Sacramentalism ⬩ Sacraments and Symbols ⬩ Sage of Truth ⬩ Saint-Martin ⬩ The Sat B’hai ⬩ Scotland ⬩ Scottish Grand Council of Rites ⬩ Scottish Philosophical Rite ⬩ Scottish Rite ⬩ Secret Church ⬩ Secret Doctrine of the Union ⬩ Select Master ⬩ Shibboleth ⬩ George Smith ⬩ Society of Gormogons ⬩ Faustus Socinus ⬩ Solomon ⬩ Sovereign Commander of the Temple ⬩ Sovereign Grand Inspector-General ⬩ Spurious Charters ⬩ Spurious Rituals ⬩ Sublime Chevalier de la Rose Groissante ⬩ Sublime Director of the Great Work ⬩ Sublime Elect ⬩ Sublime Elect of Truth ⬩ Sublime Hermetic Philosopher ⬩ Sublime Master ⬩ Sublime Masters of the Luminous Ring ⬩ Sublime Prince of the Royal Secret ⬩ Swedenborg ⬩ Swedish Rite ⬩ Switzerland ⬩ Symbolism and Its Ultimate
The material of the Mysteries is about us: it is another mode and aspect of that by which we are encompassed in our daily life. I have said that there are many sacraments, but the whole world is sacramental in the nature of that evidence which it produces through the senses to the soul. An Instituted Mystery which claims to veil a given system of moral, spiritual or mystical truth in allegorical recitals or pageants, and to illustrate it by symbols, confesses thereby its sacramental nature, even if the makers of Emblematic Masonry knew not what they did. From all that we have learned concerning them and from all that it is possible to infer, they knew little in the sense of realisation, and I do not question that when the Craft Grades began to be formalised those who were concerned in the business were worthy protestants of their period, having two stereotyped sacraments about which they understood very little in the sense of experience. So also at this day the ordinary Worshipful Master in the chair of Solomon does not dream that he is seated there to administer a body of instituted sacraments, and by the extent of his inhibition herein we may measure the kind of loss which befalls the spirit of Masonry in the great mass of its Lodges.
Signum et Signatum.—Initiation in its true understanding should recall us by the assistance of certain high conventions to a sense of our place in the sacramental universe. The conventions in question are allegories, symbols, types, permeated on all sides with spiritual meanings. In unfolding those meanings to his mind the Neophyte should be led to see that analogous messages are communicated by all that surrounds him in Nature, from star above him to stone beneath his foot. If he learns in this manner that it is he who within his own measures is Hierophant of the Mysteries of Nature, he may go one step further and recognise that only in so far as the external order is received and understood within us can we participate therein. so only it subsists for us. So far as it is independent of ourselves in respect of knowledge it is no concern of ours: it exists therefore only in proportion as it is known. In this sense the universe is within, even as a landscape in a looking-glass. The kingdom of this world may manifest the Kingdom of Heaven in such a glass of vision, and it will be God Who reigns therein. He who has attained this region of experience is no longer Neophyte or Adept: he has been raised to the state of epopt. He has followed otherwise the path of saints and has reached the term thereof.
Sacraments and Symbols
All men receive communication from the world and each other by means of sacraments and symbols: so also they communicate on their own part after the same mode. Our inward thoughts expressed to ourselves only in the hiddenness of the soul’s silence lie as much within this universal manner of representation as the forms of speech uttered by the lips. So also the messages of Nature reach us through the representative or symbolical channels of the senses. The history of what we term supernaturalism is—from one point of view—a recurring and ever available witness to the impermanence of sacramental ministry, but that to which it bears witness in reality is the occasional interpenetration of another world of sacraments. While there is thus a continual abrogation of that supposed law of continuity which was once regarded as the sole guarantee of safety from intellectual confusion, this is not because the sacraments cease but because there are several sacramental orders. When the sacraments are said to be representative, or signata in analogy with signa, they are affirmed to be valid as such, within their own measures. I behold a sapphire sky on a cloudless day and so receive the testimony of a reality without me addressed to a reality within, and the validity of this witness is not reduced one iota if I reflect that a change in the physiology of the organ of sight would transfigure the whole field of vision, making—so far as I was concerned—a new heaven and a new earth. The reality without would still testify, although through altered media, and still I should receive the witness. When the time comes for me to lay aside this physical body, I look—through the channels of a psychic vesture—to receive the communications of another sacramental system, and these also will be valid within their proper measures.
Instituted Sacraments.—I have spoken so far concerning the universal principles of sacrament, but there are those of an instituted kind. No hierarchic religion has ever subsisted without its great body of typology and symbol, variously unfolded in dogmatic teaching and rite. Their most valid and eloquent illustration is to be sought in the Seven Sacraments of the Catholic Church. The matters of these sacraments belong to the natural order; by virtue of their place in the universe and by their ministry to man therein, they have been ab origine the channels of natural grace. But by virtue of a high convention they have been raised out of this degree and have been offered to those who believe as channels of a grace understood as above Nature, their vivifying principle residing in the faith of the communicant. The salutaris hostia, the vinum ineffabile, the oleum sanctum perfusum, convey nothing to the infidel: it is the faith which makes them sacraments for us. The absolution of the priest in confession absolves efficaciously from sin in proportion to the vital faith of the penitent in the Sacrament of Penance: he goes away therefore in peace, but the validity of this peace is in proportion to the resolution in his heart to sin no more. After precisely the same manner the doctrines of the Catholic Church are doctrines of salvation—for those, that is to say, who can take them into the heart and translate them into grace in life. The efficacy of all the sacraments is within us and not without us: it is the question always and only of a vital correspondence between the intent of sacramental institution and intent on the part of the recipient. It comes about in this manner and for this reason that super-efficacious grace in the soul of the communicant can raise the sacraments themselves above their normal field of grace and operation in the normal mind of the Church. It is so also with the great Rites. A more plenary world of grace opens its possibilities and prospects for those to whom the Mass is typical of Divine Substance communicated to the soul of man than for those who can make no journey in their hearts beyond the literal significance of Hoc est enim corpus meum. We are therefore the measure of the sacraments as well as their efficacy, and herein lie the living deeps of meaning behind that solemn counsel which exhorts us to receive them worthily.
Sacramental Orders.—The Instituted Mysteries which are not those of Churches, the Masonic Orders and those within and above them are sacramental like the Churches, and to receive their sacraments worthily is the higher understanding of what it is to be a good Mason or a truly illuminated Brother of the Rosy Cross. The meaning of the Third Degree does not lie within the measures of its comprehension at the time when it was worked in taverns, nor is the mind of Masonry at large represented adequately or decently by the mind of the Goose and Gridiron or the fatuities of Anderson’s Constitutions. He alone is a Master Mason who understands in the light of other and greater Myteries what is implied by figurative death and being raised from the tomb of transgression; he only is a Perfect Mason and Prince of Rose-Croix who was seen what light in the darkness shines from the seventh circle and at what point in what centre he can look to be united with Emanuel; he and no other is exalted in the Royal Arch who knows that the Quest of the Word is a Quest of Life, that the Word is Life and how it is uttered therein. To be “word-perfect” in the Rituals of Masonry is to have attained their most valid, that is to say, their highest meaning. So is the Word restored.
Sage of Truth
The title is a little disconcerting because it does not readily produce an intelligible notion—not even when it is complicated further by the variant of Knight-Sage. This is the sixteenth Degree of the Antient and Primitive Rite and is presumably identical with No. 37 of the Rite of Memphis, as revised for American use in 1856, when it was called Knight Adept of Truth. Both may be compared with No. 77 of the original nomenclature, being Prince of Truth, and No. 37 of the revised series of 1862, which was Knight of Shota, otherwise Adept of Truth. The Grades of Truth are, I believe, peculiar to Memphis; but as a canon of criticism on the subject or as an answer to the question of Pilate they fail to break new ground. The Sage of Truth remembers that “truth is God” and reposes on that brief but pregnant dictum. There is no action whatever. In certain recitals between the Officers, the Candidate learns (1) That the distinctions of birth and fortune, opinion and belief are frivolous, (2) that all men are equal; (3) that man is the slave of necessity; (4) that liberality is a question of deportment and not of the gift; (5) that death is less terrible than it is thought to be; (6) that the moral law is universal—with other platitudes which do not always stand for common truths. In a discourse by the Supreme Grand Commander the Recipient is told how the ten numerals can be extracted—after a fashion—from a perfect square divided into four squares by a perpendicular and horizontal line. He hears also concerning the Magi and the Roman pantheon. In the Charge after reception he is assured that the Degree is of the highest antiquity, and that its main object is “to render more perfect and draw man nearer to the Divinity from Whom he emanated.” The forms are “few and simple,” but they “recall the origin and arrangement of the Universe.” There are other affirmations concerning it which are so remote from the content of the Grade that it reads like a Charge in Bedlam. This is Yarker on the highest peak of his particular Darien—a sorry spectacle of pose in tatters of thought.
Standing at that point where two strange paths of life and thought and research divide once and for ever, Louis Claude de Saint-Martin said to Martines de Pasqually, his theurgic teacher: “Master, can all this be needed to find God?” The adept in Transcendental Masonry and practical occultism answered: “We must even be content with what we have”; and I have regarded this always as a memorable maxim, the force and application of which are with us in most of our daily ways and continually in the world of thought. The consequence was that instructor and pupil found their ways divided. It was a memorable parting, an ever memorable talk which led thereto, and it has a message to us amidst the psychic and mystic activities of the present day. I do not know whether there has been previously a stage of human development on more than a single plane where the distinction thus created was so important in its application to ourselves or where it was being illustrated more fully—though all unconsciously—in numerous types of mind.
The Finding of God.—Like so many of us here and now, Saint-Martin—then at the beginning of his public career, young, zealous and accomplished—had come already to know that which he desired, namely, "the finding of God." But about the way to this goal—also like many of us—he was not in a state of certitude. The fact is made evident by his question whether this and that are necessary, while his interlocutor told him virtually that there was no other path but one. It was a reference to the occult path, and it cast Saint-Martin back upon himself, so that he had to reconsider what is meant by the finding of God. He did not question henceforward any master outside himself, but began to look into his own nature, his inward being, and there saw—since he could not do otherwise—that the quest did not lie in this direction or in that of the external world, but in his own consciousness. He had heard already that God is within, as have heard also from time immemorial; but he had to learn that which it means, as we have to learn ourselves.
Throne of God.— He saw that so long as he postulated a Deity on a Great White throne facing a crystal sea, and speculated whether he could bridge the intervening distance between earth-bound man, living in the light of the material sun, and this Paradise of Dante—place of the Blessed Vision and Heaven of thrones and palaces—he was planning an impossible journey, because consciousness, as here embodied, does not reach other worlds by travelling through an intermediate space. But if the Throne of God is within us, then the journey is in ourselves only and not through stellar distances. It is a travel undertaken in the region of realisation—most great of all mystery words. We hear much at this day of unexplored fields within us, under the name of subconsciousness, but little if anything of that alternative realm which I should call the supra-consciousness, supposing that I were so unwise as to rectify one unphilosophical catchword by another. There is neither height nor depth, nor are there any other spatial relations in the conscious self; but there are grades of realisation; and the so-called depth and height of the Mystery of the Knowledge of God are a grade ne plus ultra which we have most of us failed to take because of the urgency of the sense-life and the multiplicity otherwise of the trivial and distracting business in which we are immersed through an overweening concern in the external.
Saint-Martin and Pasqually.—So far I have been creating what may be called a distinction only between two personalities of a period, both of whom are remarkable and both attractive in their way. It was in the great and spacious days of a thousand activities in France, prior to the French Revolution. Martines de Pasqually was travelling—as we have seen—with a Masonic Rite, possibly from a place beyond the Pyrenees, possibly from otherwhere, he being regarded generally as of Spanish origin, though he was of French birth. Saint-Martin was a gentleman of Touraine, somewhat over thirty years when instructor and pupil met. Let us take from another witness a short account of the one that we may be able the better to judge what it meant to the other when he decided to try a fresh path. The Abbé Fournié—who has been mentioned also elsewhere—says of Pasqually that his daily exhortations were towards unceasing aspiration to God, growth in virtue and zeal for universal good. Here is a question of fact because the witness—by all that we know concerning him—spoke with the lip of truth. His inference was that such words of counsel were comparable to those of Christ, though apart from all accent of authority claimed for himself by the speaker.
The Rite of Pasqually.—Now, we know that the Rite of Pasqually, though it made pretensions of a kind common at the period in respect of antiquity—which can be taken symbolically perhaps—and also to superior position in comparison with all other Masonic Orders, had no concern in an art of building symbolised. We know further its real concern, and long years after Saint-Martin had detached himself from all such ways and processes he bore testimony that he had been present at “communications” where “every sign indicative of the ‘Repairer’ was present.” We know also that for him the Repairer signified Christ. The question which arises is how in the face of such testimony came he who bore it to choose another path, more especially when he put on record the fact that he and his leader were only “beginning to walk together” when circumstances of private life caused Pasqually to leave his circle of initiates. The answer to this question is found elsewhere, when Saint-Martin says: (1) “I cannot affirm that the forms which shewed themselves to me may not have been assumed forms”— a difficulty which still besets the phenomena of Modern Spiritualism; and (2) “I have received by the inward way truths and joys a thousand times higher than those I have received from without.”
A Memorable Mystic.—It happened therefore that he followed his own course and became not so much the foremost as the only memorable mystic of his country in that day. He occupies a permanent and high place therein. At that most unmystical of all periods, the first half of the nineteenth century, he was recognised by Chateaubriand as a man of extraordinary merits; by Comte Joseph de Maistre as “the most instructed, the wisest and most eloquent of modern theosophists”; by his contemporary, Mme. de Staël, as a writer with “sublime gleams.” The philosopher Cousin testified that never had Mysticism possessed in France “a representative more complete, an interpreter more profound and eloquent, or one who exercised more influence than Saint-Martin.” Joubert said that his feet were on earth and his head was in heaven, while even the brilliant critic Sainte-Beuve, far as he was from all such deeper interests, affirmed that he calls for study. Lastly, an open and not too scrupulous enemy of all that savoured of mystery and mystical association—the Scottish anti-Mason, Professor Robison—relates that Saint-Martin’s first book was a Bible—or Talmud at least—for French High Grade Masons on the eve of the Revolution.
Persons of the Period.—In the most interesting of all literary periods which had ever been seen in France, amidst great awakenings to the messages of Instituted Mysteries and possibilities of the soul in its manifestation, Saint-Martin stood alone in respect of his dedications and their appeal. Mesmer, and the varied tribe of his followers, were about him on one hand. There was Court de Gebelin, a distinguished archaeologist for his period, discoursing of Egypt and its wonders, discovering vestiges of immemorial antiquity in Tarot cards, found among peasantry by an accident. There was the brilliant littérateur Cazotte, who will be remembered always in his own country as the author of Le Diable Amoureux, a romance with such prodigious intuitions of an occult kind that he is said to have been accused by adepts of betraying those Mysteries into which he had not been initiated. There was Cagliostro, whom the mystic distrusted with all his heart; and although that comet of a season, the Comte de St. Germain, had long since vanished from the horizon, the dazzlement of his memory remained. There is reason to believe that Saint-Martin knew most of these, and besides them there were his personal friends, many of consequence in their way. There were Rudolph de Salzmann, a mystic like himself; the Russian Prince Galitzin, who confessed that he became really a man only when he knew M. de Saint-Martin; the Comte d’Hauterive, following the occult path, but discerning under his friend’s influence a horizon beyond it.
Jacob Böhme.—On the more curious side of theosophy Saint-Martin connects naturally with Pasqually, in the sense that the teaching of the latter passed through the alembic of the mystic’s mind, issuing under I know not what transmuted forms, but in a way that made them his own after a particular manner. I have noted elsewhere the influence of Jacob Böhme, whose writings came into his hands in much later life, and there are certain rare translations of his works which bear on their titles the name of the “Unknown Philosopher”—that is to say, of Saint-Martin—whose zeal for a “beloved author” had led him to render them into French. They are Aurora, Three Principles, Forty Questions, and Threefold Life of Man: one is surprised faintly that they have not been republished in France.
Mysticism.—But it is neither to Pasqually nor Böhme that one owes Saint-Martin as a mystic. The one had little to offer beyond the freedom—for those who could win it—of the region of astral forces; the messages of the other, from however deep a centre, came to the French theosophist long after he had found his own way and had placed his experience somewhat fully on record. He had two counsels. (1) To explain material things by man and not man by material things—descending into ourselves for this purpose; and (2) to establish correspondence between the soul and the Divine by the active path of works. So far as schools are concerned, he was essentially a Christian Mystic, though to all intents and purposes he had left the official churches. The Life of Christ was for him the history of regeneration in the soul of each individual, and in one of his books he has traced all its stages.
Visions and Auditions.—In this connection two points call to be marked regarding this mystic, and one of them—so far as I am aware—has not found previous expression. The mystics who have been also men or women of vision in the psychic sense may have been the rule rather than the exception. Herein was a beginning that may have helped them somehow—I know how scarcely—to open those doors which give entrance to the inward light, into that state where they realise that no true soul rests satisfied with the visions and auditions, so-called in the theological science of Mysticism. Saint-Martin, in the presence of the Repairer, recalls such experiences. But the experiences of sanctity in the world of psychic phenomena are presumably one thing, while conventional occult phenomena are another; and Saint-Martin seems the sole instance on record of a great mystic who began his career amidst occult and magical practices. Here is the first point, and the second is that albeit he saw the dangers, uncertainties and manifold deceptions of the phenomenal path, and although he left it for ever, he always bore testimony to the zeal, the sincerity, the capabilities and high dedications of that master whom he followed therein—when occasion called thereto.
The Message of Saint-Martin.—Seeing that they are still few, those who love and understand Saint-Martin are—within and without Masonry—a little company apart, which might be compared to a secret church, or rather to a hermit’s chapel, in a place very far withdrawn from those many ways which are trodden in the study of exotic Christian literature. It is my proposal to consider briefly whether he is fitted only to remain—as one may say—a local devotion, or whether—if better known—he would have a wider appeal: in other words, whether there is anything in his message which is sufficiently catholic to become a common concern of those whose quest is the attainment of peace in light on earth and of God in the Kingdom. When some plenary knowledge, declared and demonstrated among us, has “made the pile complete” of mystical literature, I suppose that we shall be rich indeed if we find that ten per cent of the vision on the part of each individual seer proves vital in respect of the end; and I am assured in my heart that—as things stand now among us—the most precious gift which could be made, even by a writer with purely intellectual warrants, would be an entire restatement of the root-matter of everything from which quest and attainment depend.
Message of the Mystic.—Saint-Martin might not suffer more than other Sons of the Doctrine from the consequences of an expert sifting; but he would share to the full therein. He is better represented to the sympathy of an informed reader in the condensation of summary rather than by his collected works. The originals of these are very scarce, but some of them have been reprinted, and those therefore who choose can judge for themselves on the question. I have attempted in an earlier work to present a precursor’s philosophical portrait, in part fait par lui-même; and I have not entered into the life of letters for the purpose of reproducing in another form—by way of shorter or longer recension—that which I have written already. But there is something that remains over from my original study; and I have indicated it already as a settlement of the question whether he has a message at this day for us and for our salvation, being so much more than arises from a simple presentation of his life and his doctrine in substance. We have seen that he was a Frenchman of his period; that he belonged to the noble class; that he worked from this point of vantage, preaching the knowledge of the inward life by word of mouth, by his presence, by personal contact among his peers in Society, but also—and for us above all—by his books, which are fairly numerous.
Galilean Mysticism.—He was dedicated utterly to the great cause at his heart, and if he was not the Galahad of Gallican mysticism he was at least the Perceval, a man of blameless life and “glorious, great intent.” Were I in search of a key to his character, and also to his personal influence, I should say that he was one to whom the atmosphere of sanctity was as air to the nostrils of man’s body. He was not a saint in the sense of palm or aureole, nor perhaps in another sense, because the great heights are above high thinking and most of the high acting; but he was one who loved holiness for its own sake, and who—after his proper manner—was an illuminated and Christian philosopher in the best sense of this expression.
A Character Key.—He was also “high-erected thought, seated in a heart of courtesy”; and when a disposition of this kind is turned towards God and the realism of things divine; when it can and does say that “in the interior man we shall behold the all,” it is about this time that the “gay, licentious crowd” begins to remember Jerusalem, and to turn thereto—or almost. I have perhaps exceeded my intention, but here is a key of character which—for those who choose to go further—opens a very wide door, even into a garden of exotics. Now, Saint-Martin’s own key is contained in that pregnant word—Purification. The Knight Galahad was born with “a fire in the heart and a fire in the brain” of God’s love; and we can read in the great, chaotic romance called Tristram of Lyonesse how his touch itself purified. Much as he had realised, Saint-Martin could teach us only to search and to pray for purity of heart, addressing ourselves to Him Qui labia Isaiae prophetae calculo ignito mundavit. Like Sir Bors, he had been in the Spiritual City and had returned again to Logres. He carrifd this word in his mouth, and of his commentary thereon I will give—as a decorative specimen—one luminous dictum, which tells us how
“The universe is a great fire lighted from the beginning of things for the purification of all corrupted beings.”
A Literate Mystic.—It will be seen that Saint-Martin, within the limits of his literary understanding—all haste and negligence accepted—was an occasional lover of the phrase, and he must have paused at times to take pains, or he could scarcely have produced his results. He is indeed the most literate and finished of professed mystics, of those to whom—except in momentary flashes—the sense of form and expression never dictated anything, but the spirit and the matter everything. There is evidence that he loved his own books, which is to be counted to him for righteousness. He would have affirmed—I suppose—if questioned, that he came hither to write them, and write them he did, as one who was performing the will of God to the utmost extent of his power. He had indeed a great and holy reverence for all that he accomplished in connection with the business of his mission.
Desire and Love.—We may note as an instance his proud renunciation regarding the necessity of books in the last resource. All his instruction made—and was intended to make—for that direct experience after the attainment of which our ships can be burnt and our ladders cast down, since the soul never goes back. But he knew—in his heart he knew—the remoteness of that millennium to which he deferred his dispensation concerning their necessity. When would mankind understand, for example, the key which he gave to his L’Homme de Désir—that key which could be wrought only by the desire of man? I hold—as one who has been called to a work that does not differ, in paths that are tne same, or parallel—I hold that of such love there come the sweetness and light which make the path even as the aisles of a church leading to a great chancel, and the way clear—even to a sanctuary within.
Love and Knowledge.—It is of the accidents only, but I think also that an age which like our own has awakened so vividly to the sense of expression and form—should other dispositions concur—might be drawn with chains of roses by his grande manière, his occasional skill and his curious clouds of enchantment. So also—as they come to know him—they might conceive the kind of detached affection which he ought to inspire. Though he wrote as a man of desire, though this is the categorical description which he would have given at need of himself, the quality of peace which had come into his heart was so utterly apart from passion that it is not easy to regard him as an apostle of love and therefore the master of the last secrets. He is proportionately hard to know well—or, at least, it is hard to recognise the fact if one is actually well-knowing him. He says, indeed, that “love is more than knowledge, which is only the lamp of love”; that it is “the helm of our vessel”; that it is “possible to dispense with science, but not with love”; that as love began, and as it now maintains, so it will fulfil all. And yet—as it seems to me—these are the words of one “who hath watch’d, not shared the strife”; and though there is evidence in his outward life that he had strong, lasting affections, I think that he spoke of love as one who had seen but had not entered the Promised Land. Perhaps after all it was with his best friends even as it was with his books: they were part of the cause or the work—they in it and it in them. There is no affection more salutary than this can be in the word’s restricted sense, but it is not that for which we are all looking with our whole souls.
Insight of Saint-Martin.—Again, however, there is no testimony to compare with that of a man of insight concerning the insight which he has put into writing; and it is on the basis of his own appreciation of that which he placed on record that—if I did not know it otherwise—I should say that his intuitions were good, and so were his friendships. I think, in fine, that he treated his own personality with the respect which was due to his vocation, and the man who knows how to do this in the true manner has the seals of his own sanctity and moral goodness in his very hands. These things, however, are titles to consideration but not the warrants that we are seeking; and though they are part of our subject, they are not its marrow or essence.
Concerning His Message.—It is necessary to point out in the next place that the question whether Saint-Martin has a real and living appeal to us at this day does not depend upon his message having come to him ex hypothesi by way of revelation. This kind of thing was in the air at his period and he lived and breathed amidst it, as large sections among us do also at this day. The better class of spiritual minds escaped then, as they escape now. If a man arose from the dead—and in a sense there are many resurrections—he would not with facility convert us to false doctrine. Such a resurrection would be only a question of fact, very interesting of course as something displacing certain centres of accepted physics, but did the risen being testify in opposition to great things of which we know otherwise, there are some of us who would remain unmoved—by him or by an angel either. We are on the side of angels, on the assumption that in their turn they are on God’s side, like the mule of Perceval. I should demur strongly regarding any premature first-fruits of resurrection which could not recite Credo in unum Deum, and I should reject with no second thought the testimony of one who claimed to have searched the Universe and returned affirming that he had found no God.
Saint-Martin and Secret Tradition.—But further, the appeal does not depend on whether Saint-Martin derived his doctrine from a tradition transmitted in secret or from his own excogitation. Such a tradition has been passed on through Christian times, and we know that the French mystic did enter one circle of super-Masonic initiation and was influenced thereby, while he owed little comparatively to books, nor is it traceably from book-sources that his vocation arose. An old Lutheran work on the pleasures and advantages of self-knowledge, by a writer named Abadie—who is scarcely a name in England—influenced him at an early period. I know this book, and it accounts for as much as nothing in the genesis of Martinism. It may have led him to think—so many trivialities give leading of this kind—but it never opened the path along which he travelled so far in after years of life. So also his familiarity with Jacob Böhme—an event of mature age—came much too late to do more than confirm him, though it is impossible to disregard and would be unfair to reduce its influence. He has told us that he would have written Le Nouvel Homme differently had he then known the Teutonic philosopher; but he refused either to revise the work or to indicate such modifications as he claims to have had in his mind; while we have fair warrants in other ways for deciding that it would have suffered no root-change. Böhme helped him to see that there were greater deeps and heights in L’Homme de Désir than he knew when he put it into writing, while Le Ministère de l’Homme Esprit contains nothing which could not have been developed in the natural course out of his own implicits. In summary, his debt to books—since in obscure and secondary ways it is inevitable that he owed something—is comparable along certain lines to the debt which he owed to his initiation; but the latter is better in evidence because it is much more direct.
Saint-Martin and Occult Science.—As we have seen, the initiation which he attained was of the occult order, but Saint-Martin drew nothing therefrom which the ordinary mind is likely to connect therewith. He did not issue from its sanctuary as an adept of secret sciences: he took therein—so far as we can tell—no predisposition towards these. It was a time when there was every variety of overt claim offering and producing all grades and stages of conventional and simulated adeptship. There were also some masters of the lesser kind in evidence. While Saint-Martin was a Hermetic philosopher in the spiritual and mystical sense, while he used some of the Hermetic terminology, he denied the first principles of physical alchemy and derided the end thereof. As to all its methods and concealments, his words are words of scorn. Of astrology one would hardly suppose that he had heard, by which I mean that it had not entered into his consciousness. The curative and psychic science of animal magnetism was at its zenith, under the auspices of that Anton Mesmer who invented or recovered its process. Saint-Martin served a period of apprenticeship therein, and he loathed it ever afterwards in all its ways. From Mesmer he shrank, and as regards the professional Illuminati of his day, it is enough to note that he was not to be seen in the same street with the prodigious Count Cagliostro—his shadows or his alternatives.
The Practical Ways.—We have seen, however, that his circle of initiation followed practices which recall broadly those of ceremonial magic, though with far other intent than is connoted by Grimoires and Arbatels. We have seen also that they were not without their results. But in the midst of all the actual workings there comes a message to us and to our posterity in the ways of mystical life. Saint-Martin was in the midst of the prodigies, and the result of all was that he issued therefrom, once and for ever renouncing the so-called practical ways for the inward path. Such was his decision upon Art Magic, the Higher Magia, and all that we should now include under the name of psychical science. This is one message of Saint-Martin, and such lesson is still needful and eloquent in our day, which has so many points of comparison with the years more immediately preceding the French Revolution. We also are encompassed by the quakings and upheavals of intellectual dissolution, while the astral workings are more prolific and more striking than they were in France of the eighteenth century.
The Old School.—It is to be noted, however, and this makes the lesson more valuable, that Saint-Martin did not come out from the Rite of Elect Cohenim as one who denounced or denied. Never thereafter did he speak except with respect concerning the way of his initiation—-as I have shewn earlier in this study. He believed that Martines de Pasqually had exceptional gifts, and when he referred to these it was always as if there lay behind them those graces which alone can justify their possession. He himself had found a more excellent way, but having profited by the instruction he did all honour to the source. He recognised that his early teacher differed from most of the period in respect of the horizon embraced by his practical art. He admitted his own debt to him in another sense, for he derived from Pasqually some part of that theosophical instruction which appears in his first work. Des Erreurs et de la Vérité. But it was the least part of his system, which grew in light, grace, and the sense of sanctity in proportion as it receded from any phase of novelty or variation in doctrine, and treated only of the science of the inward life, regarded as the way of Christ in the soul, with all the worlds of thought arising therefrom.
A World of Grace.—The soul in phenomenal manifestation may at times arise in beauty; the soul may arise in power and confuse the doctors in official temples of knowledge: these things are good. But in its higher research the soul appears only as a world of grace unfolded in holiness, and for ever and ever it opens to be explored further in the light of the Divine Presence. For God is within, and so only we enter the way of reintegration, of union and beatific vision. Hereof is the echoing counsel which we can bring away from the works of the French mystic, and it is on this ground that I regard him as having a message for us at the present day. He did not have all lights, and some of his lights are clouded. His tacit acceptance of the French Revolution may tend to alienate some, but these are few; his dubious and contradictory voice upon the mission and importance of the Church can please neither its friends nor enemies; but he expounded in intelligible language of theosophy the whole scheme of Divine Revelation as a symbolical and mystical picture of the great drama which was to be enacted in the soul, and later mystics have reflected therefrom—sometimes without realising from whom they derive. In so far as Jacob Böhme covered this ground antecedently, Saint-Martin owed nothing to him, having not at that time come under his influence. Hereof are his titles, but others will be found in his books.
Divine Union.—I do not think that he had all the secrets which are conveyed, even intellectually, regarding Divine Union, but he did dream and did in part know that it is here and now. We have seen also that from the beginning he was on the quest of God. With him also the desire of reunion was a memory of the past as well as a presentation of the future. All honour to him in his aspirations as a man of desire and with all the strength of our hearts let us hope that he attained his term.
The Inward Way.—There is a word to add by way of conclusion, lest some should think that there is little consolation in being dissuaded from the so-called practical paths—since these are idle—if there is now no direct teaching concerning the inward way, except that which can be gathered by one’s own work and from the holy men of old in the memorials which these have left. The answer is that there are still some channels open—out of the beaten tracks—and those who have ears to hear can learn in these how the mystery of sanctity is not only behind the veils of Christian doctrine but behind the phenomenal veils of psychic life. Its shadows are also in the pageants of Instituted Mysteries, which are not apart from Masonry, though they may not belong thereto. And they are in Masonry itself.
Concluding Words.—It remains to say that although Saint-Martin was a man of noble birth he was not of the titled nobility, and not therefore a marquis, as he is called frequently. He entered the army in his youth, and is even said to have received the Cross of St. Louis for some unrecorded military service. He passed—personally unscathed—through the Reign of Terror within the walls of Paris. As regards his philosophical propaganda, he reaped no profit therefrom and he desired no distinction. He passed early into comparative retirement, calling himself le philosophe inconnu, though he was in truth known everywhere in his own country. His books have been translated into several European languages, and we have seen that they are entitled to a decisive place in the history of mystical philosophy. Those who are acquainted with his correspondence, published long after his death—if they possess the required insight—will be able to trace his inward progress and attainments, and will see that he realised—intellectually at least—the one end of every true Initiation. I have given this unusual space to a study of his personality and dedications because he is a singular and indeed solitary instance of one who stood apart from Masonry and yet exercised a great influence thereon. When the Strict Observance was transformed at Lyons, Martinism was the touchstone applied to it. The Secret Grades which lie behind it are permeated with Martinistic elements. Its abiding presence will be found in the memorable Rite of the Philalethes, of which the work entitled Archives Mytho-Hermétiques—connected with this Rite—remains to testify. Finally it seems historically true to add that Martinism passed into Russia hand in hand with Masonry and the Rosy Cross.
The Sat B’hai
So far as I have been able to ascertain, this invention has been dormant for over fifteen years, except in so far as part of its materials may have been worked into the so-called Order of Light, as reconstituted at Bradford. I suspect that Kenneth MacKenzie had a hand in its earlier activities—such as they were—for he bore false witness concerning it by presenting its mythical history as literal matter of fact, and by creating an impression that it was spread widely over the world. By the hypothesis of its title, it was royal as well as oriental, and the words Sai B’hai signify Seven Feathers, in allusion to “a sacred bird which always flies in groups of seven.” It began to be heard of in England during the seventies of the nineteenth century, and an important Officer of the Order once gave me the benefit of his knowledge on two salient points: (1) That the Rituals were compiled by Yarker, in conjunction with a dignitary of the Order of Light, and (2) that their whole story is spurious. As appears, however, by an Epitome in my possession, the Sat B’hai is connected with the name of Portman, and it would appear therefore that he borrowed the services of Yarker to make up the Rituals, as he obtained similar assistance from the Chevalier Robert Palmer-Thomas to produce those of the original Order of Light.
A Rite on Paper.—The work of compilation being finished—in so far as it was finished—there is not the least reason to suppose that the Rite was spread otherwise than by the mode of communication, in which case it is a Rite on paper only. A putative historical lecture communicated to Candidates after taking the Obligation affirms that “the Order was revived in 1845, in the ancient city of Prag, the modern name of which is Allahabad in India, by seven Brethren,” who “scattered immediately, and six having perished, the seventh migrated westward, carrying with him the Red Ribbon of the Order and the Bell—three thousand years old—which once tinkled on a Tibetan altar.” The Ribbon was woven in a perfect circle and signified unity, while the Bell represented vigilance. It was inscribed with myterious figures. The Sat B’hai consisted of Seven Degrees, but two others were superposed thereon, belonging to a still more obscure invention—namely, the Order of Sikha. Of this the first Grade consisted of one person, referred to under the title of Apex and described in the lecture as “a myth or name only.” The second included two Sponsors, who were “the real rulers of the combined Orders.”
Seven Grades.—The Second or Inferior Order of the Sat B’hai had Seven Grades in progression downward, thus: (1) Arch Censors, (2) Arch Couriers, (3) Arch Ministers, (4) Arch Heralds, (5) Arch Scribes, (6) Arch Auditors, and (7) Arch Mutes. The three last Degrees were open to all and any, Masons or non-Masons, male and female. Those above could be conferred on Master-Masons only. The combined Orders were said to symbolise universal cosmogony, as illustrated by the nine incarnations of Vishnu, with intimations concerning a tenth, “belonging to the ultimate destruction, when the White Horse shall stamp with its lifted hoof.” In this manner it was claimed to represent or reflect pure Brahminism.
Temple of the Rite.—It is to be questioned whether there was Ritual development beyond two Degrees, for schemes of this kind are apt to remain in embryo after the zeal of an initial effort. In any case, the materials in my hands do not extend further. Five apartments were required by the hypothesis of the first—an arrangement which indicates at once the unworkable nature of the proposal. They were (1) a vestibule for Candidates; (2) a room for Scribes, Auditors and Mutes, or members of the first three Degrees; (3) The Temple of Initiation; (4) an apartment reserved for Gurus, meaning pupils of masters; (5) that of the Masters, which was to be illuminated brilliantly. The Ritual indicates no procedure corresponding to this clumsy distribution, nor any means of distinguishing Masters within the higher circles or pupils from members of lower Grades. The Temple of Initiation discovered Brahma in the East, Vishnu in the South and Siva in the West, corresponding respectively to birth, life, death, and the resurrection which follow thereon, otherwise creation, preservation and destruction.
“Brahma is the Architect, the Preserver and Regenerator of the Unity. Vishnu is the periodical Redeemer. Siva is the Babylonian Bel, identical with the Sun-god I A O, and is represented by Lithoi or Pillars.”
Incarnations of Vishnu.—The documents are illiterate in character, as would be expected under the presiding genius of a person like Yarker, and the epitomes which he appears to have issued give no means of deciding whether the Officers personated the gods or whether these were exhibited on tracing-boards, with the devices and symbols ascribed to them. The Incarnations of Vishnu signified “Deity in its descent as Spirit into matter and back again”—so do the documents elegantly express the notion. They were explained thus to the Candidate:
“(1) Incarnation as Fish or Draconian Figure, meaning that the earth was a long trail of fire-mist before it assumed the ovoid shape. (2) Incarnation as Tortoise, signifying potential life and separation from the First Cause. (3) Incarnation as a Boar, meaning ‘Nature emanating from itself’— but why a Boar should typify this, or a Tortoise stand for potential life, the deposition does not indicate. (4) Incarnation as a Lion-Man. (5) Incarnation as a deformed dwarf, who—on considerations which pass comprehension—signifies spiritual and physical perfection attained on earth. (6) Incarnation as a Man-Monkey—enlightened but not spiritual. (7) Incarnation as Perfect Manhood—Rama Chandar. (8) Incarnation as Krishna, the Sacred Red Dragon, wearing the three-peaked mitre. (9) Incarnation as Buddha or Sakyamuna. The tenth incarnation is still to come, being that of a Warrior on a Milk-White Steed, waving over his head the Sword of Destruction and having in either hand a Discus composed of rings encircled one by another—an emblem of revolving cycles.”
Second Degree.—The incarnations of Vishnu are well known, as also the Avatar which is to come, but this explanation, which is a medley of cosmology and theogony seems peculiar to the Rite. The Second Degree shewed Krishna in the East and seven planets revolving in seven circles; Buddha in the South; and Jesus, or the “coming Buddha,” in the West. In what sense the Christ of Nazareth is to come does not appear, and it would be precarious to suggest that Brahminism, in the opinion of the Rite, is explained and completed by Christianity. The metaphysical teaching of the Grade claims to unfold the true nature of man and his variations.
“Man is dual, fire and water, i.e. true self and reversal of true self. In the spirit condition thought and bliss are one, but in the opposite mode man is dualised and lives alternately in a state of dreaming and waking. ... In the Tatva Bodha and other works man is a prismatic trinity consisting of a material body, an astral body and a body of causation, . . . which are watched by the Infinite Spirit in ecstasy, and these four enfold each other. The centre is ecstasy, in which the individualised spirit leads a trance-life. The sphere of transition or Lethe is that in which the Spirit. .. emerges into reversed knowledge . . . extrinsic to itself. . . . That knowledge which it possessed in the state of ecstasy was within itself: it knew and experienced all things intuitively.”
Master of the Rite.—This extract offers a confused vestige of Eastern Theosophy expressed in confusing terms. It remains to be said that the mysterious individual referred to under the title of Apex and described as a myth or name was an Anglo-Indian colonel, according to that Officer of the Order who termed its story spurious. The said colonel was the original possessor of the Bell, which had been obtained with other loot in Delhi, after the Indian Mutiny. The mascot passed on the death of the colonel into the possession of his widow, who refused to part with it. If all this happens to be true—which is by no means certain—it would seem to follow that the Anglo-Indian invented the Sat B’hai, unless some one invented the colonel, his bell and all. In any case, the Sat B’hai never possessed one of its alleged insignia. It had, however, the useful resource of a supposed Unknown Superior, though with a futility peculiar to itself his chair was acknowledged to be empty. The Sat B’hai offers a serviceable instance of ambition yoked with incapacity in unscrupulous makers of Rites and Degrees, and that which transpires here for the first time concerning it will enable readers to estimate the calibre of Kenneth MacKenzie, when he dilates upon the light which it casts on true Freemasonry.
Something, as opportunity arose, has been said in previous studies about Scottish Masonic romance, its consecrating legends, its initiations and their Holy Houses. The purely historical side has also its great talismans, as we have seen in the Records of Old Lodges, respecting Mary’s Chapel, Mother Kilwinning, Scoon and Perth, Atchison’s Haven and the other Operative Sanctuaries, which now are and have been for many generations Temples of the Speculative Art. The Craft is the root-matter as always, but a part only of Masonic light in Scotland. I have not seen the Mark Degree worked anywhere as I saw it once at Mother Kilwinning. I have never heard stories of High Grades as I heard of them among rain-worn hills of Ayrshire, when I talked with mechanics and shepherds gathered about the glowing hearth of a tavern in the town of Ayr. I heard of Priestly Orders in the dour shadow of the Kirk, of Templar Priesthoods and of things yet stranger, some records of which otherwise I have reached since in ordinary paths of research. As in York so in Scotland, there must, I think, have been things lying buried in the vaults which made the transition from Operative to Speculative Masonry a more easy matter than might appear on the face of things.
Early Workings.—-The vestiges of early workings or customs can be collected briefly together: they include (1) the prayer to God; (2) the swearing or “purging” of Brethren, to insure impartial judgment when they sat as Operative Courts; (3) the Festival of St. John the Evangelist and its solemn keeping; (4) the glove-money or “clothing of the Lodge,” which I have mentioned elsewhere; (5) the Oath at entry; (6) the trial of skill, in virtue of which only an Apprentice was passed to Fellow Craft; (7) the ruling of a Lodge by its Warden; (8) the communication of the Mason’s Word, described in 1678 as “a secret signal”’ and as old as the Tower of Babel, or at least the time of Solomon; (9) the ruling of Lodges according to old Constitutions, but no extant document is earlier than the second half of the eighteenth century, nor does it appear to be of Scottish origin; (10) the custom—e.g. at Aberdeen—of holding Lodges in the open fields whenever it was fair weather; (11) the reception of non-Operatives and gentlemen, at least from the year 1600 and thence onward; (12) the predominance of such Geomatic, Theorical or Honorary Members over the Operatives by the end of the seventeenth century, the Lodge of Glasgow excepted.
The Grand Lodge.—We have seen that in 1721 Desaguliers visited Mary's Chapel, and in 1723 a copy of Anderson's Constitutions was presented to the Lodge of Dunblane. These are the first records of London Speculative Masonry being brought to the notice of Scotland. The next instance belongs to 1735, being, says Mr. D. Murray Lyon, "the admission of a Master Mason under the modern Masonic Constitution" at the Lodge of Canongate Kilwinning. On October 15, 1736—as we have seen otherwise—the Grand Lodge of Scotland was founded at Mary's Chapel and a Grand Master was elected. On this occasion only about thirty-three per cent of the Scottish Lodges were represented, and years elapsed before the Grand Obedience could be called a representative body. Kilwinning, Melrose, Haughfoot, Glasgow St. John, Dundee, Scoon and Perth were among those which maintained independence for a longer or shorter period. Communication was established between the Grand Lodge of Scotland and that of London in 1740.
Roll of Grand Masters.—(1) 1736, William Sinclair of Roslyn; (2) 1737, George, Earl of Cromarty; (3) 1738, John, Earl of Kintore; (4) 1739, James, Earl of Morton; (5) 1740, Thomas, Earl of Strathmore; (6) 1741, Alexander, Earl of Leven; (7) 1742, William, Earl of Kilmarnock; (8) 1743, James, Earl of Wemyss; (9) 1744, James, Earl of Moray; (10) 1745, Henry David, Earl of Buchan; (11) 1746, William Nisbet of Dirleton; (12) 1747, Francis Charteris, Earl of Wemyss; (13) 1748, Hugo Seton of Touch; (14) 1749, Thomas, Lord Erskine; (15) 1750, Alexander, Earl of Eglinton; (16) 1751, James, Lord Boyd; (17) 1752, George Drummond, Lord-Provost of Edinburgh; (18) 1753, Charles Hamilton Gordon; (19) 1754, James, Lord Forbes; (20) 1755-56, Sholto Charles, Lord Aberdour; (21) 1757-78, Alexander, Earl of Galloway; (22) 1759-60, David, Earl of Leven; (23) 1761-62, Charles, Earl of Elgin; (24) 1763-64, John, Earl of Kellie; (25) 1765-66, James Stewart, Lord-Provost of Edinburgh; (26) 1767-68, George, Earl of Dalhousie; (27) 1769-70, Lieut.-General Sir Adolphus Oughton; (28) 1771-72, Patrick, Earl of Dumfries; (29) 1773, John, Duke of Atholl; (30) 1774-75, David Dalrymple; (31) 1776-77, Sir William Forbes, Bt.; (32) 1778-79. John, Duke of Atholl; (33) 1780-81, Alexander, Earl of Balcarres; (34) 1781-82, David, Earl of Buchan; (35) 1784-85, George, Lord Haddo; (36) 1786-87, Francis Charters, Lord Elcho; (37) 1788-89, Francis, Lord Napier; (38) 1790-91, George, Earl of Morton; (39) 1792-93, George, Marquess of Huntly; (40) 1794-95, William, Earl of Ancrum; (41) 1796-97, Francis, Lord Doune; (42) 1798-99, Sir James Stirling; (43) 1800-01, Charles William, Earl of Dalkeith; (44) 1802-3, George, Earl of Aboyne; (45) 1804, George, Earl of Dalhousie; (46) 1806-7, Francis, Earl of Moira; (47) 1808-9, Hon. W. R. Maule; (48) 1810-11, James, Earl of Rosslyn; (49) 1812-13, Richard, Viscount Duncan; (50) 1814-15, James, Earl of Fife; (51) 1816-17, Sir John Marjoribanks, Bt.; (52) 1818-19, George, Marquis of Tweeddale; (53) 1820-21, Alexander, Duke of Hamilton; (54) 1822-23, George William, Duke of Argyll; (55) 1824-25, John, Viscount Glenorchy; (56) 1826, Thomas Robert, Earl of Kinnoul; (57) 1828-29, Francis, Lord Elcho; (58) 1830-31, George William, Baron Kinnaird; (59) 1832, David, Earl of Buchan; (60) 1833-34, Marquis of Douglas; (61) 1835, Viscount Fincastle; (62) 1836-37, Lord Ramsay; (63) 1838-39, Sir James Forest, Bt.; (64) 1840, George William, Earl of Rothes; (65) 1841-42, Lord Frederick Fitzclarence; (66) 1843-45, Lord Glenlyon; (67) 1846-63, George, Duke of Atholl; (68) 1864-66, John Whyte Melville; (69) 1867-69, Francis Robert, Marquis of Breadalbane; (70) 1870-73, Fox Maule, afterwards Earl of Rosslyn; (71) 1874, Sir M. Shaw-Stewart, Bt., and so forward to the present Grand Master, who is Brigadier-General R. G. Gordon-Gilmour of Craigmillar.
Scottish Grand Council of Rites
We have seen that the Early Grand Rite of Forty-seven Degrees was divided formerly into three Governing Bodies, being (1) The Early Grand Mother Chapter of the Holy Royal Arch in Scotland; (2) The Grand Encampment of the Temple and Malta in Scotland; (3) The Scottish Grand Council of Rites. The last had charge of the Green and White Series of the Early Grand Scottish Rite. It conferred in respect of so-called Green Masonry: (1) Prince of Babylon; (2) Prince Mason; (3) Knight of the Black Cross; (4) Knight of Bethany; (5) Knight of the White Cross; (6) Knight of Patmos; (7) Knight of Death; (8) Knight of the Rosy Cross; (9) Knight of the Black and White Eagle. The White Series included: (1) Priestly Order of the Temple, or White Mason; (2) Priest of the Sun; (3) Priest of Eleusis; (4) Mother Word, or Royal Secret. The Orders of the Temple and Malta were the qualifications for these Degrees; but having regard to the fact that the Green and White Series were superposed upon Red and Black Masonry in the Early Grand Rite this is only a variant presentation of the obvious fact that Members of Higher Grades must have passed through the Lower Grades previously.
Officers.—The Council consisted of its Officers, members of the Forty-seventh Degree, and the three First Officers of each subordinate Council—if any, presumably. The Officers were the Sovereign Grand Master of the Rite, Past Grand Masters (if any), the Deputy, Conductor and his Assistant, Examiner, Chancellor, Expert, Keeper of Records, Standard Bearer, Sword Bearer, Ushers and Sentinel. Out of this body-general there emerged an executive branch, consisting of the Grand Master, Grand Chancellor and Grand Keeper of Records, together with such Brethren as were elected to serve thereon. It was termed a Triplite Council. An Annual Meeting for election of Office-Bearers was held on St. Andrew’s Day, and there were other Meetings during the year as required.
Grand Mother Chapter.—It is obvious that the Council of Rites was in reality the head of the whole Early Grand Rite. The Grand Mother Chapter had nominal control over (1) Funeral Master; (2) Fellow Craft Mark; (3) Master’s Mark; (4) Architect; (5) Grand Architect; (6) Master of the Blue; (7) Past Master; (8) Royal Ark Mariner; (9) Fugitive Mark; (10) Link and Chain; (11) Jacob’s Wrestle; (12) Scarlet Cord; (13) Brotherly Love; (14) Royal Master; (15) Select Master; (16) Most Excellent Master; (17) Excellent Mason; (18) Super-Excellent Mason; (19) Holy Royal Arch. The Officers of the Mother Chapter were the Grand Principals Z, H and J, Depute Grand Principal Z, Grand Scribes F and N, Grand First, Second and Third Sojourners, Grand Captains of the Veils, Grand Standard Bearer and Grand Janitor. It should be noted that the Royal Arch does not occupy the same position in respect of the Craft Degrees as obtains under the constitution of the Grand Lodge of England.
Grand Encampment.—The title in full was Supreme Governing Body for the Orders of Knights of the Temple of Zion and the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem, now called Knights of Malta in Scotland. It had control, nominal or otherwise, over the following Degrees: (1) Knight of the Red Cross of Rome and Constantine; (2) Knight of the Holy Sepulchre; (3) Knight of the Christian Mark; (4) Knight of the Holy and Illustrious Order of the Cross; (5) Pilgrim; (6) Palm and Shell; (7) Knight Templar; (8) Mediterranean Pass; (9) Knight of Malta. The Early Grand Rite was of course superposed on the Craft Degrees and these were embodied in its numeration. As regards the 45th, 46th and 47th Degrees I have not ascertained their titles, though I have a note of the Official Secrets. I have spoken of the Rite throughout in the past tense, as nothing has been heard of it since the Grades of the Temple and Malta were absorbed, as we have seen, by the Chapter General of Scotland.
Scottish Philosophical Rite
This has been mentioned in connection with the so-called Academy of Sublime Masters of the Luminous Ring, on which it is said to have been based. The current rumours concerning it are a mass of confusion, while all the dates are dubious and some certainly mythical. It is said to have been established at Paris in 1776, or several years—as we have seen—before the supposed parent Rite came into existence. Its activities were suspended, according to the same story, in 1792, but it resumed work after the Revolution. It is quite possible that it was a post-Revolution creation, more especially as another story says that its Mother Lodge was established—presumably at Paris in 1805—by an amalgamation of the Contrat Social with a Lodge of St. Alexander of Scotland. The qualification for membership at this time was the Degree of Master Mason—according, it is added, to the Rite of 1776. But it does not appear that it had Craft workings during any period of its career. The Grades of the Rite have been classed in the following order : (1) Knight of the Black Eagle or Rose-Croix, in three Points, which seem to have been regarded as three separate Grades for purposes of enumeration; (2) Knight of the Phoenix; (3) Knight of the Sun; (4) Knight of Iris; (5) True Mason; (6) Knight of the Argonauts; (7) Knight of the Golden Fleece; (8) Grand Inspector Perfect Initiate; (9) Grand Inspector Grand Scottish Mason; (10) Sublime Master of the Luminous Ring. Neither the Academy of the last name nor the Rite which is represented as its development had any certain existence before 1815, when it appeared at Douai. An Academy of True Masons connected with the name of Pernety, as we have seen, had several of its Grade titles. MacKenzie stultifies himself by contradictory information under different headings, and Woodford who mentions it in one place, promises to speak of it in another and forgets his pledge.
The first point to establish is that the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite belongs to the year 1801 and originated in America—at Charleston in South Carolina, as we have seen in my brief memoir of Dr. Frederick Dalcho. The second point is that it was provided with a fraudulent Latin Charter or Constitution under the name of Frederick the Great, to which document sufficient consideration has been given in my notice of the Masonic Lord of Prussia. There is not the least reason to suppose that the pious invention was manufactured in Charleston, and it may have antedated considerably the year mentioned above. We shall probably never know where or by whom it was produced. The antecedent history of the Rite takes us back to the Council of Emperors and its memorable system of Twenty-five Degrees. On August 27, 1761, being three years after its foundation, this Council is alleged to have granted a Patent to a certain Stephen Morin, by which he was licensed “to multiply the Supreme Degrees of High Perfection and to create Inspectors in all places where the Sublime Degrees are not established.” I do not know whether this Patent has been challenged on the score of authenticity: if the word “multiply “ is to be understood otherwise than in the sense of “disseminate,” it condemns itself, while the authority to “create Inspectors” is otherwise evidence against it, for the Council was formed of Sovereign Prince Masons, Substitutes General, Grand Wardens and Sublime Commanders, but not of Inspectors and still less of Inspectors General. I have very little doubt that the Charter was part of a fraud in the making and that to the direction from which it emanated we may look with some confidence for the birthplace and parentage of the Constitution of Frederick the Great. We have to remember that from about 1760 and onward various Masonic adventurers were travelling with magnificent diplomas, and I fail to see why this dubious document should be regarded as more tolerable than the rest.
Stephen Morin.—However this may be, Stephen Morin went on his way and arrived at St. Domingo, where he began to establish a Rite which was presumably that of Perfection and appointed various Inspectors. He did the same in Jamaica and further gave powers to Isaac Da Costa as Deputy Inspector-General for South Carolina. Da Costa is said to have established a Grand Lodge of Perfection at Charleston in 1783, and here for the time being the story ends. Morin disappears from the scene, as he may have done years previously to the last date, and the subject sleeps till 1801, when we hear of a Supreme Council established in the same city by Frederick Dalcho, John Mitchell and certain other Masons for the propagation of a Rite comprising Thirty-Three Degrees, the List of which is as follows and may be compared with the Council of Emperors.
Content of the Rite.—I. Symbolic Lodge.—(1) Entered Apprentice. (2) Fellow Craft. (3) Master Mason. These are not worked by any Supreme Council in English speaking countries: they are the qualifications for further advancement. II. Lodge of Perfection.—(4) Secret Master. (5) Perfect Master. (6) Intimate Secretary. (7) Provost and Judge. (8) Intendant of the Building. (9) Elect of Nine. (10) Elect of Fifteen. (11) Sublime Elect, in America Sublime Knights Elect of the Twelve. (12) Grand Master Architect. (13) Royal Arch of Enoch, in America Knight of the Ninth Arch, or Royal Arch of Solomon. (14) Scotch Knight of Perfection, in America Grand Elect, Perfect and Sublime Mason. III. Council of Princes of Jerusalem.—(15) Knight of the Sword or of the East, in America Knight of the East. (16) Prince of Jerusalem. IV. Chapter of Rose-Croix.—(17) Knight of the East and West. (18) Prince Rose-Croix. V. Council of Kadosh.—(19) Grand Pontiff. (20) Grand Master of all Symbolic Lodges. (21) Noachite, or Prussian Knight. Compare Emperors. (22) Knight of the Royal Axe or Prince of Libanus. (23) Chief of the Tabernacle. Compare Emperors. (24) Prince of the Tabernacle. Compare Emperors. (25) Knight of the Brazen Serpent. Compare Emperors. (26) Prince of Mercy. (27) Knight Commander of the Temple. (28) Knight of the Sun or Prince Adept. (29) Grand Scottish Knight of St. Andrew. (30) Knight Kadosh. VI. Consistory of Sublime Princes of the Royal Secret.—(31) Inspector Inquisitor Commander. (32) Sublime Prince of the Royal Secret. VII. Supreme Council.—(33) Sovereign Grand Inspector General.
Present Diffusion.—The spread of the Scottish Rite in all countries was rapid and its success almost phenomenal. It overcame even the ineradicable jealousy and intolerance of the French Grand Orient. I have mentioned elsewhere its great debt to Albert Pike, but the foundations had been laid previously. I append the geographical distribution of its Supreme Councils, preceded by their dates of formation: 1801, Southern Jurisdiction, U.S.A. 1804, France and its dependencies. 1811, Spain. 1813, Northern Jurisdiction, U.S.A. 1817, Belgium. 1824, Ireland. 1829, Brazil. 1830, Peru. 1833, Columbia. 1842, Portugal. 1845, England and Wales. 1846, Scotland. 1856, Uruguay. 1857, Argentine Republic. 1859, Cuba, 1860, Mexico. 1861, St. Domingo. 1865, Venezuela. 1870, Paraguay. 1871, Guatemala. 1872, Greece. 1873, Switzerland. 1874, Canada. 1876, Italy. 1899, Chile. 1907, Egypt. 1912, Serbia. 1913, Holland.
There are few considerations more fruitful for the student who is prepared spiritually than a study of the Instituted Mysteries in all ages and countries. He is led further and further through vistas of the soul and her aspirations, her struggles also and attainments. It is an encouragement and a recompense which awaits everywhere—that is to say, from any point of departure—a Postulant of the various Orders, who having first conceived intellectually the term of adeptship goes in search of the light within him. He shall return after long travelling, having described no barren circle of research, portans manipulos suos. The travail of his days will have been nowhere in subjects foreign to the implicits of his own mind and heart. This is equivalent to saying that the Rites of Initiation are certain formulae of consciousness whereby that which is hidden within him—so to speak, subsistently—is educed and manifested. He becomes that which he knows, at least in part and so far as he can realise in his own nature, or translate his grade of knowledge into the grade of life. As an offset to the common life of conventions, this is as much as can be expected in these days from any office of the sanctuaries. It is as much as they are empowered to give, for they give nothing automatically. The message is always: “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” It is possible thereafter that such a Postulant may be asked to try one journey more, but this time it will be in a region of first-hand experience, when he will discover for himself the truth of that dictum—belonging to old Alchemy—which certifies that it is vain to attempt the practice till a working theory has been laid down. The possession of this he will owe to those things by which he has been guided heretofore.
A Holy Assembly.—The path that he will be called to follow henceforth and possibly for ever is that of the Holy Assembly. Whether he succeeds or fails, he will learn what high reason warrants everything that may have been said from time to time in these pages to shew that the mystical life—which is the life of the Instituted Mysteries reduced to their daily practice—leads us on from the life of the Church. But it will be understood that there is not any question here of the official headships in religion which renounce and disdain one another, exclude and overreach each other, and circumscribe an alleged catholicity within the separatist bounds of rival orthodoxies. The true and real Church is a spirit and a life, a bond of integration in Christ through the life and the spirit of Christ. The Holy Assembly which I have mentioned is of those who are so integrated. It is a House not made with hands, and, indeed, is that House of which we hear words at a distance in certain efficacious and inspiring prayers of the Mark Degree. We are united in that Holy Assembly to those who have elsewhere shared our labours. This is the testimony of religion, of that Church Mystical of which the Head is a Mystical Christ. It is the testimony also of Masonry, not alone of the Mark Degree but the Rose-Croix, nor less of the Rose-Croix than the Royal Order, while it uprises to greet and to welcome even in such “sad removes” as the Red Cross of Constantine. Hence, I think that with Martines de Pasqually we must even be content with what we have, whatever our personal opinions of the grand obediences and supreme pontificates, of those who speaking ex cathedra have long since ceased to say anything which signifies in Divine Realism to the one purpose of the soul, of those other Wardens of the Gate, Keepers of Sacred Mysteries who know nothing of the Mysteries and have no ears to hear. Quod tenet nunc teneat donec de medio fiat. These notwithstanding, we may not be the less assured that the higher knowledge of even Masonic Orders does not differ from the higher understanding of the Faith, or either from that end which in all time has been the chief concern of man.
Secret Doctrine of the Union
There is a sense—though partial and external—in which the life of sacramentalism is a life of sorcery, for man appears to be sustained, developed and advanced as if under terms of enchantment. He is as one who is given, for example, a white stone, who is told that it is the Bread of Angels, and he receives it as Angels’ Bread. He is given the natural pageantry of a highly coloured world, full of tinctures and emblazonment; it is offered to him as reality; he has accepted it as reality accordingly for myriads of years. And finally, since the sphere of Ritual is also a sphere of sorcery, on proceeding to initiation he is given the symbol Abracadabra, with the secret variants and substitutes thereof, and is told that it is the True Word. In a deeper aspect, however, we know that sacraments—which are neither two only nor seven, but a thousand times ten thousand, a multitude which no man can number—are outward signs of inward grace and channels for the communication of grace. An immanent reality testifies behind the glorious pageant of the outward world; we have seen that he who is properly prepared to eat a crust of bread may partake—with Paracelsus—of all the stars and all the heavens; while some of the Instituted Mysteries which work in Ritual convey to those who can receive the hidden gospel of the soul’s path in God, from the life of separation to the mystical life of union. Greatest among all the Instituted Mysteries working in the open world are those of the Greek and Latin Rites; but there are Secret Orders which convey their Divine Message under less heavy veils.
Churches and Secret Orders.—The true seers have beheld everywhere the same Star in the East and have come everywhere to adore Him Who is to be born. They have found the same way to the same end, and this way is, as it can be only, one of sanctification; but it is of another kind than is intimated by the occult aphorism Vel sanctum invenit, vel sanctum facit. The call of the Adept and Master is a peculiar call to sanctity, the work of being made whole in God. It must not be thought that the means of sanctification in the Secret Orders—as, for example, the Rosy Cross—differ at the root from the means within the Churches. The developments differ, the root is one, and the Churches have all the means. In both cases they can dispense them only by way of ordinance and symbol; in both cases the difficulty is that always of their translation into life. Masonry, as a kind of shadow or reflection of the chief Instituted Mysteries, is of course in the same difficulty, but is less conscious of the hindrance because it is less in a state of awareness respecting its own vocation.
The Masterhood.—Adeptship, the state of Epopt and Master, may be described shortly as the condition of a Secret Conclave within the Universal Church. It enjoys a specific illumination which is beyond the needs and measures of religious people at large. It concerns the essential life of religion behind the externals of dogma and the translation of the cosmic Christhood into the personal life of each individual soul. The modern world is moving, however, less or more unconsciously, towards a wider scheme of initiation along these lines. It has in a certain sense emerged from the old religions and is not yet in a condition to return, bringing life and immortality to transfigure them.
Rites of Union.—The Secret Doctrine of the Union is foreshadowed by all its Rites. At this point a question arises as to what is involved precisely in the idea of union with God. If we accept the philosophical doctrine of Divine Immanence, there is a sense in which that union exists always. The grace of life is a continual manifestation of God within the soul of every individual man, and to this extent there is a certain natural or elementary condition of union between God and the soul, for in Him we live and move and have our being: it is almost as if the eternal life were but an analogical extension of the process by which we breathe and are nourished. The mystical state of union is the awareness of God in our life—we in Him and He in us—and the sense of union deepens as we grow in that interior knowledge. There are deeper states, but it is beyond my province to speak of them in the present work.
Progress in Union.—The first stage or beginning of progress in Divine Union lies on this basis—in the realisation of our dependence on God and the vital import of those relations which subsist between God and the creature. Herein stands the gateway of moral law, about which we hear so much in Craft Masonry: except through this it is impossible to enter the road, and yet it is the gate only. The second stage comprehends direction of the will and is a consequence or development of the first. It has been said that the integration of good wills in the Absolute is in fact the Mystic City. If we cannot in this life aspire to penetrate the centre, it is possible for each one of us to be joined with its activity by the transfiguration of motives and redirection of the will. The third state may be as that of desire in love, and this is founded on intimations which connote a kind of fore-knowledge, because he that serves the law shall live by the law, and he that lives the life may know of the doctrine, while the will to fulfil the law and live the life, long before its fruition, kindles the hint of the doctrine, so that desire for the House of the Doctrine begins to eat up the heart. It is after these three preliminary stages that a soul passes the threshold and so enters upon grades of real experience, which are shadowed forth in the secret Orders by revelation in symbols. They are thus suggested to the prepared heart in following the path of initiation, or the heart—independently of initiation—suggests them to itself, and is thus its own initiator. Mystical experience of this order may be defined provisionally as a substantial realisation of Divinity by means of loving intuition. Such realisation abides in the life of the mind as a lamp uplifted by love, and in its preliminary stages is that certitude which is assured to all dedicated people in a lesser or greater proportion. Thereby are they enabled to affirm that God indeed is; that He recompenses those who seek Him out; that the soul cannot die; and that graces of a supernatural order are communicated to those who can respond. Beyond such grades are deeper states of love, in which the soul becomes love, or otherwise That which it seeks, and experiences things which—according to St. Paul—it is not lawful, meaning that it is impossible, to utter.
The second of the proper Cryptic Grades counts third in the English Obedience and ninth in the American Rite, while it forms the Eighteenth Degree in the inextricable medley of the Early Grand Scottish Rite. In any logical arrangement the Grades in question should precede that of the Holy Royal Arch. The Grand Council of England and Wales has been placed, however, in an illogical position by the fact that Grand Lodge recognises none of the so-called High Grades and it has been almost compelled therefore to exact the Royal Arch as the qualification for a series which is really preliminary thereto. The American Rite belongs to an undiscerning epoch in matters of this kind. As regards the Early Grand Rite, it follows the proper sequence, in so far as it makes the Royal Arch succeed the Cryptic Grades, and it places also the Grade of Most Excellent Master at the end of the Cryptic Workings.
The Select Master is of considerable importance as introductory to the Royal Arch. The Candidate is ex hypothesi a friend and confidant of Solomon, and when he hears that the secret workings foretold in the Grade of Royal Master are now going forward he is anxious to have a share in the labours. He is told, however, that a selection has been made already and that he must therefore wait upon opportunity. It comes through an error in the guarding, so that he is able to enter the adytum and to look upon the secret receptacles of the Hidden Mysteries. The Historical Lecture explains how these were deposited at a later period, and included—according to one of the recensions—(a) the embalmed heart of the Master-Builder, (b) the crown of King Solomon, and (c) certain coins which had been minted during his reign. The last have obviously no place in Masonic symbolism.
The word is pure Hebrew, and in the noun masculine form it signifies, among other things, a channel, flood of water, and an ear of corn. It has a similar significance in the noun feminine form. See Judges xii. 6, where certain Ephraimites who deny their nationality are required to pronounce the word Shibboleth and betray themselves by answering Sibboleth, for they “could not frame to pronounce it right.” See also Psalm lxix. 16: “Let not the waterflood overflow me”; Isaiah xxvii. 12, “From the channel of the river”; and Genesis xli. 5, “Seven ears of corn.” In Talmudic Hebrew = Spikenard. It does not signify plenty, except in the figurative sense ascribed to Zechariah iv. 1 = “The branches of the olive trees,” about which it has been said that they were as full of berries “as an ear of corn is of grains.” The notion seems quite arbitrary.
The career of this worthy but incautious Mason was chequered to an unusual extent, passing through high rank in the Order to disgrace and ultimate expulsion. It would be none of my concern to speak of it at this late day, were it not for his one contribution to our subject—The Use and Abuse of Freemasonry. The date of his birth seems uncertain, like that of his death, but it is known that he was born in England. Under circumstances which are also clouded he entered the Prussian army, and was made a Mason in Germany. On his return to England he obtained a military appointment at Woolwich, and wrote on military subjects. He was also active in Masonry, being (1) Master of the Royal Military Lodge of Woolwich for four years, (2) Provincial Grand Master of Kent from 1778, (3) Junior Grand Warden of the Grand Lodge in 1780. In 1783 he published the work which I have mentioned, and so closed the brighter part of his Masonic life. Towards the end of that year he was in trouble on a charge of making Masons in a clandestine manner in the prison of King’s Bench, with the assistance of another member of the Royal Military Lodge, which claimed to be an “itinerant Lodge,” moving with the regiment to which it belonged, and held therefore, in the view of Captain George Smith, to have the power of making Masons anywhere. The Lodge was erased in 1784, though the alleged delinquents seem to have escaped censure. But in November of that year he was cited to appear before the Committee of Charity to answer a charge of forging a Grand Lodge Certificate, recommending distressed Brethren. He ignored the summons, and the charge being held proven, he was “expelled the Society.”
Society of Gormogons
A considerable amount of knowledge, at once curious and useless, has been accumulated on this puerile and ridiculous counterblast to Freemasonry, which has been described by one English writer as a formidable rival and which caused the German historian Kloss to manufacture three portentous hypotheses in explanation of its existence. I think, on the whole, that Kenneth MacKenzie was right in dismissing it from consideration in a few lines, and that Mr. A. F. Calvert has been equally well advised in passing it over with scarcely an allusion in his work on The Grand Lodge of England.
Proclamation of the Rite.—The Gormogons were first heard of in 1724 by an announcement in The Daily Post, which made known to all who were concerned (1) That the Ancient and Noble Order was founded by the first Emperor of China many thousands of years before Adam; (2) That its Oecumenical Volgee was the great philosopher Confucius; (3) That it had been brought recently to England by a Mandarin; (4) That he had admitted into its Mystery several gentlemen of honour; and (5) That he proposed to hold a Chapter at the Castle Tavern in Fleet Street, at the request of some persons of quality. The condition of entrance on the part of any Mason was to renounce his “Novel Order.” For the rest, the advertisement or proclamation registered—as a point of fact—that the Grand Mogul and the Czar of Russia had already been received into this Honourable Society, and—as a point of intention—that the Mandarin would set out presently for Rome to initiate His Holiness, when it was believed that the Sacred College of Cardinals would come bodily within the ranks. One would have said that the announcement was only a heavy jest—and typical as such of the period. This, however, was not the case. The Society was either established in due course, and that quickly, or it had come previously to existence. In the month following other newspapers reported that eminent Freemasons had renounced or “degraded themselves” from their Order, and had become Gormogons. In December several journals printed as news of the day a rumour that at the Castle Tavern “a peer of the first rank, a noted member of the Society of Freemasons, hath suffered himself to be degraded as a member of that Society, and his leather apron and gloves to be burnt, and thereupon entered himself as a member of the Society of Gormogons.” It is of general consent that this peer was the notorious Duke of Wharton, who for a brief period had figured as Grand Master of Masons and had done what lay in his power to compromise the Order. The Gormogons were still meeting—how frequently or occasionally there is no knowing—in the year 1731, according to the press of that date, while an extant medal of the Society suggests by its inscription that it had not passed utterly out of being in the year 1797.
Views of Kloss.—It may be added that the hypotheses of Kloss are (1) That the Oecumenical Volgi was the Chevalier Ramsay, (2) That the whole thing was a Jesuitical plot, and (3) That the Gormogons were precursors of the schismatic or so-called Ancient Masons, for none of which does there appear to be a shadow of likelihood in reason or of foundation in fact.
The Socinian origin of Speculative Masonry was first hazarded by Abbé Lefranc in Le Voile Levé pour les Curieux. It has been repeated periodically from mouth to mouth as a kind of cheap accusation on the part of Roman Catholic writers, but the evidence such as it is has remained within the covers of his own impeachment, for those who echoed the opinion have done nothing to sustain it on their own part.
The reign of Solomon was a reign of peace in Israel: the Temple was built in peace, and the Divine Presence dwelt in the Blessed Sanctuary, a gage of peace to men. The peace of God is the presence of that light which is He, and in its proper understanding the light of a Masonic Lodge is light of His indwelling Spirit. The Master of the Lodge is Vicarius Salomonis: he communicates the light of Masonry and his chair is a chair of peace: he is the spirit of goodwill towards all. The work of the Lodge is at once for the glory of God and the good of men. By the hypothesis of its symbolism, the Lodge of Mark Masters is one of operative working, whereof Adoniram is the prototype on the traditional side of Masonry. The Master of a Mark Lodge is his representative and works therefore in his name. A Chapter of Royal Arch Masons is concerned with the Second Temple, which was built under the auspices of Zerubbabel: for this reason the procedure of the Arch recalls that Prince of the People, and he is its President, on behalf of whom—and so only—his Deputy acts throughout. So do all Lodges and Chapters recall their great originals, and it is the same in the High Grades. The prototype of every Preceptor in the Order of Knights Templar is Jacobus Burgundus Molay. In the Red Cross of Constantine the Christian Emperor of Rome presides over all the Conclaves. There are, however, ideal chivalries, apart from historical headships—as, for example, that of Rose-Croix. In a deep spiritual sense the Rex Sapientissimus of every Rose-Croix Chapter is Christ, while it is He and no other who should be understood as ruling the Knights Beneficent of the Holy City, for the City and its Chivalry are His. The Secret Tradition makes Solomon prefigure the Messiah, as Craft Masonry prefigures the High Grades. The fulfilment of all is Christ, and the Holy Houses of Masonry are images of the Mansions which are above.
Sovereign Commander of the Temple
My information concerning this Grade is derived from French sources in manuscript, but there are several variants of the title in High Grade collections, e.g. Architecture of the Sovereign Commander of the Temple, No. 44 in the Rite of Mizraim; Sovereign Grand-Commander of the Temple, No. 27 in the Rite of Memphis; Knight of the Temple, No. 13 in the reduced Antient and Primitive Rite of thirty-three Degrees, where the Chief Celebrant is Sovereign Grand Commander of the Temple; Knight Commander of the Temple, No. 27 in the Ancient and Accepted Rite. The Grade now under notice is moderately distinct from these and is possibly their prototype. It is militantly Christian in character.
Reception.—In the Ceremony of Reception the Candidate enters in his undergarments only, with eyes bandaged and his hands tied behind him. After various circumambulatipns he is placed at the East. At the first Battery of the Master his hands are loosened, whereby and wherein he is delivered from the yoke of servitude and henceforth has no human equals except in the Sovereign Court of the Temple. The application of this statement is to be understood no doubt within the measures of Masonry: it is one of the recurring High Grade claims to precedence. At the second Battery he is restored to light and pledged. At the third Battery he is clothed ceremonially and receives the Official Secrets.
Questioning.—A Catechism attached to the Grade explains (1) That the Battery, being twenty-seven knocks, signifies the Twelve Tribes of Israel, the Twelve Apostles and the Holy Trinity; (2) that the three circumambulations have reference to the Triple Unity; (3) that the red and white clothing alludes to the purity of the Son of God and His Precious Blood poured out for mankind; (4) that the black which borders the red Apron represents sorrow for the blindness of mortals. The Grade has almost obviously no meaning beyond the insolence of its claim. The alleged privileges of Commanders of the Temple included the right (1) to remain seated and covered in ordinary Lodges at the North of the Master; (2) to come in and go out at pleasure; and (3) to have seven votes at all ballots. Whether the “ordinary Lodges” admitted these claims is another question.
Sovereign Grand Inspector-General
The Ritual of this Grade has suffered the characteristic transformations which have characterised all important divisions of the Scottish Rite. In view of its importance as the head and crown of the system I shall endeavour to trace its developments, though not indeed from the beginning, for I have no evidence before me respecting the original codex, though there are certain reasonable inferences which can be drawn concerning it. Among these is the probability that in some form and under a variant denomination it anteceded the year 1801, when the Supreme Council of a Rite of Thirty-three Degrees was first established at Charleston, U.S.A. Seeing that the Scottish Rite was only incidentally Templar, it seems incredible that a Templar element should be introduced wittingly at the beginning of the nineteenth century, had the Ritual been composed at that period; but if—as is most probable—the directing centre at Charleston was not especially creative in 1801, it was probably content, like other makers of unwieldly and mammoth systems, to ingarner from far and near and to be content with what was got in such manner. They happened in this case upon a Templar Grade, and took it for better, for worse. I will speak of its claims—in the first place—as they appear in the text published by Ragon about 1860.
Reception.—The Reception is a vestige of procedure, comprising (1) The admission of the Candidate, whose Masonic qualifications are those of Knight Kadosh and Prince of the Royal Secret; (2) his triple circumambulation of the Supreme Council, which appears to be without object; (3) the test of courage which is applied to him, whereby he is called upon to plunge both hands in molten lead, but the vessel presented before him contains quicksilver at its own natural temperature; (4) the Obligation which is imposed upon him, the same being exceedingly long; after which there is (5) the dramatic moment of the Grade, when he is married with a gold ring to the Order, his country and his God, after which (6) he receives the insignia and (7) the Official Secrets. The insignia include a sword, which is to be used only in his own defence, in that of his country and the Order, and against those “sanguinary criminals” who were the murderers of Jacques de Molay. With the exception of a certain password, this direction constitutes the Templar element in the ceremony of advancement. It raises that inevitable question of sub-surface intention which obtrudes in so many Templar Grades. Who were the successors of the murderous scoundrels? Where was it likely or possible that the “lethal weapon” of the Candidate could be raised against them? On what throne, in what chair did those sit in the eighteenth century and later as successors of Philip the Fair and Clement V ? It is easy and too easy to say with the clerical enemies of Masonry, or for that matter with those Masons who have come forward occasionally in militant hostility to Templar Rites, that they were King and Pope. Against this it has to be remembered that each Candidate was most especially pledged to obey all laws and orders of the Government to which he belonged. In any case, by the hypothesis of the Grade, there were traitors somewhere, and on these vengeance was to be taken. There was also a definite enterprise in view, and the Eternal God, Who is Father of Life and Light, was petitioned to strengthen the chivalry that it might overcome those who were in arms against it. These are intimations of the Opening.
Questioning.—In a Catechism attached to the Grade, the objects of the proposed vengeance which snorts at every point of the Ritual are shewn to be the Knights of Malta, because “after the destruction of the majority of Knights Templar by Philip the Fair in conjunction with Pope Clement V, their rich possessions were assigned to the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem, now Knights of Malta.” It is said of these unlawful possessors that “they have refused to make restitution of that which was wrested from us by injustice and cruelty,” and “we have therefore determined to regain them by force, when our Order has sufficient numerical strength to undertake the enterprise.” Hereof is the kind of “light and life “ which are communicated to the body-general of Masonry throughout the universe by the “Sublime and Illustrious Order.” But if ever there were camouflage in Ritual it is surely here. The Knights of Malta at the period were an honorary remnant holding their title from the papacy and having no possessions as such. The supposed descendants of the Templars had forborne to appeal for restitution and knew well enough that they would be fools for their pains in so doing. Moreover, as Princes of the Royal Secret, they had made a feature of proclaiming that they were at peace with the rival chivalry.
History.—Such is the Grade which according to the same Catechism was established by Frederick the Great, “to regulate our hatred and our campaigns against the Knights of Malta.” The pseudo-historical discourse enlarges on this subject, and says that the Prussian King collaborated with Prince Louis de Bourbon. It is a notable document containing mendacities in every paragraph, but so preposterous in character that they sound like a record of delirium. A time is anticipated when sovereigns will combine together for the purpose of making war on the detested chivalry, and then it will be the privilege and glory of Grand Inspectors-General to join with these more earthly potentates at the head of the body-general of Masonry for the recovery of the Isle of Malta, and apparently of Jerusalem also; The Holy City—so far as the discourse is worded—would appear also to be groaning under the yoke of the execrable descendants of the execrable Knights of St. John. On the day when the Thirty-third Degree attains this end of being “the Order will then assume a real title.” I suppose again that there is some method behind the madness, but I make no claim to the possession of a key. It must be confessed that the whole scheme has a certain aspect of conspiracy, continually presenting itself and as frequently eluding the mental grasp. I am quite certain that it was never conceived by Charleston and that Charleston was in my own position when it decided to take it over—that is, without a key to its meaning. It would have been in the same situation of course with Pasqually’s super-evocation Rituals, or with the ultra-spiritual developments in Grades of the Rosy Cross.
Grand Orient.—When the Thirty-third Degree passed for a period into the hands of the French Grand Orient, it made short work of the Ritual as to all the salient points. The Templar element was struck out, the Catechism was lopped like a redundant branch, the Historical Discourse went also into the limbus, with all the claims in respect of Frederick the Great and his Masonic headship. The mysterious enterprise was transformed into a spiritual combat for God and the chivalry—Deus meumque jus. The pledge was one of faith towards God, King, country and the Order. The ring was a gauge of the alliance contracted with the body-corporate of Inspectors-General. The numerically exalted Grade became assuredly most innocent of hands and clean of heart, guiltless above all of any inward meaning, but as much without life or purpose.
J. M. Ragon.—Among documents of the Grade, Ragon presents a fragment under the title of Primitive English Grand Inspector, but without any explanation concerning it, except that he has drawn from an unknown Tuileur-Expert, which claims to derive on its own part from “a sound source.” There is not the least reason to suppose that any Grade of Grand Inspector ever originated in England, but otherwise the extract is too slight to offer any materials for our judgment. Whether it was Templar in this alleged form is itself an open question. I can say only that there is a record of sorrow in the chivalry, that it is in great fear of unwelcome intrusions, that it confesses to a design in view, which seems to be the vindication of despised virtue and outraged or persecuted innocence. There is also the notion of a crusade against vagrant vice and crime emboldened by impunity. Ragon expresses an opinion that the criminal projects of Templar vengeance were voided by the Revolution of 1789.
It must not be supposed that Freemasonry has a more considerable wealth of doubtful and unauthentic documents than will be found in other great movements, making a claim on the past and having certain roots therein. As a matter of fact, they are comparatively speaking few. The Operative records are nearly all genuine, though scholarship has not been able to legislate in every case with a certain voice on the question of dates. The Speculative Craft which came into manifestation in 1717 laid no claim on memorials, and when the time arrived to produce some Laws and Constitutions it set to work quite frankly, making many changes in previous customs and earning in this manner not a little hostility in Lodges outside its obedience. When it produced the Speculative Rituals there is no doubt that they were designed to be accepted as of old use and wont, but this is another part of the subject and not a question of Charters. The four chief fabrications which it is usual to cite under the style and title of Spurious Charters are (1) the Charter of Cologne; (2) the so-called York Charter, otherwise Charter of Edwin; (3) the Latin Constitution of the Scottish Rite, otherwise of Frederick the Great; and (4) the Charter of Larmenius, otherwise Charter of Transmission. The last is not in reality a Masonic document and has been considered at some length already. The Charter of Frederick the Great has been dealt with in like manner.
The York Charter.—It contains Constitutions and was published in German by Krause, who gives its early history as follows: (1) a document preserved in the city of York, apud reverendam summam societatem architectonicam, meaning the York Grand Lodge, written on parchment in old English; (2) translated into Latin, apparently in 1805; (3) rendered into German from Latin by one Schneider of Altenberg in 1808; (4) which version was used by Krause. The facts against the document are (1) that no such Charter is extant in the archives of York Lodge; (2) that it is not in the York inventory extant in 1777; (3) that it is not mentioned in the Surtees Society’s List of the Fabric Rolls of York Minster. Furthermore, it claims to embody the Constitutions adopted by a General Assembly of Masons held at York, 926 A.D., and yet—as Findel points out—it was not referred to by Mr. Francis Drake when he made his historical speech before the York Grand Lodge in 1726, though it would have been of vital importance to his case. These are the negative points, and they are sufficient to condemn the document if they stood alone; but there is one of a positive kind which is final on the whole question.
The term Noachida is used in the document and this was not merely unknown at the supposed period but for centuries after. It was used by Anderson in his second Book of Constitutions, and Kloss is justified in concluding that the Charter was fabricated after 1738.
Cologne Charter.—It appears to myself that a great deal of unnecessary debate has taken place about this document in the past. The accounts of it are everywhere in Masonic handbooks and histories, so that it can be dismissed here in a few words. The Charter of Cologne purports to belong to the year 1535 and the cipher writing decodes into the Latin tongue. It is transparently spurious and betrays itself in almost every paragraph, but the points that are sufficient to my purpose are (1) that it affirms the Masonic Order to have “existed in Palestine, Greece and the Roman Empire, even before the Crusades”; (2) that in particular it was in Palestine when the Knights Templar went thither; (3) that it refers to Elect and Most Elect Masters as Degrees ab origine of the Fellowship.
Other Impostures.—(1) The Locke MS. claims to have been written by the hand of King Henry VI and is in the form of a catechism. It is almost universally rejected as a peculiarly clumsy forgery and appears to have been produced between 1738 and 1753, when it appeared in the Gentleman’s Magazine, being prefaced by an equally fraudulent letter from John Locke. (2) The Malcolm Canmore Charter was manufactured approximately about 1806 to support a claim of the Glasgow Freemen Operative St. John’s Lodge to precedence over other Lodges in Scotland, notwithstanding the rights of Kilwinning, based on the Eglinton MS. of 1599, not to speak of other ancient Masonic foundations in Scotland. It was variously referred to 1051, 1057 and 1157 A.D. (3) The Steinmetz Catechism and the controversy arising therefrom is of no moment to English Freemasonry. It was first published by Schneider in his work on the Book of Constitutions of the Lodge Archimedes at Altenburg and may be consulted by English readers among the appendices to the History of Findel. Those who maintain its authenticity refer it to the Middle Ages, but it is relegated to the eighteenth century by the opposing camp, with whom Gould appears to agree.
It is customary from a Craft standpoint—in view of wrested obligations—to characterise all records of Ritual procedure, whether written or printed, by the qualification of spurious, and the designation tends to pass over to the High Grades, where the same reasons do not operate, and the fact notwithstanding that some of the Grand Obediences issue to their members authorised copies of the Ceremonies. The only really spurious Rituals are catchpenny publications purporting to represent the substance and letter of specific Degrees, which, however, are distorted almost out of recognition or are reflections derived at second hand. The feeling abroad on these subjects appears different from that of Great Britain and is indeed typical of an error in the opposite direction. One sees in French and in Spanish the Rituals of almost any given Grade, not only printed in extenso but in such a manner that what are called the official secrets are conveyed in plenary form; and these are not booksellers’ or hawkers’ speculations, but appear less or more under the authority of the several Rites. It may be hoped that a day will come when the necessity of printed Rituals will be recognised explicitly by the Craft, in place of being used everywhere without recognition. It will not only make for sincerity, but may lead to some protective scheme by which they will be less obviously at the mercy of any inquisitive buyer and less continually in the second-hand book-market.
Sublime Chevalier de la Rose Croissante
The Eighteenth Degree of the Oriental Rite of Memphis bore this title, according to the Constitution of 1861, but it appears to have been interchangeable with that of Chevalier de Rose-Croix, of which it is a variant. It is provided with a historical legend, according to which it belongs to the highest antiquity and originated in the city of Thebes. It has been described as divided into three emblematic classes, being respectively (a) the Sanctuary of Masonic Secrets, corresponding to Prayer, Obligation and Baptism; (b) the Sanctuary of Hermetic Secrets, which answers to Alliance, Union and Joy; (c) the Sanctuary of Theosophical Secrets, connected with Humanity, Invocation and Light. It was pretended that advancement from one to another class was granted only as a reward of merit; but in reality the three classes were points in a single Ceremony, necessitating three apartments characterised as Temples, precisely as in other obediences.
An Order within Masonry.—The Rose-Croix Grade is in the proper understanding an Order within Masonry and is not correctly allocated as a Degree in a series. In the Rite of Memphis it is denominated a Maçonnerie, as something that stands by itself, upon its own basis and within its own measures. The object of its institution is described as a liberation of the elect from vulgar errors by means of philosophical studies, stimulation of desire after moral perfection, beneficence and the practice of all virtues. In the First Point, the Candidate is subjected to a prolonged examination by way of question and answer, in the course of which he learns: (a) that human life is a sacred and inviolable gift; (5) that wisdom has its root in self-knowledge, for there is divinity in our inward nature; (c) that the true education of man is of that kind by which he is prepared for immortality; (d) that the human spirit is an emanation of the Sovereign Intelligence; (e) that God is pure spirit, and can be attained only in thought.
Seven Virtues Typified.—When this examination is finished the procedure reflects that of the Rose-Croix Grade as it is worked in England under the Ancient and Accepted Rite, but is much more elaborate in character. The attainment of the three theological virtues is followed by the ascent of a ladder of seven steps, corresponding to Patience, Moderation, Temperance, Modesty, Prudence, Mildness and Candour, by the help of which virtues the Candidate is taught to overcome egotism, pride and ambition, and so is prepared for the vision of truth unveiled, which closes the Second Point with the following golden counsels:
“Thou who wouldst pursue gloriously the career of a Mason, be emancipated from all material conceptions; make symbols thy study, for allegory is the voice of wisdom; purify thy heart; utter the word of life in all the regions of the universe; teach those who are about thee how best to love one another; lead back into the true path those who have forsaken virtue; instruct the ignorant and soothe those who suffer.”
Sense of the Symbols.—In the Third Point the Sovereign Chapter hears a catechetical instruction recited by the Most Wise President and the Chief Interpreter. It is partly historical and in part an explanation of symbols. Initiation is defined correctly as representing birth into a new life and in L’Ordre de la Rose Croissante it seeks a point of union between all religious beliefs and between all human beings, seeing that there is one vital essence, one only spiritual nature, and one Divine Breath. The Red Cross is an emblem of life to come, while the Rose placed thereon signifies the interblended joys and sorrows, pleasures and pains of man’s terrestrial lot. On the historical side it is said that the original Frères Rose-Croix had their Sanctuary in the East, that they came West in the twelfth century for the propagation of secret sciences, they being Hermetic philosophers. The Rite founded in Germany by Christian Rosenkranz (sic) seems to be regarded as an independent creation, though drawn from the same sources. There was also—it is said—a Rose-Croix Alchimique at Padua in the thirteenth century, which, in addition to experiments in metals, proposed to discover the Lost Word by means of Oracles— that is to say, by the operations of animal magnetism.
Defects of the Grade.—While the Memphis version of the Rose-Croix Grade is not without features of interest, its prolonged recitations are fatal to that dramatic element which is so essential to symbolism, presented in the guise of Ritual; its mélange of philosophies, represented by inchoate extracts, and its chips of doctrinal thought from a variety of religious sources result in an eclecticism of the most vague and uncritical kind. In a word, it is a product of its period and is without much title to consideration at this day, while on the historical side its inventions are of the clumsiest order. The hand of the rogue in history should at least be a skilful hand.
Sublime Director of the Great Work
As the last working Grade of the Rite of Memphis, bearing the number 90 in the mammoth sequence of the system, perfection may well be claimed for this the final development and message. But it is in the point of numeration alone that the quality is affirmed to reside, because a right angle is an angle of 90 degrees. It completes also the geometrical division of the system, which—as we have seen otherwise—is classified in three series, comparable to the three angles of a right-angled triangle, and ex hypothesi embracing the whole Masonic Science. The Director or Sublime Master of the Great Work is therefore he who has ascended the whole ladder of the Rite and acquired all its Mysteries. The Rite is the Great Work in the generic sense of the expression, and in the individual or particular sense its incorporation in the mind of the Candidate is the Magnum Opus, so far as he is concerned. The extent to which this obtains may be gathered from the Catechism of the Grade, for the question being as to what is the first need of humanity a remarkable answer follows—namely, that the first need is the existence of the Order—an almost sublime audacity. The second is the Order’s conservation, and the third research into the basis on which it reposes. Apart from assurances like these, it does not appear within the measures of the Ritual itself that the Candidate—having come so far—is destined to obtain so much as his travail might lead him to expect.
In what is called the Third Elect Grade we have met with a mythical institution of Christian Chivalry, deriving its manufactured tradition from the days of Solomon. On the hypothesis it is introduced by two Grades of Vengeance which are in close analogy with Elect of Nine and Elect of Fifteen in the Scottish Rite. These last do not call therefore for more particular description; but they have also a supplement, termed Sublime Elect in the English nomenclature of the Rite, Sublime Elect Knight and Sublime Knight Elect of Twelve under other jurisdictions. There is little correspondence between this Écossais sequel and the Third Elect Grade in the codices with which I am acquainted, and it must be mentioned therefore apart. The chief point of junction lies in the fact that it is a Masonic Order of Knighthood, being such a chivalry as we can connect with the reign of Solomon. We are reminded thereby that in other days than those of the eighteenth century, Caxton printed a History of Troy in the form of a mammoth knightly romance, full of quests and errantries. In a French recension belonging to the first half of the nineteenth century the Lodge is called a Grand Chapter and the Official Elects are Twelve, with the King of Israel ruling them as Thrice Puissant President. It becomes obvious therefore that it is no longer a Christian Grade belonging to Crusading times. Like its cousin many times removed, the work begins at midnight, and as no sun shines therein it ends at break of day. How it is so long protracted is a little difficult to say, since the work is almost nil. The story is that Solomon chose twelve from the Companions Elect of Fifteen, placed them over the Twelve Tribes of Israel and gave them a new charter with a new title. Their duty was to report on the work performed by the Tribes in connection with the Temple and to discharge the dues thereon. It will be seen that this is nihil ad rem electam and that there is no res whatever. This notwithstanding, ex hoc nihilo Pike made an abortive attempt to produce something.
Sublime Elect of Truth
The motto of this Rite is Lux in Tenebris, and the same is communicated in two Grades, one of which is called Knights Adept or Cherubim, and the other is properly the Grade of Sublime Elect, called also Grade Final of Masonry and therefore a ne plus ultra in super-Masonic terminology. It is further a Sovereign Council and the Master is Chief thereof. As seen in the section on Elect Grades, the Rite is said to have been established at Rennes in 1776, but according to its own testimony the event took place in 1748. From the history of High Grade Masonry and from the content of the Rite, I make no question that the witness is false, but do not propose to debate the point, more especially as no person is likely to affirm its truth. The quality of light in darkness communicated in the sense of the Rituals will appear as we proceed. They are important after their particular manner, and the Headship appears to have illustrated its conviction on this part of the subject by issuing Patents for the Constitution of Councils without demanding fees. The sole dues were for Certificates of the Second Degree, fixed at the nominal sum of ten francs. The Masonic qualification for admission was the Grade of Rose-Croix.
Laws of the Order.—I will deal first of all with certain Rules and Regulations arising out of Statutes and Ordinances appertaining to the two Grades, (1) The privileges claimed for Adepts and Elect Brethren are recited in familiar terms, and include power to remove and suspend any officers of a Blue Lodge, not excepting the Master, as also jurisdiction upon differences arising in lower Degrees. (2) The Adepts were entitled to initiate and advance up to the Grade of Rose-Croix and Elect Brethren up to and including that of Adept in the Order, “but only on condition that there is no regular Lodge in the place where they propose to act.” (3) The Sovereign Council of the Order was located at Rennes, and consisted of nine members. (4) Patents for the constitution of subsidiary Councils could be granted only “on the written demand of a Regular Sov ∴ Chap ∴ of R ∴ ᛭ ∴ and must be presented by a Deputy who was qualified for reception into the two Grades of the Order.” (5) Subsidiary Councils must not exceed seven members, but there was power of co-option under certain circumstances which do not call to be specified. (6) There was also a provision for the establishment of Sovereign and Subsidiary Councils in other countries with which France was at peace. (7) The chief qualification for Candidates was their superiority to all prejudice, in connection no doubt with which (8) It was forbidden to “persons in the Church”—meaning Ecclesiastics presumably. (9) Though the Order, properly speaking, consisted of two Grades, a Discourse in the second speaks of a preliminary Grade of Rose-Croix, of which a Sovereign Departmental Council was established at Paris. It appears to have been the sole intermediary for proposed Candidates. (10) This Sovereign Chapter is specified as in session on November 21, 1804, and I conceive that it was about this date that the Order came into existence. There is not the least reason to suppose that it established Councils anywhere outside Paris and Rennes, or that it existed for any considerable period.
First Grade.—As the Grade of Knight Adept is claimed valiantly to be avant-dernier de la Maçonnerie at large we know at once how it stood in the minds of its authors and where we are likely to stand concerning it. The expectant heart of the student fails, however at the very beginning on being ushered into the presence of Adam as Chief of the Lodge, with Brother Truth as the Master of Ceremonies and the auditors figuring as Cherubim. We are spared notwithstanding the instruction of older days, that the First Man was actually the First Mason and that the First Lodge was held in the Garden of Eden, nor have the unofficial Brethren any enforced analogy with a most exalted Choir in the Hierarchy of Blessed Angels. Whether actually in Eden or not, Adam would appear to be remote from earth and its activities, for he asks compassionately the time thereon and concerning the progress of mankind. While the sun shines at the zenith in the Lodge of the Adepts, it seems to be night always on earth, and as to advancement therein the human race persists in following vulgar prejudice, founded on fraud and falsehood. The Lodge is opened for the purpose of rescuing one or more individuals from this clouded state, and it is closed to go forth in the world and awaken therein a desire for truth, regarded as the sole source of all perfection.
Grade Procedure.—The Candidate enters hoodwinked, desiring to pass out of darkness, to put away the old man, to renounce prejudice, and to behold the light. He is told that, if properly prepared, he can look upon that truth unveiled which has always enlightened Sage and Mason, when liberated from all superstition. His eyes thereupon are unbound; he is instructed in the nature of truth, after which he is embraced by the Master, decorated with the insignia of the Grade and receives the word ADONAI. It will be seen that the procedure is characterised by great simplicity, but whether it is a seal of wisdom will depend upon the quality of teaching.
Grade Instructions.—Attached to this First Grade is the Discourse mentioned therein, and the heads of its communication follow. (1) The Bible in the Lodge of an Entered Apprentice is not of religious acceptance as understood by Adepts, but it comprehends the Natural Law to which they confess, which moreover is graven in the heart, and in fine it is the first of books. (2) There has been placed within ourselves by God all that is needed to enlighten us in the search after truth and happiness. (3) The Alliance with God is in the Law graven on the heart. (4) The Blazing Star is an image of the Mason who by attaining perfection penetrates the darkness of error. it is also the Light of Truth. (5) The lower Grades of Masonry are superstitious—at least on the surface. (6) The Word supposed to be lost in the Third Degree was never possessed, and the legend illustrates the devices of those who would enslave others: it typifies the manner in which vulgar ignorance clings to empty words. (7) The Grade of Perfect Master—which in the version referred to is concerned with the disinterment and re-burial of the Master-Builder—signifies in the symbolical corpse the man who is dead to reason and buried in darkness and error. (8) The Elect of Nine—otherwise English Master, according to the system under notice—should teach us that the punishment of our sins is within us. (9) The Elect of Fifteen—otherwise Irish Master—instructs us how to overcome passions and sit as our own judges. (10) The Elect Master tells us that though many may be initiated into the First Mysteries few are worthy of the Last. (11) The Grade of Architect—otherwise Little Architect or Petit Écossais—imposes sacrifice of possessions, mistrust of unworthy Brethren, enlightened zeal and mildness opposed to fanaticism. (12) The Grade of Second Architect—otherwise Écossais or Favourite—expounds the analogy between Masonic and Natural Law. (13) The Grade of Grand Master Écossais—otherwise Grand Architect—in which the Candidate is supposed to have ascended to the Third Heaven—refers therein to the Abode of Truth, since she was driven from earth; and the depicted Baptism of Christ by St. John Baptist is an emblem of the true Mason reborn in the light of Truth, confessing one God and suffering no superstitious worship. (14) The Grade of Knight of the East—otherwise of the Sword—presents Cyrus, who is an emblem of Truth, and Zerubbabel, who is the man bred in prejudice. The lion in the dream of Cyrus signifies fanaticism. The sword given by Cyrus to Zerubbabel is that of Truth to combat Error. (15) The first Temple of Solomon is Natural Law, and the second is to be built with the same material. (16) The initials L ∴ D ∴ P∴ are those of the words Liberté de Passer.
Grade Catechism.—There is also the inevitable Catechism, containing an exposition of various Masonic emblems, of which some are universal in the Craft, some peculiar to individual High Grades, and a few reserved to the Rite under notice. (1) The Compass=Justice. (2) The Square = Tendency to one end in virtue of manners—a statement to which I can attach no meaning Whatever. (3) The Level = Equality and Immovable Justice. (4) The Perpendicular = Rectitude, Contemplation and Isolation from mere Prejudice. (5) The Rough Ashlar = Vice to be corrected and Passions to subdue. (6) The Pillars = Firmness and Adornment. (7) The Coffer = an Emblem of Secrecy. (8) The Key = Gift of penetration for attainment of Truth. (9) Flaming Heart = Purification and Zeal. (10) Circles, Squares, and Triangles =Immunity, Immutability, Divinity. (11) Vesica Piscis = That nothing is impure in the eyes of God, that modesty is part of the morality of Nature, but that its sole intent is to check the abuse of that which in itself is pure. (12) Light passing through Globe filled with Water = Value of well-directed passions, as earth is fructified by water.
Fundamental Principles.—The cardinal counsels of the Grade—described as those of an honest and active life—are (1) Fraternal love; (2) Scepticism in respect of everything which eludes mathematical demonstration; (3) Prudence, which teaches us to do nothing of which we may possibly repent hereafter; (4) Implicit confidence in the Fatherly Goodness of the Supreme Being, Who has written in our hearts that the unfailing path of earthly happiness is to do good and avoid evil, were there even no life to come.
Second Grade.—The Second Grade, or that of Sublime Elect, beyond which there is no Liberté de passer, because it is the ne pus ultra and Grade final de la Maçonnerie is destitute of all ceremonial, and almost of formal procedure. There is no pledge; the Candidate simply comes in; and the Chief of the Sovereign Council enters at once on his Discourse, which may be reduced under the following heads. (1) The disciples of rational philosophy have left all graven images and all superstitious forms of worship. (2) They recognise that there is analogy or identity between Pagan and Christian Mysteries. (3) They look upon the Divinity as Creator and Prime Mover, inaccessible as such to the sorrow, wrath, or passions of men. (4) They practise the maxims of universal morality, of religion graven in the heart. (5) The violation of this original law is the probable origin of superstition. (6) The despair of man has made inexorable gods and his weakness has made intercessors. (7) The philosophers—meaning apparently the Keepers of Masonic Tradition ab origine symboli— deferred outwardly to the objects of public veneration for the maintenance of public order. (8) They found refuge in an asylum which they denominated the Temple of Solomon. (9) They received Postulants into the Lesser Mysteries therein, seeking to penetrate the mind and character of each. (10) They advanced to the Last Mysteries those only whom they found to be emancipated from all vulgar prejudice. (11) The four lower and the seven superior Grades of Masonry furnished them with the knowledge of men. (12) The little minds were drawn by the mise en scène and trivialities of ceremonies, hieroglyphics, traditional histories and whispered secret words. (13) Such was the twofold object of Masonry in its ordinary Grades, of which four belong to a Lower and Seven to a Higher Order.
Claims of the Order.—The Discourse goes on to speak of the Sublime Order and the Grades comprised thereby. That of Rose-Croix is the last character-test applied to the Initiate, and “if he has succumbed to the prestige of superstition he is left for ever on the Mount of Heredom.” It appears, however, that the Grade of Chevalier Adepte is also—in some sense—a symbolical test, for the story of Adam in Paradise is another story of “a capricious God.” It is better to be truly man than a Knight Adept of the Order. This notwithstanding, the Grade is a preparation and expounds in an ingenious manner all Masonic emblems.
Ne Plus Ultra.—The final Grade belongs to the primitive religion of equality. There are neither signs nor grips; the doctrine is good faith and humanity; the ceremonies are les régards réciproques. The Word is Nature; the only worship is that of natural law, of one God and love of the Brethren. Nature bears witness to the Supreme Being as her Architect and Creator, but He is neither to be understood nor conceived. Our duties towards Him are those of gratitude and conscience. If there are others, He will make them known in due season. The only worship of this God is that of the heart: its discipline is love of our country and the regimen is natural law.
A Deistic Order.—The last message, final revelation and Master Key of the whole Masonic Science is therefore a cheap Deism, formulated in the lowest terms of commonplace. The ambition of the system and its claims is above all things overweening, but the capacity is comparable to that of a charity schoolboy, as schools of charity stood at the beginning of the nineteenth century. I do not propose to offer any word of commentary on the explanations of Masonic emblems, as it seems to me that they expose their own values. I have said that this Order of Sublime Election is important after its own manner, the reason being that it was a considered experiment on the Masonic mind of its age, and the experiment proved a failure. In the aftermath of Voltairian philosophy, encyclopaedism and the French Revolution, there was room and to spare for a reduction of universal Masonic ceremonial and symbolism within the measures of simple theism, but an explanatory system self-superposed on the Order must have something of genius to recommend it, and this had none. Without inspiration and without lights, it perished of its tepid dullness. I feel certain that Paris never heard of its Sovereign Council of Rose-Croix of Heredom: it lived and died at Rennes. As regards the Grades upon which it reflected its Lux in tenebris, that of Elect of Nine, otherwise English Master, corresponds to nothing which I have found under these titles, and the same observation applies to Elect of Fifteen, identified with Irish Master. Nor do I know of an Écossais Grade in which the Candidate ascends to the Third Heaven, or even to a Masonic substitute for this exalted state. It should be added that the references apparently are not to isolated Grades but to an ordered Rite of some kind. I have not met with one which is formed on the particular sequence.
Sublime Hermetic Philosopher
When the Rite of Memphis was reduced to thirty-three Degrees under the name of Antient and Primitive Rite the Grade which I am about to review was renamed Knight Hermetic Philosopher, with characteristic awkwardness. It figured as Sublime Hermetic Philosopher in the original classification of 1839, bein No. 40 of the series. In the revision of 1856 it became Hermetic Philosopher, and formed one of a Senate of Hermetic Philosophers. In the classification of 1862 it retained the same number but recovered the qualification of Sublime, while its particular Class had attained the title of Areopagus. The Ritual is characterised by grave consciousness of its own serious intent, and as regards the work of Hermetic Philosophers it is said in the Opening that it is always in progress and suffers no interruption except for the repose of the labourers. The Candidate expresses his desire to be admitted into the Philosophical Academy, and is tested respecting his progress in that study of the Hidden Mysteries of Nature and Science which was recommended to him at an early stage of his Masonic experience. The proficiency is supplied by his Conductor, who answers on his behalf, and the Mysteries themselves prove—as might be expected—very cheap Memphis substitutes: (1) The qualities of heat, dryness, cold and moisture ascribed to the seven planets; (2) the so-called power of numbers. On such qualifications is the “high Masonic dignity of the Grade” attained, and the recompense which awaits the Candidate is comprised in (1) the heads of an instruction on alchemical notions, and (2) a panegyric of the Rite of Memphis. The first is by way of explanation concerning the Hermetic Cross. It affirms that alchemy was cultivated by the Egyptian priests, and thereafter borrows from the Hermetic Catechism of Baron Tschoudy; there is also a disquisition on the four elements of old physics. The second says that the Order is founded on religion, science, knowledge and virtue. The proceedings conclude with the “allegorical discourse of the Degree,” to which it bears no relation whatever. It describes the arrival of Abel at “the celestial dwelling,” where he demands pardon for Cain or permission to return and console him. There was joy in the Blessed Hierarchy, and “God looked kindly upon the sinner.” It might serve better if only it were better told, but it would remain nihil ad rem.
Masonic Sublimities.—I think, on the whole, that a gleam of sanity came upon the revision of 1856 when it struck out that word Sublime, but even so the Candidate does not issue from his experience a Hermetic Philosopher unless he entered as such.
A Grade under this title once existed in the archives of the Scottish Philosophical Rite and it is possibly from this source that it was drawn into the great collection of that chaos embrouillé which is called the Rite of Memphis. It ranks as fifth in the series, following Discreet Master. It would appear to be identical with No. 6 in the Rite of Mizraim, where it is called Master by Curiosity, and as such would be in close analogy with Intimate Secretary, No. 6 in the Ancient and Accepted Rite. In respect of the first part it is substantially and almost literally identical with the so-called English Master of the Early Grand Rite; but the complaint laid against Solomon by the King of Tyre is suppressed, and his presence in Jerusalem has come about at the express invitation of the former, “to assist us with his counsel in the performance of those Rites and Ceremonies “ which must characterise the fit interment of the Master-Builder. The “favourite” of Solomon, having been effusively forgiven for his indiscretion, or “error of curiosity,” in seeking to protect his master, in case of need, against an unknown stranger, is invited to assist at the obsequies—as one advanced to the Honourable Degree of Sublime Master—and witness an alliance to be established between the two kings. The alliance passes out of sight, but the burial takes place in due ceremonial form, a mausoleum having been erected in the second apartment of the Chapter. According to the moral exhortations which form part of the proceedings, (1) respect is due to the dead because the body is the sanctuary of the soul, and “our mortal members are the fit instruments of an immortal mind”; (2) the four sides of the obelisk are indicative of the virtues which should adorn every Sublime Master, namely, Reverence, Truth, Justice and Purity; (3) the opposites to these are the vices of the ruffians who destroyed the Master-Builder, namely, Ignorance, Falsehood, Envy and Egotism.
Historical Discourse.—The so-called History of the Grade affirms (1) that the Sublime Master is a Son of God, and as such entitled to Divine Love; (2) that he perceives the intimacy between Divine and Human Nature, or God and man; (3) that God is his soul; (4) that the doctrine of immortality is taught plainly in the Grade; which (5) “is a solemn initiation into the relations of God with man.” I regret that I have failed to find the full complement of this theosophy at large in the ceremonial, but a certain reverential spirit obtains throughout. It remains insufficient, however, to justify the Grade as such. It is comparable to the Lodge of Sorrow in the Early Grand Rite, which against all reason in symbolism advances a Candidate to the Grade of Architect. The occasion is unsuited to advancements in both cases. Moreover, if it be worth while to point out, it is only under an imbecile obedience that a mourner for the death of an architect becomes himself an architect by attending a Lodge of Sorrow or attains “the Honourable Degree of Sublime Master” by witnessing the supposed interment of a Master-Builder. Assuredly there were many fools of Masonry in the days of the making of Grades—meaning France of the late eighteenth century. Jacob’s Wrestle is called Sublime Master by the Early Grand Rite, which is folly also, because a Candidate does not attain to that height by hearing that a patriarch of old proved himself strong against God; but it is not an inappropriate title for Jacob, who by the hypothesis of his story attained so strange a mastery.
Sublime Masters of the Luminous Ring
It appears that Baron Grant of Blaerfindy was a member of the Contrat Social Lodge, and had they happened to remember his name, I suppose that the makers of vision who saw Jacobites everywhere in Masonry would have said in the old days that he was at work assuredly in the Stuart cause. One happens to know nothing about him, nor of anywhere to look for knowledge, unless it be to Kenneth MacKenzie, who says that he was Chief of the Philosophical Rite, which was introduced at Paris by the Lodge just mentioned in 1775. But as it appears by the same authority that the Contrat Social was not in evidence prior to 1776, when it was founded “for purposes of instruction,” we are in a difficult but not unusual position over the instructions from this source. He says further, that an Academy of Sublime Masters of the Luminous Ring was introduced by Baron Grant in 1780, but where does not transpire. A certain consequence of doubt being occasioned in this manner, it was introduced for a second time by the same personage thirty-five years later, and then at Douai—in 1815. Meanwhile it had been forming, apparently, the eighth Degree of the Scottish Philosophical Rite, which—as we have seen—was an alternative designation of the Contrat Social itself, and was part of its self-ascribed position as a Mother-Lodge.
Sublime Prince of the Royal Secret
The alternative title is Most Faithful Guardian of the Sacred Treasure and the Candidate is saluted as a Knight of St. Andrew in the formula of the accolade, while his dignity in its final reduction is that of Prince Mason. As such, it must be distinguished from the Forty-fourth Degree of the Early Grand Scottish Rite, which bears the same denomination. In the Council of Emperors it appears to have been a generic title common to all Grades above Grand Elect. The Ritual is extant under several forms, representing as many obediences: two of them have been considered at length under Mother Word, or Royal Secret, in the collection of the Early Grand Scottish Rite, and Knight of the Royal Mystery, in that of the Antient and Primitive. It constitutes at the present time the Thirty-second Degree of the Ancient and Accepted Rite. The prototype of all codices is the Twenty-fifth and last Degree of the Emperors of the East and West, being Most Illustrious Sovereign Prince of Masonry, Grand Knight Sublime Commander of the Royal Secret. On account of the position which it held in this memorable sequence, and because of its important place in the Scottish Rite, I propose to consider it at length, making use for this purpose of the Ritual published by Ragon, who drew from manuscript sources and at a time when the French Consistories are said to have possessed only an incomplete Tyler.
Historical Pretensions.—The Grade is Templar, and as we shall see in due course that it is destitute of symbolical importance or vital message of any kind, I will speak in the first place of the claims which it makes on history. There is that which concerns the Grade itself, and according to this it was reorganised by Frederick II of Prussia. This is part of a pretension put forward—as we have seen—by the Ancient and Accepted Rite as regards its entire curriculum and supported by Albert Pike, whose name is great in American Masonry but negligible from any critical standpoint. The pretension is rejected in Germany, and notably by the Grand Lodge of the Three Globes at Berlin. It is scarcely worth discussion, as we have seen already. There will be no need to say that it was foisted upon the original Rite of Perfection during the course of its transformation into the Ancient and Accepted Rite: the Council of Emperors knew nothing of German influence and much less of German rule: at whatever date its long sequence of Grades attained completion, the Chair of the Commandant-in-Chief in a Lodge of Prince Masons was never occupied by a Master who represented the King of Prussia.
Royal Art Origins.—Secondly, there is that claim which is made in respect of Masonry at large and ab origine symboli. (1) It is advanced that the Royal Art took its rise in Crusading times. (2) The Soldiers of the Cross had failed to drive the Saracens out of the Holy Land, and under the auspices of Godfrey de Bouillon they determined to veil the Mysteries of the Christian Religion by the aid of emblematic figures. (3) The expectation was to maintain the military devotion by this means and to provide a safeguard against incursions of the enemy. (4) The Temple of Solomon was selected as symbol in chief, and the Brethren who were incorporated by the scheme were known as Master Architects. (5) Their particular activity was in connection with the building of churches, they providing the plans and directing the labours. (6) It follows that the Mysteries of the Order belonged solely to religion, and the discourse under notice insists on this fact. (7) The secret of their symbols was imparted, with great discrimination and a succession of Grades was devised as part of a winnowing process. (8) They were originally seven in number, by allusion—as it is said—to the six days of creation and the day of rest thereafter; to the six years occupied by Noah in the building of the Ark and to the year which he passed therein; to the similar period employed over the Temple of Solomon and to the year in which it was dedicated. (9) The Grades are not specified by name, but they would appear inferentially to have been understood as Apprentice, Companion, Master Architect, Perfect Elect, Knight of the East and Kadosh, followed by the Royal Secret, like an end and Sabbath of all. (10) The religions and Christian concern of the whole hypothetical system is indicated further by the following explanations: (a) That the three assaults suffered by the Master-Builder represent the three indictments of Christ by the High-Priest Caiaphas, Herod and Pilate; (b) that the Master-Word which was lost by the death of the Master was identical with the mystic exclamation uttered by Christ in His agony: Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani—here translated as: “My God, my God, have pity upon me; forgive my enemies”; (c) that the three assassins of Hiram represent Judas Iscariot; and that (d) the symbol of the acacia has allusion to the Cross of Calvary, which was made of this wood.
Ramsay’s Oration.—At the root and in some of its developments this traditional history is taken from the celebrated Oration of Chevalier Ramsay, which—as I have said elsewhere in this work—was the turning-point in Masonic history and saviour of the Society at large; but it was of course matter of poetic romance and not matter of history. Like other makers of Masonic legend, Ramsay evidently regarded history as a great field of hypothesis, a further contribution to which was a pious act.
The Grade Allocution.—For the historical discourse summarised above there is substituted an historical allocution in a copy of the Ritual preserved in the archives of the Grand Orient of France. The inspiration of Ramsay is replaced in this case by that of Baron Tschoudy. It is said: (1) That the Magi—who were ancestors of Masonry—left Egypt, A.M. 3095, and went to Jerusalem, taking with them the annals of the Order; (2) that they studied the Mysteries of Nature and practised all virtues till the year 4074, when Jerusalem was destroyed by Titus; (3) that they retired into Scythia and the Thebaid, where they continued to propagate their doctrine; (4) that St. John the Almoner (550-619) was one of their initiates, and became Grand Master; (5) that, as apostles of the true light, they joined the Crusaders under Godfrey de Bouillon and regained possession of their temple when Jerusalem fell into the hands of the Christian army; (6) that Baldwin II became Grand Master of the Order, and instituted the Grand Knights of St. Andrew, or Princes of the Royal Secret; (7) that he entrusted to their care the Sacred Treasure of the Order; (8) that the members of this chivalry were chosen from the Grade of Kadosh and were proclaimed Princes of Masonry; (9) that when the Holy City came once more into the hands of the infidels all Masons were driven out, losing the greater part of those precious archives which had come under their charge; (10) that they commissioned a deputation of eighty-one Brethren to Upsala, who deposited the remnant of the archives in the Crypt of the Three Crowns; (11) that when the Prince Masons were finally expelled from Palestine they removed the hidden treasure and repaired with it to Scotland; (12) that the said treasure was again committed to the charge of eighty-one members, who remained in Scotland to guard it, while the rest were scattered abroad; (13) that before parting they bound themselves by a solemn pledge to win back their temple at Jerusalem and the lost sacred treasures; (14) that the Princes of the Royal Secret are descendants of these ancient Prince Masons and that those who are admitted among them must be vowed like these.
The Lost Archives.—It follows that the Most Faithful Guardians of the Sacred Treasure are watchers over lost archives, for the chivalry has not yet entered into the rifled patrimony which it possessed once in Jerusalem, while as to those who had charge in Scotland, they have passed beyond the ken, where no man challenges. Without wishing to be ultra-serious in the criticism of transparent fiction, I specify this point to indicate the bad art of a legend which makes void the Grade that it is supposed to explain and justify. It seems obvious, however, that this alternative allocution is a late addition to the Ritual, as shewn by the Upsala incident, which is an unnecessary and indeed a clumsy artifice adopted to forge a link with Germany, in consonance with the imposture concerning Frederick the Great.
Grade Object.—By the hypothesis therefore the Princes of the Royal Secret are in quest of their lost treasure, as Craft Masons are in quest of a Lost Word. The Ritual, however, is devoid of this motive. To reach Jerusalem is indeed the aspiration of the chivalry, and at the close of the pageant the great transparency of the Grade presents the Holy City; but the affirmed object in view is to restore its ancient glory by rebuilding the Temple “which the most wise among kings on earth erected to the glory of Him Who is King in Heaven.” It is from this point of view that we may now look briefly at the procedure of the Grade itself.
Grade Procedure.—It is a work to be performed in darkness, that is to say in the night hours, for so only can the design of restoration be realised, owing to the vigilance of enemies. The symbolical time of the Grade is therefore five hours after sunset, and the kind of hostility expected is that of infidels, by whom the chivalry has been despoiled. A Candidate is a possible new arm of defence brought forth by Providence, and his qualification is that he has worked during the watches of the night at the building of a new Temple. As an illustration of the Templar element, he affirms that his name is Kadosh, the scion of an Order which has been proscribed unjustly for more than five centuries. We are therefore in the presence of a familiar ambition of Masonic Knights Templar, which is to build a Temple of some kind at Jerusalem. It is to be noted in this connection that there is no Templar element in either of the traditional histories, and hence I conclude that neither one nor the other belonged to the Grade originally.
Trials of the Grade.—The intent of the Candidate is now a journey to the East, where he hopes to attain that apex of glory from which the Valiant Princes were cast down. He is delivered to the examination of the captains of various companies composing the army of the knighthood, and as in the Grade of Mother-Word is taken for this purpose from point to point of a nine-sided camp, to be tested successively under the various Banners on the Official secrets of (1) the Grade of Master, (2) Perfect Master, (3) Intendant of Buildings, (4) Provost and Judge, (5) Elect of Nine and Elect of Fifteen; (6) Grand Architect, (7) Sublime Mason, (8) Knight of the Sword and (9) Prince Rose-Croix. But within the Nonagon is a Pentagon, in the charge of five Princes, by whom he is tested subsequently on (1) the Grade of Grand Pontiff, (2) Grand Patriarch, (3) The Key of Masonry, (4) The Royal Arch and (5) Knight of the Sun. In fine the Grand Commander himself proves the Candidate in respect of the Grade of Kadosh. He has thus produced his titles and is pledged in view of his further advancement.
A Picture Pageant.—Beyond the Lodge of Reception there is an apartment termed the Consistory, and in the procedure which follows this is visited and left ceremonially on five several occasions, representing five epochs in the history of the Order. On the first occasion there is inspected a great transparency depicting the Port of Naples, on the second that of Malta, on the third Rhodes, the fourth Cyprus, and on the fifth the Port of Jaffa, as the key or threshold of Palestine. It will be seen that the visitation goes backward through the centuries and commemorates the partial spoliation of the Knights Templar by the Order of Malta. As stated already, the last transparency of all represents the Holy City, which is displayed in the Lodge of Reception. In this manner the chivalry, having been refreshed by precious and sacred memories, is prepared in the hypothesis of the Grade to march against the enemy, amidst prayers of pardon for its persecutors and aspirations that in their repentance they may find a refuge among Princes of the Royal Secret.
Problems Stated.—This completes the procedure, and is followed by the accolade of the Grade, the official explanations and catechism. It will be seen, as I have said, that it is a Grade apart from symbolism, but it is one at the same time which prompts very curious speculation. What lies behind the proposition to build a Temple at Jerusalem? What signifies the reiterated design of recovering ravished possessions? Who are those enemies which are supposed to encompass the chivalry on all sides? These signify something that remains in concealment, or the elaborate pageant of the Ritual is an incredible mockery. There are several possible answers, but let it be established in the first place that there is a concealed mystery, which is presumably the true sacred treasure. It is said in the Catechism of the Grade that something remains to be learned, namely, an essential point which will be disclosed ultimately to the Candidate. It is kept now in reserve, because it can be shared only by thirteen of the Brethren, and he has been received too recently to be one of that mystic number.
Various Solutions.—The possible answers are three: (1) For the first, Revolution constitutes the Key-Word, and it is an old charge that the Templar Grades of Masonry were centres of a great conspiracy against the Throne and the Church. This charge lapses, not alone because there is no evidence forthcoming to support it, but because the history of Templar Rites is its contradiction from first to last. The most prevalent of all—being that of the Strict Observance—was as little concerned with Revolution as it was with Jacobite aspirations. (2) For the second there is a spiritual or ethical interpretation of the whole programme, and as to this the Charge of the Grand Commander before the accolade is given informs the Candidate that his travels from port to port should teach him that no labour must be spared in order to arrive at perfection. He is presented subsequently with a sword which is said to be that wielded by Godfrey de Bouillon against the enemies of the faith, and he is therefore never to forget what is imposed upon him by the laws of an all-merciful God, or the government under which he resides. From this point of view the Jerusalem which he seeks is not on earth but in heaven, and the lost treasures of the Order are those of the soul fallen from its first estate, while the Temple is a spiritual edifice to be erected in the heart. I do not think that the Grade-Ritual tolerates this construction. (3) The third explanation is that of J. M. Ragon, who follows and develops two doubtful intimations which occur in certain notes on the Ritual in the manuscript from which he drew. It is said (4) that the Ring of Profession is not given to the Candidate in those cases where the Grade is considered a step towards Hermetic Masonry, for then it belongs properly to a later stage; and (6) that the catechetical indication of something to be learned subsequently, together with certain additional clauses, should never be put to those who are not intended for advancement in another order of knowledge. The clauses in question deal with three symbols which appear in the Lodge of Reception, but which I have not had occasion to mention: they are a crow, dove and phoenix. It is said that the black plumage of the crow signifies penalty, disorder, death; that the white feathers of the dove bear witness to the regeneration of beings; and that the phoenix rising out of flames and beginning a new life is an emblem of Nature perfected, according to an universal theory and an illimitable power. On this foundation Ragon builds the hypothesis that the Royal Secret is that of the Philosophical Stone; that the crow represents the matter of the alchemical work in the stage of putrefaction, while the dove is the white elixir and the phoenix signifies the perfect fulfilment of the red state, the flames being red out of which the renewed bird arises.
Another Light.—It is quite possible that in one of the Masonic systems the Grade with which we are dealing may have been followed by alchemical Grades, but not in the Rite of Perfection and not in the Scottish Rite. If the Catechism formed part of the Ritual ab origine the clauses under notice would have been interpolated to serve this purpose, which notwithstanding, it is abundantly evident that the Prince of the Royal Secret is neither itself alchemical nor a tolerable or rational introduction to a sequence of Hermetic Masonry. On the surface and in the spirit of the Grade, such a suggestion is ridiculous and betrays itself. It belongs to Templar Masonry and to nothing else in the whole world of reverie. I am sure that there is a sub-surface intention; but it is not political revolution, not a vague and elusive scheme of ethical perfection and not transmutation of metals. The proposition of a temple to be built offers the only logical construction and testifies openly to a concealed religious intention. It may have been the substitution of natural for official religion, and the Candidate is said in one place to have been purified from the stain of prejudice; but for want of sufficient evidence we must leave it an open question. It may have been to promote Deism or some new or antique heresy: we do not know; but the explanation of the Grade and its purport is most assuredly aut religio, aut nihil.
The position of Emanuel Swedenborg is that of a great psychic, who saw in a glass of singularly ordered vision and heard also in the same lucid state. Out of that which he heard and saw there issued his doctrinal system, which is remarkable at once for its originality and for its reflection of certain aspects belonging to Kabalistic theosophy. I believe that there is no evidence of his acquaintance with the written tradition of Israel, though he is likely to have gleaned something concerning it at second hand. He connects with Masonry only in a mythical sense. There is not the least reason to suppose that he belonged to the Order, but the kind of concern in his writings produced by Masons like Abbé Pernety led, unwarrantably enough, to the belief that he was himself a member, while this in its turn offered an opportunity to Rites manufactured in his name. Findel was a victim of deceptions on this score, and Reghellini, who incorporated with his own reveries every fable which he met with, represents Swedenborg as instituting a Masonic reform. He owed something probably to some brief allusions of Thory in Acta Latomorum. These uncritical authorities were naturally followed by the still more uncritical Ragon, with whom the Swedish seer becomes the recognised founder of a Masonic system. When the story came over to England there is no need to say that it lost nothing in the hands of Oliver. But the capstone remained to be laid, and this was reserved to an American, Samuel Beswick by name, who in 1870 had not only discovered Swedenborg as one of the great Masonic leaders of the eighteenth century but knew precisely when and where he was made a Mason. There are two Rites which pass under the name of Swedenborg, and as regards the first its Grades have been variously enumerated, e.g. (1) Apprentice, (2) Fellow Craft, (3) Master Neophyte, (4) Illuminated Theosophist, (5) Blue Brother, (6) Red Brother. This is a reflection of Chastanier’s Rite of Illuminated Theosophists, to which I have referred elsewhere. The second was manufactured in Canada circa 1860 and is a dull, laborious, interminable version of the Craft Degrees, recast on an astronomical basis. It might be attributed more reasonably to Dupuis or Volney, as no element of the Swedenborgian system can be found therein.
A characteristic cloud of confusion rests upon the origin of the Swedish Masonic system. It has been affirmed, for example, that Baron or Count Carl Frederick Scheffer was initiated in the French Clermont Lodge on September 10, 1737, being seventeen years before that Lodge came into existence. On November 25, 1737, the Earl of Derwentwater conferred upon him two Scottish Degrees, and then or a little later Baron Scheffer received from the same source a patent to constitute Lodges in Sweden. Against all this it is stated by Ragon that Scheffer was appointed Provincial Grand Master of Sweden by the Grand Lodge of England on April 15, 1736. The date appears early, and we know that Ragon is not to be trusted in the absence of authorities, whom he quotes seldom or never. On the other hand, Yarker—who is not to be trusted either--says that the patent of Grand Lodge was granted on March 2, 1770, and this seems late. Other accounts substitute the Scottish Grand Lodge for that of England. The licence in any case and at any time would have covered the Craft Degrees only, while the Swedish system comprises twelve in all.
Nine Degrees in a Sequence.—Now in or about the year 1759 we hear of a Swedish Mason, a certain Count Eckleff, who was concerned with the custody of nine Degrees in a sequence, as follows: (1) Working Apprentice; (2) Master’s Fellow; (3) Master; (4) Scottish Companion-Apprentice; (5) Scottish Master; (6) Knight of the East; (7) Knight of the West; (8) True Initiate of St. John; (9) Elect. According to Gould, this sequence was the basis of the Swedish system. The appearance of the latter in its present form—or in one approximating thereto—has been assigned to the year 1770, and the content is as follows: I. St. John’s Lodges.—(1) Apprentice. (2) Fellow. (3) Master. It is affirmed that they are open to Christians only, and Solomon is regarded as a type of Christ. It is possible therefore that they are of great historical as well as other importance, containing elements now excluded from the Craft in England. II. St. Andrew’s Lodges.—(4) Scottish Apprentice. (5) Scottish Fellow. (6) Scottish Master. III. Chapter Degrees. (7) Knight of the East, otherwise Prince of Jerusalem, said—but on doubtful authority—to be an “apocalyptic Degree, in which the Celestial Jerusalem and its Twelve Gates are represented.” (8) Confidant of Solomon, otherwise Knight of the West, having alleged Templar elements. (9) Confidant of St. John, otherwise Commander of the Temple or Knight of the South. IV. Chapter Dignitaries of the Red Cross—ad honorem, meaning Grades of advancement conferred as titles of honour. (10) Confidant of St. Andrew, otherwise Perfect Templar, (11) Knight Companion of the Red Cross. (12) Vicar of Solomon, otherwise the King of Sweden as Grand Master in perpetuity of the whole Order. Whether this is simply a title which carries no significance beyond an empty name or whether the King is and must be a Mason can be left open questions.
Eckleff and Von Hund.—The source of Count Eckleff’s system, outside his own invention, has been said vaguely to have been French High Grades, but this is a cloak of our ignorance. The question is part of the mystery which attaches to the rise of Templar Rites. Everything points to their origin somewhere in France, and we have two important developments emerging in complete independence, much about the same time, namely, the Strict Observance and the Swedish Rite, both referred and one laying claim distinctly to a French source. I shall always believe that Baron von Hund’s story had a ground in fact, but he was left—as we have seen—to his own devices. Count Eckleff is likely to have derived his Templar root in the same way from the same people and fell back like his German confrère on resources within himself. It comes about in this manner that Swedish Templar Rituals and Swedish traditional history are different to those of the Observance. Certain official documents of the Grand Lodge of Sweden were published in 1892 and 1898; they are evidence for the existence of a Lodge in Stockholm, so far back as 1735, but they are not of any real help in the direction where it is most needed.
Norway.—Norwegian Masonry is part of Danish history up to the year 1814, when it passed under the rule of Sweden. The first Lodge is said to have been founded in 1745; there was another at Trondhjem in 1780 and a third at Bergen in 1786. A Grand Lodge of the Tenth Templar Province was created in 1891 and divides—or so did until recent years—Masonic jurisdiction in Norway with a Provincial Grand Lodge instituted in 1882 by the Grand Lodge of the Sun at Bayreuth. It is said to work a modified form of the Fessler Rite, but it is very difficult to bring statements of this kind to book.
The early history of Freemasonry in the Swiss Republic is one of rival obediences, the jealousies consequent thereon and suppression by law. The last episodes may be taken in order at once and so removed from the field. (1) In 1738 the magistrates of Geneva issued an edict which put an end to Lodge activities for a considerable number of years. (2) In 1743 the Great Council of Berne closed all the Lodges in the canton under its jurisdiction, but the order was disregarded. (3) In 1745 it issued another edict, which took effect for over fifteen years. (4) In 1770 the magistrates of Lausanne forbade Masonic Convocations. (5) In 1782 the Council of Berne again suppressed the Lodges. (6) All Masonic activity was suspended practically in Switzerland during the French Revolution and thereafter till 1803. And now as to the various colonisations of the Republic: (1) Freemasonry appeared at Geneva under English auspices in 1736, or thereabouts. (2) In 1737 an English Provincial Grand Lodge is said to have been established; but the Bureau International de Relations Maçonniques at Berne seems to know nothing concerning it. (3) In 1739 an English Lodge was working at Lausanne and is held to have founded other Swiss Lodges, assuming the title of Helvetic Roman Directory: but the last point is doubtful. (4) When the edict was removed from Geneva, Masonic activities were renewed and extended into German Switzerland. (5) In 1768 the Lodge Union of Hearts was created at Geneva, and many years after the Duke of Kent was initiated therein. (6) In 1769 ten Lodges are stated to have combined for the foundation of an Independent Grand Lodge of Geneva, working the Craft Grades according to English Masonry. (7) In 1775 the Lodges of Berne and the Pays de Vaud reopened and transferred their allegiance bodily to the Strict Observance. (8) About 1785 the French Grand Orient invaded the country and a certain number of existing Lodges passed under its obedience. (9) A Grand Orient of Geneva was established in 1789 as a counterblast to this activity and entered into relations with England. (10) Geneva was ceded to France during the wars of Napoleon and Masonry therein became an appanage of the French Grand Orient, (11) In 1810 the Chevalier de Glaire founded a Grand Orient National Helvétique Roman at Lausanne. (12) In 1818 there was an English Provincial Grand Lodge at Berne. (13) In 1822 Berne and Vaud created a National Grand Lodge of Switzerland. (14) On July, 24 1844, the Grande Loge Suisse Alpina was established at Zurich, uniting all the competitive Obediences of Blue Masonry, and it continues to reign supreme. Over and above this the great outstanding fact of Swiss Masonry is the Régime Écossais Ancien et Rectifié at Geneva, forming with L’Ordre Intérieur the epoch-making transformation of the Strict Observance, according to the Conventions of Lyons and Wilhelmsbad, as we have seen at length elsewhere.
Symbolism and Its Ultimate
The World of Symbolism is a world of many resurrections, and within their law and their order one among them is not only of all the highest but is most sacramental of all; it is catholic, indefectible, an unfailing channel of grace and truth. There can be no need to indicate that I speak of the mystical life which was led in Palestine by that Great Master Who was neither Hiram nor another. Those who can enter into the comprehension of this Mystery, and in fine of that which is veiled by the Divine Resurrection of the first Easter Morning, will have no need of Masonry or of any other instituted systems; and if ever what is known in the most secret of all Sanctuaries could be proclaimed urbi et orbi, from the housetops of universal aspiration, their office would pass for ever, because in place of looking through a glass, and that inversely, like the Lady of Shalott, we should look straight at the Towers of Camelot. As it is, the Rites aid us to see in a reflected manner, and some among them are more lucid than others.
Masonry and the Mysteries.—I have described Masonry as a mirror of instituted initiation, for it has no title to consideration as anything but a glass of vision. It is the most proximate and available of the illustrations which are placed about us here and now, and its reflection is tolerably complete, as of great things by little. But it is in the shadows and dereliction of the crassness of its own conventions, of stilted and confused imagery, of deductions which do not follow and the peculiar abominations of its wording. Looking at these stains upon its charter, there is little wonder that it has not succeeded in completing the house which it set out to build, and it is only as something very far away that it recalls—sometimes almost by antithesis—that which is the Mystery of all in exaltation, nearest indeed of all but least comprehended. And yet such is the root of things that the Raising of the Masonic Candidate can be understood only in the Resurrection of Easter.