled revisers, by whom the Holy Order has been commonised successively, till at the present day it has lost all aptitude in expression, all logic in reasoned forms, and that spirit which is the life of ceremony. It offers in the course of its lectures an illustration of antiquity by an amazing citation from the "Universal Prayer" of Pope. Yet these and other ineptitudes of the bourgeois mind are like the whitewash of a Puritan period, concealing but not destroying the pictured saints on the walk of our old churches: the original design of the Ritual can be discerned still beneath them. It illustrates another of the quests which are universal in the Mysteries of Initiation, and the soul's passage in the course of that research as if through shrouded regions of an under-world.
The Divine Word.—As Orpheus in pursuit of Eurydice, the Candidate for Exaltation goes down to recover the buried sense of the Divine Word, the lost secrets of the Science of Masonry spiritualised; and—also like Orpheus—he is in each case put off with an inevitable shadow, for he returns bearing in his hands that which he possesses already in heart or head. It sounds like folly on the surface, but it is rather a profound allegory on which the history of spiritual experience is a prolonged commentary. It shews that man does not escape easily from the sacraments, and that he does not elude his shadow by reversing his position in the sunlight. In a higher order of symbolism, it shews also the immanence of a second sense in the letter of the word, or as Paracelsus says,that “he who eats a crust of bread” communicates in the elements of all the starry heavens. These lessons might be varied, and there is one also of a different kind which follows from the symbolism of the Royal Arch. There is perhaps no need to say that it has not entered into the heart of expositors of Masonic Ritual. While the Legend of the Third Degree gives account of an event which made the building of the First Temple impossible as it was planned at first, the action of the Arch ceremonial concludes with a preparation of the ground for the Second Temple, so that as far as Craft Masonry is concerned the true Temple has never been erected except in the heart of the Mason. The reason is that the original scheme of human experience became voided by an event which appears under the parable of a fall of man, and was replaced by another and lower form of experience.
Kabalistic Symbolism.—Those who are acquainted with late Kabalistic symbolism will understand me if I refer to the three-headed serpent, represented by the three murderers of Hiram, and to its ascent in the Tree of Life as far as Daath, or Science, represented by the Master-Builder, so that knowledge was cut off from the source of life. Hence all the soul’s legends, with her sorrows and aspirations, and all the clouded sacraments and elementary education of the material world. Such are the real indications of the Royal Arch exhibited by mystic thought, as in sanctas ac venerabiles manus. It cannot be said that I have derogated from any dignity which may remain with it after the process of its modern editing because I shew that its synopsis of an unfinished experiment can in no wise be said to complete the scheme of Masonic initiation. To advance this is to rave, and the Grand Lodge which first affirmed that Masonry consists of Three Degrees, and the Holy Royal Arch pronounced judgment on its own incompetence to deal with the matter of symbolism. Those who may think otherwise have mistaken a part for the whole. But they have erred, in common with many sequences of the Lesser Mysteries. The eye is not satisfied with seeing, but the limit of the eye’s range is too often its measure of the great world.
Royal Arch of Enoch
We have seen that this Degree was included in its system by the Council of Emperors of the East and West, and—whether ab origine symboli or not—it is in this connection that we hear of it for the first time. It was taken over with others from the Council by the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite and by the Rites of Memphis and Mizraim. It should be understood by those who are unversed in Masonic Ritual that it is substantially distinct from the so-called completion of Craft Masonry which is denominated the Holy Royal Arch. At the same time, there is a central point of analogy, and at least in one modernised version—being that of the Antient and Primitive Rite—the particulars of procedure have been edited to create a superficial resemblance. The true root of correspondence is the concealment and ultimate discovery of a Sacred and Omnific Word, but the times and circumstances of both events differ in the two Grades. In that with which we are dealing, the Patriarch Enoch—according to one codex—placed the Great Secret, engraved on a stone of white porphyry, in the bowels of the earth, while according to another it was inscribed on a triangle. In the Antient and Primitive Rite there is an elaborate Historical Discourse which reflects at a far distance and with considerable distortion some elements of the Secret Tradition in Israel, as embodied in the Zohar, and elsewhere. There is in particular a description of two Pillars, respectively of brass and granite, erected by Enoch, the first engraved with “the rudiments of the arts and sciences,” and the second with an account of the subterranean place in which the Sacred Word had been concealed.
Motive of the Grade.—The original French codex has suffered many variations at the hands of successive editors and has even changed its name. In one of the reformed systems of Écossais Masonry it was split up into three points, being (1) Master Masons of the Royal Arch, (2) Excellent Royal Arch Masons, and (3) Most Excellent Masons of the Royal Arch, recalling the original division of the Rite referred to Zerubbabel into (1) Excellent Mason, (2) Super-Excellent Mason, and (3) Holy Royal Arch. As there is no question whatever that this Rite or Order is of English and most probably of York origin, or that the fact of its existence can be traced historically by and before 1740, I am certain that the Royal Arch of Enoch was planned upon it, in order to provide a more ancient history for the peculiar symbolical discovery with which all versions are concerned. According to the English Royal Arch the precious treasure brought to light in the days of Zerubbabel was concealed in those of Solomon, but according to the Enochain version it was hidden before the Flood and was found in the reign of Solomon. Later on a secret school revealed it to other nations.
Enoch and the Secret Tradition.—The Royal Arch of Enoch is an important memorial of the Secret Tradition in Israel and its perpetuation through successive custodians. By the hypothesis of the symbolism it deals with the first experiment in placing the tradition on record, so that it should resist the destroying hands of fire and flood. It is not only entitled to a place in any logical scheme of the High Grades, but is essential to their proper development. There is no need to say that the extant versions are exceedingly faulty, as the work of persons imperfectly acquainted with the Tradition. The Quest of the Delta in the earliest French codex seems to offer the best material for reconstruction, since it reflects least of all from the Royal Arch of Zerubbabel. The recension of Albert Pike is somewhat encumbered but is a favourable specimen of his work on the Scottish Rite. The Sacred Arch of the Antient and Primitive Rite is at once pretentious and illiterate in the sense which is attached to those words when such a maker of codices as the late Mr. Yarker is concerned. There are several French versions of various dates and claims.
Royal Ark Mariner
The proofs of design in Masonry are unsearchable in character and kind. That providence which from time immemorial has decreed that the peculiar Mystery of Folly which is denominated Royal Ark Mariner shall be worked only in a Lodge of Mark Master Masons has seen to it likewise that the Volume of the Sacred Law shall be opened at the prophet Isaiah, for the beginning of a mummery concerned with Noah and the Flood. It may be said that this is a simple anachronism, and—moreover—the codices differ. I will speak of one which has been consecrated by its inclusion among the Forty-seven Degrees of the Early Grand Rite. This honourable Scottish Obedience has ingarnered not only many curiosities from scattered and unknown sources but has laid claim upon things at work under other and much more public auspices, not excepting the Royal Arch and the Mark Degree itself.
A Lodge of Royal Ark Mariners.—according to the version which prevails in this system—is Opened by Noah, Japhet and Shem, as Master and Wardens, to commemorate the mercy and providence which preserved the Ark and its occupants from the destroying waters of the Flood. This is a clear issue at its value, even if the value prove a minus quantity. But when the Candidate—in the guise of a distressed Mason, whose name is Noachida—enters the sacred precincts, there is a lapse of memory on the part of the Master, and he prays to that Great and Eternal One Who was long-suffering and patient aforetime with rebellious children “in the days of our father Noah.” There is a moment when the Ark is symbolised in terms similar to the Ark of our salvation mentioned in the Holy Royal Arch. It is the Grand Ark, of which God is the Commander, the True Ark, in which “good and faithful servants shall find rest and safety,” while “storms overwhelm the ungodly” and “the wicked shall perish.” In fine, it is that Ark of Safety which shall shelter the elect “by the grace of the Spirit” when the earth shall be tried by fire and judged by fervent heat. It might be spiritualised with equal efficiency in a schoolboy’s exercise; but these are the moments of the Grade. There is one quaint touch at the end, when the Ark is said to be moored, meaning that the Lodge is Closed.
Ark and Arch.—Following a procedure in other parts of Scotland, the Royal Ark Mariner counts first in a Royal Arch series, which includes Fugitive Mark, Link and Chain, Jacob’s Wrestle, the Order of the Scarlet Cord and that other called Brotherly Love. They are mentioned in their proper places, and of the series as a whole it may be said that they are an attempt to interconnect things which have no bond of union, either in the natural or symbolical order—unless the common frivolity of all deserves to be called a bond.
Whatever the historical position of the American Rite, there is no question that the Additional and High Degrees incorporated under that denomination are all prior to the year 1779, some of them considerably earlier. The Royal Master ranks eighth in that system, and it is included in the English Obedience of the Royal and Select Masters. It is also the Seventeenth Degree of the Early Grand Scottish Rite, and it is instructive to compare the variant forms of the Ritual under these jurisdictions. In the last there is a mere skeleton of procedure, which like so many other component parts of the system—as now or recently extant—has been constructed evidently for communication in written form and not for working, being much too brief. In the present instance it must be admitted that the reduction makes for clearness and obviates those glaring inconsistencies which characterise the larger recension. We are spared, for example, the affront offered to our reason by a Thrice Illustrious Master in the days of King Solomon, reading at considerable length from the Book of Revelation; we are saved from the intellectual confusion consequent on a successor of the Master-Builder assisting to Open the Council, while another officer personates that Master in the First Point of Reception, and his quondam successor appears as an ordinary Craftsman in search of the Master-Word. He conducts the Candidate, who follows the same quest. They are informed that this Grand and Omnific Secret will not be communicated until the completion of the Temple. In virtue of what consideration or for what other reason the Candidate—who thus receives his quittance—is entitled to the distinction of a Royal Master is the only Mystery of the Grade. He receives, however, the Official Secrets and ranks henceforth as such. The Ceremony closes thereafter with a further citation from the Apocalypse by the representative of Solomon the King.
Historical Discourse.—Amidst these egregious details there are certain curious points in the Signs, Tokens and Words which would be interesting to trace out, more especially as regards their source, were this possible in the present place. The so-called Historical Lecture contains, moreover, a reference to the Daughter of the Voice, the Kabalistic Bath-Kol, which seems to indicate that the maker of the Grade had been dipping into the Apparatus in Librum Zohar of Knorr von Rosenroth. The Royal Master has otherwise its place among the preliminaries leading up to the subject-matter in chief of the Royal Arch, as it expresses an intention of the Keepers of the Secret Tradition to prepare a place of concealment for certain Mysteries of Divine Knowledge, lest time or circumstances should remove the living custodians. It is the First Degree proper of Cryptic Masonry and that of Most Excellent Master, by which it is sometimes preceded, does not belong to the series. The principle of selection which governs certain Rites is deficient in the critical faculty, as in that of arrangement.
The Royal Mystery
The Ancient and Accepted Rite has its Royal Secret, that of Memphis its Royal Mystery. Both are numbered thirty-two in their respective systems and the original source of both is the twenty-fifth and last Grade of the Emperors of East and West. The titles conferred under the various Obediences are sometimes Illustrious Sovereign Prince, sometimes Sublime Prince, but the reduction of Memphis as the Antient and Primitive Rite gives Knight of the Royal Mystery, with No. 19 for a place in the series. By the hypothesis of its procedure the Grade is one of comparative religion, and the Candidate in a quest after truth is led round the Camp of the chivalry from tent to tent. The first is adorned with the Banner of the Lion of Judah: he hears of the faith of Israel and of the coming of Messiah. Over the second hangs the Banner of the Cross, and he is told of salvation in Christ. The doctrine of one God and Mohammed as his prophet is preached where waves the Banner of the Crescent at the third tent. The fourth is that of Confucius, invested with the Chinese Banner, and he gathers some chips of doctrine from the workshop of “the best of men.” He proceeds thence to the “hereditary priests of Brahm” in the fifth tent, and is told of the Brahmin trinity, with the history of creation according to the dream of Ind. But the sixth tent is that of the followers of Buddha, and the message of the Light of Asia is echoed by one who has heard it transmitted from the last of many mouths. Disciples of Zoroaster occupy the seventh tent and preach the doctrine of the sacred Zend Avesta concerning Ormuz and Ahriman. The faith of old Peru has survived in the eighth tent, where the glorious Sun is celebrated as an emanation of the First Cause and the parent of mankind. There is lastly the ninth tent, which is the wigwam of the Indian, and the story told therein is that of the great Manitou, who dwells across the broad water and opens happy hunting grounds to the soul of the Red Man. Much after this manner might Peter Parley have talked about pagan faiths, though he would probably have betrayed a bias which is absent here.
Religious Beliefs.— On the strength of such visitation the Candidate is assumed to have studied different religions and gained lessons of wisdom which have taught him to respect his brothers, even in their opinions. He finds everywhere “a belief in one Supreme Being and a future state.” The counsel is therefore charity and tolerance towards all. The Sublime Grand Commander insists at length hereon, after which the mantle of expatiation falls upon a Knight of Eloquence, who is of opinion that ancient Greece learned from “the aged Copts the secrets of their science and virtues.” He touches generally upon the Ancient Mysteries, which embraced all the sciences,” as well as the arts of polity. But he is drawn especially towards “the Essenian sect,” because “it is reasonable to conclude that the founders of the Essenian Societies were Egyptian priests.” Essenes and Therapeutae were succeeded by the Ascetics, a species of Jewish monastic order devoted to a contemplative life. Christianity came to enlarge the circle of initiation and there came also its monks—in succession to the Jewish ascetics. The Christian Coptic monks are the lineal descendants of Egyptian priests and Essenes. There arose also Gnostics and Manichees, and the disciples of these sects existed in the twelfth century as Templars, Lollards, Ghibelines and Albigenses. It is on the authority of the Knight of Eloquence that “nothing is better authenticated” than this. But the last message of all is that “eventually the philosophical sects took the name of Rosicrucians, and so became Freemasons.” It is unwise to assume responsibility by the explanation of vacant titles, but I presume that this is the Royal Mystery, and it will be seen that it embodies one of the familiar reveries concerning the origin and history of the Royal Art.
Royal Order of Scotland
I have stated in my Secret Tradition in Freemasonry, Vol. I, p. 400, that the Order of Heredom cannot be later and may be even somewhat earlier than the Oration of Chevalier Ramsay, delivered in or about 1737, in which case it is tenable that he drew therefrom. My reference is, however, to the first part or Grade, for that which follows is later. This indication must be held sufficient on the external side. Passing now from historical questions to the content and message of the Grades, I propose to present a conspectus of the Christian interpretation offered by the Royal Order as a light upon the Craft Degrees. The claim is: (1) That the highest and most sublime Degree of Masonry is the Royal Order of Heredom of Kilwinning; (2) that it was established originally on the summit of Mount Moriah in the Kingdom of Judea, but subsequently at Icolmkill, and later still at Kilwinning, “where the King of Scotland first sat as Grand Master”; (3) that it was designed “to correct the errors and reform the abuses which had crept in amongst the Three Degrees of St. John’s Masonry.” As a matter of fact, I believe that it is true—both literally and in the spirit—to say that it reforms and corrects nothing; but in respect of essence, symbolism and procedure it lifts up Masonry from a simple system of morality based on natural religion into a Mystery of Perfection attained in Christ.
Lost Word.—The Candidate enters the Chapter by the right of his status as the seeker after a Lost Word, from which it follows that he is no longer satisfied with certain gifts conferred previously upon him by way of substitution, and is therefore proceeding further. The action throughout is mainly by way of interlocutory discourse and questionings exchanged between the Officers, with occasional appeal to the Candidate. In so far as it differs from this we are not concerned with its performance. So also where several explanations or reasons are offered on the same point I select those only which have a bearing on the proper purpose in view.
Pageant of Symbolism.—(1) A Chapter of the Royal Order is constituted by nine Brethren, because there are nine Orders of Angels in the Celestial Hierarchy. (2) A perfect Lodge is constituted by seven Brethren because God established creation in six days, resting on the seventh day, “when He declared all things to be perfect,” and because there are Seven Spirits standing before the Throne of the Lamb. (3) The rulers of a Lodge are three, because there are Three Persons in the Blessed Trinity. (4) The Perpend Ashlar represents the Son of Man, being that Stone which the builders rejected, but which became the Head of the Corner. (5) The great objects and sublime principles of Masonry are the characteristics in chief of Christ: Brotherly Love, because He laid down His life for the Brethren; Relief, because He relieved them from bonds of sin and death; and Truth, because He is Truth itself and its Giver. (6) The consecrated and holy Mount Moriah had its equal in Calvary, whereon the Messiah was offered up for the redemption of the world. (7) So also the equal of King Solomon’s Temple is the Mystical Temple of Christ’s body, meaning the Christian Church. (8) In the Middle Chamber thereof Freemasons look for a place by virtue of Faith, Hope and Charity. A reference is implied also to the Heart of Christ Mystical. (9) The Broached Thurnal represents Divine Grace penetrating the heart. (10) The Trestle-Board is the way of salvation laid out in the Holy Gospels. (11) That Star which led the Eastern Magi to behold “the blessed face of the Redeemer” was the Star of Shekinah. (12) The indented line signifies the Church of Christ. (13) The Sun is the Light of Revelation and the Moon is the Law of Nature. (14) After these explanations the Candidate attains the object of his quest, but whether he fares better than a Candidate of the Royal Arch I must leave to those who are in possession of both Degrees. (15) His quest is described otherwise as that of a Holy Rock, or Mount of Adornment, where he is said to have heard “the voice of the Lamb” and to have seen a great Church in a great City. (16) The Church was cruciform in length from East to West, in breadth from North to South, in height immeasurable, in depth also unfathomable. (17) The voice of the Lamb is the voice of the Grand Architect, and this Architect is Christ. (18) The Brethren of the Royal Order are workers at the budding of this Church, in the hope of a kingdom which is not of this world. (19) Hereof is the promised coming unto Mount Sion, the Heavenly Jerusalem, the Church of the First-Born, “and to Jesus the Mediator of the New Covenant.” (20) It is testified also that the Candidate and those who are with him have seen in the Middle Chamber the three Great Lights of Masonry, which are the Natural, Mosaic and Christian Laws. (21) They are led by a Blazing Star, appearing in the East. (22) The place to which they are led was and is a Cabinet of Wisdom, in which every Brother of the Royal Order takes his seat, and this Cabinet is an Ox’s Stall. (23) Those whom they meet therein are “a most glorious Brother” named Joseph, his “most holy Spouse” Mary, and “the ever-blessed Word” Jesus. (24) The Word was lost on Calvary, “when the Saviour descended to the infernal den,” and was found when He rose triumphant over sin and death.
Second Degree.—Such is the message of the Royal Order within the measures of the First Degree, and of the Second I shall say little, except that it is a Grade of Knighthood, very slight in procedure and exceedingly trivial in character. It was established to remind Brethren of the Tree that bore the Rose of Sharon and the Lily of the Valley: it is therefore a Chivalry of the Rosy Cross. Its members are taught to put their “whole belief and trust” in Jesus, the Son of God, hoping—by virtue of His death—to obtain remission of sins and to receive eternal life.
Christ and Hiram.—I should add as regards the Order at large that it implies and intimates without unfolding the identity of the Master-Builder with Christ and of his immolation with the sacrifice of Calvary.
Russia, Poland and Hungary
It would appear to be of general agreement that in 1731 or 1732 there was an English Lodge somewhere in Russia. Whether it was at Petrograd or Moscow is a moot point and so also is the identity of the English Master. He may have been General James Keith or Captain John Philips: it signifies little, as the story is obviously mythical. We hear also of an English Provincial Grand Lodge in 1740. but it is like the story of Peter the Great having been initiated in England. We may be approaching firmer ground with Thory, who mentions a Lodge Silence at Petrograd in 1750 and the North Star at Riga. In 1762 a Templar Rite of Melesius sprang up, founded by a Greek Mason and superposing four High Grades on those of the Craft. It seems to have lasted for twenty years; but in 1765 there came the Strict Observance, carrying for a period victorious banners as usual. It was followed in 1771 by the Swedish Rite, having also Templar elements. A year later an English Provincial Grand Master was appointed and many Lodges are said to have sprung up under this obedience; but in 1724 they went over to the Swedish Rite, and in such manner it would seem that a Swedish Provincial Grand Lodge arose. In 1782 this organisation declared its independence and assumed the title of a National Grand Lodge, though there is nothing to suggest that it abandoned Swedish working. In 1794 Masonic activity practically ceased at the instance of the Empress Catherine, and Paul I laid his interdict on all Masonry in 1797. One account says that his successor Alexander renewed the interdict in 1801, another that he removed the ban, nominated a Grand Master and even decided to become himself a Mason. This is according to Thory. Masonic activity was reborn, mostly under the Swedish system, though the Grand Lodge Astrea, founded in 1815, worked nothing but Craft Grades. In 1822 the Order was definitely suppressed, and the decree against it was maintained up to the time of the recent revolution. As to what may have occurred since no one can surmise.
Poland.—The Bull of Pope Clement XII suppressed whatever sporadic Masonic activity may have existed in Poland prior to 1739. There is said to have been a Lodge of English foundation at Warsaw in 1736. In 1742 we hear of other foundations, but most of them seem to have lapsed quickly. A Lodge of the Three Brothers is connected with the year 1744, is reported to have become a Grand Lodge in 1769, but to have accepted a Charter from England which gave it of course merely a provincial status. The first partition of Poland followed in 1772, but a year later the Strict Observance arrived on the scene; the French Grand Orient made a bid for recognition and so also the Royal York of Berlin. Competitions and feuds followed. In 1781 a Lodge called Catherine of the Pole Star accepted an English Warrant as a Provincial Grand Lodge. The second partition intervened in 1792 and the utter dismemberment of Poland in 1794. Masonry was suspended, but when Warsaw became a Grand Duchy under Napoleon the Pole Star resumed work and a National Grand Orient appeared in 1810. Within eight years it is said to have had thirty Lodges under its obedience; but Masonry was suppressed in the Duchy circa 1821, and in 1823 a Russian edict forbade all Secret Societies. Mr. Gould considered that the Czar was amply justified.
Hungary.—The Strict Observance was the first Masonic Rite to enter Hungary, about 1760, and there is a report of several Lodges working under foreign Constitutions in 1783. We hear nothing further till 1870, when seven Lodges are said to have met at Buda-Pesth and constituted a Grand Lodge of Hungary. A Grand Orient followed on its heels, and in 1886 they combined their forces under the title of Symbolic Grand Lodge of Hungary. In 1917 the Hungarian total of Lodges was said to be ninety-one.
Other Countries.—(1) A Grand Orient and Supreme Council of Greece was organised in 1898, a number of more or less irregular Lodges which had subsisted since 1809 seeking in this manner to acquire a certain status. (2) A National Grand Lodge of Roumania was incorporated in 1880 by a combination of twenty Lodges, the antecedents of which are unknown. (3) We hear of a Supreme Council in Serbia, dating from 1912, but only four Lodges—all probably at Belgrade—seem to have been in activity immediately prior to the War. (4) Mr. Gould tells us that there were Lodges at Aleppo and Smyrna in 1738, and the Bureau International de Relations Maçonniques mentions a Grand Orient of Turkey as established in 1908.