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.
Any kind of precise chronology of the history of Masonry is not discoverable from the information we have in the theosophical literature of H.P. Blavatsky (H.P.B.) and her Masters.
One reference takes us back to the third Root Race. Another reference is to the Atlanteans. It is, however, difficult to know what is being referred to. Masonry was obviously the Ageless Ancient Wisdom, constituting “The Mysteries”.
According to H.P.B., from the first ages of man the fundamental truths of the nature and workings of Cosmos were in the safe keeping of the Adepts of the Sanctuary, bonded together by “a universal Freemasonry”. Here, however, the word “Freemasonry” may be used in a general rather than a specific way. Nevertheless, it does appear that in some form or another what is now Freemasonry or just Masonry has been known and practised from the remotest ages. H.P.B. says:
Modern Masonry is undeniably the dim and hazy reflection of primeval Occult Masonry of the teaching of those Divine Masons who established the Mysteries of prehistoric and prediluvian Temples of Initiation, raised by truly superhuman Builders.
According to the Belgian Mason, Ragon, a Francmaçon (not maçon-libre) was initiated into the ancient Mysteries. In English maçon is translated into Mason.
The following extracts speak for themselves and require no further comment.
In his Orthodoxie Maçonnique, rightly or wrongly, Ragon, an illustrious and learned Belgian Mason, reproaches the English Masons with having materialized and dishonoured Masonry, once based upon the Ancient Mysteries, by adopting, owing to a mistaken notion of the origin of the craft, the name of Freemasonry and Free Masons. The mistake is due, he says, to those who connect Masonry with the building of Solomon’s Temple, deriving its origin from it. He derides the idea, and says:
The Frenchman knew well, when he adopted the title of francmaçon [which is not maçon-libre, or freemasonry], that it was no question of building the smallest wall, but that of being initiated into the ancient Mysteries veiled under the name of Francmaçonnerie, which could only be the continuation or the renovation of the ancient mysteries; he was to become a mason after the manner of Apollo or Amphion. And do we not know that the ancient initiated poets, when speaking of the foundation of a city, meant thereby the establishment of a doctrine? Thus Neptune, the god of reasoning, and Apollo, the god of the hidden things, presented themselves as masons before Laomedon, Priam’s father, to help him to build the city of Troy – that is to say, to establish the Trojan religion. [S.D.II, 795-6]
The Mysteries were carried into South and Central America, Northern Mexico and Peru by the Atlanteans in those days when:
A pedestrian from the North [of what was once upon a time also India] might have reached – hardly wetting his feet – the Alaskan Peninsula, through Manchooria, across the future Gulf of Tartary, the Kurile and Aleutian Islands; when another traveller furnished with a canoe and starting from the South, could have walked over from Siam, crossed the Polynesian Islands and trudged into any part of the continent of South America.
They continued to exist down to the day of the Spanish invaders. These destroyed the Mexican and Peruvian records, but were prevented from laying their desecrating hands upon the many Pyramids -- the lodges of an ancient Initiation -- whose ruins are scattered over Puente Nacional, Cholula, and Teotihuacan. The ruins of Palenque, of Ococimgo in Chiapas, and others in Central America are known to all. If the pyramids and temples of Guiengola and Mitla ever betray their secrets, the present Doctrine will then be shown to have been a forerunner of the grandest truths in Nature. Meanwhile, they have all a claim to be called Mitla, “the place of sadness” and “the abode of the (desecrated) dead.” [C.W.XIV, 279-80]
Masonry was, in its origin, simply archaic Gnosticism, or early esoteric Christianity; Church Ritualism was, and is, exoteric paganism, pure and simple – remodelled, we do not say reformed. Read the works of Ragon, a Mason who forgot more than the Masons of today know. Study, collating them together, the casual but numerous statements made by Greek and Latin writers, many of whom were Initiates, most learned Neophytes and partakers of the Mysteries. Read finally the elaborate and venomous slanders of the Church Fathers against the Gnostics, the Mysteries and their Initiates – and you may end by unravelling the truth. It is a few philosophers who, driven by the political evens of the day, tracked and persecuted by the fanatical Bishops of early Christianity – who had yet neither fixed ritual nor dogmas nor Church – it is these Pagans who founded the latter. Blending most ingeniously the truths of the Wisdom-religion with the exoteric fictions so dear to the ignorant mobs, it is they who laid the first foundations of ritualistic Churches and of the Lodges of modern Masonry. The latter fact was demonstrated by Ragon in his Ante-Omniae of the modern Liturgy compared with the ancient Mysteries, and showing the rituals conducted by the early Masons; the former may be ascertained by a like comparison of the Church canonicals, the sacred vessels, and the festivals of the Latin and other Churches and Masonry have widely diverged since the days when both were one. If asked how a profane can know it, the answer comes: ancient and modern Freemasonry are an obligatory study with every Eastern Occultist. [C.W.XI, 71]
... Ten ciphers, 22 alphabetical letters, one triangle, a square and a circle. Such are the elements of the Cabala, from whose mysterious bosom sprang all the religions of the past and present; which endowed all the Free Masonic associations with their symbols and secrets, which alone can reconcile human reason with God and Faith, Power with Freedom, Science with Mystery, and which has alone the keys of the present, past and future. [C.W.I, 130-1]
Yet, if the students of the dead languages know anything, they ought to know that the method of extreme necessitarianism was practised in ancient as well as in modern Philosophy: that from the first ages of man, the fundamental truths of all that we are permitted to know on earth were in the safe keeping of the Adepts of the sanctuary; that the difference in creeds and religious practice was only external; and that those guardians of the primitive divine revelation, who had solved every problem that is within the grasp of human intellect, were bound together by a universal freemasonry of science and philosophy, which formed one unbroken chain around the globe. It is for philology and the Orientalists to endeavour to find the end of the thread. But if they will persist in seeking it in one direction only, and that the wrong one, truth and fact will never be discovered. It thus remains the duty of psychology and Theosophy to help the world to arrive at them. [C.W.XIII, 264]
The Secret Doctrine teaches us that the arts, sciences, theology, and especially the philosophy of every nation which preceded the last universally known, but not universal Deluge, has been recorded ideographically from the primitive oral records of the Fourth Race, and that these were the inheritance of the latter from the early Third Root-Race before the allegorical Fall. Hence, also, the Egyptian pillars, the tablets and even the “white Oriental porphyry stone” of the Masonic legend – which Enoch, fearing that the real and precious secrets would be lost, concealed before the Deluge in the bowels of the Earth – were simply the more or less symbolical and allegorical copies from the primitive Records. [S.D.II, 530]
They [the Cyclops] are called “Builders”, and Occultism calls them the INITIATORS, who, initiating some Pelasgians, thus laid the foundation stone of true MASONRY. [S.D.II, 345 fn]
... the substance of the Kabalah is the basis upon which masonry is built, since modern Masonry is undeniably the dim and hazy reflection of primeval Occult Masonry, of the teaching of those divine Masons who established the Mysteries of the prehistoric and prediluvian Temples of Initiation, raised by truly superhuman Builders. [C.W.XIV, 168]
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