Dormer Index

The Steps of Man

Bro. G. E. Harrington, M. M. Lodge No. 3525.

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," saith the Lord.

"For as the heavens are higher than the earth so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55, vv. 8, 9.)

"What is man that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man that thou visitest him?

For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels and hast crowned him with glory and honour." (Psalm 8, vv. 4, 5.)

"What a piece of work is a man! how noble in reason! how infinite in faculty! in form and moving how express and admirable! in action how like an angel!" (Hamlet, Act II, Sc. ii.)

"Continue to listen to the voice of nature which bears witness that even in this perishable frame resides a vital and immortal principle which inspires a holy confidence that the Lord of Life will enable us to trample the King of Terrors beneath our feet and lift our eyes to that bright Morning Star whose rising brings peace and salvation to the faithful and obedient of the human race."


As the steps of man are trod in the various and uncertain incidents of life and his days are variegated and chequered by a strange contrariety of events, let us, as speculative Masons, first turn our attention in retrospect to the variegated and chequered pattern in the life of Brother Man and since the most interesting of all human studies is the knowledge of ourselves, let us see how we stand in relation to that pattern.

The hypothesis has been put forward by scientists that this earth on which we dwell has been in existence for some two to four thousand million years - more or less maybe! We do not know. Certain it is that despite all the theories advanced - and there have been many - we remain in ignorance concerning the origin of the world. Today, we have some awareness, but very little knowledge really of the universe in which the earth figures as a planet

From time immemorial man has recognised, tacitly and avowedly, a Transcendent Power, a Supreme Intelligence, a Force mightily and sweetly ordering all things, upholding and sustaining all creation. From the earliest period of time we have been taught to believe in the existence of a Deity. To this Omnipotent, Omniscient and Omnipresent Being, man at different times and in different places, has ascribed various names, i.e., the Chinese "Tao"; the Hindu "Brahman"; the Hebrew "Jehovah" and the Anglo-Saxon word for the Divine Being - "God." We, in our Order, use the term "Great Architect of the Universe" from which can, be inferred that we envisage a Plan.

In the Fourth Gospel, Chapter 1, it is written: -

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."

and in the First Chapter of the Book of Genesis, we read :-

v.3 - And God said; Let there be light . . . .

v.26 - And God said; Let us make man in our image, after our likeness . . . .

Now if we will suppose, that on any fine autumn evening we are in the country standing on a hilltop, far removed from the sights and sounds of human life, when the sun, the centre of our solar system, has set in the west over which the slender crescent of the moon has hovered and disappeared, and we gaze up to the darkened heavens, before our eyes will be presented a truly wonderful and awesome spectacle. In the dark, boundless, measureless, vault of the sky, we shall behold a mighty concourse of stars - suns, separated from this earth - and indeed our solar system - by millions and millions of miles. Were our sun to travel, for instance, as far as the nearest star (Proxima Centauri) it would become to us on earth, as a mere speck of light. Right overhead extending from north-east to south-west we observe the Milky Way or Galaxy - a stupendous girdle of stars. And we are told that there are millions of other galaxies. If we move slowly round we shall be able to pick out the constellations named in the Zodiac "Taurus," "Aries," "Pisces" and "Aquarius" to which further reference will be made later in this Paper.

When we thus contemplate this prodigious pattern in the heavens and realise how astronomers by the aid of the science of geometry have been able to show that our earth and the other planets, in perfect form and with unfailing regularity, move round the sun, we cannot but fail with humility and awe to recognise the tremendous pattern or Plan that rules the universe. Truly, the Deity whom we serve crowns his Temple with stars as with a diadem and with His hand extends the power and glory. The sun and the moon are messengers of His will and all His law is concord.

Scientists from their researches in the field of modern physics inform us that the once so-called indivisible atom of matter consists in fact of a nucleus with a positive charge of electricity around which whirl negative charges called electrons. And so we have a miniature solar system in all that we call matter.

Now let us consider our home, our temporary home - this earth, or rather that very small part of it - that thin film of life of not more than a thousandth of the radius of the earth which it envelopes - known as the biosphere. Here can be noted the definite patterns of things animate and inanimate - mountains, hills, rivers, trees and all vegetation; and the animal world with its great phyla. It was Kant, the German philosopher, who remarked on the agreement of so many genera of animals with a common plan or structure. With all their differences, they seemed to him to have been produced according to a common original type.

And from the macrocosm to the microcosm - to man - whose essential pattern would appear to have remained unchanged for the last 500,000 years but who in the passage of time and the course of his evolution has been able to master forces above, on, and beneath land and sea and to conquer the animal world. He has learned much of the external, the objective world about him but he has remained largely in ignorance of himself. During the vast periods of time in which Brother Man has been very busy in studying and developing, almost exclusively for his own use, the plenitude of earth and the forces of nature, there has persistently clamoured in his mind the questions: Who am I? Whence came I? Whither am I bound? And perhaps the further questions: Why? What for? What is it all about? Perhaps these questions have never been put with more poignant anguish than in recent years by so many of our fellow men in Europe and Asia.

The great characteristic of man distinguishing him from the rest of the known world, is the power of speech. If we turn to the Second Chapter of the Book of Genesis verses 19 and 20: we read as follows:-

"And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.

"And Adam gave names to all cattle and to the fowl of the air and to every beast of the field."

And so we have, first, from common earth, man, beasts, birds, fishes and all the fullness of the earth. And then in man we have, in his mind, the differentiation of these things. And from common sound, we have particular sound forms within the compass of man's voice to describe those things as differentiated in his mind. He named them "and that was the name thereof". So there are two worlds. The external world and the world as consciousness in the mind of man. But since man can only convey his thoughts to another by one medium - speech - and its symbols (writing) it can truly be said, as Sir Oliver Lodge has said that speaking and writing might be considered as incarnations of meaning. And since incarnation brings limitation we may appreciate the silence of the Buddha when asked to define Nirvana and also of the Christian Master in the presence of the Roman Procurator.

Speech is a faculty of power. Students of the science of Mantra or the Sacred Word recognise this. In the use of mantras for meditation the words or sentences themselves should not just be considered as words or sentences of a particular language but their import realised and their meaning penetrated. Consider the prayer of Gayatri with its magnificent meaning: "Let us meditate on the glorious effulgence of that Diving Being who has created the three worlds. May He direct our understanding."

Hindu philosophy teaches that during a state of dissolution of the universe, Prakriti (the substantial cause of both mind and matter) is in a state of equilibrium of the three gunas, sattwa, rajas, and tamas. When this state of equilibrium is removed there is cosmic vibration. It is interesting to reflect that one of the laws of the modern science of mechanics states that: "If three forces acting on the same particle can be represented in magnitude and direction (but not in position) by the sides of a triangle taken in order, they shall be in equilibrium."

So much for that distinguishing characteristic of man, the power of speech. Now let us consider one other remarkable power he possesses and which has enabled him to gain considerable mastery over other forms of life and not only to combat certain forces of nature but to bend them to his own use and profit. I refer to the ability and capacity for making tools and instruments, called by Gerald Heard "those extrapolated limbs". It requires little imagination to realise how man has thus been able to extend his activities. It was one, Christian Thomsen who, in 1836, suggested that the history of man could be placed in categories chronologically according to the materials of which he made his instruments and we have the Paleolithic and the Neo-lithic - the Old and the New Stone Ages, the Bronze Age and the Iron Age. Presumably, posterity will bring our times under the categories of the Electric and the Atomic Ages


But what of early man? What do we know about him? The answer I think, must be - not much. The archaeologists and the geologists have all contributed to presenting pictures of early man and we have been told among others of the Peking Man, the Heidelberg Man, the Neanderthal Man and particularly the Cro-Magnon Man.

To quote from "The Light of Asia:" -

"Men perished in winter winds till one smote fire from flint stones hiding what they held, The red spark treasured from the kindling sun.

"They gorged on flesh like wolves till one sowed corn Which grew a weed, yet makes the life of man.

"They mowed and babbled till some tongue struck speech

And patient fingers framed the lettered sound

"What good gift have my brothers but it came From Search and Strive and Loving Sacrifice."

Have you ever sat in an Underground Railway Train and studied the expressions on the face of an infant making perhaps its first journey in such a way? Watch its open-mouthed wonderment at the doors opening and closing; behold its enjoyment, albeit tinged with apprehension at the movement of the train and note its obvious pleasure at the bright lights and its expressions of bewilderment at the constantly changing human forms entering and leaving the train.

Now consider primitive man, the child in the world if you like, wandering, wondering, apprehending, comprehending, enjoying and suffering, fearsome and bewildered, speculating on the uncertainties of life, the unknown forces, some friendly apparently and some definitely hostile, with all the confusing phenomena confronting him at every turn. What did he make of it all?

His speculation did not take the highly intellectual objective form pursued by modern science. He did not think in terms of "I" and "IT", neither did he personify the things and forces around him. Primitive man did not personify objects, neither did he recognise an inanimate world at all. Primitive man saw all the things around him in the terms not of "I" and "It" but of "I" and "Thou". He was as it were, in and of the cosmos; in what Levy Bruhl has called "participation mystique". Perhaps the very first impression conveyed to him via his senses of sight and touch would be the differentiation of form. Eventually he would notice trees and animals, fishes and birds generally having certain shapes but in particular falling into common categories.

In other words, he might have recognised a pattern in life - a vast design faintly comprehensible by him. And as a child growing into maturity puts away the fantastic figures conjured up in its mind and from experience substitutes a nearer approach to reality, so man's fear of unknown forces gradually gave place to an appreciation of law and order, concisely epitomised by that great Muse and Mason, Bro. Robert Burns:-

"Ye power that presides o'er the wind and the tides, Who marked each element's border, Who founded this frame with beneficent aim, Whose sovereign statute is order."

Man however, is a gregarious creature. His state of helpless indigence inculcates the useful lessons of natural equality and mutual dependence.

"Man lives not for himself alone, In others good, he find his own."

Naturally then there followed the converging of nomads, the formation of tribes, the increase of races and the birth and growth of nations with their particular languages, cults, religions, arts and sciences, in all of which there is every reason to believe that at various times throughout the ages, our ancestors have had wisdom, knowledge and skill comparable, if not superior to, our own today. In Western Europe there have been discovered bones, weapons, carvings and paintings believed to date from some 40,000 to 30,000 years ago (the Paleolithic or Old Stone Age) up to 12,000 to 10,000 years ago (when the Neolithic or New Stone Age was commencing.)

In expert opinion there is little doubt that thousands of years before the civilisations of Babylon and Egypt there lived peoples who for creative and artistic ability have not been surpassed. At any rate, we are justified, I think in believing that some 25,000 to 20,000 years ago another great faculty of man was manifest; that of the creative expression and appreciation of art.


Proceeding onward, we can think of man through the ages winding his way through the intricate paths of his existence through trial and error, success and failure, triumph and defeat, one millennium following another. With a growing knowledge of agriculture man became expert in ploughing, sowing and reaping. Gradually he became more proficient in the making of tools and weapons. Nomads settled - villages appeared - cities were built - and small states grew.

Now apart from a realisation of his own impotence on the earth in a mighty universe, there are certain factors which by their effect upon his life, and his own close and almost continuous contact with them, have forcibly impressed themselves upon the consciousness of man. The most important of these are the light of day and the darkness of night, the sun and the moon, moisture or water, seasonal variations especially spring and autumn and last but by no means least, mother earth. In the sun, early man would see a Power both friendly and hostile, its kindly rays which warmed his body and gave life to his crops could alas, also be turned to parch his throat, blister his skin and dry up all vegetation. To him, the sun also had its own trials and tribulations, rising triumphant in the morning only to be engulfed at eventide. In the waxing and waning of the moon he visualised a battle in the firmament or the new moon held in the arms of the old and so on. Early man would be awestruck by thunder and lightning, disheartened by torrential rains and floods yet thankful for rain to promote growth and to quench his thirst. The feminine attribute of this planet as mother-earth extends far back into antiquity. The Babylonian earth-goddess Ishtar was equated with Venus possibly because of the latter's twofold aspect as evening and morning star whilst the former had two aspects, one in the season of growth and vegetation and the other in the winter season when as was then supposed she was imprisoned in the bowels of the earth by her hostile sister - the goddess of the lower regions. At a later period we have the myth of Persephone and Demeter (called Ceres by the Romans - hence our word "cereal"). This tells how Persephone strayed away from Arcadia and whilst plucking flowers in the meads of Enna, the earth suddenly opened and she was carried off by Aidoneus to whom Zeus had promised her. The despair of Demeter at her loss caused Zeus to send Hermes into the lower world to fetch back Persephone. The latter however, had partaken of a pomegranate in the lower world and was thereby obliged to spend one-third of the year with Aidoneus and the remainder with her mother at Olympus. That this is a vegetation myth is obvious but it is also the story of the soul to be paralleled with the Mosaic myth of Adam and Eve. As a vegetation myth it is connected with seasonal variations.

As stated above, early man did not recognise an inanimate universe but saw himself with the Powers about him which affected his daily life as a living actor in a mighty drama in which his relationship stood as "I" and "Thou". It is not surprising therefore, that these Powers, the sun, the moon, moisture, storm, vegetation, the seasons, and mother-earth should be incorporated in his cults and religious beliefs, as indeed they were, and some of which, as far as the magnitude of this Paper allows, we will examine later in a little detail. However, interwoven as it were, with these more concrete ideas, there are certain abstract notions which appear in one form or another like a common vein or strata in many of the various myths, cults and religions in history. Amongst these there are the ideas of the Priest King or Divine King with magics-religious attributes and his relation to the well-being of the community, the Virgin Birth, the Hero God-Son, the murder or other form of death of the King or the God-Son and resurrection.

It can be noted that through the ages, culture, and intellectual achievement have followed religions, whilst social conditions and political ideas have often been built upon the foundations of a particular religion.

Obviously in a Paper of this length it is not possible to touch even the fringe of all the beliefs, myths, cults and great religions of the peoples of the world in history. Tomes could be written and indeed have been. That monumental work of Sir James Fraser, "The Golden Bough" deals at very great length with such subjects and runs into a considerable number of volumes. There is, however, an abridged edition of this comprehensive work in the Library of the Dormer Masonic Study Circle. It seems to me that for those who seek to draw aside the veil and penetrate into the Mysteries of Antient Freemasonry, a study of comparative religion is necessary, for, although our Masonic Order is not a religion, it is religious in the true meaning of the word (re- ligare - to bind back) and can be considered a synthesis of all the verities contained in the leading teachings and great religions of the past and present.

"Magna est veritas et prevalebit". I would therefore, with humility suggest to my Brethren, that through its Transactions and its very fine and comprehensive Library, the Dormer Masonic Study Circle can provide for aspiring students of the Mysteries whatever their particular status, a good deal of the information that they require.

And now to pass on to a very brief review of some of the myths, cults, teachings and religions of the past.

The ancient civilisation, the Aztecs of Mexico had a polytheistic religion which had for its purpose the attraction of natural forces favourable to human existence and the repulsion of those harmful and so they had rain-gods, water-goddesses, gods of the day, gods of the night and gods of the weeks all of whom had to be honoured and placated at the appropriate day and time. Unfortunately the Aztecs had recourse to human sacrifice one form of which was literally to tear the victim's heart from his breast.

It is believed that the ancient sacred literature of India the Veda had its origin in the First or Second millennium B.C. if not earlier. The Rigveda is a collection of hymns addressed to the Gods of the Vedic pantheon. Amongst the vast literature of ancient India there are the Brahmanas, the Upanishads and the Sutras. The Dharma Sutras deal with the secular and religious law and the most famous of these is the Manavadharmasastra or the Law Book of Manu, wherein is laid down the principles of the caste system which divided the peoples into four classes, first the Brahmans (the priests, the scholars and the teachers), next the Kshatriyas (soldiers and rulers), then the Vasiyas (farmers and merchants) and finally the Sudras (the servants, the labourers, the non twice-born).

The Sumerians, the inhabitants of the Sumer region of Mesopotamia, have been credited with the invention of the wheel, of a type of plough and of a certain kind of writing - the cuneiform. Sumeria in the third millennium B.C. consisted of small states ruled by theocratic government. We have the Laws of Hammurapi promulgated incorporating a moral code and with a sense of universal justice, we have the construction of canals (so important for agriculture) and we have the building up of industry and commerce.

Between 3000 B.C. and 2500 B.C., the Semetic race the Canaanites settled in Palestine and further north the Amorites had settled. At the eastern end of what has been called the "fertile crescent", along the courses of the rivers Tigris and Euphrates lies the plain of Babylonia and there it was that the non-semetic race of the Sumerians settled.

"And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there." (Genesis II, v. 2.)

"And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven." (Genesis II, v. 4.)

It is possible that primitive peoples considered the expanse of heaven to be not so very far from earth and at Nippur and Ashur there have been found remains of the "ziggurats" or towers. On the other hand it cannot be overlooked that the gods of ancient peoples were localised on mountain tops such as Zeus on Mt. Olympus and there is the further symbolism which is repeated many times in the Bible that mountains and high places are expressive of high planes in the spiritual sense. A further significance is found in the fact that many, if not most, of these "ziggurats" had seven stories or stages.

We are informed that the Sumerians were defeated by invaders (the Akkads under Sargon), that north of Sumer there was a small town called Babylon which was seized by the Amorites, that this city grew until the time of Hammurapi who made himself ruler over Sumer and Akkad and from then, the lands of Sumer and Akkad lost their individuality and the area was called Babylonia after the name of the city of Babylon.

The dates of the reign of Hammurapi, the Fourth King of the First Dynasty of Babylon have been given as between 1728 and 1686 B.C. The Fourteenth Chapter of the Book of Genesis has reference to Chedorlaomer, the King of Elam (a country lying east of Babylonia) and it has been suggested that the reference in that Chapter to Amraphel is to Ammurapi, otherwise Hammurapi.

This brings us to a consideration of the beliefs of the early Mesopotamian which were largely influenced by the climatic and geographic conditions of the country. The sudden risings of the rivers, torrential rains, warm violent winds and terrific thunderstorms, these awesome and powerful forces of Nature could not but fail to make a deep impression upon the minds of the people. These forces together with inanimate objects they personified. Stone and grain, thunderstorm, rain and flood were endowed with will and personality.

Briefly, the Sumerians held that the universe was controlled by an assembly of gods. These differed in particular locations: for instance at Lagash, Cuthah and Sippar we have respectively Ningersu, Nergal and Shamash, all solar deities; whilst at Nippur we have Enlil "personification of the storm" and his consort Ninkharsag "the lady of the mountain" and at Ur - Sin, the moon god. Soon we find they are forming into triads such as Anu, Enlil and Ea, gods of heaven, earth and water respectively and Ninib, Shamash and Nergal, chief solar deities and Sin, the moon-god with Ea and Nebo, water deities. Even later we have Marduk as the universal ruler. Mention must also be made of the goddess lshtar. She was the great mother goddess, a fertility goddess goddess of war and of love, image of the moon and worshipped as queen of heaven, the Astoreth of the Zidonians and the Philistines, the Ashtart of the Phoenicians, the Greek Astarte, known also as Istar or Astar whence we derive our word Easter.

In the second millennium B.C., however, a further myth takes precedence over the others in which Marduk, the god of Babylon becomes the hero. Babylon was subsequently annexed by Assyria and the Assyrians replaced Marduk with their own god, Assur. We learn, however, that Nabopolassar, a Chaidean, overthrew Assyrian authority and made himself King of Babylon. He was succeeded by Nebuchadnezzar, the captor of the Jews. In the time of Nebuchadnezzar, Babylon became a city of considerable importance with much grandeur and splendour.

Babylon eventually fell to Cyrus, King of Persia, of whom we read in verses 22 and 23 of Chapter 36 of the Second Book of Chronicles that the Lord stirred up his spirit that he made a proclamation saying:-

"All the kingdoms of the earth hath the Lord God of Heaven given me; and He hath charged me to build him an house in Jerusalem which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all his people? The Lord his God be with him and let him go up."

With the advent of Cyrus and Persian control there came a great change over Babylonia. Zoroastrianism was introduced - a monotheistic religion with the all wise, all-good Ahura-Mazda as its god. The god of light, opposed only by the power of darkness, a personification of evil in the form of another god Ahriman who eventually must be vanquished by Ahura-Mazda. This, of course, is the old, old problem of good versus evil in the world, and reminds us that our Lodges are furnished with Mosaic work to point out the uncertainty of all things here on earth. Today we may travel in prosperity, tomorrow we may totter on the uneven paths of weakness, temptation and adversity. Then while such emblems are before us we are morally instructed not to boast of anything but "to give heed to our ways, to walk uprightly and with humility before God . . ."

Zoroastrianism recognised inexorable law and order in the universe and in time the old belief of the Babylonians in the acts of capricious gods passed away. Something of a more scientific outlook took hold and when eventually some 300 B.C. Alexander the Great conquered Babylonia, with the introduction of Greek ideas and thought, the old pantheon of Babylon and Assyria was obliterated.

I am now going back again to 4000 years B.C. to follow the fortunes of that other great and early civilisation - Egypt. Before beginning, however, on a survey of Egyptian civilisation and beliefs which survey will be even briefer than the very sketchy one I have given of Mesopotamia, I would like to draw your attention to something of which in cosmology the Mesopotamian and the Egyptian held a common idea and to something which geographically and climatically differentiated them. In the later myths of Mesopotamia we are told of the universe in chaos consisting of three watery elements: Apsu, the sweet waters; Ti'amat, the sea and Mummu, the mist, intermingled in a mass. The Egyptian held the earth to float in water, the abysmal waters Nun were below and they were the primordial waters from which all life issued.

The peoples of Egypt enjoyed a more regular and consistent cycle of climatic and atmospheric conditions than did those of Mesopotamia. The river Nile, truly the very pivot of Egyptian life and thought, rose, inundated and fertilised the banks and lands thereby: it receded, the sun shone and the crops grew. The Egyptians saw in this a sort of birth and death of the river just as they saw and concentrated on what they considered the birth and death daily of the sun; its risings and settings as we say today. The sun appeared to them as a disc journeying across the sky. A familiar emblem of the Egyptians was also the scarabeus beetle with a disc, which conveys a rather beautiful piece of symbolism. Actually, the beetle rolls the element of life in a ball and leaves it to be brought to life by the warmth of the sun. Hence the appropriate symbolism depicting the Divine or Solar Spark in man placed in the earth sphere that it may be regenerated and brought to the "birth from above" by the rays of the Solar Force.

Now whereas the Mesopotamian considered himself and mankind in general as but a passing phase - "here today: gone tomorrow" - in the words of Job (Chapter 14) :-

"Man that is born of a woman is of few days and full of trouble. He cometh forth like a flower and is cut down; he fleeth also as a shadow and continueth not "

the Egyptian directed his thoughts day in and day out to the life after death. He was very much concerned as to his welfare and even his personal comforts when the period on this earth should cease for him. Some have attributed the ultimate decline of Egypt as due to the fact that undue attention to the cultivation of the dead and the future state resulted in a neglect of the living and earthly state.

The Egyptian religion was polytheistic and the religious beliefs very confusing. The religion was theriomorphic, that is, opposed to anthropomorphic and we find their gods manifesting themselves with the heads of dogs, jackals, hawks, etc., such as ram-headed Amen-Re, King of the Gods; Ibis-headed Thoth god of writing and talking and lioness-headed Tefnut, a rain goddess, and so on. There were also human-headed gods as for instance, Ptah, who could be equated with Hephaistos of the Greeks, Vulcan of the Romans and Tubal Cain, artificers in metals.

Among the cosmogonic ideas of the Egyptians was that of the Sun-God Re, divine and legendary first king of Egypt and as such gave himself to other gods who took the title "Re". Also that of the Ennead or "the Nine" consisting of the sun-god Atum-Re who produced Shu and Tefnut (air and moisture) who in turn produced Gb and Nut (earth-god and sky-goddess) who produced Osiris and Isis, Seth and Nepthys. I cannot do better Brethren than to recommend you to read carefully Transaction No. 47 of the Circle entitled "The Great Work in Speculative Freemasonry," wherein the President, W. Bro. R. A. L. Harland deals with the ancient cult in Egypt attached to the legend of Osiris, Isis and their son Horus and with both the historical tradition and the metaphysical speculation connected with the Egyptian pantheon and their relation to our Masonic Order of today. As with many religions, if studied carefully and not accepted too literally, but rather in a mystical sense, we find concealed in the varied and complex mythology of the Egyptians, profound ideas; wisdom - the eternal verities. Their philosophers; unwilling to expose their mysteries to vulgar eyes, concealed their particular tenets and principles of policy and philosophy under hieroglyphical figures and expressed their notions of government by signs and symbols which were communicated to their Priests or Magi alone, who were bound by oath never to reveal them.

There was one who was "learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians," namely, that other great lawgiver, Moses, and this brings us to the Pentateuch or five books of Moses and to a consideration of the Hebrews, that "peculiar people" of whom we remark that their religion was and is monotheistic. As we do today, they recognised one God and one God only, the Lord and Ruler, not only of Israel but of all nations and peoples of the earth - the Most High.

Of the five books: "Genesis" means beginning or origin - in Hebrew it is called "Bereshith" (in the beginning): Exodus deals with the exit from Egypt: Leviticus (of the Levites) with sacrificial and ritual laws: Numbers with the counting of the tribes and Deuteronomy takes the form of a recapitulation by Moses of the wanderings and deliverance of the Children of Israel and is distinctive in its emphasis of the need of love towards God " Hear O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord. And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul and with all thy might." The Pentateuch comprises the first five books of the Bible. There are in addition the eight historical books of Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings and Chronicles, the four books of the prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah (and Lamentations) and Ezekiel, and the twelve books of the minor prophets, the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, lectors and expounders of the sacred law, the apocalyptic book of Daniel, the books of Ruth, Esther and Job, the books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes and the poetic books of the Psalms and the Song of Solomon, thirty nine books in all.

Without in any way belittling the valuable historical traditions and records contained in these books, it must be remembered that they are religious books to be studied for the message they are designed to convey which often, more often than not, lies deeply concealed. In this connection I would say that apprehension and appreciation of the books of the Pentateuch are deepened and heightened by some knowledge of the Kabalah and for students who have no acquaintance with the Kabalah I would recommend as an introduction Transaction No. 10.

Contained also within the Bible are the books of the New Testament comprising the four Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, twenty-one Epistles and the book of the Revelations of St. John the Divine . . . a total of twenty-seven books. In all, therefore, there are sixty-six books to constitute the Bible. This is the Volume of the Sacred Law, derived from God to man in general, the rule and guide for our faith and practice, the unerring standard of truth and justice by which as Initiate or Master we are to regulate our lives and actions.

A serious contemplation of the V. of the S.L. involves a careful study of the deep allegory and rich symbolism in which it abounds. Concealed thereunder lies true wisdom with understanding and richly rewarded is he who succeeds in finding it. But just as the mere studying of any text-book is of little avail without personal application, so must the aspirant who would know the doctrine, tread the way indicated in that Great Book. Along this Way must be trod the most important steps that man must take to lead him to the Truth and the Life.

Let us consider one allegorical story in the V. of the S.L. which employs a symbol familiar indeed to Freemasons - the Ladder. It is recorded of Jacob in Chapter 28 of the Book of Genesis, verses 11 and 12: -

"And he lighted upon a certain place and tarried there all night because the sun was set; and he took of the stones of that place and put them for his pillows and lay down in that place to sleep.

"And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven; and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it."

Here Jacob represents Man asleep at the bottom of the scale of his possible development - as so many of us are today. Above him is the Higher Universe, even the Heavens, towards which he may ascend by many staves or rounds of the Ladder heedless of time or space. For the steps Brethren, the rungs or the staves are not in time or space. Like Heaven itself, they are a state, a level of being in the Eternal Now. Therefore, if we would ascend this ladder, we must awaken, we must bestir ourselves, we must commence and persevere in the Great Work devoutly praying that the work so begun in us may continue to His glory and evermore be enabled in us by obedience to His Divine Precepts. Then shall we say with the Psalmist :-

"I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord,

Our feet shall stand within thy gates O Jerusalem, Jerusalem is builded as a city that is compact together . . .

. . . Peace be within thy walls and prosperity within thy palaces. For my Brethren and Companions' sakes, I will now say Peace be within thee "

This is the Jerusalem, the City which is above "not made with hands eternal in the Heavens." Jerusalem translated means - a house or habitation of peace" whilst Babylon means literally "a state of confusion."

At the commencement of this Paper we were imagining ourselves alone on a hilltop in the countryside on a fine autumn evening contemplating the works of the creation. We remarked on certain constellations named in the Zodiac "Taurus", "Aries", "Pisces" and "Aquarius". Let us now consider this further.

We are told that the level at which the sun and the earth are taken to be moving in space is called the ecliptic. Also that the earth's axis is tilted at an angle of about 66 1/2 deg. to the plane of the ecliptic, the Equator therefore being approximately 23 1/2 deg. to that plane. Further that there are twelve constellations lying on or about the ecliptic and this 16 deg. belt is called the Zodiac so called because several of the twelve constellations take the names of animals, each of the twelve being given a sign with a name. In what is known as the Lesser Zodiacal Year the sun passes through each of the signs, a sign a month, and the tilt of the earth breaks up the year into the four seasons of spring, summer, autumn and winter and gives us the vernal and autumnal equinoxes or points when the ecliptic cuts the Equator. The earth, however, not being a perfect sphere, but having a bulging at the Equator upon which the gravitational pull of the sun works, does not revolve truly on its axis the points of which (the Poles) move in a circle. This means in effect that the points of intersection of the Equator and the ecliptic are not fixed and we get what is known as the precession of the equinoxes with the result that it takes approximately 25,920 years (The Greater Zodiacal Year) for the solar system to make the complete cycle. Thus a new sign is entered every 2,160 years.

The autumnal equinox is ushered in by shorter days and longer nights, the dying off of vegetation, the descent of sap reminding us of the descent of the soul into incarnation. With the advent of the vernal equinox, however, the commencement of spring, we have the reverse effects, days get longer, nights get shorter, more light, less darkness, the sap rises, vegetation grows and we have the symbol of rebirth.

At the time of the vernal equinox are the Festivals of the Jewish Passover and the Christian Easter. Also at this time used to take place the ceremonies of Mithra, the cult that was once concurrent with Christianity and a Degree of which was known as "the soldier of Mithra." In this Degree the candidate was offered a crown three times, he declining it on each occasion. If you care to turn to your copy of Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar" Act I Sc. 2, you will read Casca's description of Mark Antony offering Caesar a crown three times and Caesar declining it each time.

The festival of Easter is pre-Christian and festivals coinciding with the time of the vernal equinox and based on the idea of death and resurrection, are to be found in many religions and cults, i.e., Osiris (the risen One) in Egypt, Bacchus in Greece, Mithra in Iran and so on.

I have mentioned the festival of the "pass-over" in the Lesser Zodiacal Year. At the end of each of 2,160 years there is another "pass-over" marked in that great Bible of the Universe, the Zodiac - there is a "passover" from one sign to another. A "pass-over" of enormous significance for humanity it being traditional that the passage is marked by spiritual growth and evolution - another great "step" to be trod by Brother Man. What is of further significance is that the religious ideas evolved during the period under a particular sign bears relation to that sign. For instance I mentioned the Cult of Mithra which had as one of its concepts, the shying of the bull by Mithra. There are also the Bulls of Nineveh mentioned in the V.S.L. These came under the Sign of Taurus (The Bull) next we have Aries, the Ram, and in the V.S.L. we read of "the Ram caught in a thicket", the burnt offering of a Ram and so on. And in the story of the "passing over" of the Angel of Death we read that the Israelites marked the linters of their doors with the blood of a lamb, the Paschal Lamb, or "pass-over" lamb and we read of the sacrifice of lambs. The next "pass-over" is to the sign of Pisces (the fishes) and we come to the advent of the Christian Master who chose as his disciples fishermen, to become "fishers of men," He who fed the multitude with two small fishes, who brought about the draught of fishes (one hundred and fifty-three in the net as recorded in St. John, Chap. 20, v. 11) and of whom it was recorded that His last meal was of broiled fish.

And it is recorded that that self-same Master instructed his disciples with the words :-

" Go ye into the City and there shall meet you A MAN BEARING A PITCHER OF WATER, FOLLOW HIM " (Mark 14 (xiii) - Luke 22 (x) ).

A man bearing a pitcher of water! - the Sign of Aquarius.

As we contemplate with awe the measured movements of the mighty orbs on their appointed paths in the celestial regions and as we meditate upon this wondrous "pass-over" into the constellation of the Sign of Aquarius - the Man bearing the Pitcher of Water - we may reflect upon the sign of the times on this our earth. The last century has seen an unprecedented acceleration in men's mental mastery and material achievement. Even we, who have lived in the last half-century have witnessed astonishing changes and have passed through remarkable and perilous times. We have seen, for instance, horse-drawn traction almost completely superseded by motor traction, we have passed from the novelty of balloons with passengers in a basket floating in the air to fully equipped jet propelled aeroplanes with speeds exceeding that of sound, from the magic lantern of our early boyhood days we have passed to three-dimensional coloured films, from telephone to television, to wireless and radar, from the elementary physics of heat, light and sound to splitting the atom, the transmutation of metals (the dream of the ancient alchemist) to nuclear fission and all that that portends. We have passed through two of the most ferocious sanguinary wars in history in which were employed weapons of diabolical ingenuity. These have been followed by political, social and economic upheavals in nearly every part of the world-truly the death throes of an old order and the birth pangs of a new. There has been a rushing hither and thither with men's hearts failing them. We have stood aghast and horrified at the possibilities of suffering and destruction potential in our new discoveries and inventions. The end of our so-called civilisation, nay even the annihilation of most of mankind has loomed up before our terror-stricken eyes. This fearsome spectacle is only just beginning to recede as we realise that only a change of heart can avoid such a major catastrophe.

Aquarius the Waterman bears a Pitcher of Water. We have some knowledge of like symbolism in the manner in which the p.w. is depicted in the Second Degree, but we might ask ourselves that in the spiritual evolution and growth to take place in the collective consciousness of mankind under this Sign, what form will it take? What, mystically speaking, will be the effect of this "Water of Life" which is to be poured forth?

We are approaching the end of the twentieth century. Towards the end of the nineteenth century there was, with ever increasing progress in scientific knowledge, a conflict between religion and science. That has ended. Furze Morrish neatly puts it that scientific materialism having trampled religious literalism to death, proceeded to commit suicide by successfully splitting the atom, and indeed there seems to be on the one hand every indication today of an intolerance of mere conventional religion as on the other there seems to be a lessening of dogmatic assertive authority - that unless science can prove a thing by its own methods - it cannot be. It is being realised that the laboratory is not the only place where knowledge is obtained. The word "science" is derived from "scire" - "to know" implying all and not just specialised knowledge.

It would seem that we have a converging of religious and scientific philosophy and I use the term "philosophy" deliberately because it means "love of wisdom" and knows not the bounds set down by conventional religion or specialised science.

In the different Schools of Philosophy and in the ideas set forth by their individual exponents, we can recognise, as we can in many of the ancient cults, myths and religions of the world - a common vein or strata - an eclectic philosophy - the Perennial Philosophy - the Ancient Wisdom.

"Get Wisdom and with thy getting get understanding." Yes! But how do we set about the getting? Tuition is teaching by tutors, books, institutions - all very excellent agencies but not the source of knowledge. Intuition is an inner spiritual sense through which illumination, inner vision and direct insight is obtained, where the knowledge of truth is gained, and held with unerring certitude. Great knowledge, the accumulation of facts, depends upon a retentive memory; wisdom comes from intuition. Now if we reflect upon the Sign of Aquarius we realise that the "pouring-out" implies a receptacle. You and I and all mankind are the receptacles but only so far and in direct proportion as we first empty ourselves of all intellectual pride, prejudices, preconceived and conceited opinions, Only then can we receive this illumination, this intuition. "Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free."

In the past in the search for knowledge by both science and philosophy the trend has been to look outward. Brother Man has sought knowledge and understanding of the things and happenings in the outer world and universe. His speculations have taken on an highly intellectual objective form and there is no gain-saying the fact that he has made progress in that direction. But unfortunately he has been too busy to look within and he has not learned very much about himself.

In recent years, however, there has come to the front a branch of Philosophy by the name of Psychology: "psyche" the soul and "logos" systematic principle.

Psychology has been defined as the science of behaviour and also as the study of mental processes. Perhaps a more accurate definition would be, the science of consciousness (the whole consciousness). Most of us I suppose, know of the teaching of psychology to the effect that our awareness is but a minor part of our total consciousness and has been compared to the top of a floating iceberg appearing above water level whilst the major and submerged part of the iceberg corresponds with the unconsciousness of ourselves. This Paper, however, is not intended to be a treatise on Psychology. In any case, the writer has not sufficient knowledge of the science. Nevertheless, I would like to mention that even my very modest study of Psychology has impressed upon my mind and instilled in my heart the profound truth of three well-known injunctions - (i) Man-Know Thyself; (ii) "Judge not - lest ye also art judged"; (iii) to shed a tear of sympathy over the failings of a Brother.

In the new era that is dawning, we as Freemasons have serious responsibilities. Ours, is the only Institution in the world today where men may meet as brothers under a common banner regardless of colour, race or creed and it is natural that one is inclined to ask and indeed, should ask. "What then must I, as an individual and as a Freemason, do in the important years that lie ahead? Our Order is not wanting in instruction as to our several duties but there must be a spirit of dedication if we wish to advance and be qualified to assist in the Great Work of Freemasonry. Obviously we can only tread the steps along the path at the stage we have attained and I am reminded of the following supplication to the Most High contained in a Collect: - "May we quickly attain that for which Thou has destined us: may we love the path which Thou hast ordained." No matter how keen the aspirant may be, he is not free for higher duties unless and until, he performs the tasks allotted to him. "Be careful to perform your allotted task while it is yet day." Our present state in life is the one that we have attained in our individual evolution and is the most suited for our Spiritual progress - if we will make use of it!

With self-dedication comes the implication of self-sacrifice.


From time immemorial, the idea of sacrifice has been held in the mind of man. Human beings have been sacrificed ritually, and animals and birds likewise, and still are in some parts of the world. Zoroaster abolished blood sacrifices and the Pythagoreans forbade them. Apollonius of Tyanna stated that "one should never sacrifice to the great God who is above everything: it would honour Him fittingly if a man should, without immolating victims or lighting fire, merely offer Him the logos without words, the mightiest of all and should solicit the noblest beings by that which is noblest within us: thought ". There is a deep mystery of sacrifice - Creation itself a sacrifice - the submerging of Infinite Spirit in finite matter - the Formless into form - the Eternal into the limitations of time and the Boundless in the boundaries of space - the Manifesting of the Archetypal Thought in phenomena: everywhere exhibiting the symbol of the Cross as witness the crystal, the snowflake, the opened cube and the upright human frame with arms outstretched. Did not the Christian Master say "Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die it bringeth forth much fruit" (John 12, v. 24). And since man is made in the image of God: his mind in the image of the Mind of God, sacrifice appears in the cults, myths and religions of Brother Man, through the ages.

The word "Sacrifice" comes from the Latin " sacrificio" - "I make holy". The Hindus have an equivalent word "Yajna" meaning "to make all things holy". Sacrifice does not necessarily mean parting with something. It is a translation of force. Students of the Kabalah are well acquainted with the import of the relation of "Chokmah" to "Binah of Wisdom (Force) to Understanding (Form) on The Tree of Life". We are not then required to empty our pockets but to transfer our energy, if we wish to assist in the great work of Freemasonry, exercising to the full those talents wherewith God has blessed us, to his glory and the welfare of our fellow creatures.

And with all this, we should not seek the fruits of action or reward.

I have endeavoured Brethren in this Paper, perhaps somewhat ambitiously, certainly rather clumsily, to take, as it were, a "bird's eye view" of some of the steps of Brother Man in the past, the present and the future, through this, his mortal existence, which, though sometimes attended by prosperous circumstances is often beset by a multitude of evils. I have tried to some extent to outline, "pari passu", his progress spiritually and materially. Regard has been had to that Great Light of the Lodge to which our attention is drawn at every step in our Masonic career and there has not been forgotten the dispensations of Divine Providence considered under the Zodiacal Signs of Taurus, of Aries, of Pisces and, coming to our time, of Aquarius.

"And now abideth faith, hope and charity, these three: but the greatest of these is charity" (I Cor. 13, v. 13). To appreciate exactly what is meant by charity it is necessary to study the whole of the 13th Chapter of the First Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians, but I doubt not that many of you know it by heart. Certainly you will know that the charity concerned is not that of the purse alone: it is of the heart. Charity comprehends the whole and the Freemason who is in possession of this virtue may justly be deemed to have attained the summit of his profession. It is the first grand principle; the fulfilling of the law - the fount of sacrifice - the all embracing, all pervading power that man can share with God. To love is to edify: to edify is to build: to build that Temple "not made with hands eternal in the heavens".

Then while our feet tread on the Mosaic work, let our ideas recur to the original whence we copy, let us as good men and Masons, act as the dictates of reason prompt us, practise charity, maintain harmony and endeavour to live in unity and brotherly love and may the God of Infinite Life, Love and Light " in whom we live and move and have our being " enkindle in us the fire of His Love and the flame of everlasting charity.

So Mote It Be.