Page from French Bible Moralisee (c 1235-1245),
British Library, showing Christ as the Great Architect, designing the
universe with the compass of the Freemason.
Some Masonic members of the Theosophical Society have concluded that H.P.B. was herself a Mason because she received in 1877 a certificate of membership of the Ancient and Primitive Rite conferring degrees and titles of the Rite of Adoption. These, however, were not recognized as being Masonry by the Masonic bodies of France, Great Britain or America.
She wrote the words quoted above: “As far as we are concerned, disciples of the Masters of the Orient as we are, we have nothing to do with modern Masonry”. And again, “As for ourselves – faithful disciples of the Orient – we prefer instead of all the stories, one that has nothing to do with any of the other mummeries of masonic degrees.”
There is no record of H.P.B. having been initiated into a Lodge or of her attending lodge meetings. She did, however, preserve secrecy on what went on at lodge meetings. She further said that all students of the Eastern esoteric knowledge were required to study the procedures of Masonry.
A note left by H.P.B. is interesting, to the effect that members of the E.S. may become Masons or Oddfellows.
... I have received from the Sovereign Grand Master General of the A. and P. Rite of England and Wales a diploma of 32nd Degree. [C.W.I, 281]
The circumstances under which H.P.B. received her Masonic Patent are described as follows by John Yarker who issued it:
“In the year 1872 I printed, at my own cost, a small book entitled, Notes on the Scientific and Religious Mysteries of Antiquity; the Gnosis and Secret Schools of the Middle Ages; Modern Rosicrucianism; and the various Rites and Degrees of Free and Accepted Masonry. At this time I was Grand Master of the Ancient and Primitive Rite of Memphis, 95º; and before that of the combined Scottish Rite of 33º, and Mizraim of 90º; and among our initiates, 32º-94º, was Brother Charles Sotheran who left England and settled in New York. This brother lent a copy of the book just named to Madame Blavatsky, and she was good enough to refer to it in her Isis Unveiled, with some complimentary remarks ...
“However, at the request of Bro. Sotheran I sent Madame Blavatsky the certificate of the female branch of the Sat Bhai (Seven Brothers, or seven birds of a species, which always fly by sevens); it was a system organized at Benares in India by the Pundit of the 43rd Rifles, and brought to England by Major J.H. Lawrence-Archer, 32º-94º. This led to a letter from Col. H.S. Olcott, setting forth the very superior qualities of Madame to the certificate sent, and vouching that she was proficient in all masonic sciences. On the 20th of August, 1877, the then newly established Theosophical Society of New York sent me by the hands of Co. Cobb a certificate of the Honorary membership accompanied by a pretty gold Jewel of the Crux Ansata of Egypt entwined with a serpent in green enamel.
“Both the Rites of Memphis and Mizraim as well as the Grand Orient of France possessed a branch of Adoptive Masonry, popular in France in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and of which, in later years, the Duchess of Bourbon held the rank of Grand Mistress. We accordingly sent H.P.B. on the 24th of November, 1877, a certificate of the highest rank, that of a Crowned Princess 12º, said to have been instituted at Saxe, in the last quarter of the eighteenth century. The publication of this certificate led to newspaper questions and attack. The Franklin Register of 1st of February, 1878, contained an article by Bro. Leon Hynemann vouching for the reality of my signature, and another by Bro. Charles Sotheran who vouched for the possession by H.P.B. of Masonic initiation, and this was followed the next week (8th of February) by a slashing article from the pen of Madame herself against her calumniators ... ”
The facsimile of the Diploma [C.W.I, opp. p 305] shows it to be the standard ornate form of the Ancient and Primitive Rite, the name and degrees being filled in in pen and ink. The Diploma states, however, that the degrees and titles conferred upon H.P.B. are those of the Rite of Adoption. The various Rites of Adoption were not recognized as being Masonry by the Masonic bodies of France, Great Britain, and America. [C.W.I, 311-2]
No member of this Section [E.S.] shall belong to any other body, association, or organization for the purpose of mystic study or occult training, except Masonry and the Odd Fellows, if they so desire. But they must be as careful to guard the secrecy of this Section from Masons as they are to preserve the secrets of Masonry from Theosophists. [C.W.XII, 486-7]
The books by H.P. Blavatsky from which passages have been extracted are:
1. I.U. ISIS UNVEILED, Vols I and II, all editions same pagination.
2. S.D. THE SECRET DOCTRINE, Vols I and II
3. S.D. THE SECRET DOCTRINE, Vol III, only in the 1897 edition (this material is in C.W.XII)
34. C.W. THE COLLECTED WRITINGS OF H.P. BLAVATSKY
Another book which readers might care to read for much information about the craft from a Masonic point of view is:–
5. THE FREEMASON’S GUIDE AND COMPENDIUM by Bernard E. Jones, (George G. Harrop)
First published 2003 by The Theosophical Publishing House, London.
Available from: The Theosophical Society in England, 50 Gloucester Place, London W1U 8EA
Theosophical Society in England, Bookshop link