TRACES OF THE MYSTERIES
Says the Royal Masonic Cyclopaedia, art. “Sun:”
In all times, the sun has necessarily played an important part as a symbol, and especially in Freemasonry. The W.M. represents the rising sun, the J.W. the sun at the meridian, and the S.W. the setting sun. In the Druidical rites, the Arch-Druid represented the sun, and was aided by two other officers, one representing the moon in the West, and the other the sun at the South in its meridian. It is quite unnecessary to enter into any lengthened discussion on this symbol.
It is the more “unnecessary” since J.M. Ragon has discussed it very fully, as one may find at the end of [the article] “Trial of the Sun Initiate”, where part of his explanations have been quoted. Freemasonry derived her rites from the East, as we have said. And if it be true to say of the modern Rosicrucians that “they are invested with a knowledge of chaos, not perhaps a very desirable acquisition,” the remark is still more true when applied to all the other branches of Masonry, since the knowledge of their members about the full signification of their symbols is nil. Dozens of hypotheses are resorted to, one more unlikely than the other, as to the “Round Towers” of Ireland; one fact is enough to show the ignorance of the Masons, namely, that, according to the Royal Masonic Cyclopaedia, the idea that they are connected with Masonic Initiation, may be at once dismissed as unworthy of notice. The “Towers,” which are found throughout the East in Asia, were connected with the Mystery-Initiations, namely, with the Viœvakarman and the Vikartana rites. The candidates for Initiation were placed in them for three days and three nights, wherever there was no temple with a subterranean crypt close at hand. These round towers were built for no other purposes. Discredited as are all such monuments of Pagan origin by the Christian clergy, who thus “soil their own nest,” they are still the living and indestructible relics of the Wisdom of old. Nothing exists in this objective and illusive world of ours that cannot be made to serve two purposes—a good and a bad one. Thus in later ages, the Initiates of the Left Path and the anthropomorphists took in hand most of those venerable ruins, then silent and deserted by their first wise inmates, and turned them indeed into phallic monuments. But this was a deliberate, wilful, and vicious
misinterpretation of their real meaning, a deflection from their first use. The Sun—though ever, even for the multitudes, , “the only and one King and God in Heaven,” and the , “the God of Good Counsel” of Orpheus-had in every exoteric popular religion a dual aspect which was anthropomorphised by the profane. Thus the Sun was Osiris-Typhon, Ormazd-Ahriman, Bel-Jupiter and Baal, the life-giving and the death-giving luminary. And thus one and the same monolith, pillar, pyramid, tower or temple, originally built to glorify the first principle or aspect, might become in time an idol-fane, or worse, a phallic emblem in its crude and brutal form. The Linga of the Hindus has a spiritual and highly philosophical meaning, while the missionaries see in it but an “indecent emblem”; it has just the meaning which is to be found in all those baalim, chammanim, and the bamoth with the pillars of unhewn stone of the Bible, set up for the glorification of the male Jehovah. But this does not alter the fact that the pureia of the Greeks, the nuraghes of Sardinia, the teocalli of Mexico, etc., were all in the beginning of the same character as the “Round Towers” of Ireland. They were sacred places of Initiation.
In 1877, the writer, quoting the authority and opinions of some most eminent scholars, ventured to assert that there was a great difference between the terms Chrestos and Christos, a difference having a profound and Esoteric meaning. Also that while Christos means “to live” and “to be born into a new life,” Chrestos, in “Initiation” phraseology, signified the death of the inner, lower, or personal nature in man; thus is given the key to the Brâhmanical title, the twice-born; and finally,
. . . if there were no Christians, there were Chrestians long before the era of Christianity; and the Essenes belonged to the latter.*
For this, epithets sufficiently opprobrious to characterise the writer could hardly be found. And yet then as well as now, the author never attempted a statement of such a serious
* Isis Unveiled, II, p. 323. In I Peter, ii, 3, Jesus is called “the Lord Chrestos.” [Greek version.]
nature without showing as many learned authorities for it as could be mustered. Thus on the next page it was said:
Lepsius shows that the word Nofre means Chrestos, “good,” and that one of the titles of Osiris, “Onnofre,” must be translated “the goodness of God made manifest.”* “The worship of Christ was not universal at this early date “ explains MacKenzie, “by which I mean that Christolatry had not been introduced; but the worship of Chrestos—the Good Principle-had preceded it by many centuries, and even survived the general adoption of Christianity, as shown on monuments still in existence. . . . Again, we have an inscription which is pre-Christian on an epitaphial tablet. (J. Spon’s Miscellaneous Eruditae Antiquitate, x, xviii. 2.) , and de Rossi (Roma Sotterranea, tome i, tav. xxi) gives us another example from the catacombs —’Aelia Chreste, in Pace.’”†
Today the writer is able to add to all those testimonies the corroboration of an erudite author, who proves whatever he undertakes to show on the authority of geometrical demonstration. There is a most curious passage with remarks and explanations in The Source of Measures, whose author has probably never heard of the “Mystery-God” Viúvakarman of the early Âryans. Treating on the difference between the terms Chrest and Christ, he ends by saying that:
. . . there were two Messiahs: One, as causing himself to go down into the pit, for the salvation of the world; this was the sun shorn of his golden rays, and crowned with blackened ones (symbolising this loss), as the thorns: the other was the triumphant Messiah, mounted up to the summit of the arch of heaven, personated as the Lion of the tribe of Judah. In both instances he had the cross; once in humiliation (or the son of copulation), and once holding it in his control, as the law of creation, He being Jehovah.‡
And then the author proceeds to give “the fact” that “there were two Messiahs,” etc., as quoted above. And this—leaving the divine and mystic character and claim for Jesus entirely independent of this event of His mortal life—shows Him,
* Lepsius, Königsbuch, b. 11, tal. i. dyn. t, h. p.
† Isis Unveiled, II, p. 324, quoting Royal Masonic Cyclopaedia, pp. 206 -07.
‡ The Source of Measures, p. 256.
beyond any doubt, as an Initiate of the Egyptian Mysteries, where the same rite of Death and of spiritual Resurrection for the neophyte, or the suffering Chrestos on his trial and new birth by Regeneration, was enacted—for this was a universally adopted rite.
The “pit” into which the Eastern Initiate was made to descend was, as shown before, Pâtâla, one of the seven regions of the nether world, over which ruled Vâsuki, the great “snake God.” This pit, Pâtâla, has in the Eastern Symbolism precisely the same manifold meaning as is found by Mr. J. Ralston Skinner in the Hebrew word shiac in its application to the case in hand. For it was the synonym of Scorpio—Pâtâla’s depths being “impregnated with the brightness of the new Sun” —represented by the “newly born” into the glory; and Pâtâla was and is in a sense, “a pit, a grave, the place of death, and the door of Hades or Sheol”—as, in the partially exoteric Initiations in India, the candidate had to pass through the matrix of the heifer before proceeding to Pâtâla. In its non-mystic sense it is the Antipodes—America being referred to in India as Pâtâla. But in its symbolism it meant all that, and much more. The fact alone that Vâsuki, the ruling Deity of Pâtâla, is represented in the Hindu Pantheon as the great Naga (Serpent)—who was used by the Gods and Asuras as a rope round the mountain Mandara, at the churning of the ocean for Amita, the water of immortality—connects him directly with Initiation.
For he is Śesha-Nâga also, serving as a couch for Vishnu, and upholding the seven worlds; and he is also Ananta, “the endless,” and the symbol of eternity—hence the “God of Secret Wisdom,” degraded by the Church to the rôle of the tempting Serpent, of Satan. That what is now said is correct may be verified by the evidence of even the exoteric rendering of the attributes of various Gods and Sages both in the Hindu and the Buddhist Pantheons. Two instances will suffice to show how little our best and most erudite Orientalists are capable of dealing correctly and fairly with the symbolism of Eastern nations, while remaining ignorant of the corresponding points to be found only in Occultism and the Secret Doctrine.
(1) The learned Orientalist and Tibetan traveller, Professor Emil Schlagintweit, mentions in one of his works on Tibet, a national legend to the effect that . . .
Nâgârjuna [a “mythological” personage “without any real existence,” the learned German scholar thinks] received the book Paramârtha, or according to others, the book Avatamsaka, from the Nâgas, fabulous creatures of the nature of serpents, who occupy a place among the beings superior to man, and are regarded as protectors of the law of the Buddha. To these spiritual beings Śâkyamumi is said to have taught a more philosophical religious system than to men, who were not sufficiently advanced to understand it at the time of his appearance.*
Nor are men sufficiently advanced for it now; for “the more philosophical religious system” is the Secret Doctrine, the Occult Eastern Philosophy, which is the corner-stone of all sciences rejected by the unwise builders even at this day, and more today perhaps than ever before, in the great conceit of our age. The allegory means simply that Nâgârjuna having been initiated by the “Serpents”—the Adepts, “the wise ones”—and driven out from India by the Brâhmans, who dreaded to have their Mysteries and sacerdotal Science divulged (the real cause of their hatred of Buddhism), went away to China and Tibet, were he initiated many into the truths of the hidden Mysteries taught by Gautama Buddha.
(2) The hidden symbolism of Nârada—the great Rishi and the author of some of the Rig-Vaidic hymns, who incarnated again later on during Kishna’s time—has never been understood. Yet, in connection with the Occult Sciences, Nârada, the son of Brahmâ, is one of the most prominent characters; he is directly connected in his first incarnation with the “Builders”—hence with the seven “Rectors” of the Christian Church, who “helped God in the work of creation.” This grand personification is hardly noticed by our Orientalists, who refer only to that which he is alleged to have said of Pâtâla, namely, “that it is a place of sexual and sensual gratifications.” This is thought to be amusing, and the reflection is suggested that Nârada, no doubt, “found the place delightful.” Yet this sentence simply shows him to have been an Initiate, connected directly with the Mysteries, and walking, as all the other neophytes, before and after him, had to walk, in “the pit among the thorns” in the
* Buddhism in Tibet, p. 31. [London, Trübner, 1863; also London, Susil Gupta, 1968. Paramârtha means the Prajnâ-Pâramitâ Sûtras.]
“sacrifical Chrest condition,” as the suffering victim made to descend thereinto—a mystery, truly!
Nârada is one of the seven Rishis, the “mind-born sons” of Brahmâ. The fact of his having been during his incarnation a high Initiate—he, like Orpheus, being the founder of the Mysteries— is corroborated, and made evident by his history. The Mahâbhârata states that Nârada, having frustrated the scheme formed for peopling the universe, in order to remain true to his vow of chastity, was cursed by Daksha, and sentenced to be born once more. Again, when born during Krishna’s time, he is accused of calling his father Brahmâ “a false teacher,” because the latter advised him to get married, and he refused to do so. This shows him to have been an Initiate, going against the orthodox worship and religion. It is curious to find this Rishi and leader among the “Builders” and the “Heavenly Host” as the prototype of the Christian “leader” of the same “Host”—the Archangel Mikael. Both are the male “Virgins,” and both are the only ones among their respective “Hosts” who refuse to create. Nârada is said to have dissuaded the Hari-ashvas, the five thousand sons of Daksha, begotten by him for the purpose of peopling the Earth, from producing offspring. Since then the Hari-ashvas have “dispersed themselves through the regions, and have never returned.” The Initiates are, perhaps, the incarnations of these Hari-ashvas?
It was on the seventh day, the third of his ultimate trial, that the neophyte arose, a regenerated man, who, having passed through his second spiritual birth, returned to earth a glorified and triumphant conqueror of Death, a Hierophant.
An Eastern neophyte in his Chrest condition may be seen in a certain engraving in Moor’s Hindoo Pantheon, whose author mistook another form of the crucified Sun or Vishnu, Vithobâ, for Krishna, and calls it “Kishna crucified in Space. “ The engraving is also given in Dr. Lundy’s Monumental Christianity, in which work the reverend author has collected as many proofs as his ponderous volume could hold of “Christian symbols before Christianity,” as he expresses it. Thus he shows us Kishna and Apollo as good shepherds, Kishna holding the cruciform Conch and the Chakra, and Kishna “crucified in Space,” as he calls it. Of this figure it may be truly said, as the author says of it himself:
"KRISHNA" IN SPACE
From Edward Moor The Hindoo Pantheon
Plate 98, First Ed., London 1910
. . . . . this representation I believe to be anterior to Christianity . . . . It looks like a Christian crucifix in many respects. . . . The drawing, the attitude, and the nailmarks in hands and feet, indicate a Christian origin; while the Parthian coronet of seven points, the absence of the wood and of the usual inscription, and the rays of glory above, would seem to point to some other than a Christian origin. Can it be the Victim-Man, or the Priest and Victim both in one, of the Hindu mythology, who offered himself a sacrifice before the worlds were?*
It is surely so.
Can it be Plato’s Second God who impressed himself on the universe in the form of the cross? Or is it his divine man, who would be scourged, tormented, fettered, have his eyes burnt out; and lastly . . . would be crucified?
It is all that and much more; archaic religious Philosophy was universal, and its Mysteries are as old as man. It is the eternal symbol of the personified Sun—astronomically purified —in its mystic meaning regenerated, and symbolised by all the Initiates in memory of a sinless Humanity when all were “Sons of God.” Now, mankind has become the “Son of Evil” truly. Does all this take anything away from the dignity of Christ as an ideal, or of Jesus as a divine man? Not at all. On the contrary, made to stand alone, glorified above all other “Sons of God,” He can only foment evil feelings in all those many-millioned nations who do not believe in the Christian system, provoking their hatred and leading to iniquitous wars and strifes. If, on the other hand, we place Him among a long series of “Sons of God” and Sons of divine Light, every man may then be left to choose for himself, among those many ideals, which he will choose as a God to call to his help, and worship on earth as in Heaven.
Many among those called “Saviours” were “good shepherds,” as was Krishna for one, and all of them are said to have “crushed the serpent’s head”—in other words to have conquered their sensual nature and to have mastered divine and Occult Wisdom. Apollo killed Python, a fact which exonerates him from the charge of being himself the great Dragon, Satan:
* [Monumental Christianity or the Art and Symbolism of the Primitive Church . . . by John P. Lundy. New York, J.W. Bouton, 1876, p. 173.]
Kishna slew the snake Kâlîyanâga, the Black Serpent; and the Scandinavian Thor bruised the head of the symbolical reptile with his crucifixion mace.
In Egypt every city of importance was separated from its burial place by a sacred lake. The same ceremony of judgment, as is described in The Book of the Dead—”that precious and mysterious book” (Bunsen)—as taking place in the world of Spirit, took place on earth during the burial of the mummy. Forty two judges or assessors assembled on the shore and judged the departed “Soul” according to its actions when in the body. . . . After that the priests returned within the sacred precincts and instructed the neophytes upon the probable fate of the Soul, and the solemn drama that was then taking place in the invisible realm whither the Soul had fled. The immortality of the Spirit was strongly inculcated on the neophytes by the Al-om-jah—the name of the highest Egyptian Hierophant. In the Crata Repoa* the following are described as four out of the seven degrees of Initiation.
After a preliminary trial at Thebes, where the neophyte had to pass through many probations, called the “Twelve Tortures,” he was commanded, in order that he might come out triumphant, to govern his passions and never lose for a moment the idea of his inner God or seventh Principle. Then, as a symbol of the wanderings of the unpurified Soul, he had to ascend several ladders and wander in darkness in a cave with many doors, all of which were locked. Having overcome all, he received the degree of Pastophoros, after which he became, in the second and third degrees, the Neocoris and Melanephoros. Brought into a vast subterranean chamber, thickly furnished with mummies lying in state, he was placed in presence of the coffin which contained the mutilated body of Osiris. This was the hall called the “Gates of Death,” whence the verse in Job [xxxviii, 17]:
Have the gates of death been opened unto thee?
Or hast thou seen the doors of the shadow of death?
Thus asks the “Lord,” the Hierophant, the Al-om-jah, the
* Crata Repoa oder Einweihungen in der alten geheimon Gesellschaft der Egyptischen Priester, Berlin, 1778, pp. 17-31.
Initiator of Job, alluding to this third degree of Initiation. For the Book of Job is the poem of Initiation par excellence.
When the neophyte had conquered the terrors of this trial, he was conducted to the “Hall of Spirits,” to be judged by them. Among the rules in which he was instructed, he was commanded:
Never to either desire or seek revenge; to be always ready to help a brother in danger, even unto the risk of his own life; to bury every dead body, to honour his parents above all; to respect old age, and protect those weaker than himself; and finally, to ever bear in mind the hour of death, and that of resurrection in a new and imperishable body.*
Purity and chastity were highly recommended, and adultery was threatened with death. Thus the Egyptian neophyte was made a Kistophoros. In this degree the mystery-name of IAÔ was communicated to him.
Let the reader compare the above sublime precepts with the precepts of Buddha, and the noble commandments in the “Rule of Life” for the ascetics of India, and he will understand the unity of the Secret Doctrine everywhere.
It is impossible to deny the presence of a sexual element in many religious symbols, but this fact is not in the least open to censure, once it becomes generally known that—in the religious traditions of every country—man was not born in the first “human” race from father and mother. From the bright “mind-born Sons of Brahmâ,” the Rishis, and from Adam-Kadmon with his Emanations, the Sephîrôth, down to the “parentless,” the Anupapâdaka, or the Dhyâni-Buddhas, from whom sprang the Bodhisattvas and Mânushya-Buddhas, the earthly Initiates—men— the first race of men was with every nation held as being born without father or mother. Man, the “Mânushya-Buddha,” the Manu, the “Enosh,” son of Seth, or the “Son of Man” as he is called—is born in the present way only as the consequence, the unavoidable fatality, of the law of natural evolution. Mankind—having reached the last limit, and that turning point where its spiritual nature had to make room for mere physical organization —had to “fall into matter”
* [H. Malhandrèni, Ritual of Initiations, p. 105; Venice, 1657.]
and generation. But man’s evolution and involution are cyclic. He will end as he began. Of course to our grossly material minds even the sublime symbolism of Kosmos conceived in the matrix of Space after the divine Unit had entered into and fructified it with Its holy fiat, will no doubt suggest materiality. Not so with primitive mankind. The initiatory rite in the Mysteries of the self-sacrificing Victim that dies a spiritual death to save the world from destruction—really from depopulation—was established during the Fourth Race, to commemorate an event, which, physiologically, has now become the Mystery of Mysteries among the world-problems. In the Jewish script it is Cain and the female Abel who are the sacrificed and sacrificing couple—both immolating themselves (as permutations of Adam and Eve, or the dual Jehovah) and shedding their blood “of separation and union,” for the sake of and to save mankind by inaugurating a new physiological race. Later still, when the neophyte, as already mentioned, in order to be reborn once more into his lost spiritual state, had to pass through the entrails (the womb) of a virgin heifer* killed at the moment of the rite, it involved again a mystery and one as great, for it referred to the process of birth, or rather the first entrance of man onto this earth, through Vâch—”the melodious cow who milks forth sustenance and water”—and who is the female Logos. It had also reference to the same self-sacrifice of the “divine Hermaphrodite”—of the third Root-Race—the transformation of Humanity into truly physical men, after the loss of spiritual potency. When, the fruit of evil having been tasted along with the fruit of good, there was as a result the gradual atrophy of spirituality and a strengthening of the materiality in man, then he was doomed to be born thenceforth through the present process. This is the Mystery of the Hermaphrodite, which the Ancients kept so secret and veiled. It was neither the absence of moral feeling, nor the presence of gross sensuality in them that made them imagine their Deities under a dual aspect; but rather their knowledge of the mysteries and processes
* The Âryans replaced the living cow by one made of gold, silver or any other metal, and the rite is preserved to this day, when one desires to become a Brâhman, a twice-born, in India.
of primitive Nature. The Science of Physiology was better known to them than it is to us now. It is in this that lies buried the key to the Symbolism of old, the true focus of national thought, and the strange dual-sexed images of nearly every God and Goddess in both pagan and monotheistic Pantheons.
Says Sir William Drummond in The Oedipus Judaicus:
The truths of science were the arcana of the Priests [because these truths were the foundations of religion.] *
But why should the missionaries so cruelly twit the Vaishnavas and Krishna worshippers for the supposed grossly indecent meaning of their symbols, since it is made clear beyond the slightest doubt, and by the most unprejudiced writers, that Chrestos in the pit—whether the pit be taken as meaning the grave or hell—had likewise a sexual element in it, from the very origin of the symbol.
This fact is no longer denied today. The “Brothers of the Rosy Cross” of the Middle Ages were as good Christians as any to be found in Europe, nevertheless, all their rites were based on symbols whose meaning was pre-eminently phallic and sexual. Their biographer, Hargrave Jennings, the best modern authority on Rosicrucianism, speaking of this mystic Brotherhood, describes how
The tortures and the sacrifice of Calvary, the Passion of the Cross, were, in their [the Rose-Croix’s] glorious blessed magic and triumph, the protest and appeal.
Protest—by whom? The answer is, the protest of the crucified Rose, the greatest and the most unveiled of all sexual symbols— the Yoni and Linga, the “victim” and the “murderer,” the female and male principles in Nature. Open the last work of that author, Phallicism, and see in what glowing terms he describes the sexual symbolism in that which is most sacred to the Christian:
* [See p. 124 in the new revised edition of 1866; London, Reeves & Turner.]
The flowing blood streamed from the crown, or the piercing circlet of the thorns of Hell. The Rose is feminine. Its lustrous carmine petals are guarded with thorns. The Rose is the most beautiful of flowers. The Rose is the Queen of God’s Garden (Mary, the Virgin). It is not the Rose alone which is the magical idea, or truth. But it is the “crucified rose,” or the “martyred rose” (by the grand mystic apocalyptic figure) which is the talisman, the standard, the object of adoration of all the “Sons of Wisdom” or the true Rosicrucians.*
Not of all the “Sons of Wisdom,” by any means, not even of the true Rosicrucian. For the latter would never put in such sickening relievo, in such a purely sensual and terrestrial, not to say animal light, the grandest, the noblest of Nature’s symbols. To the Rosicrucian, the “Rose” was the symbol of Nature, of the ever prolific and virgin Earth, or Isis, the mother and nourisher of man, considered as feminine and represented as a virgin woman by the Egyptian Initiates. Like every other personification of Nature and the Earth she is the sister and wife of Osiris, as the two characters answer to the personified symbol of the Earth, both she and the Sun being the progeny of the same mysterious Father, because the Earth is fecundated by the Sun —according to the earliest Mysticism—by divine insufflation. It was the pure ideal of mystic Nature that was personified in the “World Virgins,” the “Celestial Maidens,” and later on by the human Virgin, Mary, the Mother of the Saviour, the Salvator Mundi now chosen by the Christian World. And it was the the character of the Jewish maiden that was adapted by Theology to archaic Symbolism,† and not the Pagan symbol
* Op. cit., p. 141.
† In Ragon’s Orthodoxie Maçonnique, p. 105, note, we find the following statement—borrowed from Albumazar the Arabian, probably:
“The Virgin of the Magi and Chaldaeans. The Chaldaean sphere [globe] showed in its heavens a newly-born babe, called Christ and Jesus, it was placed in the arms of the Celestial Virgin. It was to this Virgin that Eratosthenes, the Alexandrian Librarian, born 276 years before our era, gave the name of Isis, mother of Horus.” This is only what Kircher gives (in Oedipus Aegypticus, Vol. II (1653), Pt. II, p. 203), quoting Albumazar: “In the first decan of the Virgin rises a maid, called Aderenosa [Ardhanârî?], that is, pure, immaculate virgin . . . sitting upon an embroidered throne nursing a boy . . . a boy . . . named Iessus . . which signifies Issa, whom they also call Christ in Greek.” (See Isis Unveiled, Vol. II, p. 491.)
that was modelled for the new occasion.
We know through Herodotus that the Mysteries were brought from India by Orpheus—a hero far anterior to both Homer and Hesiod. Very little is really known of him, and till very lately Orphic literature, and even the Argonauts, were attributed to Onomacritus, a contemporary of Pisistratus, Solon and Pythagoras—who was credited with their compilation in the present form toward the close of the sixth century B.C. or 800 years after the time of Orpheus. But we are told that in the days of Pausanias there was a sacerdotal family, who, like the Brahmans with the Vedas, had committed to memory all the Orphic Hymns, and that they were usually thus transmitted from one generation to another. By placing Orpheus so far back as 1200 B.C., official Science—so careful in her chronology to choose in each case as late a period as possible—admits that the Mysteries, or in other words Occultism dramatised, belong to a still earlier epoch than the Chaldaeans and Egyptians.
The downfall of the Mysteries in Europe may now be mentioned.