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King Solomon and The Temple Builders

  An exposition of the inner significance of the Holy Scriptures in the light of the Ageless Wisdom and correlated to the teachings of the Mysteries as these have been preserved down through the centuries in the exalted symbolism of Mystic Masonry.

Masonic Origins

   "Since Symmetry began and Harmony displayed her charms our Order has had a being."

   After a careful study of Emblematic Masonry, extending as it does over a large part of the Earth, it is impossible to accept the statement of secular historic Masonry which dates its origin approximately two hundred years ago.

   Crusading Masonry asserts that the Masonic Order had its beginnings in Palestine among the Crusading Knights for the purpose of protecting the Holy Land with its sacred areas and for the rebuilding of its Christian shrines. Later, they claim, this secret Order was carried into Europe by the returning Crusaders and that the most important western center was established in Scotland under this country's patron saint, Andrew.

   That there is indeed a close affinity between Freemasonry and esoteric Christianity is shown in such facts as that, for example, the Lodge of Kilwinning in Scotland was dedicated to St. Thomas, and the Edinburgh Lodge under the title of St. Mary's Chapel was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin.

   The famous Regius Poem published in 1379 contains the injunction, "Pray we now to God almighty and to His Mother Mary bright." A certain Scottish Chapter the exact origin of which is lost in antiquity con-ceremonial libation which is of remarkable beauty:

   The York Lodge in England was worked in a cloister beneath the Cathedral and as late as 1693 the instruction to the Apprentice was couched in the following words: "Be true to God and to the Holy Church, the Prince and the Dame whom you serve."

   The inner work given the Craft at the time of King Solomon was transmitted from generation to generation in secret cyphers or keys by means of architecture, painting and literature. This was in preparation for the time of the falling of the "cloud upon the Sanctuary". About 1530 came the beginning of the end which lost to "workmen" their Jurisdiction over the "mystic building art." With the Reformation came the final and complete division between Masonry and the Church, Speculative succeeded Operative Masonry, the two poles of humanity — masculine and feminine, the head and the heart, man and woman — were rent asunder to function separately and unequally until the two paths are again united upon a yet higher rung of the evolutionary ladder under the now dawning Aquarian impulses.

Esoteric Masonic Origins

   There is an early tradition connecting the origin of Freemasonry with the Flood and the Ark of Noah which has given rise to the degree of Royal Ark Mariner in English-speaking countries and the Order of the Noachites in Prussia. In the Ancient Charges of medieval Masonry the science is said to have been preserved during the period of the Deluge by the two pillars which the sons of Lamech set up before the Flood for the recording of their secret knowledge.

   "And these children knowing right well that God would take vengeance for sin either by fire or by water, therefore they writ their several sciences that they had found on two Pillars of Stone that they might be found after Noah's Flood. The one stone was called 'Marble', and would not burn with fire. The other was called 'Laterns', and would not drown with water. After the destruction of the world by Noah's Flood, a great sage, called Pythagoras, found the one, and Hermes, the philosopher, found the other. These two men discovered the two Pillars on which the sciences were written and taught them to other men." It is not without interest that we recall at this point the Egyptian tradition which teaches that Hermes Trismegistus came to Egypt from Chaldea, the home of the biblical Deluge story.

   Another tradition of the Noah legend is as follows: "When the destruction of the world drew nigh, God commanded Noah to build a great Ark in which work his three sons assisted like a Deputy and two Wardens. That edifice, though of wood, was fabricated by geometry as accurately as any stone building. It was a curious piece of architecture, and when finished, Noah, his three sons, and their wives entered therein and received the cargo of animals in accordance with the direction of God. All those in the Ark were saved while the remainder of mankind perished because of their immorality and unbelief. It was from these Masons or four Grand Office is that the whole present race of mankind is descended. After the Flood, Noah and his sons having preserved the sacred knowledge of the arts and sciences, communicated the same to their offspring. And as they journeyed from the East towards the West, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and dwelt there as Noachites, or sons of Noah, which was the first name of Masons according to this ancient tradition."

   The story of the Tower of Babel is embodied in the Noachites or Prussian Cavalier's Degree: "In the lofty Tower of Babel where language was confounded and Masonry lost."

   The descendants of Noah, notwithstanding that God had appointed the rainbow as a token of the covenant that He would not again destroy the Earth by universal deluge, resolved to erect an edifice which by its height should place them beyond the reach of divine vengeance. For this purpose they assembled together in the extended plain of Shinar. They laid the foundation and carried on the building for ten years. At the expiration of this time, God seeing their pride determined to interfere. He confounded their language and by that simple process put an end to their design. Hence the tower was called Babel, which signifies "confusion."

   Sometime after this, Nimrod began to establish degrees of rank among his subjects which had not existed before. He built the city of Babylon and arrogated to himself the honors of divine worship. It was on the night of the Full Moon and in the month of March that God had confounded their language. Therefore the Noachites held their great meeting on that particular night. Their monthly meetings were held on the nights of the Full Moon and no other light was used in the Lodge. After the language was confounded and the people obliged to separate, each tribe pursued its own course. Peleg, who had suggested the plan of,the tower and had acted as Grand Architect during its construction, now being smitten with the force of conscience, suffered a most rigorous penance. He migrated with his followers to the north of Germany, after having suffered great misery and encountered various dangers on his way thereto. In that part of the country which is now called Prussia he took up his residence. Here he built a triangular temple wherein he might enclose himself that he might be at leisure to worship God and imp!ore His forgiveness for his own transgressions.

   In Prussia in A.D. 553, during the excavation of the salt mines, there was discovered at the depth of fifteen cubits a triangular temple in the center of which was a small pillar of marble on which the above history was inscribed in Hebrew characters. A tomb was also found in which an encrusted agate. stone was engraved with these words: "Here was deposited the ashes of the Great Architect of the Tower of Babel. God showed him mercy because he humbled himself."

   The Mystic Mason understands that the esoteric tradition was taught to Abraham by the High Priest Melchizedek and passed on to the "worthy and qualified" by Jacob and Joseph. Moses and Aaron through the magic of the Ineffable Name performed the wonders by Fire and Water that liberated the Israelites from Egyptian bondage. This inner work was passed on by Joshua to the Initiate-judges and later became the spiritual nucleus around which the great Schools of the Prophets were established. Boaz and Ruth were among "the elect" upholding the tradition which descended to Jesse and his shepherd son, David.

   The famous Masonic historian, Dr. George Oliver, assumes rightly that Solomon's Temple is a Masonic era and a very important one, but is not the beginning of the Noachidae or Masons. He states that the Order had a long previous existence and that the "Master Builders" were expert Masons long before the Temple was planned, having exercised their ingenuity and talent on many other noble edifices. This, however, their crowning work, continues Dr. Oliver, must be ascribed to the sublime genius of the Grand Master Hiram Abiff, who was inspired to make this edifice the wonder of the world.

   After the destruction of the Temple, during the Exile in Babylon, the high Prophet-Initiate, Ezekiel, instructed the famous Grecian philosopher, Pythagoras, in these sacred Truths.

   An old Masonic tradition avers that the chains of the Jewish captives in Babylon were of a triangular form because the Chaldeans. knowing that the captive Masons esteemed the triangle as emblematic of the secret Name of God, constructed their fetters in that form to increase the mental sufferings of their prisoners by desecrating the Tetragrammaton.

   In the time of Cyrus and the Restoration, there came a regeneration of the House of David, and the Initiates Nehemiah and Esdras (Ezra) restored the meaning and magic of the Sacred Word. The Book of the Law was also recovered and the Second Temple under Zerubbabel was raised on the site of the First, or Solomon's. Mystic Masonry continued to prepare the worthy to receive the "Master's wages" and to qualify them for "travel in foreign countries."

   The Essenian colonies were founded in Egypt in preparation for the coming of the Light of the World. After Christ's ministry on Earth was ended, His appointed disciples, both men and women, carried the Word into far lands both East and West, His two chief messengers, St. John the Baptist and St. John. the Evangelist, are to this day the patron saints of Masonry.

   According to Masonic tradition, St. John the Evangelist was an Essenian Freemason who instituted in Palestine a secret theological society which performed mystic rites and in which were used Masonic emblems.

   In accordance with historical records, Ebrank, King of the Trojan race, is accounted the first British architect and builder of the cities of York and Edinburgh. In A.D. 42, Claudius ordered Ostorius Scopula and other Roman architects to build many forts and castles in Great Britain. Adrian fenced the Roman province in Britain with ramparts extending from Tynemouth Haven to Solway Firth.

   In A.D. 131, Lud, first Christian king of Britain, built numerous churches and religious houses. The following century Gordian sent many architects who constituted themselves into Lodges and instructed the craftsmen in the true principles of Masonry. Later, Carausius became emperor of the Bfitish Isles and, being a great lover of art and science, appointed Albans Grand Master of Masonry and he employed the Fraternity on the building of the great monastery of St. Albans.

   A certain ancient Record from the time of Edward IV continues the Masonic history in Britain. Although many of the early annals of the Brotherhood in England were lost in the wars of the Danes and Saxons, yet in 924 A.D. King Althestan, grandson of Alfred the Great (a mighty architect, and first anointed king of England, who translated the Bible into the Saxon language), brought the land into rest and peace, encouraged Masonry and built many great works.

   Prince Edwin, the youngest son of King Athelstan, became a leading member of the mystic Fraternity of his day. Summoning all Masons in the Realm to meet him in congregation at York, he there organized a general Lodge of which he was made the first Grand Master. The Masonic authority, Gould, writes that York has long been regarded as the earliest center of the Building Art in England. Mackey states in his Masonic Encyclopedia that the York Rite was the oldest of all British Rites and that it contained originally only Three Degrees.

   John Yarker, author of Scientific and Religious Mysteries of Antiquity, in writing about the "York Reception" says that the candidate of the first Degree was invested with an Operative Mason's leather apron up to the neck and was shown how to hew the Rough Ashlar. In the second Degree he was tested by the junior and Senior Wardens and Worshipful Master in the use of the plumb, level and square. The third Degree began as Fellow and ended as Master.

   The York Rite, which was evidently deeply esoteric, does not, according to Masonic authorities, now exist in its purity anywhere. Its closest approximation is found in Scottish St. John Masonry. This ancient Lodge is now a sacred recess in the Cathedral Church at York. It is affirmed that the Four London Lodges of 1717 regarded it as a peculiar honor that they originated from the ancient York Masons. According to Yarker, the old Master's Ceremony at York contained much that is now omitted and which possessed many points of resemblance to the Ancient Mysteries. Its meetings were held in the crypt under the great Cathedral The Chapter House was used for routine business, but the secret Mysteries were held below ground, in accordance with the "Old York manner," evidently referring to the esoteric work of this early Grand Lodge.

   The Charter of Cologne, dated 1535 and purported to have been issued by the Order in nineteen important European cities as a defense against their enemies, stated that the "Order originated at a time when a few adepts distinguished by their life, moral doctrine and sacred interpretation of Arcane Truth, withdrew themselves from the multitudes in order to more effectively preserve uncontaminated the moral precepts of that religion which is implanted in the mind of man."

   By 1580 Masonry had become almost a "lost art" owing to the influences of the Reformation. Sir Christopher Wren, famed English architect, was said to have been made an Arch Guild Initiate in 1694, and that he thereafter began preparation for rebuilding St. Paul's Cathedral. In 1675 Grand Master James Strong laid the cornerstone of London's famous edifice.

   In 1710, Dr. James Anderson O.D. became Chaplain. He is known as the compiler of the Constitutions of Freemasons, published in 1723; also of the Records of Grand Lodge reorganization of 1717 to 1738. He was also prominent in replacing esoteric Masonry with exoteric observances. He was opposed by Sir Christopher Wren who was an esoteric exponent of the craft and who wished to retain the old occult traditions in the Fraternity.

   The Rosicrucians were prominently connected with English Masonry in the middle ages. Among the best known of the English Brothers was Elias Ashmole who was made a Mason in 1646 in the deeply esoteric Lodge of Warrington in Lancashire. Ashmole was a well known Hermetic scholar and spiritual alchemist at this time. Later, he, with other Brothers, established a Rosicrucian Society in London where the Mysteries, based on ancient Egyptian and Grecian procedures, were introduced. These were also used in the "Masonic Receptions".

   Ashmole collected certain materials for the purpose of writing a history of Masonry as an Operative Art and not from the Speculative viewpoint of merely teaching its candidates how to "live the life" by means of symbols and an allegorical myth. It is a great misfortune for the serious Masonic students of the Craft that this work was never completed.

   In 1616 the name of the English physician, Robert Fludd, is mentioned prominently in connection with both Masonry and Rosicrucianism. Fludd was termed "the great Kentish Mystic." He wrote extensively on magic, medicine, the Hermetic and Alchemical Art and Rosicrucianism. He is considered by some Masonic writers to have been the head of the "Acception," an inner Masonic Fraternity concerned with esoteric Masonry "for the elect," for now ever more plainly the Craft was losing its ancient Wisdom, the cloud obscured the Sanctuary, and in order to keep the Light from being extinguished it was necessary to-keep it "bidden under a busbel".

   To this Rosicrucian influence the modern Masonic Fraternity owes the origin of an Emblematic House of Freemasonry, namely, the spiritual temple (body) of man alchemically conceived, and of the spiritual Palace upon the crest of the Mountain of Light, the Rosy Cross Temple of Initiation.

  The impress of Rosicrucianism upon Freemasonry is retained in the work of the Rose Croix Degree with its thirty-three lights, its altar of red roses and Knights of the Red Cross. Both the Rosicrucian and the Masonic brother works toward the consummation of his labors as a Master-Builder as recorded in an ancient Oath: "Only for the better carrying out of our building and thereby to attain the rose-red bloom of our Cross concealed in the center of our foundations.... We must not take the work superficially, but dig to the center of the Earth, knock and seek."

   The Light that failed upon the Temple of Solomon and again upon the altars of Zerubbabel flamed anew with the coming of the Christ. It was the mystery of this new Christ Light that the Brothers of the Rose Cross brought to Masonry. The great Stone around which so much Masonic symbolism is built is the Christ Spirit, whom the Rosicrucian seeks by way of the Path of Initiation that leads to the. center of the Earth and is most easily found at the time of the four Sacred Seasons marked by the two Equinoxes and the two Solstices. Masonry in its present form is founded largely upon the Summer Solstice.

   In 1660, in Paris, appeared Basil Valentine's famous Twelve Keys of Philosophy. Valentine was a priest of the church and developed his "Key" consonant with the Path of the Mysteries as taught in esoteric Christianity. The Path of the Church, Masonry and Rosicrucianism are from the same source, namely, the Christ Spirit and His Mystery in the Earth. Valentine employed as the "Key" to his twelve famous glyphs, "Visit the interior of the Earth and you will find the bidden Stone."

   Palestine remained the center of the "True Mystery" until the fourth century, from which time the Initiates and their disciples were compelled to withdraw the outer teachings and live and work in secret by reason of the Roman Emperor, Theodosius' persecution of esoteric Christianity and non-conformist faiths.

   During the Crusades the Knights Templars were a depository of secret knowledge. They were "Knight Masons" dedicated to following and emulating the "Perfect Instruction" of Christ. There is a legend in Masonry that the Knights Templars are the special guardians of the Holy Grail. The legend runs that when Parsifal conveyed the Sacred Cup to the East he was escorted by Knights with whom he embarked on a ship at Marseilles. The Order of St. John is said to have received from birn the inner secrets imparted to the beloved disciple as he rested upon the Master's heart. This is but a mystic way of stating that to His advanced (therefore best beloved) pupil, the Christ was imparting the profound or Perfect Instruction. (The Hospitaliers of St. John are not to be confused with the esoteric school organized by St. John the Evangelist.)

   The Templar intention, states Eliphas Levi, was to found in Jerusalem a Church Universal from which to disseminate true or esoteric Christianity. This statement is in harmony with inner teachings of the present day. It is known that once again the Temple in Jerusalem is destined to be restored as a repository of the Ancient Wisdom — not as a Jewish temple however, but a center of esoteric truth upon to whomsoever wills to qualify. Certain sacred areas throughout Palestine will reveal their hidden treasures. Holy men and women of biblical history will again walk and talk With men and the angelic and human life waves will mingle in holy communion.

   This is something of the high destiny which awaits those who make themselves "worthy and well-qualified" to be numbered among the "Mystic Builders" and the "Perfect Architects" of the New Age. Our contemporary "dead" school of Masonry will continue while it lasts to affirm that there is nothing behind it, but this era will pass and give place to a living Masonry which is even now active in the world, animating with its own ineradicable spirit the outward symbolic forms.

   There is no more fitting sentiment with which to conclude this section on Masonic origins than the following paragraph from Ward's Freemasonry and the Ancient Gods: "In the New Age which is now passing through the long-drawn travail of its birth, Freemasonry will be there as of old to lay the broad foundations upon which the new religion will be built. Errors and false dogma will pass away and among them perhaps some which appear to our poor blinded eyes as most essential, but the Real Truth will always remain — for Truth is eternal — and the bases of Truth are within our Order. Out of them shall arise a new and better Covenant once more, and still Freemasonry will remain to be as the Ark of Refuge when again the waters of destruction threaten the earth.

   "But ever the path is upward after every change and He who is changeless watches over us and knows.

   "We stand on the threshold of strange times, and the hearts of some may fail when they look into the blackness of the night and strive to pierce its gloom. But as in their Masonic career they saw a faint light in the East, now, too, they may also see that light and remember that it has changed into the bright Morning Star whose light brings salvation to the earth."

 — Corinne Heline


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