The Meaning of Masonry 5



THE MEANING OF MASONRY
Chapter V
FREEMASONRY IN RELATION TO THE ANCIENT MYSTERIES

EVERY Mason is naturally desirous to know something of the origin and 
history of the Craft. The available literature on the subject is diffuse and 
unsatisfying. It offers a mass of disconnected details of archaeology and 
comparative religion without unifying them into any helpful light and deals 
rather with matters of minor and temporal history than with what alone is of 
real moment, the spiritual lineage of the Craft. In this paper, therefore, it is 
proposed to trace a rough outline and, in the space available, only a very rough 
one is possible--of a movement which is as old as humanity itself and the 
purpose and doctrine of which are still faithfully, if very rudimentarily, 
preserved in the Masonic system. But such a sketch, by providing a general 
outline for the enquirer to contemplate and the details of which he may fill in 
for himself by subsequent study of his own, may perhaps prove more serviceable 
than a mass of fragmentary facts over which one may pore indefinitely and with 
much inter est, yet without perceiving their inter-relation or coordinating them 
into one comprehensive impressive scheme.
No really serviceable work upon Masonry exists that treats of its history and 
purpose in the only way that matters vitally. The student is apt to waste much 
time to little profit by turning for information to publications the titles of 
which seem to promise full enlightenment, but that leave him unsatisfied and 
unconvinced. Desultory collections of information upon points of symbolism, 
archaeology and anthropology, the tracing of connections between modern Masonry 
and medieval building-guilds and other communities may be all very interesting, 
but these are but as the dry bones of a subject of which one desires to know the 
living spirit. They fail to answer the main questions one asks from the heart 
and is anxious to have answered; such as, What was the nature of the Ancient 
Mysteries of which modern Masonry purports to be the perpetuation? To what end 
and purpose did they exist? What need is there to perpetuate them to-day? For 
what purpose was Initiation instituted? Did it at any time ser ve any real 
purpose or can it now? Was it ever more than it is to-day, a mere perfunctory 
ceremonial leading to nothing of essential value and emphasizing only a few 
moral principles and elementary truths which we know already? It is to answering 
such questions as these that the present paper is directed.
Now one of the first things to strike any student of Masonic literature and 
comparative religion is the remarkable presence of common factors, common 
beliefs, doctrines, practices and symbols, in the religions of all races alike, 
whether ancient or modern, eastern or western, civilized or barbarian, Christian 
or pagan. However separated from others by time or distance, however 
intellectualized or primitive, however elaborated or simple their religion or 
morals, and however wide their differences in important respects, each people is 
found to have employed and still to be employing certain ideas, symbols and 
practices in common with every other; perhaps with or without some slight 
modification of form. Masonic treatises abound with demonstrations of this 
uniformity in the use of various symbols prominent in every Lodge. Authors 
delight in supplying evidence of the close correspondences in various unrelated 
systems and in demonstrating how ancient and universal such and such ideas, 
symbols and p ractices have been. But they do not go so far as to explain the 
reason for this antiquity and universality, and it is this point which it will 
be well to clear up at the outset, since it furnishes the clue to the entire 
problem of the genesis, the history, and the reason for the existence of 
Masonry.
If research and reflection be pushed far enough it becomes clear that the 
universality and uniformity referred to are due to the fact that at one time, 
long back in the world's past, there existed or was implanted in the minds of 
the whole human family--which was doubtless much smaller and more concentrated 
then than now--a Proto-Evangelium or Root-Doctrine in regard to the nature and 
destiny of the soul of man and its relation to the Deity. We of to-day pride 
ourselves upon being wiser and more advanced than primitive humanity. We assume 
that our ancestors lived in moral benightedness out of which we have since 
gradually emerged into comparative light. All the evidence, however, negatives 
these suppositions. It indicates that primitive man, however childish and 
intellectually undeveloped according to modern standards, was spiritually 
conscious and psychically perceptive to a degree undreamed of by the modern 
mind, and that it is ourselves who, for all our cleverness and intellectual 
developme nt in temporal matters, are nevertheless plunged in darkness and 
ignorance about our own nature, the invisible world around . us, and the eternal 
spiritual verities. In all Scriptures and cosmologies the tradition is universal 
of a " Golden Age," an age of comparative innocence, wisdom and spirituality, in 
which racial unity and individual happiness and enlightenment prevailed; in 
which there was that open vision for want of which a people perisheth, but in 
virtue of which men were once in conscious conversation with the unseen world 
and were shepherded, taught and guided by the " gods " or discarnate 
superintendents of the infant race, who imparted to them the sure and 
indefeasible principles upon which their spiritual welfare and evolution 
depended.
The tradition is also universal of the collective soul of the human race 
having sustained a " fall," a moral declension from its true path of life and 
evolution, which has severed it almost entirely from its creative source, and 
which, as the ages advanced, has involved its sinking more and more deeply into 
physical conditions, its splitting up from a unity employing a single language 
into a diversity of conflicting races of different speeches and degrees of moral 
advancement, accompanied by a progressive densification of the material body and 
a corresponding darkening of the mind and atrophy of the spiritual 
consciousness. To some who read this the statement will probably be rejected as 
fabulous and incredible. The supposition of a " fall of man " is nowadays an 
unpopular doctrine, rejected by many who contend that everything points rather 
to a rise of man, yet who fail to reflect that logically a rise necessarily 
involves an antecedent fall from which a rise becomes possible. This point, how 
ever, we cannot stop to discuss and must be content merely with indicating what 
in both the Scriptures of all races and the Wisdom-tradition of the sages of 
antiquity is unanimously recorded to be the fact.
From that " fall," which was not due to the transgression of an individual, 
but to some weakness or defect in the collective or group-soul of the Adamic 
race, and which was not the matter of a moment but a process covering vast 
time-cycles, it was necessary and within the Divine counsels and providence that 
humanity should be redeemed and restored to its pristine state; that it should 
be brought back once more into vital association with the Divine Principle from 
which by its secession it became increasingly detached, as its materialistic 
tendencies overpowered and quenched its native spirituality. This restoration in 
turn required vast time-cycles for its achievement. And it required something 
further. It required the application of an orderly and scientific method to 
effect the restoration of each fallen soul-fragment and bring it back to its 
primitive pure and perfect condition. I emphasize that the method was 
necessarily to be not a haphazard, but a scientific one. Anyone may fall from a 
h ousetop and break his bones; skilled surgery and intelligent effort by some 
friendly hand are required to heal the patient and get him back to the place he 
fell from. So with humanity. It fell--out of Eden, as our Scriptures describe 
the lapse from super-physical to physical conditions--why and how, again we must 
not stay to enquire. It fell, through inherent weakness and lack of wisdom. 
Unable to effect its own recovery it required skilled scientific assistance from 
other sources to bring about its restoration. Whence could come that skill and 
scientific knowledge if not from the Divine and now invisible world, from those 
" gods " and angelic guardians of the erring race of whom all the ancient 
traditions and sacred writings tell? Would not that regenerative method be 
properly described if it were called, as in Masonry it is called, a " heavenly 
science," and welcomed in the words that Masons in fact use, " Hail, Royal Art ! 
"?
Thus, then, was the origin and birth of Religion. And Religion is a word 
implying a " binding back " (re-ligare). As with the setting and bandaging a 
broken limb, so the collective soul of humanity, fractured and comminuted by its 
fall into countless individuations and their subsequent respective progenies, 
each separately damaged and imperfect, needed to be restored to the condition 
from which it had become dislocated and once more built up into a perfect 
harmonious whole.
To the spiritual guardians of primitive man, then, one must attribute the 
communication of that universal science of rebuilding the fallen temple of 
humanity, of which science we now surprisedly find traces in every race and 
religion of the world. To this source we must credit the distribution, in every 
land and among every people, of the same or equivalent symbols, practices and 
doctrines, modified only locally and in accordance with the intelligence of 
particular peoples, yet all manifesting a common root and purpose.
This was the one Holy Catholic (or universal) Religion " throughout all the 
world "; at once a theoretic doctrine and a practical science intended to 
reunite man to his Maker. That religion could only be one, as it could not be 
otherwise than catholic and for all men equally and alike; though, owing to the 
perverse distortive tendencies of humanity itself, it was susceptible of 
becoming (as has so happened) debased and sectarianized into as many forms as 
there are peoples. Moreover, its main principles could never be susceptible of 
alteration, though they might be (as they have been) exoterically understood by 
some and esoterically by others, and their full import would not all at once be 
apparent, but develop with increasing fidelity to and understanding of them. It 
provided the unalterable " landmarks " of knowledge concerning human nature, 
human potentialities and human destiny. It laid down the ancient and established 
" usages and customs" to be followed at all times by everyone content to accept 
its discipline and which none might deviate from or add innovations to, save at 
his own peril. It was the "Sacred Law " for the guidance of the fallen soul, a 
law valid from the dawn of time till its sunset, and of which it is written "As 
it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end." It was 
the science of life--of temporal limited life lived with the intention of its 
conversion and sublimation into eternal universal life; and, therefore, it 
called for a scientific or philosophic method of living, every moment and action 
of which should be directed to that great goal;--a method very different from 
the modern method, which is entirely utilitarian in its outlook and totally 
unscientific in its conduct.
This Proto-Religion is related to have originated in the East, from which 
proverbially all light comes, and, as humanity itself became diffused and 
distributed over the globe, to have gradually spread towards the West, in a 
perpetual watchfulness of humanity's spiritual interests and an unfailing 
purpose to retrieve " that which was lost "--the fallen human soul. We have 
already said that in early times the humanity then under its influence was far 
less materialized and far more spiritually sensitive and perceptive than it 
subsequently became or is now; and accordingly it follows that with the 
increasing age and density of the race the influence of the Proto-Religion 
itself became correspondingly diminished, though its principles remained as 
valid and effective as before; for the self-willed vagaries and speculative 
conceptions of man cannot alter the principles of static Truth and Wisdom. To 
follow in any detail the course of its history is not now necessary and would 
require a long treatise. And to do so would also be like following the course of 
a river backwards from its broad mouth to a point where it becomes an 
insignificant and scarcely traceable channel. For the race itself has wandered 
backwards, farther and farther from the original Wisdom-teaching, so that the 
once broad and bright flood of light upon cosmic principles and the evolution of 
the human soul has now become contracted into minute points. But that light, 
like that of a Master Mason, has never been wholly extinguished, however dark 
the age, and, by the tradition, this of ours is spiritually the darkest of the 
dark ages. " God has never left Himself without a witness among the children of 
men," and among the witnesses to the Ancient Wisdom and Mysteries is the system 
of Masonry; a faint and feeble flicker, perhaps, but nevertheless a true light 
and in the true line of succession of the primitive doctrine, and one still able 
to guide our feet into the way of peace and perfection.
The earliest teaching of the Mysteries traceable within historic time was in 
the Orient and in the language known as Sanscrit--a name itself significant and 
appropriate, for it means Holy Writ or " Sanctum Scriptum"; and for very great 
lights upon the ancient Secret Doctrine one must still refer to the religious 
and philosophical scriptures of India, which was in its spiritual and temporal 
prime when modern Europe was frozen beneath an ice-cap.
But races, like men, have their infancy, manhood and old age; they are but 
units, upon a larger scale than the individual, for furthering the general 
life-purpose. When a given race has served or failed in that purpose, the 
stewardship of the Mysteries passes on to other and more effectual hands. The 
next great torch-bearer of the Light of the world was Egypt, which, after many 
centuries of spiritual supremacy, in turn became the arid desert it now is both 
spiritually and materially, leaving nevertheless a mass of structural and 
written relics still testifying to its possession of the Doctrine in the days of 
its glory. From Egypt, as civilizations developed in adjoining countries, a 
great irradiation of them took place by the diffusion of its knowledge and the 
institution of minor centres for the imparting of the Divine Science in Chaldea, 
Persia, Greece and Asia Minor. " Out of Egypt have I called My son " is, in one 
of its many senses, a biblical allusion to this passing on of the catholic M 
ysteries from Egypt to new and virgin regions, for their enlightenment.
Of these various translations those that concern us chiefly are two; the one 
to Greece, the other to Palestine. We know from the Bible that Moses was an 
initiate of the Egyptian mysteries and became learned in all its wisdom, while 
Philo tells us that Moses there became " skilled in music, geometry, arithmetic, 
hieroglyphics and the whole circle of arts and sciences." In other words he 
became in a real sense a Master Mason and, as such, qualified himself for his 
subsequent great task of leadership of the Hebrew people and the formulating of 
their religious system and rule of life as laid down in the Pentateuch. The 
Mosaic system continued, as we know, along the channel indicated in the books of 
the Old Testament, and then, after many centuries and vicissitudes, effloresced 
in the greatest of all expressions of the Mysteries, as disclosed in the Gospels 
of the New Testament (or New Witness), involving the supersession of all 
previous systems under the Supreme Grand Mastership of Him who is call ed the 
Light of the World and its Saviour.
Concurrently with the existence of the Hebrew Mysteries under the Mosiac 
dispensation, the great Greek school of the Mysteries was developing, which, 
originating in the Orphic religion, culminated and came to a focus at Delphi and 
generated the philosophic wisdom and the aesthetic glories associated with 
Athens and the Periclean age. Greece was the spiritual descendant and infant 
prodigy of both India and Egypt, though developing along quite different lines. 
We know that Pythagoras, like Moses, after absorbing all his native teachers 
could impart, journeyed to Egypt to take his final initiation prior to returning 
and founding the great school at Crotona associated with his name. We know, too, 
from the Timaus of Plato how aspirants for mystical wisdom visited Egypt for 
initiation and were told by the priests of Sais that " you Greeks are but 
children " in the Secret Doctrine, but were admitted to information enabling 
them to promote their own spiritual advancement. We know from the corresponden 
ce, recorded by Iamblichus, between Anebo and Porphyry, the fraternal relations 
existing between the various schools or lodges of instruction in different 
lands; how their members visited, greeted and assisted one another in the secret 
science, the more advanced being obliged, as every initiate still is when called 
upon, to " afford assistance and instruction to his brethren in the inferior 
degrees." And we know that at the Nativity--or shall we say the installation in 
this world--of the Great Master, there came to Him from afar Magi or initiate 
visitors who knew of His impending advent and had seen His star in the East and 
desired to acknowledge and pay Him reverence. In all these world moving 
incidents in times when initiation was a real event and not a mere ceremonial 
form as now, it is of interest to notice the practice upon a grand scale of the 
same customs and courtesies as are still observed, though alas unintelligently, 
by the Craft of to-day.
We must now speak more fully of the Mysteries and the " Royal Art " as 
pursued by the Greek school. With the Greeks it took the form of a quest of 
philosophy; i.e., for wisdom, for the Sophia, just as in the Hebrew and 
Christian schools it took the form of a quest for the Lost Word. The end was of 
course the same in both cases, but the approach to it was by different means 
and, as we shall see, the two methods coalesced into one at a later date. The 
Greek approach was primarily an intellectual one and by what Spinoza has termed 
Amor intellectualis Dei. The Christian approach was primarily through the 
affections and the adoration of the heart. Both strained after " that which was 
lost," but one sought after the lost ideal by intellectual and the other by 
devotional energy. Humanity is but slowly educated; " line upon line; precept 
upon precept; here a little and there a little," one faculty after another being 
developed and trained unto the refashioning of the perfect organism. And if 
philosoph ic Wisdom and the sense of Beauty stood forth--as they did stand 
forth--most prominently as the main pillars of the Greek system, the Greeks had 
yet to learn of a third and middle pillar that synthesized and comprised them 
both--that of the Strength of the supreme virtue of Love, when towards the 
object of all desire it pours from a pure and perfect heart.
The Greek's quest of wisdom was something much more than a mere desire for 
larger information and maturer judgment about one's place in the universe. 
Merely to know certain facts about the hidden side of life profits nothing 
unless the knowledge is allowed to influence and adapt our method of living to 
the truths disclosed. Then the knowledge becomes transmuted into wisdom; one 
becomes the truth one sees; and a man's life becomes truth made substantial and 
dynamic. But to bring this about one must first be informed about or initiated 
into certain elements of the truth and be persuaded that it is truth before 
setting about to become it. The Greek method, therefore, began by initiating the 
mind into certain truths about the soul's own nature, history, destiny and 
potentialities, and then left the individual to follow up the information by a 
course of conduct in which the teaching imparted would become converted into 
assured conviction and living power, whilst his increasing progress in the scien 
ce would itself result in awakening him to still deeper truths.
It cannot be too strongly emphasized that no one can learn spiritual science, 
whether as taught by Masonry or any other system inculcating it, without 
submitting himself to its processes and living them out in practical experience. 
In this supreme study, knowing depends entirely upon doing; comprehension is 
conditional upon and the corollary of action. " He that will do the will shall 
know of the doctrine."
Hence it is that in Masonry an installed Master is still called a " Master of 
Arts and Sciences," for he is supposed to have mastered the art of living in 
accordance with the theoretic gnosis or science imparted to him in the course of 
his progress. Real Masonic knowledge will never be achieved merely by oral 
explanation, hearing lectures and studying books. These may be useful in giving 
a preliminary start to earnest seekers needing but a little guidance to set them 
on that path of personal practice and experience where they will soon develop an 
automatic understanding of the doctrine for themselves; for those with but a 
casual dilletante interest the doctrine will continue veiled and secret. For 
example, it is one thing to hear explained what is meant by being divested of 
money and metals in the philosophic sense; it is quite another to have become 
insusceptible to all attraction by material interests and sense-allurements and 
to be consciously possessed of the wisdom accruing from that expe rience. It may 
interest to be told why, at a certain stage of progress, the candidate is 
likened to an ear of corn by a fall of water; but the explanation will be 
forgotten to-morrow, unless as the result of his own effort the hearer has 
become personally aware of an inward substantial growth ripening to harvest 
within him from the ground of his own being and fertilized by supersensual 
nourishment falling like the gentle rain from heaven upon his ardent and 
aspiring soul. Again, it may seem instructive to know that the great ritual of 
the Third Degree signifies a death unto sin and self and a new birth unto 
righteousness, but how will the information profit those who nevertheless mean 
to go on living the old manner of life, which at every moment negates all that 
ritual implies?
The Ancient Mysteries, then, involved much more than a merely notional 
philosophy. They required also a philosophic method of living--or rather of 
dying. For as Socrates said (in Plato's Phoedo, from which much Masonic teaching 
is directly drawn and which every Masonic student should study deeply) " the 
whole study of the philosopher (or wisdom-seeker) is nothing else than to die 
and be dead "; an assertion repeated by Plutarch, " to be initiated is to die "; 
and by the Christian apostle, " I die daily." Their method was divided into two 
parts, the Lesser and the Greater Mysteries. The Lesser were those in which the 
more elementary instruction was imparted, so that candidates might forthwith set 
about to purify and adapt their lives to the truths disclosed. The Greater 
Mysteries related to the developments of consciousness within the soul itself, 
as the result of fidelity to the prescribed rule of life. To draw a faint 
analogy, the Lesser Mysteries bore the same relation to the Greater as the 
present Craft Degrees do to the Holy Royal Arch.
To deal adequately with the Mystery-systems would involve a lengthy study in 
itself. We will refer to but one of the most famous of them, the Eleusinian, 
which existed in Greece and for several centuries was the focus-point of 
religion and philosophy for the then civilized portion of Europe. " Eleusis " 
means light, and initiation into the Mysteries of Eleusis, therefore, meant a 
quest of the aspirant for light, in precisely the same, but a far more real, 
sense as the modern Mason declares light to be the predominant wish of his 
heart. It meant, as it ought to mean to-day but does not, not merely light in 
the sense of being given some secret information not obtainable elsewhere or 
about any matter of worldly interest, but the opening up of the candidate's 
whole intellectual and spiritual nature in the super-sensual light of the Divine 
world and raising him to God-consciousness. The ordinary and uninitiated man 
knows nothing of that super-sensual light by his merely natural reason; he is 
consci ous only of the outer world and things perceptible by his natural 
faculties. In the words of St. Paul " the natural man receiveth not the things 
of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know 
them, because they are spiritually discerned." Initiation, therefore, meant a 
process whereby natural man became transformed into spiritual or ultra-natural 
man, and to effect this it was necessary to change his consciousness, to gear it 
to a new and higher principle, and so, as it were, make of him a new man in the 
sense of attaining a new method of life and a new outlook upon the universe. " 
Be ye transformed by the renewing of your minds," says the Apostle, referring to 
this process. As has previously been shown in these papers, the transference of 
the symbol of the Divine Presence from the ceiling to the floor of the Masonic 
Lodge is to indicate how the Vital and Immortal Principle in man can be brought 
down from his remoter psychological region into his physical o rganism and 
function there through his body and brain, thus as it were dislocating and 
superseding his natural mentality and regenerating him. This truth is still 
further reproduced in Masonry by the name " Lewis," traditionally associated 
with the Craft. "Lewis " is a modern corruption of Eleusis and of other Greek 
and Latin names associated with Light. In our instruction Lectures it is said to 
designate " the son of a Mason." This, however, has no reference to human 
parentage and sonship. It refers to the mystical birth of the Divine Light in 
oneself; as a familiar Scriptural text has it, " Unto us a child is born, unto 
us a son is given." It is the Divine Principle, the Divine Wisdom, brought to 
birth and function within the organism of the natural man, who virtually becomes 
its parent. It is further described in our Lectures as something " which when 
properly dovetailed into a stone forms a clamp, enabling Masons to lift great 
weights with little inconvenience whilst fixing them on their p roper b ases." 
All which is a concealed way of expressing the fact that, when the Divine Light 
is brought forward from man's submerged depths and firmly grafted or dovetailed 
into his natural organism, he then becomes able easily to grapple with 
difficulties, problems and " weights " of all kinds which to the unregenerate 
are insuperable, and to perceive all things sub specie ceternitatis and in their 
true relations, as is not possible to other men who behold them only sub specie 
temporis and are consequently unable to judge their real values and " fix them 
on their proper bases."
In the time that the Mysteries flourished, every educated man entered them in 
the same way that men enter a University in modern times. They were the 
recognized source of instruction in the only things that really matter, those 
affecting the culture of the human soul and its education in the science of 
itself and its divine nature. Candidates were graded according to their moral 
efficiency and their intellectual or spiritual stature. For years they underwent 
disciplinary intellectual exercises and bodily asceticism, punctuated at 
intervals by appropriate tests and ordeals to determine their fitness to proceed 
to the more serious, solemn and awful processes of actual initiation, 
administered only to the duly qualified, and which were of a secret and closely 
guarded character. Their education, differing greatly from the scholastic 
methods of a utilitarian age like our own, was directed solely to the 
cultivation of the " four cardinal virtues " and the " seven liberal arts and 
sciences " as quali fications prerequisite to participation in the higher order 
of life to which initiation would eventually admit the worthy and properly 
prepared candidate. The construction put upon these virtues and sciences was a 
much more advanced one than the modern mind considers adequate. Virtues with 
them were more than abstractions and ethical sentiments; as the word itself 
implies they involved positive valours and virility of soul. Temperance involved 
complete control of the passional nature under every circumstance; Fortitude, 
the courage that no adversity will dismay or deflect from the goal in view; 
Prudence, the deep insight that begets the prophetic or forward-seeing faculty 
of seer-ship (providentia); justice, unswerving righteousness of thought and 
action.* The " arts and sciences " were called " liberal " because they tended 
to liberate the soul from defects and illusions normally enslaving it, thus 
totally differing from science i n the modern sense, the tendency of which is, 
as we know, mater ialistic and soul-benumbing. Grammar, Logic and Rhetoric with 
the Ancients were disciplines of the moral nature, by which the irrational 
tendencies of a human being were purged away and he was trained to become a 
living witness of the universal Logos and a living mouth-piece of the Divine 
Word. Geometry and Arithmetic were sciences of transcendental space and 
numeration (seeing that, as in the words of our own Scriptures, God has " made 
everything by measure, number and weight "), the comprehension of which provides 
the key, not only to the problems of one's being, but to those physical ones 
which are found so baffling by the inductive methods of to-day. Astronomy for 
them required no telescopes; it dealt not with the stars of the sky, but was the 
science of metaphysics and the understanding of the distribution of the forces 
latent in, and determining the destiny of, individuals, nations and the race. 
Finally Music (or Harmony) was for them not of the vocal or instrumental kind; 
it meant the l iving practice of philosophy, the adjustment of human life into 
harmony with God, until the personal soul became unified with Him and 
consciously heard, because it now participated
* The four cardinal virtues are referred to in both Plato's Phoedo and the 
Book of Wisdom, ch. viii, 5-7, indicating community of teaching between the 
Greek and Hebrew schools.
in, the music of the spheres. As Milton puts it:--
"How lovely is Divine Philosophy, Not harsh and crabbed as dull fools 
suppose, But musical as is Apollo's lute And a perpetual feast of nectar'd 
sweets Where no crude surfeit reigns "
Every possible device was employed and practised to train the mind to acquire 
dominion over the passions and to loosen and detach it from the impressions and 
attractions of the senses, to destroy the illusions and false imaginations under 
which it labours when using no higher light than its own, and to qualify it for 
a higher method of cognition and for the reception of supersensual truth and the 
light of the Divine world. The idealism of Greek architecture and sculpture was 
entirely due to the same motive and with a view to elevating the imagination 
beyond the visible level and fitting the mind for the apprehension of 
ultra-physical form and beauty. Even athletic exercises were made to subserve 
the same purpose; wrestling and racing were not vulgar sports; they were 
regarded sacramentally, as the type of combats the soul must engage in against 
the competition of the fleshly desires; and the victor's crown of laurel or 
olive was the emblem of wisdom and illumination resulting to him in whom th e 
spirit conquers the flesh. Thus every intellectual and physical interest was 
made subservient to the one idea of separating the soul from material bondage 
and was purposely of a purifying or "cathartic " nature that should cleanse the 
thoughts and desires of the aspirant and make him white within and without even 
as the modern candidate for the Craft is clothed in white. This inward purity of 
heart and mind, coupled with the possession of the four cardinal virtues, was 
and still is an absolute essential to the ordeals of actual initiation, which 
otherwise rendered the candidate liable to insanity and obsessions of which the 
modern mind in its ignorance of what initiation involves can form no opinion. 
Those who became proficient and properly prepared in this curriculum of the 
Lesser Mysteries were eventually admitted to initiation in the Greater 
Mysteries. Those who failed to qualify were restrained from advancement. As now, 
the numbers of really earnest and qualified aspirants were only a pe rcentage of 
the total of those who entered the Mysteries, for in the spiritual life, as in 
the world of nature, the biological phenomenon prevails that the available raw 
material greatly exceeds the perfected product. Every year far more seeds are 
borne, far more eggs are laid or spawned, than reach maturity, although every 
seed and egg is potentially capable of growth and fruition. Plato, speaking of 
the Mysteries in his own day, quotes a still older authority that " the thyrsus 
bearers* (or candidates for initiation) are numerous, but the Bacchuses (or 
perfected initiates) are few." The same truth is restated in the words in the 
Gospels, " Many are called, but few are chosen."
One qualification above all was essential to the
* The thyrsus (or Caduceus) was an elaborate wand borne by the candidate, to 
the symbolism of which deep meaning attached. Its present form is the wand 
carried by the deacon accompanying the candidate.
aspirant, as it is still to-day,--humility. The wisdom into which the 
Mysteries and initiation admit a man is foolishness to the world; it is a 
reversal and revolution of all orthodox and academic standards. To attain it a 
man must be prepared for that complete and voluntary self-denial which may 
involve his finding negated everything he has previously held to be true, or 
which those among whom he ordinarily mingles believe to be true. He must be 
content to " become a fool for the kingdom of heaven's sake " and to suffer 
adversity, ridicule and obloquy for it if needs be. This was one of the prime 
reasons for secrecy and one though not the only one--of the origins of the 
Masonic injunction as to secrecy. The world's wisdom and that to which 
initiation admits are so antipodal in their nature that any intrusion of the 
latter will infallibly provoke resentment from the former. Hence it is written " 
Cast not your pearls before swine, neither give that which is holy unto 
dogs--lest they turn and re nd you." Silence and secrecy are, therefore, 
desirable if only in self-defence, though there are other reasons; but humility 
is indispensable. In the public processions of the Lesser Mysteries--for the 
public were permitted at certain festivals to participate to a small extent in 
some of the more exoteric knowledge --the sacred emblems and eucharistic vessels 
used in the rites were carried with great reverence upon the back of an ass. 
With the same intention, it is said that one of the great Greek philosophers 
always had an ass by his side in his lecture-room when instructing his students. 
The explanation is given in the words of one of the old authorities upon 
initiation as follows: " There is no creature so able to receive divinity as an 
ass, into whom if ye be not turned, ye shall in no wise be able to carry the 
divine mysteries." In the light of this, one will at once discern the symbolical 
significance of the Christian Maste r riding into Jerusalem upon an ass.
Another and a greatly educative means employed in the Mysteries was that of 
instructing, enlarging and purifying the imagination by means of myths, 
expressing either in doctrinal form or by spectacular representation, truths of 
the Divine world and of the soul's history. The modern mind in its passion for 
actual concrete facts is little sympathetic to a method of teaching which 
dispenses with demonstrable facts and prefers to enunciate the eternal 
principles underlying such facts and of which those facts are but the manifested 
resultant consequence. Facts--of history or science tend, however, to congest 
the mind and paralyse the imagination, as Darwin lamented in his own case. 
Principles stimulate and illumine the imagination, and enable the mind to 
interpret facts and adjust them to their proper relation. The Greek mythologists 
were adepts at expressing cosmic and philosophic truths in the guise of fables 
which at once expressed theosophic teaching to the discerning and veiled it from 
the car eless and ignorant. Myth-making was a science, not an indulgence in 
irresponsible fiction, and by exhibiting some of these myths in dramatic form 
candidates were instructed in various fundamental verities of life.
One of the chief and best known of the numerous myths was that of Demeter and 
her daughter Persephone, annually performed with great ceremony and elaboration 
at the Eleusinia, and of which it may be useful to speak briefly. It told how 
the maiden Persephone strayed away from Arcadla (heaven) and her mother Demeter, 
to pluck flowers in the meads of Enna, and how the soil there opened and caused 
her to fall through into the lower dark world of Hades ruled over by Pluto. The 
despair of her mother at the loss reached Zeus, the chief of the Gods, with the 
result that he relieved the position by ordaining that, if the girl had not 
eaten of the fruit of Hades, she should forthwith be restored to her mother for 
ever, but that if she had so eaten she must abide a third of each year with 
Pluto and return to Demeter for the other two thirds. It proved that Persephone 
had unfortunately eaten a pomegranate in the lower world, so that her 
restoration to her mother could not be permanent, but only periodic.
This myth, and the importance once attached to it, will be appreciated only 
upon understanding its interpretation. It is the story of the soul and is of the 
same nature as the Mosaic myth of Adam and Eve and the apple, and as the cosmic 
parable of the Prodigal Son, neither of these being meant to be regarded as 
historically true, but as a fiction spiritually true of cosmic facts. Persephone 
is the human soul, generated out of that primordial incorruptible mother-earth 
which the Greeks personified as Demeter, just as the Mosaic narrative speaks of 
God forming man out of the dust of the ground. Her straying from her Arcadian 
home and heavenly mother in quest of flowers (or fresh experiences on her own 
account) in the fields of Enna, corresponds with the same promptings of desire 
that led to Adam's disobedience in Eden and his fall thence to this outer world. 
All unruly desires end in dissatisfaction and bitterness, and " Enna " 
(signifying darkness and bitterness) is the same word as still meets us in 
Gehenna. One may, however, profit by one's mistakes. It is they which breed 
wisdom, and it is the riches of wisdom and experience that are signified by 
Pluto, the god of riches, into whose kingdom Persephone falls. She might have 
returned thence to her mother for ever, Zeus decreed, had she not still further 
injured herself by eating of the fruit of the lower world, but having done so 
her restoration can only be partial and temporary. This alludes to the soul's 
still further self-soilure and degradation by lusting after the inferior 
pleasures of this lower plane, which, as the pomegranate symbolizes, is many 
seeded with illusions and vanities. Until these false tendencies are eradicated, 
until the desires of the heart are utterly weaned from external delights, there 
can be no permanent restoration of the soul to its source, but merely the 
periodic respite and refreshment that death brings when it withdraws the soul 
from Pluto's realm to the heaven-world, to be follo wed again and again b y 
periodic descents into material limitations and reascents into discarnate 
conditions, until it becomes finally purged and perfected.
By this great myth, therefore, instruction was imparted as to the history of 
the soul, its destiny and prospects, and the doctrine of reincarnation* was 
emphasized.
How Masonry follows this traditional method of instruction by myths. Its 
canon of teaching in the Craft degrees contains two myths. One is that of the 
building of King Solomon's Temple. The other is that of the death and burial of 
Hiram Abiff narrated in the traditional history. The Royal Arch contains a third 
myth in the story of the return from captivity after the destruction of the 
first temple, the commencement to build the second, and the discovery then made. 
This third myth has already been expounded in our paper on the Royal Arch 
degree, so that we need now speak only of the Craft Myths.
To the literal-minded the building of Solomon's temple at Jerusalem (which is 
of course largely but not entirely based upon the Hebrew Scriptures) appears to 
be the history of an actual stone and mortar structure erected by three Asiatic 
notables, one of whom conceived the idea, another supplying the building 
material, whilst the third was the practical architect and chief of works. The 
two former are said to have been kings of adjacent small nations; the third was 
not a royalty, but apparently a person of no social dignity and a " widow's 
son."
As has previously been said in these papers, these details of an enterprise 
undertaken more than two
* As this doctrine is not popularly inculcated in the West as it is in the 
East, and will be novel and probably unacceptable to some readers, its 
acceptance is not pressed here. We are merely recording what the secret doctrine 
teaches.
thousand years ago can have no possible value to anyone to-day and if they 
related merely to historic fact modern Masonry might as well close its doors and 
cease to exist for any benefit that fact could impart to serious or reflective 
minds. But if the narrative were never intended as a record of temporal historic 
fact, but be a myth enshrining philosophic truths concerning eternal principles, 
then it must be interpreted with spiritual discernment and its analysis will 
reveal matters of real importance.
The story of the building of the temple, then, is a philosophical 
instruction, garbed in quasi-historical form, concerning the structure of the 
human soul. That temple is not one of common brick and stone, but of the " 
unhewn stone " or incorruptible raw material of which the Creator fashioned the 
human organism. The Jerusalem in which it was built was not the geographical one 
in Palestine, but the eternal " city of peace " in the heavens; not, as St. Paul 
says, " the Jerusalem which now is, but the Jerusalem above, which is the mother 
of us all," like the Greek Demeter. Its builders were not three human personages 
resident in the Levant, but the Divine energy considered in its three 
constituent principles spoken of in our Instruction Lectures as Wisdom, Strength 
and Beauty, which as " pillars of His work " run through and form the 
metaphysical warp and basis of all created things. These three metaphysical 
principles may be defined in modern terms as Life-Essence (or the substantial 
spirit of Wisdom); incorruptible Matter, serving as the mould, matrix or vehicle 
of that Life-Essence, to give it fixity, form and objectiveness (Strength); and 
lastly the fabricative intellectual principle or Logos binding these two 
together and constituting the whole an intelligent and functionally effective 
instrument (Beauty). Of these three principles, or upon these three pillars, was 
the human soul originally and divinely built in the heaven-world, and our 
Lectures, therefore, rightly say that those three pillars " also allude to 
Solomon, King of Israel; Hiram, King of Tyre; and Hiram Abiff," because those 
names personify the indissociable triadic constituents of the Divine Unity. 
(They are also shown inscribed upon the central symbolic altar in the Royal Arch 
Degree as further evidence of this divine construction of the human soul). The 
temple of the soul has, however, now been destroyed and thrown down from its 
primitive eminence and grandeur. Humanity, instead of being a collective united 
organ ic whole, has become shattered into innumerable fragmentary separated 
parts, not one stone standing upon another of its ruined building. It has lost 
consciousness of the genuine secrets of its own origin and nature and has now to 
be content with the spurious substituted knowledge it picks up from 
sense-impressions in this outer world. Like Persephone it has eaten the 
pomegranates of Pluto's dark realm in preference to the ambrosia of Arcady, and 
until that poison is eliminated from its system it cannot permanently reattain 
its unfallen state, but at best must endure a rhythm of deaths and rebirths and 
of intermittent periods of labour in this world and refreshment beyond it. But 
it may become cleansed; the temple can be rebuilt, and each Mason's soul that is 
wrought into a true die or square by his work upon himself here, becomes one 
more new stone of the restored temple in the heavens
A further word is necessary as to the concealed significance of Solomon and 
the two Hirams. Solomon personifies the primordial Life-Essence or 
substantialized Divine Wisdom which is the basis of our being. It is defined in 
the Book of Wisdom (chap. vii., 25-27), as " a pure influence flowing from the 
glory of the Almighty; the brightness of the everlasting light, the unspotted 
mirror of the power of God and the image of His goodness." It is described as a 
" king " because it must needs transcend and over-rule whatever is inferior to 
itself, and as " king of Israel " because " Israel " itself means " co-operating 
or ruling with God " as distinct from being associated with beings or affairs of 
a sub-divine order. To conjoin this transcendental Life-Essence to a vehicle 
which should give it fixity and form required the assistance of another dominant 
or " kingly " principle, personified as Hiram, King of Tyre, who supplied the " 
building material." Now inasmuch as we are dealing with purely metaphysical 
ideas, it will be obvious that the Tyre in question has no relation to the 
Levantine sea-port of that name. The name Tyre in Hebrew means " rock " and the 
strength, compactness and durability which we associate with rock, whilst the 
same word recurs in Greek as Turos and in Latin as Terra, earth, and as Durus, 
implying form, hardness, consistency and durability. " King of Tyre," therefore, 
is interpretable as the cosmic principle which gives solidity and form to the 
spiritual fluidic and formless Life-Essence, and which is comparable to a cup 
intended to hold liquid. Solomon and Hiram of Tyre therefore contribute their 
respective properties of Life-Essence and durable form and " building material " 
as the groundwork of the soul, which then is made functionally effective by the 
addition of the third principle described as Hiram Abiff, the widow's son, and 
personifying the active intellectual principle or Logos. In a word, Hiram Abiff 
is the Christ principle immanent in every soul; crucif ied, dead and buried in 
all who are not alive to its presence, but resident in all as a saving force--" 
Christ in you, the hope of glory." Consistently with Christlike humility, Hiram 
Abiff (literally, "the teacher from the Father ") is not described as a " king " 
as are Solomon and Hiram of Tyre, but as one " of no reputation," a " widow's 
son "; a beautiful touch of Gnostic symbolism referable to the derelict or 
widowed nature of the Divine Motherhood or Sophia owing to the errancy and 
defection from wisdom of her frail children. Such of those children as have 
rejoined, or are striving to rejoin, their mother are alone worthy to be called 
the " widow's sons," and it is to the cry to those who have rejoined her from 
those still labouring at that task in the flesh, and perhaps wiping from their 
brow the bloody sweat of their Gethsemane anguish in the struggle, that the 
traditional petition applies, " Come to my help, ye s ons of the Widow, for I am 
the Widow's son ! " The temple of the human soul, primordially constituted of 
the three principles just spoken of in due balance and proportion and divinely 
pronounced to be " very good," has deflected from that state. Its fall has been 
effected by the disproportioned, unbalanced and, therefore, disorderly abuse of 
its inherent powers. Just as a man in a temper becomes temporarily unbalanced 
and liable to do what he would not in serene moments, so the soul has 
disorganized its own nature utterly. Of the three pillars that should support 
it, Wisdom (Gnosis) has fallen and become replaced by a flexible and shifting 
prop of speculative opinion: Strength (divine dynamic energy) has become 
exchanged for the frailty of the perishing flesh: Beauty, the god-like radiant 
form that should adorn and liken man to his Divine Creator, has become 
superseded by every ugliness of imperfection. Man is now a ruined temple, over 
which is written " Ichabod ! Ichabod ! the g lory is departed ! " Severed from 
conscious intercourse with his Vital and Immortal Principle, he is a prisoner in 
captivity to himself and his lower temporal nature. It remains for him to 
retrace his steps and rebuild his temple; to continue no longer a bondslave to 
his self-made illusions and the attractions of " worldly possessions," but 
become a free man and mason, engaged in shaping himself into a living and 
precious stone for the cosmic temple of a regenerate Humanity unto which, when 
completed and dedicated, Deity will again enter and abide.
To be " installed in the chair of King Solomon," therefore, means in its true 
sense the reattainment of a Wisdom we have lost and the revival in ourselves of 
the Divine Life-Essence which is the basis of our being. With the reattainment 
of that Wisdom all that is comprised in the terms Strength and Beauty will be 
reattained also, for the three pillars stand in eternal association and balance. 
Not to reattain it, not to revive the Divine Life-Essence, during our sojourn in 
this world, is to miss the opportunity which life in physical conditions 
provides, since the after-death state is one not of labour at this work, but of 
refreshment and rest, where no real progress is possible. Initiation, therefore, 
was instituted to impart the science of its reattainment and so lift the 
individual soul to a new life-basis from which it could proceed to work out its 
own salvation and develop its inherent powers along the true line of its destiny 
and evolution. But, as the Ancient Mysteries taught, the soul t hat never even 
begins this work in this world will not be able to begin it hereafter, but will 
remain suspended in the more tenuous planes of this planet until such time as it 
is once again indrawn into the vortex of generation by the ever-turning wheel of 
life. To quote Plato again, "those who instituted the Mysteries for us taught us 
that whosoever descended into Hades (the after-death state) uninitiated and 
without being a partaker in the Mysteries, will be plunged into mire and 
darkness, but whoever arrived there purified and initiated will dwell with the 
Gods." This teaching is reproduced in Masonry in the reference to the 
Master-Mason being " admitted to the assembly of the just made perfect ": the 
implication being that those who have not reached that proficiency and are 
neither " just " (i.e., rectified) nor perfected, will abide upon a lower level 
of post-mortem existence. For the levels of superphysical life are numerous--" 
in my Father's house are many mansions," or, literally, resting places--and they 
and their occupants are graduated in hierarchical order according to their 
degree of fitness and spiritual eminence. The disordered modern world, with its 
perverse democratic ideals of equality and uniformity, has lost all sense of the 
hierarchic principle, which since it obtains in the higher world ought to be 
reflected in this.
" Order is Heaven's first law and, that confessed, Some are, and must be, 
greater than the rest."
But Masonry preserves the witness to this graduation, and to the existence of 
separate tiers of life in the heaven-places, in the symbolic distribution of its 
more advanced members. Above the Craft Lodges there presides the Provincial 
Grand Lodge; beyond that rules the Grand Lodge of the nation. Theoretically 
higher than any of these is the Royal Arch Chapter, with the Provincial and 
Grand Chapters towering beyond that. In the symbolic clothing worn by the 
members of each of these ranks the observant student will perceive the intention 
to give appropriate expression to the truth thereby signified. The Masonic apron 
has been explained in an earlier paper as a figure of the soul's 
corporeality--the body (not to be confused with the gross physical body) which 
it wears and will display when it passes from this life. Its pure white is 
fringed in the case of junior brethren with a pale shade of that blue which, 
even in physical nature, is the colour of the heavens. With seniors in the 
Provincial and Grand Lodges this has intensified to the deepest degree of that 
hue in correspondence with their theoretical spiritual development, whilst the 
gold lace adornments of the clothing emblematize what is referred to in the 
Psalmist's words, " The King's daughter (the soul) is all glorious within; her 
clothing is of wrought gold": for as the Life-Essence or Wisdom becomes 
increasingly " wrought " or substantialized in us, it becomes the objectified 
corporeality of the soul. In the Royal Arch the Craft devotional blue is 
intershot with red, the colour of fire or spiritual ardour, the blend resulting 
in that purple which both in earth and heaven is the prerogative of royalty. 
Thus, by their clothing in the various grades, the members of Masonry 
emblematize on earth the angels and archangels and all the company of Heaven. 
Some of them are dothed with light as with a garment; others are ministers of 
flaming fire.
In a short paper such as this our reference to the Ancient Mysteries is 
necessarily brief and has been restricted to the Greek Eleusinian system. Many 
others of course existed and an extensive, though scattered, literature is 
available for those who would pursue the subject further in the direction of the 
Egyptian, Samothracian, Chaldean, Mithraic, Gnostic and other systems. In their 
respective days and localities they formed the authoritative centres of religion 
and philosophy, using those terms as but phases of an indivisible subject which 
nowadays has become split up into many brands of theology and speculative 
philosophy having little and often no possible connection with each other. What 
the old writers made public about the Mysteries of course discreetly avoids 
descriptions of the deeper truths they imparted or of the actual processes of 
initiation. These must always remain a subject of secrecy, but by the 
perspicuous reader enough can be found in their purposely obscure and 
metaphorical accounts to indicate what occurred, and with what effect upon the 
candidate. Initiation, we have already said, is something which but few are fit 
to receive, even after long and rigorous preparation, and fewer still are 
competent to impart. It was an experience of which a writer has said in regard 
to the candidate, Vel invenit sanctum, vel facit--it either finds him holy or 
makes him so. Virgil's account in the sixth Aneid of the initiation of Aneas 
into Elysium (or the supernatural light), or that of Lucius (again a name 
signifying enlightenment) in the "Golden Ass " of Apuleius, when he was 
permitted to " see the sun at midnight," are instructive instances. So also the 
exclamation of Clement of Alexandria, who had been received into the Gnostic 
school: " O truly sacred Mysteries ! O pure Light ! I am led by the light of the 
torch to the view of heaven and of God. I become holy by initiation. The Lord 
Himself is the hierophant who, leading the candidate for initiation to the Li 
ght, seals him and presents him to the Father to be preserved for ever. These 
are the orgies of my Mysteries. If thou wilt, come and be thou also initiated, 
and thou shalt join in the dance with the angels around the uncreated, 
imperishable and only true God, the Word of God joining in the strain ! "
The Mysteries came to an end as public institutions in the sixth century, 
when from political considerations they and the teaching of the secret doctrine 
and philosophy became prohibited by the Roman Government, under Justinian, who 
aimed at inaugurating an official uniform state-religion throughout its Empire. 
Subsequently, as the Roman Empire declined and broke up, the Roman Catholic 
Church emerged from it, which, as we know, has resolutely discountenanced any 
authority in religion and philosophy as a rival to her own and at the same time 
claimed supremacy and an over-riding jurisdiction in temporal matters also. For 
the Freemason the result of that Church's conduct is instructive. For when an 
authority upon matters wholly spiritual and belonging to a kingdom which is not 
of this world, lays claim to temporal power and secular possessions, as the 
Roman Church has done and still does, it at once vitiates and neutralizes its 
own spiritual qualifications. It becomes infected with the virus of " worldly 
possessions." It loads itself with the " money and metals " from which it is 
essential to keep divested. The result has been that what might have been, and 
was designed to be, the greatest spiritually educative force in the world's 
history, has become a materialized institution, exercising an intellectual 
tyranny which has estranged the minds of millions from religion altogether. As 
Lot's wife is metaphorically said to have crystallized into a pillar of salt 
through turning back in desire to what she ought to have renounced altogether, 
so in trying to serve Mammon and God at the same time the Roman Church has 
failed in both and, as the result of the false steps and abuses of centuries. 
the world is to-day a chaos of disunited sects and popular religious teaching is 
as materialistic as Masonry. It is a pity, for in its original design and 
practice Christianity was intended to serve as a system of initiation upon a 
catholic or universal scale, and to take over, supersede and amplify all that 
previously was taught, in a less efficacious way and to a more restricted 
public, in the Ancient Mysteries. It is not possible here to enter upon the 
extremely interesting questions involved in the transition from pre-Christian to 
Christian religion, or to explain why and how the Christian Mysteries are the 
efflorescence of the earlier ones and transcend them. In their central 
teachings, as in the philosophic method of life they demand, the two methods are 
identical. The differences between them are only such as are due to 
amplification and formal expression. Christianity came not to destroy, but to 
fulfil and expand. That fulfilment and expansion were consequent upon an event 
of cosmic importance which we speak of as The Incarnation. By that event 
something had happened affecting the very fabric of our planet and every item of 
the human family. What that something was and the nature of the change it 
wrought is too great and deep a theme to develop now, b ut, to illustrate it by 
Masonic s ymbolism, it was an event which is the equivalent of, and is 
represented by, the transference of the Sacred Symbol of the Grand Geometrician 
of the Universe from the ceiling of the Lodge, where it is located in the 
elementary grades of the Craft, to the floor, where it is found in the Royal 
Arch Degree surrounded with flaming lights and every circumstance of reverence 
and sanctity. How many Masons are there in the Order to-day who recognize that, 
in this piece of symbolism, Masonry is giving affirmation and ocular testimony 
to precisely the same fact as the churchman affirms when he recites in his Creed 
the words " He came down from heaven, and was incarnate and was made man? "
By a tacit and quite unwarranted convention the members of the Craft avoid 
mention in their Lodges of the Christian Master and confine their scriptural 
readings and references almost exclusively to the Old Testament, the motive 
being no doubt due to a desire to observe the injunction as to refraining from 
religious discussion and to prevent offence on the part of brethren who may not 
be of the Christian faith. The motive is an entirely misguided one and is 
negated by the fact that the " greater light " upon which every member is 
obligated, and to which his earnest attention is recommended from the moment of 
his admission to the Order, is not only the Old Testament, but the volume of the 
Sacred Law in its entirety. The New Testament is as essential to his instruction 
as the Old, not merely because of its moral teaching, but in virtue of its 
constituting the record of the Mysteries in their supreme form and historic 
culmination. The Gospels themselves, like the Masonic degrees, are a record of p 
reparation and illumination, leading up to the ordeal of death, followed by a 
raising from the dead and the attainment of Mastership, and they exhibit the 
process of initiation carried to the highest conceivable degree of attainment. 
The New Testament is full of passages in Masonic terminology and there is not a 
little irony in the failure by modern Masons to recognize its supreme importance 
and relevancy to their Lodge proceedings and in the fact that in so doing they 
may be likening themselves to those builders of whom it is written that they 
rejected the chief Corner Stone. They would learn further that the Grand Master 
and Exemplar of Masonry, Hiram Abiff, is but a figure of the Great Master and 
Exemplar and Saviour of the world, the Divine Architect by whom all things were 
made, without whom is nothing that hath been made, and whose life is the light 
of men. If, in the words of the Masonic hymn:
" Hiram the architect Did all the Craft direct How they should build,"
it is equally true that the protagonist of the Christian Scriptures also 
taught universal humanity " how they should build " and reconstruct their own 
fallen nature, and that the method of such building is one which involves the 
cross as its working tool and one which culminates in a death and a raising from 
the dead. And, of those who attain their initiation and mastership by that 
method, is it not further written there that they become of the household of God 
and built into a spiritual temple not made with hands, but eternal and in the 
heavens and of which "Jesus Christ is the chief corner stone, in whom all the 
building, fitly framed together, groweth unto an holy temple builded for an 
habitation of God? "
Neither the Ancient Mysteries nor Modern Masonry, their descendant, 
therefore, can be rightly viewed without reference to their relation to the 
Christian evangel, into which the pre-Christian schools became assumed. The line 
of succession and evolution from the former to the latter is direct and organic. 
Allowing for differences of time, place and form of expression, both taught 
exactly the same truths and inculcated the necessity for regeneration. In such a 
matter there cannot be a diversity of doctrine. The truth concerning it must be 
static and uniform at all periods of the world's history. Hence we find St. 
Augustine affirming that there has never existed but one religion in the world 
since the beginning of time (meaning by religion the science of rebinding the 
dislocated soul to its source), and that religion began to be called Christian 
in apostolic times. And hence too it is that both the Roman Church and Masonry, 
although so widely divergent in outlook and method, have this feature in common, 
that each declares and insists that no alteration or innovation in its central 
doctrine is permissible and that it is unlawful to remove or deviate from its 
ancient landmarks. Each is right in its insistence, for in the system of each is 
enshrined the age-old doctrine of regeneration and divinization of the human 
soul, obscured in the one case by theological and other accretions foreign to 
the main purpose of religion, and unperceived in the other because its symbolism 
remains uninterpreted. To clear vision, Christian and Masonic doctrine are 
identical in intention though different in method. The one says " Via Crucis "; 
the other " Via Lucis "; yet the two ways are but one way. The former teaches 
through the ear, the latter through the eye and by identifying the aspirant with 
the doctrine by passing him personally and dramatically through symbolic rites 
which he is expected to translate from ceremonial form into subjective 
experience. As Patristic literature shows, the prim itive metho d of the 
Christian Church was not that which now obtains, under which the religious 
offices and teaching are administered to the whole public alike and in a way 
implying a common level of doctrine for all and uniform power of comprehension 
by every member of the congregation. It was, on the other hand, a graduated 
method of instruction and identical with the Masonic system of degrees conferred 
by reason of advantage merit and ability. To cite one of the most instructive of 
early Christian treatises (Dionysius: On the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy), with 
which every Masonic student should familiarize himself, it will be found that 
admission to the early Church was by three ceremonial degrees exactly 
corresponding in intention with those of Masonry. " The most holy initiation of 
the Mystic Rites has as its first Godly purpose the holy cleansing of the 
initiated; and as second, the enlightening instruction of the purified; and 
finally and as the completion of the former, the perfe cting of those instru 
cted in the science of their appropriate instructions. The order of the 
Ministers in the first class cleanses the initiated through the Mystic Rites; in 
the second, conducts the purified to light; and, in the last and highest, makes 
perfect those who have participated in the Divine Light by the scientific 
contemplations of the illuminations contemplated." This brief passage alone 
suffices to show that originally membership of the Christian Church involved a 
sequence of three initiatory rites identical in intention with those of the 
Craft to-day. The names given to those who had qualified in those Rites were 
respectively Catechumens, Leiturgoi, and Priests or Presbyters; which in turn 
are identifiable with our Entered Apprentices, Fellow Crafts and Master Masons. 
Their first degree was that of a rebirth and purification of the heart; their 
second related to the illumination of the intelligence; and their third to a 
total death unto sin and a new birth unto righteousness, i n which the candidate 
died with Christ on the cross, as with us he is made to imitate the death of 
Hiram, and was raised to that higher order of life which is Mastership.
When Christianity became a state-religion and the Church a world-power, the 
materialization of its doctrine proceeded apace and has only increased with the 
centuries. Instead of becoming the unifying force its leaders meant it to be, 
its association with " worldly possessions" has resulted in making it a 
disintegrative one. Abuses led to schisms and sectarianism, and whilst the 
parent body, in the form of the Greek and Roman Churches, still possesses and 
jealously conserves all the original credentials, traditions and symbols in 
their superb liturgies and rites, more importance is attached to the outer husk 
of its heritage than to its kernel and spirit, whilst the Protestant communities 
and so-called "free" churches have unhappily become self-severed altogether from 
the original tradition and their imagined liberty and independence are in fact 
but a captivity to ideas of their own, having no relation to the primitive 
gnosis and no understanding of those Mysteries which must always lie deeper t 
han the exoteric popular religion of a given period. Regeneration as a science 
has long been, and still is, entirely outside the purview of orthodox religion. 
The Christian Master's affirmation " Ye must be born again" is regarded as but a 
pious counsel towards an indefinite improvement of conduct and character, not as 
a reference to a drastic scientific revolution and reformation of the individual 
in the way contemplated by the rites of initiation prescribed in the Mysteries. 
Popular religion may indeed produce " good " men, as the world's standard of 
goodness goes. It does not and cannot produce divinized men endued with the 
qualities of Mastership, for it is ignorant of the traditional wisdom and 
methods by which that end is to be attained.
That wisdom and those traditional methods of the Mysteries have, however, 
never been without living witness in the world, despite the jealousy and 
inhibitions of official orthodoxy. Since the suppression of the Mysteries in the 
sixth century, their tradition and teaching have been continued in secret and 
under various concealments, and to that continuation our present Masonic system 
is due. As previously intimated in these papers, it was compiled and projected 
between two and three centuries ago as an elementary expression of the ancient 
doctrine and initiatory method, by a group of minds which were far more deeply 
instructed in the old tradition and secret science than are those who avail 
themselves of their work to-day, or even than the text of the Masonic rites 
indicates. If they remained obscure and anonymous, so that the modern student's 
research is unable to identify them, it is only what is to be expected, for the 
true initiate is one who never proclaims himself as such and is content e ver to 
remain impersonal and out of sight and notoriety, planting his seed for the 
welfare of his fellow men indifferently and leaving others to water it and God 
to give it increase. But, within the limits they allowed themselves, they 
achieved their work well and truly and, as has been sought to demonstrate in 
these pages, made it a rescript, faithful at least in outline and main 
principles, of the ancient teaching and perfecting rites of the philosophic 
Mysteries. It has been well said by a writer of authority on the subject that 
they put forward the system of speculative Masonry as " an experiment upon the 
mind of the age," and with a view to exhibiting to at least a small section of a 
public living in a time of gross darkness and materialism an evidence of the 
doctrine of regeneration which might serve as a light to such as could profit 
therefrom. If this theory be true, their intention may at first sight appear to 
have b ecome falsified by subsequent developments, in the course of which th ere 
has sprung up an organization of world-wide dimensions and vast membership, 
animated undoubtedly in the main with worthy ideals and accomplishing a certain 
measure of benevolent work, but nevertheless failing entirely in perceiving its 
true and original purpose as an order for promoting the science of human 
regeneration, and unconscious that by this default its achievements in other 
directions are of small or no account. But a broader and wiser view of the 
situation would be one that, whilst recognizing a great diffusion of energy to 
little present purpose, sees also that, in the long run and in the amplitude of 
time, that energy is not wasted but conserved, and that, besides benefiting 
individuals here and there who are capable of truly profiting from the Order, it 
preserves the witness and keeps burning the light of the perpetual Mysteries in 
a dark age. Like the light of a Master Mason which never becomes wholly 
extinguished, so in the world's darkest days the light of the M ysteries nev er 
goes out entirely, and God and the way to Him are not left without witness. If, 
in comparison with other witnesses, Masonry is but a glimmering ray rather than 
a powerful beam of light, it is none the less a true ray; a kindly light lit 
from the world's central altar-flame, and sufficing to lead at least some of us 
on amid the encircling gloom, until the night is gone. Light is granted in 
proportion to the desire of our hearts, but for the majority of Masons their 
Order sheds no light at all, because light is not their desire, nor is 
initiation in its true sense understood or wished for. They move among the 
symbols, simulacra and substituted secrets of the Mysteries without 
comprehending them, without wishing to translate them into reality. The Craft is 
made to subserve social and philanthropic ends foreign to its purpose and even 
to gratify the desire for outward personal distinction; but as an instrument of 
regeneration it remains wholly ineffective.
Is this nescience, this imperviousness and failure to comprehend, however, to 
no purpose? Perhaps not. Each of us lives in the presence of natural mysteries 
he fails to discern or understand, and even when the desire for wisdom is at 
last awakened, the education of the understanding is a long process. Nature in 
all her kingdoms builds slowly, perfecting her aims through endless repetitions 
and apparently wanton waste of material. And in the things of the Kingdom which 
transcends Nature, the same method prevails. Souls are drawn but slowly to the 
Light, and their perfecting and transmutation into that Light is often very 
gradual. For long before it is able to distinguish shadow from substance, 
Humanity must try its prentice-hand upon illusory toys and substitutions for the 
genuine secrets of Reality. For long before it is worthy of actual initiation 
upon the path that leads to God it must be permitted to indulge in preliminary 
unintelligent rehearsals of the processes therein involved. The app roaches to 
the ancient temples of the Mysteries were lined with statues of the Gods, having 
no value of themselves but intended to habituate the minds of neophytes to the 
spiritual concepts and divine attributes to which those statues were meant to 
give objective form and semblance. But within the temple itself all graven 
images, all formal figures, symbols and ceremonial types, ceased; for the mind 
had then finally to learn to dispense with their help, and, in the strength of 
its own purity and understanding alone, to rise into unclouded perception of 
their formless prototypes and " see the Nameless of the hundred names."
Get knowledge, get wisdom; but with all thy meaning gettings, get 
understanding," exclaims the old Teacher, in a counsel that may well be 
commended to the Masonic Fraternity to-day, which so little understands its own 
system. But understanding depends upon the gift of the Supernal Light, which 
gift in turn depends upon the ardour of our desire for it. If Wisdom to-day is 
widowed, all Masons are actually or potentially the widow's sons, and she will 
be justified of her children who seek her out and who labour for her as for hid 
treasure. It remains with the Craft itself whether it shall enter upon its own 
heritage as a lineal successor of the Ancient Mysteries and Wisdom-teaching, or 
whether, by failing so to do, it will undergo the inevitable fate of everything 
that is but a form from which its native spirit has departed.