THEOSOPHY, Vol. 55, No. 9, July, 1967
(Pages 271-277; Size: 22K)
THE WISDOM RELIGION(5)
CHURCH AND MASONRY: I
[Part 9 of a 12-part series]
IT is a matter of History -- however unreliable the latter -- for a number of facts preserved by ancient writers corroborate it, that Church Ritualism and Freemasonry have sprung from the same source, and developed hand in hand. But as Masonry, even with its errors and later innovations, was far nearer the truth than the Church, the latter began very soon her persecutions against it. Masonry was, in its origin, simply archaic Gnosticism, or early esoteric Christianity; Church Ritualism was, and is, exoteric paganism, pure and simple -- remodelled, we do not say reformed. Read the works of Ragon, a Mason who forgot more than the Masons of today know. Study, collating them together, the casual but numerous statements made by Greek and Latin writers, many of whom were Initiates, most learned Neophytes and partakers of the Mysteries. Read carefully the elaborate and venomous slanders of the Church Fathers against the Gnostics, the Mysteries and their Initiates -- and you may end by unravelling the truth. It is a few philosophers who, driven by the political events of the day, tracked and persecuted by the fanatical Bishops of early Christianity -- who had yet neither fixed ritual nor dogmas nor Church -- it is these Pagans who founded the latter. Blending most ingeniously the truths of the Wisdom-religion with the exoteric fictions so dear to the ignorant mobs, it is they who laid the first foundations of ritualistic Churches and of the Lodges of modern Masonry. The latter fact was demonstrated by Ragon in his ANTE-OMNIAE of the modern Liturgy compared with the ancient Mysteries, and showing the rituals conducted by the early Masons; the former may be ascertained by a like comparison of the Church canonicals, the sacred vessels, and the festivals of the Latin and other Churches, with those of the pagan nations. But Churches and Masonry have widely diverged since the days when both were one. If asked how a profane can know it, the answer comes: ancient and modern Freemasonry are an obligatory study with every Eastern Occultist.
Masonry, its paraphernalia and modern innovations (the Biblical Spirit in it especially) notwithstanding, does good both on the moral and physical planes -- or did so, hardly ten years ago, at any rate.(1) It was a true ecclesia in the sense of fraternal union and mutual help, the only religion in the world, if we regard the term as derived from the word religare, "to bind" together, as it made all men belonging to it "brothers" -- regardless of race and faith. Whether with the enormous wealth at its command it could not do far more than it does now, is no business of ours. We see no visible, crying evil from this institution, and no one yet, save the Roman Church, has ever been found to show that it did any harm. Can Church Christianity say as much? Let ecclesiastical and profane history answer the question. For one, it has divided the whole mankind into Cains and Abels; it has slaughtered millions in the name of her God -- the Lord of Hosts, truly, the ferocious Jehovah Sabbaoth -- and instead of giving an impetus to civilization, the favorite boast of her followers -- it has retarded it during the long and weary Mediæval ages. It is only under the relentless assaults of science and the revolt of men trying to free themselves, that it began to lose ground and could no longer arrest enlightenment. Yet has it not softened, as claimed, the "barbarous spirit of Heathendom"? We say no, most emphatically. It is Churchianity with its odium theologicum, since it could no longer repress human progress, which infused its lethal spirit of intolerance, its ferocious selfishness, greediness, and cruelty into modern civilization under the mask of cant and meek Christianity. When were the Pagan Cæsars more bloodthirsty or more coolly cruel than are the modern Potentates and their armies? When did the millions of the Proletariat starve as they do now? When has mankind shed more tears and suffered than at present?
Yes; there was a day when the Church and Masonry were one. These were centuries of intense moral reaction, a transitional period of thought as heavy as a nightmare, an age of strife. Thus, when the creation of new ideals led to the apparent pulling down of the old fanes and the destruction of old idols, it ended in reality with the rebuilding of those temples out of old materials, and the erection of the same idols under new names. It was a universal rearrangement and whitewashing -- but only skin deep. History will never be able to tell us -- but tradition and judicious research do -- how many semi-Hierophants and even high Initiates were forced to become renegades in order to ensure the survival of the secrets of Initiation. Prætextatus, pro-consul at Achaia, is credited with remarking in the fourth century of our era, that "to deprive the Greeks of the sacred mysteries which bind together the whole mankind was equivalent to depriving them of their life." The Initiates took perhaps the hint, and thus joining nolens volens the followers of the new faith, then becoming all domineering, acted accordingly. Some hellenized Jewish Gnostics did the same; and thus more than one "Clemens Alexandrinus" -- a convert to all appearance, an ardent Neo-Platonist and the same philosophical pagan at heart -- became the instructor of ignorant Christian Bishops. In short the convert malgré lui blended the two external mythologies, the old and the new, and while giving out the compound to the masses, kept the sacred truths for himself.
The kind of Christians they made may be inferred from the example of Synesius, the Neo-Platonist. What scholar is ignorant of the fact, or would presume to deny, that the favourite and devoted pupil of Hypatia -- the virgin-philosopher, the martyr and victim of the infamous Cyril of Alexandria -- had not even been baptised when first offered by the bishops of Egypt the Episcopalian See of the Ptolemaïd? Every student is aware that, when finally baptised, after having accepted the office proffered, it was so skin-deep that he actually signed his consent only after his conditions had been complied with and his future privileges guaranteed. What the chief clause was, is curious. It was a sine qua non condition that he was to be allowed to abstain from professing the (Christian) doctrines, that he, the new Bishop did not believe in! Thus, although baptised and ordained in the degrees of deaconship, priesthood, and episcopate, he never separated himself from his wife, never gave up his Platonic philosophy, nor even his sport so strictly forbidden to every other bishop. This occurred as late as the fifth century.
Such transactions between initiated philosophers and ignorant priests of reformed Judaism were numerous in those days. The former sought to save their "mystery-vows" and personal dignity, and to do so they had to resort to a much-to-be-regretted compromise with ambition, ignorance, and the rising wave of popular fanaticism. They believed in Divine Unity, the ONE or Solus, unconditioned and unknowable; and still they consented to render public homage and pay reverence to Sol, the Sun moving among his twelve apostles, the twelve signs of the Zodiac, alias the twelve Sons of Jacob. The hoi polloi remaining ignorant of the former, worshipped the latter, and in them, their old time-honoured gods. To transfer that worship from the solar-lunar and other cosmic deities to the Thrones, Archangels, Dominions, and Saints was no difficult matter; the more so since the said sidereal dignities were received into the new Christian Canon with their old names almost unchanged. Thus, while, during Mass, the "Grand Elect" reiterated, under his breath, his absolute adherence to the Supreme Universal Unity of the "incomprehensible Workman," and pronounced in solemn and loud tones the "Sacred Word" (now substituted by the Masonic "Word at low breath"), his assistant proceeded with the chanting of the Kyriel of names of those inferior sidereal beings whom the masses were made to worship. To the profane catechumen, indeed, who had offered prayers but a few months or weeks before to the Bull Apis and the holy Cynocephalus, to the sacred ibis and the hawk-headed Osiris, St. John's eagle(2) and the divine Dove (witness of the Baptism while hovering over the Lamb of God), must have appeared as the most natural development and sequence to his own national and sacred zoology, which he had been taught to worship since the day of his birth.
It may thus be shown that both modern Freemasonry and Church ritualism descended in direct line from initiated Gnostics, Neo-Platonists, and renegade Hierophants of the Pagan Mysteries, the secrets of which they have lost, but which have been nevertheless preserved by those who would not compromise. If both Church and Masons are willing to forget the history of their true origin, the theosophists are not. They repeat: Masonry and the three great Christian religions are all inherited goods. The "ceremonies and passwords" of the former, and the prayers, dogmas, and rites of the latter, are travestied copies of pure Paganism (copied and borrowed as diligently by the Jews), and of Neo-Platonic theosophy. Also, that the "passwords" used even now by Biblical Masons and connected with "the tribe of Judah," "Tubal-Cain," and other Zodiacal dignitaries of the Old Testament, are the Jewish aliases of the ancient gods of the heathen mobs, not of the Hierogrammatists, the interpreters of the true mysteries. That which follows proves it well. The good Masonic Brethren could hardly deny that in name they are Solicoles indeed, the worshippers of the Sun in heaven, in whom the erudite Ragon saw such a magnificent symbol of the G.A.O.T.U. -- which it surely is. Only the trouble he had was to prove -- which no one can -- that the said G.A.O.T.U. was not rather the Sol of the small exoteric fry of the Pro-fanes than the Solus of the High Epoptai. For the secret of the fires of SOLUS, the spirit of which radiates in the "Blazing Star," is a Hermetic secret which, unless a Mason studies true theosophy, is lost to him for ever. He has ceased to understand now, even the little indiscretions of Tshuddi. To this day Masons and Christians keep the Sabbath sacred, and call it the "Lord's" day; yet they know as well as any that both Sunday, and the Sonntag of Protestant England and Germany, mean the Sun-day or the day of the Sun, as it meant 2,000 years ago.
And you, Reverend and good Fathers, Priests, Clergymen, and Bishops, you who so charitably call theosophy "idolatry" and doom its adherents openly and privately to eternal perdition, can you boast of one single rite, vestment, or sacred vessel in church or temple that does not come to you from paganism? Nay, to assert it would be too dangerous, in view, not only of history, but also of the confessions of your own priestly craft.
Let us recapitulate if only to justify our assertions."Roman sacrificators had to confess before sacrificing," writes du Choul. The priests of Jupiter donned a tall, square, black cap (Vide Armenian and Greek modern priests), the head dress of the Flamines. The black soutane of the Roman Catholic priest is the black hierocoraces, the loose robe of the Mithraic priests, so-called from being raven coloured (raven, corax). The King-Priest of Babylon had a golden seal-ring and slippers kissed by the conquered potentates, a white mantle, a tiara of gold, to which two bandelets were suspended. The popes have the seal-ring and the slippers for the same use; a white satin mantle bordered with golden stars, a tiara with two bejewelled bandelets suspended to it, etc., etc. The white linen alb (alba vestis) is the garment of the priests of Isis; the top of the heads of the priests of Anubis was shaven (Juvenal), hence the tonsure; the chasuble of the Christian "Father" is the copy from the upper garment of the Phoenician priest-sacrificers, a garment called calasiris, tied at the neck and descending to their heels. The stole comes to our priests from the female garment worn by the Galli, the male -- Nautches of the temple, whose office was that of the Jewish Kadashim; (Vide II Kings 23:7, for the true word) their belt of purity (?) from the ephod of the Jews, and the Isiac cord; the priests of Isis being vowed to chastity. (Vide Ragon, for details.)The ancient pagans used holy water or lustrations to purify their cities, fields, temples, and men, just as it is being done now in Roman Catholic countries. Fonts stood at the door of every temple, full of lustral water and called favisses and aquiminaria. Before sacrificing, the pontiff or the curion (whence the French curé), dipping a laurel branch into the lustral water, sprinkled with it the pious congregation assembled, and that which was then termed lustrica and aspergilium is now called sprinkler (or goupillon, in French). The latter was with the priestesses of Mithra the symbol of the Universal lingam. Dipped during the Mysteries in lustral milk, the faithful were sprinkled with it. It was the emblem of Universal fecundity; hence the use of the holy water in Christianity, a rite of phallic origin. More than this; the idea underlying it is purely occult and belongs to ceremonial magic. Lustrations were performed by fire, sulphur, air, and water. To draw the attention of the celestial gods, ablutions were resorted to; to conjure the nether gods away, aspersion was used.
The vaulted ceilings of cathedrals and churches, Greek or Latin, are often painted blue and studded with golden stars, to represent the canopy of the heavens. This is copied from the Egyptian temples, where solar and star worship was performed. Again, the same reverence is paid in Christian and Masonic architecture to the Orient (or the Eastern point) as in the days of Paganism. Ragon described it fully in his destroyed volumes. The princeps porta, the door of the world, and of the "King of Glory," by whom was meant at first the Sun, and now his human symbol, the Christ, is the door of the Orient, and faces the East in every church and temple.(3) It is through this "door of life" -- the solemn pathway, through which the daily entrance of the luminary into the oblong square(4) of the earth or the Tabernacle of the Sun is effected every morning -- that the "newly born" babe is ushered, and carried to the baptismal font; and it is to the left of this edifice (the gloomy north whither start the "apprentices," and where the candidates got their trial by water) that now the fonts, and in the days of old the well (piscinas) of lustral waters, were placed in the ancient churches, which had been pagan fanes. The altars of heathen Lutetia were buried, and found again under the choir of Notre-Dame of Paris, its ancient lustral wells existing to this day in the said Church. Almost every great ancient Church on the Continent that antedates the Middle Ages was once a pagan temple in virtue of the orders issued by the Bishops and Popes of Rome. Gregory the Great (Platine en sa Vie) commands the monk Augustine, his missionary in England, in this wise: "Destroy the idols, never the temples! Sprinkle them with holy water, place in them relics, and let the nations worship in the places they are accustomed to." We have but to turn to the works of Cardinal Baronius, to find in the year thirty-sixth of his Annals his confession. The Holy Church, he says, was permitted to appropriate the rites and ceremonies used by the pagans in their idolatrous cult, since she (the Church) expiated them by her consecration! In the Antiquités Gauloises (Book II, Ch. 19) by Fauchet, we read that the Bishops of France adopted and used the pagan ceremonies in order to convert followers to Christ.
This was when Gaul was still a pagan country. Are the same rites and ceremonies used now in Christian France, and other Roman Catholic countries, still going on in grateful remembrance of the pagans and their gods?
THE WISDOM RELIGION
CHURCH AND MASONRY: II
[Part 10 of a 12-part series]
"THE WISDOM RELIGION"
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FIVE (5) FOOTNOTES LISTED BELOW:
(5) NOTE.--This series began in the November, 1966, issue. The section on Church and Masonry (here printed in two parts) is taken from H. P. Blavatsky's article "The Roots of Ritualism in Church and Masonry," last reprinted in THEOSOPHY 45. Material used in this article may be found on pages 159-165.
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(1) Since the origin of Masonry, the split between the British and American Masons and the French "Grand Orient" of the "Widow's Sons" is the first one that has ever occurred. It bids fair to make of these two sections of Masonry a Masonic Protestant and a Roman Catholic Church, as far as regards ritualism and brotherly love, at all events.
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(2) It is an error to say that John the Evangelist became the patron Saint of Masonry only after the sixteenth century, and it implies a double mistake. Between John the "Divine," the "Seer" and the writer of Revelation, and John the Evangelist who is now shown in the company of the Eagle, there is a great difference, as the latter John is a creation of Irenæus, along with the fourth gospel. Both were the result of the quarrel of the Bishop of Lyons with the Gnostics, and no one will ever tell what was the real name of the writer of the grandest of the Evangels. But what we do know is, that the Eagle is the legal property of John, the author of the Apocalypsis, written originally centuries before Christ, and only re-edited, before receiving canonical hospitality. This John or Oannes, was the accepted patron of all the Egyptian and Greek Gnostics (who were the early Builders or Masons of "Solomon's Temple," as, earlier, of the Pyramids) from the beginning of time. The Eagle was his attribute, the most archaic of symbols -- being the Egyptian Ah, the bird of Zeus, and sacred to the Sun with every ancient people. Even the Jews adopted it among the Initiated Kabalists, as "the symbol of the Sephirah Tiph-e-reth, the spiritual Æther or air," says Mr. Myer's "Qabbalah." With the Druids the eagle was the symbol of the Supreme Deity, and again a portion of the cherubic symbol. Adopted by the pre-Christian Gnostics, it could be seen at the foot of the Tau in Egypt, before it was placed in the Rose-Croix degree at the foot of the Christian cross. Pre-eminently the bird of the Sun, the Eagle is necessarily connected with every solar god, and is the symbol of every seer who looks into the astral light, and sees in it the shadows of the Past, Present, and Future, as easily as the Eagle looks at the Sun.
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(3) Except, perhaps, the temples and chapels of dissident Protestants, which are built anywhere, and used for more than one purpose.
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(4) A Masonic term; a symbol of the Arks of Noah, and of the Covenant, of the Temple of Solomon, the Tabernacle, and the Camp of the Israelites, all built as "oblong squares." Mercury and Apollo were represented by oblong cubes and squares, and so is Kaaba, the great temple at Mecca.
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