THE MITHRAISM-FREEMASONRY CONNECTION
I. BASIC PREMISE AND BACKGROUND
Freemasonry is transmogrified Mithraism. One must understand that the Picti (the inhabitants of Caledonia, before it became Scotland), copied the Romans in just about everything: from kilts (taken from the Roman basic tunic), to bagpipes (what the Romans marched to), even to the sporran, which is based on the chain-mail to protect a legionary's groin, now transformed into a purse!
The Romans spent centuries on that wall! They didn't spend all their time fighting the Picti. They simply enforced a cordon sanitaire: a zone in which the Picti were not allowed to dwell. If the Picti were rash enough to build a village in this zone, the Romans went and burned it down. The Romans expected to be obeyed, and they played hard-ball! (An interesting aside is that if a Pictus saw the Romans coming, he would use a burning cross to warn the others the Romans were on their way, so a burning cross as a warning comes from deep inside Race-Memory.) But, if the Picti played by Roman rules, they got along o.k. Sometimes they traded—selling POWs was a wide-spread commerce at that time, and the Picti often fought among themselves—the Romans cash were buyers. (Picti prices for captives were cheap.) Over the centuries, these Picti got to know a lot about the Romans, and they copied a lot from them. (After all, the Romans were top dog, and that's usually who gets copied.)
The major cult among the Roman legionaries was a cult which had come out of the Middle East called "Mithraism." Mithra is an ancient Indo- European name. (Mitra is still one of the principal gods in Hinduism, which is a lot older than Judaism or Christianity.) As this cult moved westward out of Chaldea, the figure of Mithra changed. He looked more and more Graeco-Roman, and not like a Persian or Hindu. The name is about the only thing that stuck—that and the iconography. Mithra was depicted slaying a bull, and in the carving were usually also a dog and a scorpion. (The above illustration is from a Mithraeum. There's also a full-scale Mithraeum at Yale Univ., in New Haven, CN—in case one wants to take a look.)
Mithra became identified with the sun, so much so that (for religious purposes), by the time of the Emperor Diocletian (~305), Sol Invictus, Mithra was proclaimed "The Protector of the Empire." The Unconquerable Sun and Mithra were fused. (Diocletian was an old soldier himself and a Mithra follower: one who hated Christianity and pursued the last great effort to stamp out this Death-Cult.)
Why this fascination with Mithra and the symbols (most Mithraea were caves or grottos)? Nothing particular about the rites—because the Christians simply incorporated ALL of them into Christianity, and made up the requisite mumbo-jumbo to account for the Seven Mithraic Sacraments becoming the Seven Christian Sacraments. (Note: sacramentum is a military term: it means the solemn oath, the oath a soldier swears to obey without question.) The Christians even took the word—and they made Mithra's birthday Christ's birthday: the winter solstice—December 25th (at the time). The tie-in between Mithraism and Christianity is well indicated in Christian lore.
Remember the story of the Three Wise Men, or Kings, or Magi? Well, Magus is the word for astrologer: star-gazer, wizard. They "followed the new star." How did that get in Christian lore? Because it came from Mithraism. The Magi were the ones who promulgated Mithraism, and so they had to fit in Christian lore, which is a hodge-podge of Jewish, Hellenistic, and (most importantly) Mithraic lore.
The Magi were star gazers and had been for hundred and hundreds of years. (Aster is the Greek [and also Late Latin] word for "star." They named their calling "astrology": knowledge of the stars. When real science took up the subject, it had to devise a different name; "astrology" was polluted. One could have "biology, zoology, mineralogy" but not "astrology," because that was a superstition; so they came up with astronomy, which means "star measurement"!)
The Magi had been studying the stars a long time; so long in fact that their records went back to when the Vernal Equinox occurred when the sun was in Taurus: the constellation represented by a bull. But the equinoxes change. The earth "wobbles" on its axis, producing The Precession of the Equinoxes. The ancients discovered this about 130 B.C.E. They knew what, but they didn't why. (It wasn't until Isaac Newton, that the why became known—and that lay far in the future.)
According to the "science" of the time, the earth was a sphere at the center of the universe. The sun, moon, plants, and (most distant) celestial sphere (stars) moved around the earth. The Equinox, the start of spring and new life, had occurred when the sun was in Taurus; but a Mighty God, mightier than any other, had reordered the whole universe, "slaying" the bull and moving the equinox into Aries. (Where it was when Chaucer wrote his Canterbury Tales: "the sonne its course through the Ram [Aires] hath runne ..." Now, it is Pisces, on its way to Aquarius—you know "The Age of Aquarius." It takes about 26,000 years to complete the Precession; about 2,000 years in each zodiac sign.
II. CONDITIONS IN THE ROMAN EMPIRE
By the time of Diocletian the term "Senate and the People of Rome" had become a pathetic joke. The Rome of Scipio Africanus, that hardy Celto-Germanic stock, had been mongrelized into non-existence. Well over a century before, Martial wrote, "Orontes in Tiberem defluxit!" ("The Orontes [a river in Syria] empties into the Tiber [the river that runs through Rome]!") The city had been overwhelmed by aliens. The Multi-Cultural Mongrolians of its day left it only two things: the Latin language (now corrupted) and the institution of the Empire. Otherwise, nothing about Rome was Roman! Alien races, alien cultures, alien Emperors (Diocletian was a Bosnian!) had overwhelmed the native Roman stock. It became so absurd that the Emperor Caracalla made every freeman of the Empire a Roman citizen. One was a Roman "citizen" or a slave; there was no in-between.
Amidst this chaos, there developed an intense longing for some symbol of unity, and the all-powerful, unconquerable sun had been chosen as this symbol, named Sol Invictus. But the ability to move even the sun from one position to another indicated a Supreme Godhead, and so the sun was proclaimed Sol Invictus—Mithra, Protector of the Empire. Mithra was regarded by the army as their god, and the Empire depended upon the legions for its survival. The sun was the brightest object in the sky, but the brightest object in the celestial sphere—the sphere of fixed stars—was (and is) the constellation Orion, and Mithaics held it depicted Mithra's triumph over Taurus. What is the brightest star in the night sky? Sirius, the dog-star in the constellation Canus Major, who faithfully accompanies Orion (Mithra) in the slaying of Taurus. The scorpion? Ah, when the vernal equinox was in Taurus, the autumnal equinox was in Scorpio. (It's now in Virgo, moving toward Leo). So as Mithra eliminates the bull, his dog eliminates the scorpion. Hence the hymn of the Legio XXX Macedonia, which put Rome above all nations and Mithra above all.
Macedonia? That's not Rome. That's the wild area north of Greece, where Alexander the Great came from. Why does the 30th legion have this name? Because the legions were no longer recruited from among (nominal) Romans. Army life was too hard, for those getting their "welfare" and blood-soaked "Super-Bowls" from the state. Pan et circenses: bread and circuses! No one used to that was going to stand duty at a frozen wall in the far north of Britain, so that after 20 years of service, he'd be given a small farm and a smaller pension. The legions were drawn from semi-civilized tribes, able to endure the hardship entailed. (A legionary on the march lived off porridge: oatmeal without milk, sugar or butter to make it tasty. How'd you like to march from Scotland to Iraq, living off unflavored oatmeal? Only a rugged semi-savage could endure the hardships required of a legionary. And one should remember that the Roman Emperor [from Bosnia] was once a common soldier also.)
III. WHAT WAS MITHRAISM?
It was a soldier's cult (women were not allowed), in praise of the all-highest, most powerful of gods. The services took place in caves or grottos. There was a baptism, which ushered one into the Militia Mithrae, the Army of Mithra in the eternal struggle against Evil. A communion too, but bread and water, not wine. There were also "ranks": a novice was called a Corax (a "crow"). Why it's not known. What is known is that the sacredote was called Pater and had taken a vow of celibacy. As faithful service in the legion led to "veteran's benefits," so faithful service in the Army of Mithra led to Eternal Salvation. The dogma of Mithraism is hard to reconstruct, because there was no supreme authority. At most there was a Pater patrum, a sort of bishop, but nothing beyond that. The myths have Mithra as a warrior from conception (from a rock), to combat Ahriman: Evil and Death. Mithra was both the creator of man and his mediator between this creation and the transcendental gods: Infinite Time and Light (Mazda). Another myth is Mithra dining with Sol Invictus and their being fused as a result. What rank a man held in the outside world had no significance: only the Mithraic rank counted. A slave might be the superior of a Senator in the Army of Mithra. (One must remember this. We will see it again.) The parallels with Christianity are striking. The total exclusion of women was a great weakness; furthermore, the Christians held that Christ was an historical person as well as being God incarnate. There was another great difference: NO JEWISH LORE IN MITHRAISM: The Mosaic mythology was totally absent.
When Constantine first assumed the Imperial Title, it was in the name of Sol Invictus. Christianity's elevation as religion of the Empire was not immediate, and it came as a complete surprise. Christians were a very small percentage of the population. There were far more adherents to Mithraism. The pacifism of Christianity was not welcome in the legions. Mithraism lingered there far longer than in any other segment of society. Indeed, given the similar tenets and rituals, the Mithraic cult should have been easily absorbed, especially as the Christians arranged that Mithra and Christ should have the same birthday; but the legions didn't like the Jewish lore.
What was going on in the Mediterranean basin was not immediately felt at that frozen wall across Roman Britannia. It's reasonable to assume that many Picti accepted Mithraism. After all, all men were equal in the cult: Roman or Pictus, slave or free. Certainly there were Picti who had, over the centuries, accepted Roman values as they were later to accept Roman dress and implements, modifying them to their own design. It should also be noted after the erection of Hadrian's Wall, the Antonine "wall" (more an impressive earthen work than a wall) was erected and manned for a while. This subjected areas of Caledonia to Romanizing (and Mithraism). When the Romans abandoned the Antonine Wall and returned to the stone wall of Hadrian, no doubt a number of Romanized Caledonians joined in the evacuation. That there were Picti in the Army of Mithra seems certain.
IV. POST-ROMAN BRITAIN
The separation of Britain from the continent has been the single most important factor in its history. During the circa 400 years of Roman occupation, there were a great many events which served to isolate Britain from occurrences in other parts of the Empire. On more than one occasion, the local commander tried to set himself up as an independent potentate, requiring action by the Imperial government and resulting in a localized civil war, which effected the Roman residents, but not the local Celts. This estrangement was already in place when Constantine pulled his coup of installing Christianity as the state cult and moving the capital east to "his" city of Constantinople. While there was a love-hate relationship with Rome, Britain had nothing in common with the Eastern Empire. Greek was virtually unknown (outside the drawing rooms of large landowners). The Celts gladly cultivated the black walnut trees the Romans had brought from Persia [!], but the violent squabbles of this new state cult, which didn't even know what its beliefs were, held scant interest for the residents of Britain. If anything, it made Mithraism (which at least was a known entity, and devoid of heresy as it had no dogma) that much more attractive. Not that there were that many adherents, but those who were, were mainly concentrated in the north, with many co-religionists in the legions stationed along the wall.
Christianity was mainly limited to the south, that area closest to the continent. In 383 C.E., following the confusion of Julian and the all-too-brief pagan restoration, C.E. Maximus, another imperial pretender, siphoned a number of troops from Britain. Then, a few years later, Gaul was under Frankish rule, cutting off Britain from Rome itself. Romano-Britons were left isolated. As their forces were meagre and manpower small, they turned to hiring Saxons to repel other Saxons. This led to the two Saxon factions coming to an "understanding" and both turning on Romano-Britain. (The legend of King Arthur, a Roman of distinction rallying the Romano-Britons probably dates from this era.) Still, Saxon force proved stronger, and as the Romano-Britons were being driven west and north, the Celtic element began to predominate, as the Celts were always in the majority and rarely bothered to learn Latin. The decline of Roman Britain meant the extinction of the "Romano" and the severe restriction of the Britannic.
The situation in the north was somewhat different, as the Angles were the main Germanic tribe, not the Saxons. The transition to Christianity among the Romano-Briton-Caledonian population near the wall had resulted in virtually a unique religion, one in which the Pelagian heresy was the prevailing form. British-born Pelagius preached a doctrine that Divine Grace played a small role in a man's salvation. This, of course, would find favor among those still attached to Mithraism, because there is no "Divine Grace" in Mithraism. Salvation is attained by consistency and courage in the relentless war against Evil. In Ireland, a distinct brand of Christianity emerged, the Celtic Church. It has its own rituals and dogmatic basis (including the distinctive "Celtic Cross," which remains to this day). Eventually, the Celtic Church agreed to conform to Roman rites and dogma, but the position of Christianity in the north was tenuous at best; while in the south, once Christian Romano-Britain was thoroughly pagan, due to the Saxon conquest.
Caledonia (Scotland) had to be re-converted by Irish monks (Columba being the most famous), but the Caledonians tended to cling to the Roman ways: the legionary's tunic became the kilt, etc. And as for Mithraism, it simply went underground: not practised, but not forgotten: much like the "wee people" among the Irish Celts. The difference was that this special diety was to re-emerge in substance, if not in form, with the appearance of Scottish-rite Freemasonry.
V. THE EMERGENCE OF "SCOTLAND"
Scotland and Northumbria—those areas where Mithraism had been strong—were late in adopting Christianity. The Scottish lowlands were subject to the Angles, Danes, and Mercians. The highlands underwent Irish-Celtic settlement. (Scotus meant Irish.). While the lowlands under Roman occupation had introduced Christianity in the late 4th century, it was confined to small areas. Even by the 11th century, when St. Margaret came from Anglo-Saxon England, she found Christianity in Scotland to be virtually a unique form. There is scant history, as Norse raids left the monasteries in ruins. Consolidation of these diverse tribes (clans) into a kingdom required nearly 200 years. The Picti became absorbed, but the contrast between Nordic barbarism and Roman civilization was so great, that much of what the Romans had accomplished probably passed into folklore. As shown, the Scottish national dress was a remembrance of Rome. The "unique" Christianity Margaret found in Scotland probably was a product of Mithraic influences being mingled in.
The similarities between Mithraism and Christianity are very strong: a ritual of baptism, a communion, and a central figure incarnating The Light and the Good, in perpetual conflict with Evil. Margaret found that Scottish Christianity had the same date for Christmas (birthday of Sol Invictus—Mithra) but a different date for Easter. The Scottish Easter of her era coincided with the equinox, when Light assumed a greater portion of the day than Dark. (Given its extreme northern location, the contrasts in seasonal daylight in very dramatic in Scotland.) Unlike most European countries, there was no great flowering of monastic life in Scotland. The Kingdom of Scotland received official recognition only in 1328, when both the Pope and the King of England affirmed Robert I the Bruce as "King of the Scots." The problem was that the papal bull, authorizing coronation and unction (anointing) was not issued until six days after the death of Robert the Bruce in 1329. For the remainder of its history as a totally independent nation, the King of the Scots was beset by the encroachments of the English and the defiant independence of the clans. Rarely in the course of Scottish history was the whole country under the actual rule of the monarch. Clan independence meant the preservation of clan folklore, and the re-emergence of Latin with the founding of universities affirmed the echo of that distant Roman past.
VI. THE EMERGENCE OF FREEMASONRY
Freemasonry started as a type of "Y" among stone masons. Unlike other guilds, masons didn't set up shop in a fixed place. A tailor had his shop, but a mason had to go where structures were being built of stone. These were usually castles, cathedrals, and monasteries (many more in England than in Scotland). This period saw the drawing up of The Old Charges: a rule book for the lodges, which were indeed lodges: providing food and shelter for the masons working on projects like Windsor Castle, etc. The oldest one in existence comes from 1390, but it is known there were older ones, which did not survive.
As Euclid and Roman writers had praised masons as true craftsmen (technoi in Greek: like "technology," the science of skilled use), it was considered a fit calling for the younger sons of minor nobility: an alternative to the celibate church, hence the term free mason, as no person of servile origin could be a true mason, merely a bricklayer or hod-carrier. In Anglo-Saxon times, King Athelstan had the lords draw up the "Constitution" for these master craftsmen of genteel origin. As master masons were "genteel," a rather fanciful history was invented for the guild: the Masonic Fraternity had built the pyramids, the Temple of Solomon, on and on. This gave them "status" above, say, a shoemaker. Masons were supposed to deport themselves as gentlemen, and were held in high esteem.
As the wages of a true mason were much higher than a mere bricklayer, and masons moved around a lot going to where the work was (one couldn't bring the castle to them), there was the obvious temptation for one unqualified to pass himself off as a mason. To prevent this, the masons developed secret handshakes and ways of knocking at the lodge's door, to prevent pretenders from passing themselves off as true masons. This was the era of Operative Masonry, when the lodges were indeed places of repose for qualified stone masons.
VII. THE RISE OF "SPECULATIVE MASONRY"
The Masonic Guild was less rendered by the Reformation than most other guilds. They were already a closely knit fraternity of sorts and were horrified at seeing people calling themselves "Christians" massacring each other, being burned alive, tortured, over something as absurd as whether King Henry (in England) should be allowed to remarry, or Queen Mary (in Scotland) allowed to practice her faith. They didn't see much "brotherly love" among the Christians, just a lot of heads being chopped off and the beautiful monasteries they had built destroyed.
During the medieval period, Masons were required (translating out of the Middle English of the time) to "love God, the Holy Church, and all Saints." (Notice there nothing about the Bible.) In 1583, "saints" was dropped; and by 1717, the Constitution had been simplified to "Moral Law" and to respect the religion in which all men agree, [who are] Men of Honor and Honesty, irrespective of what Denomination or Persuasion they profess. In an age when Catholics were being hunted in Holland and Sweden (and treated like cattle in Ireland), and Protestants were still being burned in Spain, here was the first profession of total toleration. (Jews were admitted after 1723.) In 1738, Pope Clement XII forbad Catholics from becoming Masons, stating it was, "a pagan religion." He was probably correct: Freemasonry being revamped Mithraism.
How do we know? Well, we don't know for sure: there's no specific connection between the long vanished cult of the Roman legions and this new "fraternity," which required merely the profession of belief in "A Supreme Architect of the Universe," but there are a lot of indications—strong ones.
VIII. MITHRA DONS A POWDERED WIG
The most grandiose stone structure ever constructed in Britain was, and is, Hadrian's Wall (much of it still standing): over 74 miles long, with mini-forts every mile. No operative mason could have failed to be impressed by it. It was unprecedented, not only in Britain but in the known world at the time. (The greater one in China wasn't known until much later.) Obviously, a mason would have been curious about those who could construct such an edifice, and in learning about who built it—now relegated to folklore—they would have encountered that other aspect of the folklore: that those who built it were in the service of The Supreme Architect of the Universe, who brought forth the celestial spheres—Mithra.
Mithraism was a religion with no dogma, no "original sin," no revelation, no history of absurd "miracles," totally tolerant, stressing benevolence (no "divine grace"), possessing ranks as (secret) initiation rites in consecrated Mithraism—and barring women. The Speculative (or Accepted) Masons didn't subscribe to some of the Mithraic dicta; they subscribed to ALL of it—including barring women (who formed their own auxiliary organization called "Daughters of the Eastern Star"). If sheer coincidence, there's a staggering amount of it. I'd call 100% a staggering amount.
From the formation of the first Grand Lodge in 1717, Freemasonry quickly spread through out Europe and European colonies. As in ancient Mithraism, the rank of the individual in the secular world had no direct significance in the Masonic lodge (although kings, who happened to be Masons, usually found it easier to attain the rank of Grand Master of their lodge than others). By the latter portion of the 18th century, it was usually easier to ask which luminary was not a Mason, rather than which was. Despite the ban of the Catholic Church (repeated in 1758 by Pope Benedict XIV), Holy Roman Emperor Francis I was a Mason. This resulted in a rather sticky problem, as Vienna lay in the Archduchy of Austria, whose ruler was his wife, Maria-Theresa. She was badgered by the cardinal to suppress these "neo-pagans." The Masons still preserved their identifying handshake and knock on the lodge door, to verify they were truly Masons. To this was added another "special knock": that of Maria-Theresa's police! This provided ample time for her husband to exit via the back door, before the front door was opened to a very patient police chief; thereby avoiding putting the Holy Roman Emperor under arrest for participating in forbidden rituals. (How would one handle a wife arresting her husband—when he happened to be the Holy Roman Emperor?)
It was no less a luminary than Frederick the Great who coined the term "Scottish Rite." It seemed to differ from the vague "York rite" (which didn't mean much of anything), in that it had more grades. Like Mithraism, Freemasonry had a number of levels, each with an arcane name and a secret "trial" as a form of initiation or elevation. The Scottish Rite became the principal one on the continent and in the U.S., with a host of levels up to the 33rd degree, which was purely honorary. Again, like Mithraism, benevolence was the prime focus. The French Lodge, Grande Orient removed even the requirement that one profess a belief in a "Supreme Architect." It had no qualifications or disqualifications whatsoever. The sole aspect was the stress on benevolence.
Mozart was a devoted Mason, as was his father—and Haydn too. George Washington took his Masonic affiliations very seriously. He wouldn't set foot inside a Christian church, but was the Grand Master of two lodges. With Ben Franklin, it was three: one also in France. The Prince of Wales (later George IV) was Grand Master of the Grand Lodge; several kings of Sweden and Denmark were also at one time Grand Master of this London- based Grand Lodge, and all the future monarchs of the U.K. from George IV through George VI were Grand Masters. (Queen Elizabeth II, being female, is not allowed to be a Mason: Mithraism casts a long shadow.)
IX. FREEMASONRY: THE FLACK-CATCHER
Freemasonry has two things going against it: it definitely isn't a Christian institution (which makes it anathema to Bible-Thumpers), and it has the residuum of the Mithraic secret initiation rites. This "secrecy" has made it anathema to totalitarian regimes. In went from being banned in the Third Reich to being banned in the Soviet-puppet G.D.R. (Totalitarian regimes don't look fondly on "secret" societies, but few have been as silly as the Nazi Anti-Masonic Expo, which "showed" the "poisoned pen" the Mason Goethe used to murder Schiller [?]!) Funny no one ever comes up with allegations that the Elks or Rotarians are bent on world domination. (I'm not so sure I'd object to a world dominated by neo-Mithraics.) What makes Freemasonry unique is that it does not accept the Mosaic mumbo-jumbo. The "Chinese Wall" between membership and religious tenets is older and stronger in Freemasonry than in The U.S. Constitution (which was written by a much of Masons, for the most part).
About 400 C.E. Hadrian's Wall was abandoned. But it stood, and it reminded. It reminded those who were kept out by it and those protected by it of a concept called "civilization." It passed not only into folklore but also into the Collective Unconscious, or the Race-Culture; and with it went the concept of a deity, whom those lonely men from a far off portion of the world worshiped: a soldier's god, a man's god, The Greatest Builder of them All. These lonely men served in Europe's army, carrying their Eagles. This army they served with their stamina and with their swords. They also served in another army, the Militia Mithrae, which they served with their dedication and acts of kindness: that there be more Good in the world than Evil, and that eventually Good would overwhelm Evil. No god commanded them to do it; they were volunteers.
Stones last, as does the memory of good men, among those who will remember. Did some remember this non-judgmental, tolerant, and effective deity, and—in their own way—follow the example these lonely men on a remote wall had set: an example of loyalty, bravery, obedience, and benevolence?
... I tend to believe so: U.M.