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.
Although it is apparent that H.P.B. was well versed in the “theory” and practices of masonry but had not taken their vows, she nevertheless kept their secrets, particularly those relating to their ceremonial, very largely to herself. The information she does give us, apart from some contained in the other chapters, is of a very general and wide-ranging nature.
She raises the question of a personal God, which also comes up in what she has to say about the Kabalah. The idea of such an Entity is completely at variance with anything in Occultism or Theosophy. The very evolutionary scheme itself would prohibit the idea, simply because the entities on the ladder of life who have progressed beyond the human stage, have long since shed the limitations of a “Personality”. There is nothing left in their nature to form earthly attachments, to feel anger or be offended, and certainly praying to them would be meaningless, as far as they are concerned. In their aggregate they form what could be seen as Deity, a Divine Principle. It is to this that H.P.B. relates Universal Law, the way the Cosmos works. One gathers that it is the nature of Nature and her processes that in their several aspects are depicted in the Masonic ceremonies. This can be deduced from the Kabalah upon which it is said that Masonry is based.
H.P.B. repeatedly says that Masonry has been spoiled. It has been adulterated by spurious teaching, rites and degrees, but always she avows that that from which it stems is inviolable. The arcane Ancient Wisdom-Religion is its source, preserved intact always by the Adept Initiates of the Great Mysteries.
Some extracts feature the Compte de Cagliostro who since his death has been regarded as an impostor, but H.P.B. tells us that in his youth he lived with, and was instructed by, a man named, as is supposed, Althotas, a great Hermetic Eastern Sage, or in other words an Adept. It is not too difficult to accept the tradition that it was the latter who gave him his symbolic name. What is known with still more certainty is the extreme esteem Cagliostro was accorded in his day. Much notice is taken of him here because of his close association with, and position in, Masonry. He fell foul of the Jesuits who imprisoned him. He was, however, an Occultist and Mason which stamped him as a heretic.
Other extracts indicate a degree of degeneracy entering into the Craft.
“You are correct in saying that the Bible is the ‘great light’ of European and American Masonry. In consequence of this the theistic conception of God and the biblical cosmogony have been ever considered two of its great corner-stones. Its chronology seems also to have been based upon the same pseudo-revelation. [I.U.II, 389]
But if Masonry has been spoiled, none is able to crush the real, invisible Rosicrucian and the Eastern Initiate. The symbolism of Visvakarman and Surya-Vikartana has survived, where Hiram Abiff was indeed murdered, and we will now return to it. It is not simply an astronomical, but is the most solemn rite, an inheritance from the Archaic Mysteries that has crossed the ages and is used to this day. It typifies a whole drama of the Cycle of Life, of progressive incarnations, and of psychic as well as of physiological secrets, of which neither the Church nor Science knows anything , though it is this rite that has led the former to the greatest of its Christian Mysteries. [ ... The newest Initiate, the proud Rome of the Catacombs, has given the death-blow to her HIEROPHANT-INITIATOR, indeed – but only in Europe. Only, she has done it so too hastily! The Hierophant died, before he had been given the time to pass his would-be Successor the WORD. The sacrifice has thus proved useless and the initiation but too “incomplete”. The Hierophant of the Sapta Sindham (seven rivers) and of the SAPTARSHI (the seven great Rishis) is not killed and may have something to say to the modern Initiates of the “Seven Hills”. It is only a question of time and patience; more details will be found in “Some Reasons for Secrecy” (pp. 47-59 of C.W.XIV)], [C.W.XIV, 267-8]
For the secret of the fires of SOLUS, the spirit of which radiates in the “Blazing Star”, is a Hermetic secret which, unless a Mason studies true Theosophy, is lost to him forever. [C.W.XI, 76]
The ritualism of primitive Christianity – as now sufficiently shown – sprang from ancient Masonry. The latter was, in its turn, the offspring of the, then, almost dead Mysteries. Of these we have now a few words to say.
It is well known that throughout antiquity, besides the popular worship composed of the dead-letter forms and empty exoteric ceremonies, every nation had its secret cult known to the world as the mysteries. Strabo, one among many others, warrants for this assertion (See Geographica, lib.X, ch.iii, Sect.9). No one received admittance into them save those prepared for it by special training. The neophytes instructed in the upper temples were initiated into the final Mysteries in the crypts. These instructions were the last surviving heirloom of archaic wisdom, and it is under the guidance of high Initiates that they were enacted. We use the word “enacted” purposely; for the oral instructions low breath were given only in the crypts, in solemn silences and secrecy. During the public classes and general teachings, the lessons in cosmogony and theogony were delivered in allegorical representation, the modus operandi of the gradual evolution of Kosmos, worlds, and finally of our earth, of gods and men, all was imparted in a symbolical way. The great public performances during the festivals of the Mysteries, were witnessed by the masses and the personified truths worshipped by the multitudes – blindly. Alone the high Initiates, the Epoptae, understood their language and real meaning. All this, and so far, is well known to the world of scholars. [C.W.XI, 84-5]
The Martinists were Mystics and Theosophists who claimed to have the secret of communicating with (Elemental and Planetary) spirits of the ultramundane Spheres. Some of them were practical Occultists. [C.W.XII, 82fn]
Their sacred scribes and hierophants [of Egypt] were wanderers upon the face of the earth. Obliged ... to seek refuge among the Hermetic fraternities – known later as the Essenes – their esoteric knowledge was buried deeper than ever. [I.U.I, 16]
... the ignorant rudeness of certain critics who pronounce Cagliostro an “impostor” and his desire of engrafting Eastern Philosophy upon Western Masonry “charlatanism”. Without such a union Western Masonry is a corpse without a soul. As Yarker observes, in his Notes on the Scientific and Religious Mysteries of Antiquity [p. 157]:
“... As the Masonic fraternity is now governed, the Craft is fast becoming the paradise of the bon vivant ... the manufacturer of paltry masonic tinsel ... and the masonic ‘Emperor’ and other charlatans who make power or money out of the aristocratic pretensions which they have tacked on to our institutions – ad captandum vulgus ...” [C.W.I, 310]
... Cagliostro [is] even today accused of having served the Jesuits as their spy; and this by Masons who ought to be the last to bring such a charge against a learned Brother who was persecuted by the Vatican even more as a Mason than as an Occultist. [C.W.XII, 80]
In the Occult phraseology of certain Occultists “Father, son and Angels” stood for the compound symbol of physical, and astro-Spiritual Man. John G. Gichtel (end of xviith cent.), the ardent lover of Böhme, the Seer of whom de Saint-Martin relates that he was married “to the heavenly Sophia”, the Divine Wisdom – made use of this term. Therefore, it is easy to see what Cagliostro meant by proving to the Philalethes on the testimony of their “senses,” “God, man and the intermediary Spiritual beings,” that exist between God (Atma), and Man (the Ego). Nor is it more difficult to understand his true meaning when he reproaches the Brethren in his parting letter which says: “We have offered you the truth; you have disdained it. We have offered it for the sake of itself, and you have refused it in consequence of a love of forms ... Can you elevate yourselves to (your) God and the knowledge of yourselves by the assistance of a Secretary and a Convocation?” etc. [C.W.XII, 83-4]
The statement on the authority of Beswick that Cagliostro was connected with the Loge des Amis Réunis under the name of Count Grabiano is not proven. [C.W.XII, 84 fn]
As to the modern Knights Templar and those Masonic Lodges which now claim a direct descent from the ancient Templars, their persecution by the Church was a farce from the beginning. They have not, nor have they ever had any secrets, dangerous to the Church. Quite the contrary; for we find J.G. Findel saying that the Scottish degrees, or the Templar system, only dates from 1735-1740, and “following its Catholic tendency, took up its chief residence in the Jesuit College of Clermont, in Paris, and hence was called the Clermont system.” The present Swedish system has also something of the Templar element in it, but free from Jesuits and interference with politics; however,, it asserts that it has Molay’s Testament in the original, for a Count Beaujeu, a nephew of Molay, never heard of elsewhere – says Findel – transplanted Templarism into Freemasonry, and thus procured for his uncle’s ashes a mysterious sepulchre. It is sufficient to prove this a Masonic fable that on this pretended monument the day of Molay’s funeral is represented as March 11, 1313, while the day of his death was March 19, 1313. This spurious production, which is neither genuine Templarism, nor genuine Freemasonry, has never taken firm root in Germany. But the case is otherwise in France. [I.U.II, 381]
It is but recently that a majority of the Supreme Councils of the Ancient and Accepted Rite assembled at Lausanne, justly revolting against such a blasphemous belief as that in a personal Deity, invested with all human attributes, pronounced the following words: “Freemasonry proclaims, as it has proclaimed from its origin, the existence of a creative principle, under the name of the great Architect of the universe.” Against this, a small minority has protested, urging that “belief in a creative principle is not the belief in God, which Freemasonry requires of every candidate before he can pass its very threshold.”
This confession does not sound like the rejection of a personal God. Could we have had the slightest doubt upon the subject, it would be thoroughly dispelled by the words of General Albert Pike, perhaps the greatest authority of the day, among American Masons, who raises himself most violently against this innovation. We cannot do better than quote his words:
“The Principe Createur is no new phrase – it is but an old term revived. Our adversaries, numerous and formidable, will say, and will have the right to say, that our Principe Createur is identical with the Principe Generateur of the Indians and Egyptians, and may fitly be symbolized as it was symbolized anciently, by the Lingae ... To accept this, in lieu of a personal God, is TO ABANDON CHRISTIANITY, and the worship of Jehovah, and return to wallow in the styes of Paganism.” [I.U.II, 377]
While Americans, including Masons, are now warned to prepare themselves to join the Holy Apostolic and Roman Catholic Church, we are glad to know that there are some as loyal and respected as any in Masonry who support our views. Conspicuous among them is our venerable friend, Mr. Leon Hyneman, P.M., and a member of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania. For eight or nine years he was editor of the Masonic Mirror and Keystone, and is an author of repute. He assures us personally that for over thirty years he has combated the design to erect into a Masonic dogma, belief in a personal God. In his work, Ancient York and London Grand Lodges, he says (p. 169): “Masonry, instead of unfolding professionally with the intellectual advancement of scientific knowledge and general intelligence, has departed from the original aims of the fraternity, and is apparently inclining towards a sectarian society. That is plainly to be seen ... in the persistent determination not to expunge the sectarian innovations interpolated in the Ritual ... It would appear that the Masonic fraternity of this country are as indifferent to ancient landmarks and usages of Masonry, as the Masons of the past century, under the London Grand Lodge were.” It was this conviction which prompted him, in 1856, when Jaques Etienne Marconis de Nègre, Grand Hierophant of the Rite of Memphis, came to America and tendered him the Grand Mastership of the Rite in the United States, and the Ancient and Accepted Rite offered him an Honorary 33d – to refuse both. [I.U.II, 379]
John Yarker, Junior, of England; Past Grand Warden of the Grand Lodge of Greece; Grand Master of the Rite of Swedenborg; also Grand Master of the Ancient and Primitive Rite of Masonry, and Heaven only knows what else, says that Masonry could lose nothing by “the adoption of a higher (not pecuniary) standard of membership and morality, with exclusion from the ‘purple’ of all who inculcate frauds, sham, historical degrees, and other immoral abuses (page 158). [I.U.II, 376]
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