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The Osiric Legend in Masonry

   It is understood by mystic Masons that Solomon's Temple was a Temple of Initiation. The details of its construction by "master workmen" as described in the Bible, the symbolic measurements, colors and numerological and astral significance, all designate it as belonging to the peculiar type of architecture which has characterized Temples set apart for purposes of Initiation (soul Illumination) since the beginnings of civilization.

   Mystic Masonry, however, did not originate with the "temple craft" of Solomon. We may trace its original flowerings to the early days of ancient Mizraim, later known as Egypt, the cradle of the Mysteries for the lands succeeding Atlantis. It is here we must go if we would arrive at the very fountainhead of Masonry. The degree of the Royal Arch of Solomon is an allegorical representation of the perpetuation of knowledge.

   No country has ever set its indelible impress upon the remainder of the world to the extent and in the manner in which this has been accomplished by Egypt.

   Rawlinson, the noted Egyptologist, in his Story of Ancient Egypt, gives a beautifully symbolic description of this ancient land. "In shape Egypt is like a lily with a crooked stem. A broad blossom terminates at its upper end. A bud projects from the stalk and a little below the blossom on the left side. The broad blossom is the Delta. One bud is the Fayum. The long stalk of the lily is the Nile Valley which is a ravine scooped in the rocky soil for seven hundred miles from the First Cataract to the apex of the Delta."

   The lily or lotus was an especially sacred symbol in Egyptian temples as a presentation of the soul and of immortality. We note its prominence, for the same reason, as a decorative motif on the columns of Solomon's Temple.

   For every Mason, whether followers of the ancient mystic or the modern ceremonial Craft, the Osiris legend, the basis of the Egyptian initiatory ceremonial, is of absorbing interest for comparative study. The four principal characters of the legend, in accordance with Plutarch's outline, are Osiris, king of the Nile; Isis, his wife, sister and widow; Horus the Sun-prince, his son; and Typhon, the spirit of evil who is his brother. The allegory as related by Plutarch follows, in which we have no difficulty in perceiving that Osiris and Isis also represent the great Law of Polarity, the masculine and feminine poles of Spirit. The reinstatement of the feminine into equality or equilibrium with the masculine has been the purpose of all Temple ritualism (including both the Church and Freemasonry of the present day). Anyone who intelligently observes the ceremonialism of either of these institutions will clearly perceive this truth.

   Osiris, King of Egypt, went on a long journey, leaving his brother Typhon to act as regent. Typhon, enjoying his reign of power and loath to renounce it, began to plan how to usurp his brother's place; seventy-two conspirators aided in his nefarious schemes.

   Typhon constructed a rich casket inlaid with precious stones and fashioned in accordance with the "measure of a man". At the Feast given to honor Osiris' return, Typhon declared that the priceless casket would be a gift to the person whom it best fitted. The princes of the realm all tried it, but in vain. Osiris was the last to try, and the casket fitted him exactly. As he lay in it, the seventy-two conspirators rushed in, nailed the cover on and threw the box into the river Nile where it floated down to the court of Byblos, on the Phoenician coast.

   Isis, Egypt's faithful Queen, immediately journeyed forth in search of her husband's body. The casket had been stopped in the; waters by the roots of a great acacia tree which grew up around it and concealed it from view. The King of Byblos had this tree cut down and fashioned into a huge pillar for his throne room. Isis recovered the body of Osiris from the pillar, but Typhon again captured it and to prevent her recovery of it again, had it cut into fourteen pieces and scattered all over the Earth.

   And again, Isis went out and found thirteen of the parts. The fourteenth had been swallowed by a big fish. Typhon threw the casket containing the body of Osiris into sea as the Sun entered Scorpio, and the part of the body that was never recovered is that organ ruled by Scorpio. This organ Isis replaced by a gold one and the body was returned to Egypt.

   Horus, the young king, finally overthrew Typhon and brought peace and justice once more to the land,

   Again, Isis is the feminine column representing the Mysteries. Osiris, the masculine pillar, is the life center of those Mysteries which has been lost, and a substitute only is now used. The secret "working power" of the Mysteries has been taken from a people who are unworthy spiritually to have and to use this power of life. Now it is only in ceremonial and ritual that these inner truths are commemorated both by church craft and state craft (Masonry).

   "The letter alone killeth, but the spirit maketh alive." Typhon represents the spirit of greed, ambition and aggression, which by becoming paramount in man has caused Isis to draw her mortal veil more closely about the Holy of Holies; and so it will remain until man is again purified from greed, selfishness and sensuality. That Horus, the young Sun God, unseats Typhon and reinstates the law of good, according to the legend, is evidence that once again a new compassionate and emancipated mankind, such as that foreseen by Isaiah in his visions of a regenerated humanity, shall inherit and inhabit the Earth.

   Horus is the product of the two poles, the column of Harmony which is the conserved and blended essence of the soul attributes of strength (masculine) and wisdom (feminine). These three columns will be recognized as contributing an important part of the "furniture" of the second, or Fellowcraft degree, in the Blue Lodge of the modern Masonic Brotherhood.

   The second letter of the cosmic Hebrew Alphabet, Beth, is a representation of Isis who bears a concealed scroll that none but the illumined may ever decipher. Isis, the feminine pole of Spirit, conceals the hidden secrets of birth and death. The scientists may try to discover these secrets, but not until the hands are unsoiled and the heart is pure and undefiled can they lift the veil of Isis and receive her private instruction which will make clear these hidden truths.

   Isis is therefore the heart of the Mysteries which have been neglected and forgotten through long ages, so that her column lies broken and unheeded as the years pass, plunging man deeper into the maelstrom of materiality and so further from the pure, unveiled wisdom of the heavens.

   Isis, thus separated from and sorrowing for "Osiris", is termed the widow', and those who follow where she leads, seeking to regain this hidden knowledge, have been termed the "widow's sons." This mystic phrase was used in ancient Egypt with exactly the same meaning that is bestowed upon it today and for the same reason.

   Isis, the woman and mother Queen, is, of course, the heart, and Osiris the head. The modern Mason is admonished to keep his "working tools" in the column of Jachin (Osiris, masculine, head) instead of in Boaz (Isis, feminine, heart). So long as this inequality continues and head dominates heart, the figure of Time must remain weeping above the broken and desolated feminine column, and the "widow's sons" must sojourn in a world filled with injustices where woman cannot assume her place in power and splendor and equality beside man. It is significant to note that Albert Pike, the supreme Masonic Hierophant, mentions this feminine figure of Time beside the broken and fallen column as being the monument placed over the grave of the murdered Hiram.

The Finished Temple

   "During the seven years that the Temple was under construction, no workman was ill and the perfection of their tools remained unimpaired. When completed, the Temple shone like a golden hill set upon a silver mountain. The altar of bronze increased so that it might embrace the Earth. The molten sea encompassed the spirit of all waters. The curtains caught and held the shimmering shadows of blue air, and the candlestick, the glory of golden trees, bearing perpetual fruits, which fell only if an enemy approached. Within the Sanctuary was an ivory wand, the mere touch of which gave injury to the unclean, but proved harmless to the pure. In the interior of the Sanctuary was a transparent wall which remained crystal clear when approached by the righteous, but turned dark when the unworthy came near."

The Science of Numbers in Esoteric Architecture

   "God is number endowed with motion," declares an ancient maxim. Numbers are representative of principles which operate on the highest spiritual planes, namely, the ten principles upon which the entire Universe is founded. Figures are but the outer shadow-forms of these all-abiding principles as they are comprehended and interpreted by man. The Mason is therefore admonished to study mathematics, and the Master Builders who constructed the ancient Temples of Initiation understood and used these sublime principles in the fashioning of their mighty poems in stone. The descriptions of the Temple of Solomon contain a detailed account of the numbers employed in construction of the various parts, all of which are used with definite purpose relative to their release of spiritual power.

   The house in its length, breadth and height was set to the rhythm of eleven (11), the two columns before the Temple door, and the number of the wise. This is indicative of the high status and purpose of the Temple. The Ancient Wisdom defines the powers of eleven as follows:

   "In my grasp are all things held in perfect equilibrium; I bind all opposites together, each to its complement." Masons are taught that the number eleven is most important because with the awakening within of two units (polarity) one may come into possession of all external things. The entrance porch corresponds to number three, the benediction and blessing of the Holy Trinity enveloping the candidate as he passes into the building. Paracelsus writes regarding the mighty powers of three: "Remember, therefore, there are of things Primordial but three. From these take two and from these again, one more. The Triple Things will then consist of God alone."

   Around the Temple were built thirty-two (32) chambers for certain testings given the aspirants in preparation for degree work. These chambers correspond with the small chapels which surround modem cathedrals and belong to the patterns of esoteric architecture, although their purpose is now all but forgotten. the thirty-two chambers, representative of the 32 degrees of the Masonic Craft, surround the Holy Place which symbolizes the 33rd or honorary degree of Masonry.

   These chambers in the Temple of Solomon were set to the harmonies of seven. The Earth evolves to a septenary rhythm as indicated in the Bible, its supreme textbook wherein is recorded the beginning and the end of things. Genesis opens with an account of the seven days of creation and Revelation concludes with a sevenfold vision of the rolling up of the scroll of fime. Seven is the number of centers in man to be awakened in Initiation. The supreme purpose of Solomon's Temple is that "the Radiant Essence becomes Seven inside, Seven outside."

   In the main body of the Temple there were three divisions. The outer, five cubits long, the middle, six cubits long and the inner, seven cubits long. The sum of these give nine, the number of man and the number of the Mysteries. Three is the number of the steps or degrees in all schools of inner Illumination. The early Christians referred to them as Purification, Illumination and Bringing to Sight. The Masonic Fraternity name them as Apprentice, the Fellow Craft and the Master's degrees. They each represent in modem survival a fragment of the Ancient Wisdom teachings. Pythagoras said: "All hieratic intelligence is in the perfect knowledge of these three degrees."

   Three times three equals nine. The three degrees previously noted are the Path or Way of the Nine Lesser Mysteries, and all their secrets are incorporated therein. A hermetic table declares that 5 x 3 is Birth or Life or Death, also that it is Past, Present and Future, This is the wisdom which is both concealed and revealed in the Nine Lesser Mysteries,

   The Holy Place was forty (40) cubits in length and twenty (20) cubits in breadth: six is therefore the keynote of the Holy Place. In Egypt, Osiris was called Lord of the Sixth Day Festival. The rites were concerned with the opening of the sacred eye which occurred on the sixth day. The Holy Place also was the Hall of Preparation for a similar sacred Rite.

   The Holy of Holies was twenty (20) cubits in all directions, thus forming a Perfect Cube. Before the candidate may pass into the sublime Rite of the Third Degree, the rough ashlar must have been formed into the Perfect Cube.

   The two doors guarding the entrance into the most Holy Place were made of olive wood which typifies regeneration, healing and blessing. Empedocles writes: "And thus tall trees bear fruit; first of all olives."

   The two doors of the Holy Place were of fir, which typifies masculine soul qualities, as cedar and olive signify feminine soul qualities. These doors were carved with cherubim, palm trees and open flowers, whose symbology has been previously elucidated.

   The Holy Place holds the vision of the ideal of attainment, and in the Holy of Holies this ideal has become a real achievement.

   In I Kings 6:23-24 we read: "And in the oracle be made two cherubim of olive-wood, each ten cubits high. And five cubits was the one wing of the cherub, and five cubits the other wing of the cherub; from the uttermost part of the one wing unto the uttermost part of the other wing were ten cubits."

   Five has been termed a most occult number because it is half way between one and ten. Five forms the capstone or apex of the Arch. The two cherubim symbolize perfect equilibrium between the masculine and feminine. The "figures were one size and one measure."

   Ten is the all-embracing number. It is man-woman, head-heart, spirit-soul united and redeemed the end of the Quest.

   The bases for the layers were four cubits high and three cubits square. Three is the number of Spirit and four of matter.

   "Three fell into four in the lap of Maya." Spirit enters into matter for the purpose of spiritualizing it. For a time matter overcomes Spirit and so three falls into four or the lap of Maya (illusion). The present world condition is the result of that "fall" "the blind blindly followed the blind." Only the wise have always held the torch of wisdom for those few who are in quest of Light. The Molten Sea represents those who have found and are abiding in that Light.

   The Temple was begun in the second month of the fourth year of Solomon's reign and was completed seven years later in the eleventh year of his rulership. These numbers digit seven — the perfect number of completion. The seven-branched candlestick so prominently used in both the Tabernacle and the Temple represents the archetypal pattern of Earth and man. This pattern must be septenary so long as the labor is conflict between Three and Four.

   Every ancient country was known to be under the protection of a certain sign and planet. The priests were dressed in particular astral colors and the incense offered belonged to the starry guardians. The dress of the High Priest was also symbolical of the starry heavens. His robe was emblazoned in astral hieroglyphics. Five stones and two carbuncles on the shoulders symbolized the seven planets. His veil was representative of the four elements of Fire, Air, Water and Earth. The two great emeralds on his shoulders represented the Sun and Moon (the two columns in miniature), the Green Stone representing the twelve signs and their positive and negative reactions to the planet Earth and all living things existent upon it. The incense, concerning which so many directions are given, typifies these vibratory impacts as they are sent out and received. Modem followers of the astro-science have but little conception of the occult forces emanated by the stars and how to tune in upon or use them. This knowledge man lost when he forfeited his high privileges as a recipient and a disseminator of the sacred truths of the Mysteries. This knowledge constitutes a part of the Lost Word of mystic Masonic annals.

   The veil which hung before the Holy of Holies was of fine linen in blue, purple, crimson and white. Blue signifies the Spirit, red, the mortal man, and purple, the essence of redemption as Spirit lays the impress of its purificatory processes upon matter. White, which contains all colors within itself, represents the ultimate of spiritual attainment; yellow is the color ray of the Christ which remains as yet concealed within the white so far as Temple purposes are concerned. It was not until after the Great Advent that yellow became a conspicuous part of Temple decoration.

   In the eighth month the house was finished. The eighth month sign is Scorpio, the sign of death and of regeneration. When the disciple succeeds in building his house, death is swallowed up in victory and mortality has become immortality.

   This great edifice was a picture book for the Fifth Root Race peoples. Every feature of it is a symbol of some fundamental spiritual truth.

   The stones for the Temple were brought partly from Lebanon and partly from the neighborhood of Bethlehem. Hiram, King of Tyre, assisted both in the lending of the architectural skill of his countrymen, already employed in the erection of his own great buildings, and also by supplying cedars of Lebanon which were conveyed on rafts to joppa. An immense army, chiefly of Canaanites, was raised to work in the forests and quarries of Lebanon. Masonic tradition states that the operative and speculative Masons employed in the work were arranged into nine classes, namely, Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft, Markmen, Master Mason, Mark Master, Architect, Grand Architect, Excellent Mason and Super-excellent Mason.

   In order to reconcile the spirit of the new architecture as nearly as possible with the old, the stones were hewn in the quarries and placed in severent silence one upon another. The Temple "rose like an exhalation."

   Seven years had elapsed between the beginning of the building and its completion. For beauty, splendor and cost it could easily be numbered among the seven wonders of the ancient world. Thirty thousand workmen were required to cut the timbers for the building, eighty thousand to trim and quarry the stone, seventy thousand to transport it, three thousand to supervise the cube symbol of man perfected.

   The Temple faced the east and was composed of three parts, the Outer Court, the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies. The Holy Place, a room facing east and lighted only by small windows high up and admitting little light, was the receptacle for the furniture of the Temple. In front of the Holy Place was the great porch ornamented with the two bronze pillars of Jachin and Boaz.

   The Holy of Holies, toward the West, had no outer light, but was filled with the splendor of Jehovah above the Ark. Around this sanctuary were many chambers for the use of the priests and for the storing of the Temple treasures and. the various utensils necessary to the many sacrifices constantly being offered there. These chambers were three stories high and extended around the building.

   Around the Temple was a great court into which the people were admitted. Here was the enormous Brazen Altar upon which the sacrifices were consumed, also a large receptacle for water, and the bronze wheeled laver, which could be moved to accommodate the officiating priests.

The Winding Stair

   The winding stair, composed of three, five and seven steps, extended from the two columns of the entrance porch up to the doorway of the Middle Chamber. It was in this chamber that the workmen received their wages.

   This place is symbolic of the heart in the body temple which contains the permanent spiritual record of our life's karma, the "wages" we have earned in our work in the temple of material existence. The three steps refer to the three initial degrees of attainment, Apprentice, Fellowcraft and Master. The five steps represent the five senses which must be expanded and developed as man progresses into higher states of consciousness. The seven steps are the seven Roses or spiritual centers which mark the body of the Initiate.

   In Masonry, Jacob's Ladder, which reaches from earth to heaven, possesses seven rounds for this same reason and is a symbol of the initiatory path.

   The Winding Stair is especially important in connection with the Fellowcraft or feminine degree in Masonry. Three pauses are made upon the steps. On the first, the candidate is instructed in the esoteric meaning of the peculiar organization of the Order of which be has become a disciple. At the second, he is reminded that architecture is the most important of all arts. At the third, the whole circle of human science is explained, past linked with present and both with the future. He is now ready to receive the wages of the Master.

   In the individual who stands at the threshold of the unseen world, the winding stair also represents the ascending life force. The three pauses are the three principal body centers, namely, the spinal or sacral, the heart and the head. The life force, or feminine creative Love-fire, in its ascent centers primarily in the heart which is the body's Middle Chamber, then passes out of the middle into the third, or is lifted from the heart to be united with the spinal Spirit Fire in the head.

   There are fifteen steps in all: three, five and seven, summing up to fifteen, which digits six, the number of the renewal of life. "Man is the Altar, the Holy Place is He, and He is the Holy of Holies" (A. E. Waite).

 — Corinne Heline


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