A SIGNAL OF DANGER
Initiates are sure to come into the company of the gods.
--SOCRATES in the Phaedo
IN the first number of the Revue Theosophique
in the initial portion of the fine lecture of our brother and colleague,
the erudite Correspondent-Secretary of the T.S. Hermes, we read in
the footnote (fn. 2, p. 23 ):
We designate under the term Initiate every seeker in the possession
of the elementary principles of the Occult Science. One must beware lest
he confuse this term with that of Adept, which indicates the highest
degree of elevation to which the initiate may attain. We have in Europe
many Initiates. I do not think that there exist any adepts as in the Orient.
Foreign to the genius of the French language, not even having at hand
a dictionary of etymology, it is impossible for me to say if this double
definition is authorized in French except in the terminology of the Free-Masons.
But in English, as in the sense that usage has sanctioned among Theosophists
and occultists in India, these two terms have a sense absolutely different
from the one given by the author. I mean to say that the definition as given
by M. Papus to the word Adept is the one which applies to the word
Initiate and vice-versa.
I would never have thought of correcting this error--in the eyes of Theosophists
at least--if it had not threatened in my opinion to throw into the minds
of the subscribers to our Revue, very regrettable confusion
in the future.
As I was the first one to employ these two adjectives (qualificatifs)
in a sense entirely opposed to the meaning lent to them by Masons and
M. Papus there would certainly result some equivocations (quiproquos)
which must be avoided at all costs. Let us understand ourselves first
if we want to be understood by our readers.
Let us halt at a fixed and invariable definition of the terms which we
employ in Theosophy; because otherwise instead of order and clarity, we
would only bring a greater confusion into the already existing chaos of
the ideas of the profane world.
Not being cognizant of the reasons which caused our wise brother to use
said terms in the manner that he uses them, I take to task the "Sons
of the Widow" who use the terms in a sense entirely the reverse of
the true sense.
Everybody knows that the word "Adept" comes from the Latin
Adeptus. This term is derived from the two words, ad "of"
and Apisci "to pursue" (Sanskrit ap).
An Adept would then be a person versed in a certain art or science
acquired in one manner or another. It follows that this qualification can
be applied as well to an adept in astronomy as to an adept in the art of
making pâtés de foies gras (chopped liver); a shoemaker as
a perfumer, the one versed in the art of making boots, the other in the
art of chemistry--are "adepts.'
As to the term Initiate, it is quite another matter. Every Initiate
must be an adept in occultism; he must become one before being initiated
in the Great Mysteries. But every adept is not always an Initiate. It is
true that the Illuminati used the term Adeptus in speaking
of themselves, but they did so in a general sense--e.g., in the seventh
degree of the order of the Rite of Zimmendorf. Thus were used the terms
Adeptatus, Adeptus Coronatus in the seventh degree of the Swedish
rite; and Adeptus Exemptus in the seventh degree of the Rosie-Cross.
This is an innovation of the Middle Ages. But no real Initiate of The Great
(or even the Lesser) Mysteries, is called in the classical works Adeptus,
but Initiatus in Latin, and Epopte in Greek. These same
Illuminati treated as Initiates only those of their brothers
who were more instructed than the others in the mysteries of their Society.
It was only the less instructed among them who had the name Mystes and
Adeptes inasmuch as they were as yet only admitted to the inferior
Let us pass now to the term "initiate."
Let us first say that there is a great difference between the verb and
the substantive (substantif) of this word. A professor initiates
his pupil into the first elements of a certain science, a science in which
the student may become adept, that is, versed in its specialty. On the other
hand, an adept in occultism is first instructed in the religious
mysteries, after which, if he is lucky enough not to succumb during the
terrible trials of initiation, he becomes an INITIATE.
The best classical translators invariably render the Greek by this phrase:
"Initiated in the Great Mysteries"; for this term is synonymous
with Hierophant, "he who explains the sacred mysteries."
Initiatus among the Romans was equivalent to the term Mystagogus
and both were absolutely reserved for the one who in the Temple initiated
others into the highest mysteries. He represented, therefore, figuratively,
the Universal Creator. None dared pronounce this name before the profane.
The place of the "Initiatus" was to the Orient,
where he was seated, a globe about or suspended from his neck. The Free-Masons
tried to imitate the Hierophant-lnitiatus in the person of their
"Venerables" and Grand Masters of the Lodges.
But does the cowl make the monk?
It is to be regretted that they did not content themselves with this
The substantive French (and English) "initiation" being derived
from the Latin word initium, commencement, the Masons with more respect
for the dead letter that kills than for the spirit which gives
life have applied the term "initiate" to all their neophytes or
candidates--to the beginners--in all the Masonic degrees--the highest as
well as the lowest.
Yet they knew better than anyone that the term Initiatus pertained
to the 5th and to the highest degree of the order of the Templars; that
the title Initiate in the mysteries was the 21st degree of the metropolitan
chapter in France; in the same manner as that of the Initiate in the
profound mysteries indicated the 62nd degree of the same chapter. Knowing
all this, they nevertheless applied this title, sacred and sanctified by
its antiquity, to their simple candidates--the infants (bambins), among
the "Sons of the Widow." But because the passion for innovations
and modifications of all kinds accomplished for the Masons what an occultist
of the Orient regards as a veritable sacrilege, is this a reason for the
Theosophists to accept their terminology?
We, disciples of the Masters of the Orient, have naught to do with modern
Masonry. The real secrets of symbolical Masonry are lost--as Ragon so well
proves. The keystone (clef de voûte), the central stone of
the arch built by the first royal dynasties of the Initiates--ten times
prehistorical--found itself shaken since the abolition of the last mysteries.
The work of destruction, or rather of strangling and choking commenced by
the Cæsars, was finally achieved in Europe, by the Church Fathers.
Imported once more, since, from the sanctuaries of the Far East, the sacred
stone was cracked and finally broken into a thousand pieces.
On whom shall the blame for this crime fall?
Shall it be on the Free-Masons, the Templars especially--persecuted,
assassinated and violently divested of their annals an written statutes?
Shall it be on the Church, which having appropriated the dogmas and rituals
of primitive Masonry, passed them off as its own travestied rites, as the
sole TRUTH and resolved smother
Be that as it may, it is no longer the Masons who have all of the truth
whether we place the blame on Rome or the insect Shermah1 of the famous temple of Solomon which modern Masonry
vindicates as base and origin of its order.
For decades of thousands of years the genealogical tree of the e sacred
science which the peoples possessed in common, was the same--for the temple
of this science is ONE and is built on the unshakeable
rock of primitive truths. But the Masons of the last two centuries preferred
to divorce themselves from it. Once m and applying this time the practice
to the allegory, they broken the cube which divided itself into twelve parts.
They have rejected the real stone for the false, and whatever they did with
the first--their angular stone--it was certainly not according to
the spirit that gives life but according to the dead letter that kills.
Is it again the Worm Samis (alias the "insect
Shermah") which the traces on the rejected stone had already
led into error the "builders of the Temple" that gnawed the same lines?
But this time what was done was done with full knowledge. The builders must
have known the total2 by heart to judge by
the thirteen lines or five surfaces.
No matter! We faithful disciples of the East prefer to all these stones
a stone that has naught to do with all the other mummeries of the Masonic
We will adhere to the Eben Shatijah (having another name in Sanskrit),
the perfect cube which while containing the delta or triangle, replaces
the name of the Tetragrammaton of the Kabalists, by the symbol of the incommunicable
We willingly leave to the Masons their "insect"; while hoping
for them that modern symbology which marches at such rapid pace, will never
discover the identity of the Worm Shermah-Samis with Hiram Abif--which
would be embarrassing enough.
However, and upon reflection, the discovery would not be without its
useful side and not lacking in great charm. The idea of a worm that would
be at the head of the Masonic genealogy and of the Architect of the first
temple of the Masons, would also make of this worm the "father Adam"
of the Masons, and would only render the "Sons of the Widow" the
dearer to the Darwinists. This would re-approach them to modern Science,
which only looks for proofs of Nature to fortify the theory of Haeckelian
evolution. What would it matter to them, after all, once they have lost
the secret of their true origin?
No one need decry this assertion which is a well attested fact. I allow
myself to remind Messrs. the Masons who might read this, that as regards
esoteric Masonry almost all the secrets have disappeared since Elias
Ashmole, and his immediate successors. If they seek to contradict us, we
will, like Job, tell them, "Thine own mouth condemneth thee, and not
I: yea, thine own books testify against thee." (XV, 6).
Our greatest secrets once upon a time were taught in Masonic Lodges,
the world over. But their Grand Masters and Gurus perished one after
the other; and all that remained written in secret manuscripts--like the
one of Nicholas Stone, for instance, destroyed in 1720 by some scrupulous
brothers--was put to the fire and annihilated between the end of the seventeenth
and the beginning of the eighteenth centuries, in England, as well as on
Why this destruction?
Certain brothers in England whisper to each other that this destruction
was the consequence of a shameful pact entered into by certain Masons and
the Church. An aged "brother," great kabalist, has just died here,
whose grandfather, a celebrated Mason, was the intimate friend of Count
St. Germain, when the latter was sent, it is said, by Louis XV, to England
in 1760, to negotiate peace between the two countries. Count St. Germain
left in the hands of this Mason certain documents concerning the history
of Masonry and containing the keys of more than on incomprehensible mystery.
He did this under the condition that these documents would become the secret
inheritance of all hi descendents who became Masons. These papers profited
two Masons, the father and the son, the one who just died, and will profit
no one else in Europe. Before his death, the precious documents were entrusted
to an Oriental (a Hindu) whose mission it was to deliver them to a certain
person who would come to fetch them at Amritsa, city of Immortality. It
is also secretly said that the celebrated founder of the Lodge of the Trinosophes,
J. M Ragon, was also initiated into many mysteries in Belgium by an Oriental--and
there are some who assert that he knew in his youth Count St. Germain. This
explains, perhaps, why the author of the "Tuileur General De La Maçonnerie,"
or Manual of the Initiate, asserted that Elias Ashmole was the real
founder of modern Masonry. Nobody knew better than Ragon the extent of the
loss of Masonic secrets, as he himself well says: "It is of the essence
and nature of the Mason to search for the light wherever . he thinks he
can find it," announces the circular of the Grand Orient of
France. "In the meanwhile," he adds, "the Mason is given
the glorious title of Child of Light and is left enveloped in obscurity."
(Cours Philosophique, etc., p. 60.)
Thus, if as we think, M. Papus has followed the Masons his definition
of the terms Adept and Initiate, he was wrong, for one does
not turn towards "obscurity" when one is himself in a ray of light.
Theosophy has invented naught, said nothing new, only faithfully repeating
the lessons of the highest antiquity. The terminology, introduced fifteen
years ago in the T.S., is the true one, for in each case its terms are a
faithful translation of their Sanskrit equivalents, almost as old as the
last human race. This terminology could not be modified, at this hour, without
the risk of introducing in Theosophical teachings a chaos as deplorable
as it is dangerous for their clarity.
Let us remind ourselves especially of these words so true of Ragon:
Initiation had India for a cradle. She has preceded the civilization
of Asia and Greece, and in polishing the spirit and the customs of the
peoples, she has served as a base for all the laws, civil, political and
The word Initiate is the same as dwija, the "twice-born"
Brahman. That is to say that initiation was considered as birth into a new
life or as Apulius says, "it is the 'resurrection into a new life',
'novam vitam inibat'."
Aside from this, M. Papus' lecture on the Seal of the Theosophical Society
is admirable, and the erudition that he displays is most remarkable. The
members of our Fraternity owe him sincere thanks for explanations that are
as clear and just as they are interesting.
H. P. Blavatsky
Revue Theosophique, April, 1889
1 From a Jewish tradition,
the stones that served to build the temple of Solomon (an allegorical symbol
taken literally of which an actual edifice was made) were not cut and polished
by hand of man but by a worm named Samis created by God for this
purpose, These stones were miraculously transported on the spot where the
temple was to rise and cemented henceforth by the angels who raised the
Temple of Solomon. The Masons have introduced the Worm Samis in their
legendary history and call the "insect Shermah."
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2 This total is composed of a bisected
isosceles triangle--three lines--the side of the cube being the
base: two squares diagonally bisected having each a perpendicular line toward
the center--six lines; two straight lines at right angles; and a diagonally
bisected square--two lines: total thirteen lines or five surfaces of the
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