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Masonic Beliefs and Practices

 

Initiation Into the Lodge

(1) The Symbolism of the Lodge

As the candidate "progresses through the ceremonies he learns that at the building of King Solomon's Temple at Jerusalem the skilled masons were divided into two classes, Apprentices and Fellows; that they were presided over by three Grand masters (King Solomon, Hiram King of Tyre, and Hiram Abiff) who shared certain secrets known only to them; that these secrets were lost by the murder of Hiram Abiff - a result of his refusal to divulge the secrets - and that certain substituted secrets were adopted 'until time or circumstance should restore the former'. The implication in the ritual is that Freemasonry was already established in Solomon's time and has continued as an unchanged system since them. The ritual, however, as the candidate quickly realizes, is not literal or historical truth but a dramatic allegory by means of which the principles and tenets of the Craft are handed down."
- John Hamill, The Craft, A History of English Freemasonry

"While there probably are some actual stone-workers who are Masons, Masonry does not teach is membership the literal techniques of stonework. Rather, it takes the actual 'operative' work of Medieval Masons and uses it as an allegory for moral development. Thus, the symbols of Masonry are the common tools that were used by medieval stonemasons: the gavel, the rule, the compass, the square, the level, etc. Each of these has a symbolic meaning in Masonry. For example, Masons are said to meet 'on the level', meaning that all Masons are brothers, regardless of social status, personal wealth, or office within the Lodge or in the world at large. Similar symbolism exists for other tools."
- Andrew Fabbro, Freemasonry FAQ Version 1.2

"The purpose of Masonry is to train a human being so that he will reconstuct, through the body of change and death which he now has, a perfect physcial body which shall not be subject to death. The plan is to build this deathless body, called by modern masons Solomon's Temple, out of material in the physical body, which is called the ruins of Solomon's Temple."
- Harold Waldwin Percival, Masonry and Its Symbols in the Light of 'Thinking and Destiny'

 

"And since sin has destroyed within us the first temple of purity and innocence, may they heavenly grace guide and assist us in rebuilding a second temple of reformation, and may the glory of this latter house be greater than the glory of the former."
- Masonic prayer

 

"The lodge as a room or hall is an oblong square, which is a half of a perfect square, and which is inside or outside the lower half of a circle. Each lodge meets in the same room, alike furnished, but the lodge working in the Apprentice degree is styled the Ground Floor, the lodge working the Fellow Craft degree is called the Middle Chamber, and the lodge working the Master degree is called the Sanctum Sanctorum, all in King Solomon's Temple."
- Harold Waldwin Percival, Masonry and Its Symbols in the Light of 'Thinking and Destiny'

 

"Q. Where were you made a Mason?
A. In the body of a Lodge, just, perfect and regular.
Q. And when?
A. When the sun was at its meridian.
Q. As in this country Freemasons' Lodges are usually held and candidates initiated at night, how do you reconcile that which at first sight appears a paradox?
A. The sun being a fixed body and the earth continually revolving about the same on its own axis and Freemasonry being a universal science, diffused throughout the hole of the inhabited globe, it necessarily follows that the sun must always be at its meridian with respect to Freemasonry."
- Masonic ritual

 

"Freemasons today claim always to meet symbolically at noon on the basis that Freemasonry is a worldwide organisation and therefore 'the sun is always at its meridian with respect to Freemasonry'. Masonic reference to God as 'the most high' is therefore a description of Re, the sun god in his ultimate position, the zenith of the heavens at noon.
- Christopher Knight & Robert Lomas, The Hiram Key: Pharaohs, Freemasons and the Discovery of the Secret Scrolls of Jesus

 


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(2) First Degree - Entered Apprentice Freemason

The working tools of an Entered Apprentice are the gauge and the mallet.

"When the Candidate is first admitted into a Masonic Lodge his condition as an Entered Apprentice is represented by the Rough Ashlar, the first of a set of three symbols which the Craft calls the Three Immovable Jewels. An ashlar is a building stone; a rough ashlar is a stone which has not yet been shaped into the form required by ts place in the structure."
Freemasonry - A Journey through Ritual and Symbol

 

"...The perfect ashler is also a stone, made ready by the working-tools of the fellow craft, to be adjusted in the building; and the trestle-board is for the master workman to draw his plans and designs upon."
- Duncan's Masonic Ritual and Monitor or Guide to the Three Symbolic Degrees of the Ancient York Rite

 

"The material which makes up the First Degree encourages the Candidate to take such a deep look at himself and the workings of his psyche, and it is for this reason that one must ask to become a Mason. No one should b persuaded to assume that sort of responsibility until he feels he is ready for it."
- W. K. Kirk MacNulty, Freemasonry - A Journey through Ritual and Symbol

The initiation to the first degree begins when the candidate is brought before the entrance to the temple and the guard hits the door with the hilt of his sword.

"I was hoodwinked (that is, blindfolded) and dressed in loose-fitting white trousers and top. One foot was in a simple slipper (the expression for this is 'slipshod'), my left leg was exposed to the knee, and the left breast of the tunic had been drawn aside so that my chest was bared on that side. Unbeknown to me a hangman's noose had been put around my neck and draped down my back. I had been relieved of all metal objects and I was not ready to be lead into the Temple. (We later learnt that this mode of dress, the rough smock with the running noose about the neck, was exactly how a medieval heretic would have been treated by the Inquisition prior to making his confession.)"
- Christopher Knight and Robert Lomas, The Hiram Key: Pharaohs, Freemasons and the Discovery of the Secret Scrolls of Jesus

The candidate is questioned with a knife blade pressed to his throat about his eligibility and whether his motives in joining are worthy. After a short prayer, the candidate is lead three times around the perimeter, pausing on each lap to be introduced as a "poor candidate in a state of darkness". In the coronation of an Egyptian pharaoh, too, the new king is conducted around the Temple to show himself worthy . The candidate is then brought before the Worshipful Master's pedestal:

 

"Q. How were you prepared?
A. By being divested of all metals, neither naked nor clothed, barefoot nor shod, hoodwinked, with a cable-tow around my neck; in which condition I was conducted to the door of a Lodge by a friend, whom I afterward found to be a brother.
Q. How did you know it to be a door, being hoodwinked?
A. By first meeting with resistance, afterward gaining admission
Q. How gained you admission?
A. By three distinct knocks.
Q. What were said to you from within?
A. Who comes here?
Q. Your answer?
A. Mr -----. who has long been in darkness, and now seeks to be brought to light, and to receive a part in the rights and benefits of this worshipful Lodge, erected to God, and dedicated to the holy Sts. John [John the Baptist and John the Evangelist], as all brothers and fellows have done before."
- Duncan's Masonic Ritual and Monitor or Guide t

o the Three Symbolic Degrees of the Ancient York Rite

 

The abbreviated modern version goes:

Q. Having been in a state of darkness, what is the predominant wish of your heart?
The answer is whispered into the candidate's ear.
A. Light.
Q. Then let that blessing be restored.

 

The blindfold is removed and the "lights" of Freemasonry revealed - the Volume of the Sacred Law (the Bible), the Square and the Compass. The secret signs, grips and password of the first degree are explained, as well as the meaning of Boaz, the left-hand pillar in the Porchway of Solomon's Temple. The candidate is then presented with a white lambskin apron "more ancient than the Golden Fleece or Roman Eagle". Throughout the ceremony Apprentice is taught moral virtues based on architectural analogies. At the conclusion, as in each degree, is a celebratory dinner with much toasting, speeches and singing.


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(3) Second Degree - Fellowcraft Mason

The working tools of a Fellow Craft are the plumb, the square and the level. The candidate is admitted to the Temple in the same garb as he wore during the First Degree. He then has to recite memorized answers to a series of questions, including:

 

Q. What is Freemasonry?
A. A peculiar system of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols.
Q. What are the three grand principles upon which Freemasonry is founded?
A. Brotherly love, relief and truth.
- Masonic ritual

 

"In the Second Degree ceremony the candidate is asked, 'What are the peculiar objects of research in this degree?' The answer he is required to give is: 'The hidden mysteries of nature and science.' On completion of the making of the new Fellow Craft he is told: 'You are now expected to make the liberal arts and sciences your future study'."
- Christopher Knight & Robert Lomas, The Hiram Key: Pharaohs, Freemasons and the Discovery of the Secret Scrolls of Jesus

Again the candidate is conducted around the Temple, new signs and passwords revealed, and a white apron with two rosettes. This time he learns the meaning of the right hand pillar of Solomon's Temple, "Jachin" and is permitted to extend his "researches into the hidden mysteries of science and nature".

"The Second or 'Fellowcraft' Degree of Freemasonry gives very little knowledge to the candidate but it does introduce the idea of 'hidden mysteries of nature and science' and makes a clear reference to what is called the 'Galilean Heresy'."
- Christopher Knight & Robert Lomas, The Hiram Key: Pharaohs, Freemasons and the Discovery of the Secret Scrolls of Jesus


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(4) The Third Degree - Master Mason

The working tool of a Master Mason is the trowel, which spreads the cement and completes the work of the Entered Apprentice and Fellow Craft.
The candidate first must pass a series of test question before he is given a password to enter the temple which is in total darkness. The ceremony begins with a brief review of the other degrees and the candidate is told:
"But the Third Degree is the cement of the whole; it is calculated to bind men together by mystic points of fellowship, as in a bond of fraternal affection and brotherly love; it points to the darkness of death and to the obscurity of the grave as a forerunner of a more brilliant light, which shall follow at the resurrection of the just, when these mortal bodies which have been long slumbering in the dust shall be awakened, reunited with their kindred spirit, and clothed with immortality..."
- Graham Hancock, The Sign and the Seal

"The candidate after this is prepared, blindfolded and tied with cable-tow around his waist, enters the lodge. He is received on both points of the compass, pressed against his breast."
- Harold Waldwin Percival, Masonry and Its Symbols in the Light of 'Thinking and Destiny'

After a prayer and a ceremony resembling the first two degrees, the Worshipful Master tells the story of Master Hiram Abiff, said to have been the "principle architect" of Solomon's Temple.

 

"Wither our Master Hiram Abif had retired to pay his adoration to the Most High, as was his wonton custom, it being the hour of high twelve."
- Masonic Ritual

 

"According to Masonic tradition Hiram was murdered by three of his assistants [Jubela, Jubelo, and Jubelum] soon after he had completed the bronzework of the Temple [of Solomon]. And this event was for some reason regarded as so laden with meaning that is was commemorated in the initiation ceremonies for Master masons - in which each initiate was required to play the role of the murder victim."
- Graham Hancock, The Sign and the Seal

Refusing to divulge the secrets of his craft, Hiram receives a violent blow on his forehead which drops him to his left knee. At that point in the story, the candidate receives a light blow to his temples and is pressed to the ground by two deacons to his left knee. The story where Hiram seeks to escape by the west gate and is struck with another blow. The candidate goes down on his right knee.

At the east gate, the third ruffian "struck him a violent blow full in the center of the forehead with a heavy stone maul, which laid him lifeless at his feet. Such was he manner of his death."
"In the light of the candle I saw the Worshipful Master reach forward over his pedestal with an instrument which touched my forehead and I felt many hands pulling me backwards to the floor. I was held straight and my feet were kept in place, so that I hinged backwards as I swung into the darkness. As I touched he ground a funeral shroud was immediately draped around me, so only my upper face was uncovered."
- Christopher Knight and Robert Lomas, The Hiram Key: Pharaohs, Freemasons and the Discovery of the Secret Scrolls of Jesus

"Blindfolded on the ground, the initiate hears the three murderers decide to bury him in a pile of rubble until 'low twelve' (midnight), when they will carry the body away from the Temple. To symbolize the burial of Hiram Abiff, the candidate is wrapped in a blanket and carried to the side of the room. Soon he hears a bell strike twelve times and is carried from the 'rubble' grave to a grave dug on the brow of a hill 'west of Mount Moriah' (the Temple Mount). He hears the murderers agree to mark his grave with a sprig of acacia, then set out to escape to Ethiopia across the Red Sea."
- John J. Robinson, Born in Blood

The Junior Warden attempts to raise the candidate from his "grave" using the grip of an Entered Apprentice, but fails. The Senior Warden then is told to try using the Fellowcraft grip which is equally ineffectual. Finally, the Worshipful Master himself grips the candidate tightly using the "Lion's Paw" or "Eagle's Claw" grip and pulls the candidate immediately to his feet.

"As I reached the vertical position the Worshipful Master whispered two peculiar words in my ear."
"Ma'at-neb-men-aa, Ma'at-ba-aa."
"...These words are pure Egyptian" meaning:
"Great is the established Master of Freemasonry [Ma'at], Great is the Spirit of Freemasonry [Ma'at]."
- Christopher Knight and Robert Lomas, The Hiram Key: Pharaohs, Freemasons and the Discovery of the Secret Scrolls of Jesus

Ma'at means righteousness, truth, and justice within a level and ordered symmetrical scheme and cannot be properly translated into English. Knight and Lomas have chosen "Freemasonry" as the closest equivalent meaning.

The Worshipful Master continues:

"...You will perceive that you stand on the very brink of the grave into which you have just figuratively descended, and which, when this transitory life shall have passed away, will again receive you into its cold bosom."

 

The candidate's gaze is directed down in the darkness to an open grave. Inside are a human skull on a pair of crossed thighbones. The candidate is then told:

"...Even in this perishable frame, there resides a vital and immortal principle, which inspires a holy confidence, that the Lord of Life will enable us to trample the King of Terrors beneath our feet, and lift our eyes to that bright morning star whose rising brings peace and tranquillity to the faithful and obedient of the human race."

 

The Worshipful Master indicates a small illuminated star to the east of the candidate.

"He takes the three steps to the altar where he kneels for the third time, rests his hands on the Bible, square and compass, and takes the obligation of a Master Mason. He asks for further light in Masonry. He is brought to light by the Master of the lodge, and hoodwink and cable-tow removed. Thus he sees that both points of the compass are above the square. This is a symbol that with one who has reached this degree both aspects of the Thinker are operative above feeling-and-desire because feeling-and-desire have put themselves under the guidance of the Thinker. He receives the pass and grip of a Master Mason and wears his apron as a Master Mason, that is, with the flap and all corners down."
- Harold Waldwin Percival, Masonry and Its Symbols in the Light of 'Thinking and Destiny'

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Traditions from the Ancients


(1) The Murder of Hiram Abiff

"The legend of the Master-Builder [Hiram Abiff] is the great allegory of Masonry. It happens that his figurative story is grounded on the fact of a personality mentioned in Holy Scripture, but this historical background is of the accidents and not the essence; the significance is in the allegory and not in any point of history which may lie behind it."
- A.E. Waite, New Encyclopedia of Freemasonry

The legend of Hiram Abiff is closely tied to the origins of German Templarism.

"Some of these seventeenth-century manuscripts [preserving the 'Old Charges'] do not refer to Hiram Abif, which has led some to believe that the character was an invention of this relatively recent period. However, the name Hiram Abif was only one designation for this central figure; he is also referred to as Aymon, Aymen, Amnon, A Man or Amen and sometimes Bennaim. It is said that Amen is said to be the Hebrew word for 'the trusted one' or 'the faithful one', which fits the role of Hiram Abif perfectly. But we also know that Amon or Amen is the name of the ancient creator god of Thebes, the city of Sequenere Tao II. Could there be an ancient linkage here?"
- Christopher Knight & Robert Lomas, The Hiram Key: Pharaohs, Freemasons and the Discovery of the Secret Scrolls of Jesus

"To the initiated Builder the name Hiram Abiff signifies 'My Father, the Universal Spirit, one in essence, three in aspect.' Thus the murdered Master is a type of the Cosmic Martyr - the crucified Spirit of Good, the dying god - whose Mystery is celebrated throughout the world."
"The efforts made to discover the origin of the Hiramic legend show that, while the legend in its present form is comparatively modern, its underlying principles run back to remotest antiquity. It is generally admitted by modern Masonic scholars that the story of the martyred Hiram is based upon the Egyptian rites of Osiris, whose death and resurrection figuratively portrayed the spiritual death of man and his regeneration through initiation into the Mysteries. Hiram is also identified with Hermes through the inscription on the Emerald Tablet."
- Manly P. Hall, Masonic, Hermetic, Quabbalistic & Rosicrucian Symbolical Philosophy

"According to scripture, Hiram was not an architect but a master worker in brass and bronze. He was not murdered but lived to see the temple completed and then went back to his home."
- Baigent & Leigh, The Temple and the Lodge

"The only reasonable explanation that we had come across regarding the actual name of the Masonic hero was that Hiram meant 'noble' or 'kingly' in Hebrew, while Abif has been identified as old French for 'lost one', giving a literal description of 'the king that was lost'."
- Christopher Knight & Robert Lomas, The Hiram Key: Pharaohs, Freemasons and the Discovery of the Secret Scrolls of Jesus

Knight and Lomas advance the theory that Hiram Abif was actually Sequenere Tao II, the true Egyptian king who lived at Thebes, four hundred miles south of the Hyksos capital at Avaris, near the end of Hyksos rule. Sequenere was the "new king over Egypt, that knew not Joseph", who was vizier around 1570 B.C.E. Apophis, they speculate, wanted to know the secret rites of Horus, which allowed the pharaohs in death to become Osiris and live eternally as a star. Apophis sent henchmen to extract the information from Sequenere, but he died from violent blows on the head rather than divulge anything.
The identification of Hiram Abif as Sequenere is based on the skull of the mummy, which appears to have been smashed by three sharp blows, similar to those dealt Hiram Abif. And the killers described in Masonic lore as the Juwes? Knight and Lomas suggest that they were two of Joseph's estranged brothers, Simeon and Levi, assisted by a young Thebian priest. As evidence, Knight and Lomas po

int to a mummy found alongside that of Sequenere. The unembalmed body was that of a young man who died with his genitals cut off and his face contorted in agony. Was he buried alive in punishment for his crime?

"Masonic ritual refers to Hiram Abif as the 'Son of the Widow'...In Egyptian legend the first Horus was uniquely conceived after his father's death and therefore his mother was a widow even before his conception. It seemed logical therefore that all those who thereafter became Horus, i.e. the kings of Egypt, would also describe themselves as 'Son of the Widow'." [See Isis, the Black Virgin for more information.]
- Christopher Knight & Robert Lomas, The Hiram Key: Pharaohs, Freemasons and the Discovery of the Secret Scrolls of Jesus


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(2) Symbolism from the Mysteries

"In the late 18th and early 19th centuries many Europeans, Masons among them, found their way to the Middle East, where they discovered the relics of those cultures which had practiced the Ancient Mysteries. Masons with a philosophical turn of mind recognized the similarities between their Order and the ancient traditions. The similar symbolism, some of which, like the ladder from a Temple of Mithras, is shared with Masonry, encouraged the idea of Freemasonry's direct connection with those ancient rites."

"Although there is evidence for a generic connection between the Craft and the Ancient Mysteries, there is no explanation of how the material might have been transmitted or how the tradition could remain hidden through the rigors of the Dark Ages and the probing of the Inquisition."
- W. Kirk MacNulty, Freemasonry - A Journey through Ritual and Symbol

"Masonry...conceals its secrets from all except the Adepts and Sages, or the Elect, and uses false explanations and misinterpretations of its symbols to mislead those who deserve to be misled; to conceal the Truth, which it calls Light, from them, and to draw them away from it."
- General Albert Pike, Morals and Dogma

A brief note about Albert Pike is in order. Pike (1809-91) was a Confederate brigadier general during the American Civil War who was almost single-handedly responsible for the creation of the modern form of Scottish Rite Freemasonry. Wealthy, well read and possessing an extensive library, he served as Grand Commander of the order from 1859 until his death and wrote a number of books on history, philosophy and travel, the most famous being Morals and Dogma. Outside of the perhaps half a million members of Scottish Rite Freemasonry, most masons have never read Pike's work. Pike is often criticized by fellow masons who charge that his mystical and often controversial views have provided ample ammunition for enemies of Freemasonry.

 

"'Let there be light!' - the Almighty spoke,
Refulgent streams from chaos broke,
To illume the rising earth!
Well pleas'd the Great Jehovah flood -
The Power Supreme pronounc'd it good,
And gave the planets birth!
In choral numbers Masons join,
To bless and praise this light divine."
- from "Anthem III" in William Preston's Illustrations of Masonry (1804)

 


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(3) The Architect of the Universe

"According to Professor Cornford [of the Royal College of Art], every old master painting he had investigated conformed to 'fairly straightforward geometric and/or arithmetic subdivisions of the rectangle'. There were two basic types of system - one 'was based on the account of the creation given in Plato's Timaeus, and was published by Alberti in his Ten Books on Achitecture (Florence, 1485). It proceeds by calculation as much as by construction using instruments, and it had great appeal in the High Renaissance and its aftermath, since it both dissociated art and architecture from the old, manual masonic tradition of mediaeval times, and associated them with humanist scholarship. Moreover the number system used was a kind of invocation of the divine inasmuch as the building or painting became a microcosmic rehearsal of the primal act of creation."
"The other type of system was the masonic-geometric. According to Professor Cornford, this was 'incomparably the older of the two

, indeed it seems to have been known to the Ancient Egyptians and to our own megalithic culture. It survived, often surrounded by an atmosphere of craft (if not cult) secrecy, until Alberti's time, and subsequently went into eclipse..."
- Henry Lincoln, The Holy Place

"One who would walk in the Way of the Craftsman must do one thing more. He must remember, always, that he is building a temple to God. He is building an edifice in conciousness in which he, himself, is an individual stone. In time, each human being will square his stone and place it in that temple, and when that temple is complete, God will behold God in the Mirror of Existence and there will be then, as there was at the beginning, only God."
- W. Kirk MacNulty, The Way of the Craftsman

"The ancient Mysteries did not cease to exist when Christianity became the world's most powerful religion. Great Pan did not die! Freemasonry is the proof of his survival. The pre-Christian Mysteries simply assumed the symbolism of the new faith, perpetuating through its emblems and allegories the same truths which had been the property of the wise since the beginning of the world. There is no true explanation, therefore, for Christian symbols save that which is concealed within pagan philosophy. Without the mysterious keys carried by the hierophants of the Egyptian, Brahmin, and Persian cults the gates of Wisdom cannot be opened."
- Manly P. Hall, Masonic, Hermetic, Quabbalistic & Rosicrucian Symbolical Philosophy

 

"For he (God) is the Builder and Architect of the Temple of the universe; He is the Verbum Sapienti."
- Yost, i, 411

 

"In Plato's Timaeus, there appears the earliest known equation of the Creator with the 'Architect of the Universe'. The Creator, in the Timaeus, is called 'tekton', meaning 'craftsman' or 'builder'. 'Arche-tekton' thus denoted 'master craftsman' or 'master builder'. For Plato, the 'arche-tekton' crafted the cosmos by means of geometry."
- Baigent & Leigh, The Temple and the Lodge

"Although Freemasonry require each of its Candidates to confirm his belief in God, it does not expand on the subject but leaves religion and its practice to the individual Mason. As a result, men of all religious persuasions have been able to join in the study of Freemasonry's moral and philosophical principles."
- W. Kirk MacNulty, Freemasonry - A Journey through Ritual and Symbol


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(4) Thoth and Enoch

"In ancient Egypt, the engineers, draftsmen, and masons who worked on the big architectural projects were accorded a special status. They were organized into elite guilds..."
"Evidence of the existence of these special guilds was uncovered by archaeologist Petrie during his expeditions to the Libyan desert in 1888 and 1889. In the ruins of a city built around 300 BC, Dr. Petrie's expedition uncovered a number of papyrus records. One set described a guild that held secret meetings around the year 2000 BC. The guild met to discuss working hours, wages, and rules for daily labor. It convened in a chapel and provided relief to widows, orphans, and workers in distress. The organizational duties described in the papyri are very similar to those of 'Warden' and 'Master' in a modern branch of...Freemasonry.
- William Bramley, The Gods of Eden

 

"I am the great God in the divine boat...I am a simple priest in the underworld anointing in Abydos, elevating to higher degrees of initiation...I am Grand Master of the craftsmen who set up the sacred arch for a support."
- Thoth to Osiris, The Egyptian Book of the Dead

 

"According to a very old Masonic tradition, the Egyptian god Thoth "had played a major part in preserving knowledge of the mason craft and transmitting it to mankind after the flood...."
- David Stevenson, The Origins of Freemasonry

"...The author of a well researched academic study [The Origins of Freemasonry]...went so far as to say that, in their early days, the Masons had regarded Thoth as their patron."

"...The Book of Enoch has always been of great significance to Freemasons, and...certain rituals dating back to long before Bruce's time [1730-1794] identified Enoch himself with Thoth, the Egyptian god of wisdom." In the Royal Masonic Cyclopaedia is an entry 'that Enoch was the inventor of writing', 'that he taught men the art of building', and that, before the flood, he 'feared that the real secrets would be lost - to prevent which he concealed the grand Secret, engraven on a white oriental porphyry stone, in the bowels of the earth'."
- Graham Hancock, The Sign and the Seal

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Masonic Ceremonies and Regalia


(1) Ceremonial Aprons

"Egyptian hieroglyphics depict their extraterrestrial 'gods' wearing aprons. The priests of ancient Egypt wore similar aprons as a sign of their allegiance to the 'gods' and as a badge of their authority."
- William Bramley, The Gods of Eden

Egyptian "priests were not permitted to wear wool, since wool came from animals, and animals obviously were unclean. They wore only fine linen, stored in special rooms of the temples and cared for by other priests whose function it was to assure their cleanliness."
- Bob Brier, Ancient Egyptian Magic

"The earliest ceremonial aprons appear to have been simple and unadorned. As time went on, mystical symbols and other decorations were added. Perhaps the most significant change to the apron occurred during the reign of the powerful Canaanite priest-king, Melchizedek, who had achieved a very high status in the Bible. Melchizedek presided over an elite branch...the Melchizedek Priesthood. Beginning around the year 2200 BC, the Melchizedek Priesthood began to make its ceremonial aprons out of white lambskin. White lambskin was eventually adopted by the Freemasons who have used it for their aprons ever since."
- William Bramley, The Gods of Eden

 

The Worshipful Master "presented me with a lambskin or white linen apron which he informed me was an emblem of innocence and the badge of a Mason; that it had bee worn by kings, princes, and potentates of the earth; that it was more ancient than the Golden Fleece or Roman Eagle; more honorable than the Star or Garter, or any other order that could be conferred on me at that or any time thereafter by king, prince, potentate, or any other person, except be he a Mason..."
- Duncan's Masonic Ritual and Monitor or Guide to the Three Symbolic Degrees of the Ancient York Rite

 

"In ancient Masonry, the Masonic apron was an untrimmed white lambskin tied around the waist. This lambskin has been proclaimed by Masonry to be a badge of innocence and purity..."
"The Templar Rule forbade any personal decoration except sheepskin, and further required that the Templar wear a sheepskin girdle about his waist at all times as a reminder of his now of chastity, a context within which purity and innocence are vital..."

- W. K. Kirk MacNulty, Freemasonry - A Journey through Ritual and Symbol


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(2) The York Rite

The York Rite, like the Scottish Rite, is an appendant body of Masonry, and confers degrees beyond the Blue Lodge's three degrees. It consists of nine degrees additional degrees: Mark Master, Past Master, Most Excellent Master, and Royal Arch Mason; the Cryptic Degrees of the Royal Master, Select Master, and Super Excellent Master; and the Chivalric Orders of the Order of the Red Cross, Order of the Knights of Malta and the Order of Knights Templar.

"The Temple degrees, which comprise the top degrees of the York Rite are specifically Christian. Or at least, it can be stated that the oath is: in some Grand Lodges in the US and abroad, one need not be a Christian, but rather only be willing to take a Christian OATH. The difference here is that there are some who would willingly swear to defend the Christian faith on the grounds that they would defend any man's faith. The Chapter (or Royal Arch) and Council Of Royal And Select Masters (Cryptic Rite), which comprise the first two sections of the York Rite, are not specifically Christian."
- Andrew Fabbro, Freemasonry FAQ Version 1.2

"The York Rite Mason progresses through a series of degrees that culminate in his being made a Masonic Knight Templar. The York Rite Templar commanderies in the United states alone claim over a quarter of a million members. They maintain a national foundation for research into eye diseases of children; and fund cataract surgery for the financially disabled." -
John J. Robinson, Dungeon, Fire and Sword (1991)


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(3) Royal Arch

"The Master Mason who wants to be 'exalted to the Supreme Order of the Holy Royal Arch' must fist prove himself by answering the text questions of the Craft Third Degree before he is given a grip and a password (the meaning of which is 'my people having obtained mercy') to allow him to enter. The candidate wears his Master Mason's apron and is blindfolded with a length of rope tied about his waist."
- Christopher Knight and Robert Lomas, The Hiram Key: Pharaohs, Freemasons and the Discovery of the Secret Scrolls of Jesus

In the ritual of the Royal Arch, or Seventh Degree, the candidate re-enacts the excavation of the first temple of Solomon. In the first part of the ceremony he must search in darkness until he finds a vellum scroll. The candidate is then readmitted with two other Companions playing the parts of the three Master Masons of Babylon: Shadrach, Meshech and Abednego.

"As they enter they take part in a ceremony known as Passing the Veils, which represents a Priest of the Temple approaching the Holy of Holies of the Temple of Solomon."
- Christopher Knight and Robert Lomas, The Hiram Key: Pharaohs, Freemasons and the Discovery of the Secret Scrolls of Jesus

The three sojourners, freed from captivity in Babylon, offer their services to Zerubbabel to help rebuild the Temple at Jerusalem. They are assigned the lowly job of repairing the foundation.

"The whole narrative is told as though those conducting the excavation were Jews from Babylon digging in the ruins of the first Temple, but we believe it is actually describing the discoveries of the Knights Templar at the site of the last Temple. It can only refer to the ruins of Herod's Temple because the type of arch described in the ceremony is an arrangement of stones supporting each other in compression to form a curved load-bearing structure which was unknown at the time of Zerubbabel. The curved arch employed wedge-shaped, precisely cut stones requiring little or no mortar, and since it is that type of arch with three keystones which plays such a prominent part of the Royal Arch ceremony, it is absolutely certain that the setting of the story re-enacted in the ritual is Herod's Temple, which was constructed using Roman engineering principles."
- Christopher Knight and Robert Lomas, The Hiram Key: Pharaohs, Freemasons and the Discovery of the Secret Scrolls of Jesus

In the next part of the ceremony, the three masons return and discover the keystone of the principal arch of King Solomon's Temple and the master's jewels. The account continues as they are questioned by the First Principal:

"A. We repaired to the place as before, which I descended as before. The sun shone forth with such redoubled splendor that I was enabled to descend; in the eastern-most part thereof was a trunk of curious form, overlaid with gold, having on the top and sides certain mysterious characters; availing myself of this I gave the signal and ascended; on arriving at the top of the arch I found my hands involuntarily placed in this position to guard my eyes from the intense light and heat that arose therefrom above; with the trunk we repaired to the Grand Council.
Q. What was their opinion of the trunk?
A. That it was the Ark of the Covenant.
Q. What were its contents?
A. A pot, a rod, and a book.
Q. What was their opinion of the pot?
A. That it was the pot of manna, which Moses by divine command, laid up in the side of the ark as a memorial of the miraculous manner in which the children of Israel were supplied with

 that article of food for forty years in the wilderness.
Q. What was their opinion of the rod?
A. That it was Aaron's rod, that budded and blossomed, and bore fruit in a day, which Moses also, by divine command, laid in the side of the ark as a testimony, to be kept for a token.
Q. What was their opinion of the book?
A. That it was the book of the law in which it was written, I am the Lord, I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac and Jacob by the name of God Almighty, but by my great and sacred name was I not know unto them.
Q. What does it contain?
A. A key to the mysterious characters upon its top and sides, by which they found those upon its sides to be the initials of our three ancient Grand Masters, S. K. of I. [Solomon, king of Israel], H. K. of T [Hiram, king of Tyre], and H. Abiff. Those upon its top, the Grand Omnific or Royal Arch word, which we as Royal Arch Masons should never give except in the pre

sence of three Royal Arch Masons, we first agreeing by three times three, and under a living arch."
- Duncan's Masonic Ritual and Monitor or Guide to the Three Symbolic Degrees of the Ancient York Rite

"By this time the sun had attained its greatest altitude, and shining in al its splendor, darted its rays immediately into the aperture, which enabled me to distinguish those objects I had before but imperfectly discovered. In the center of the vault I saw a pedestal of pure virgin marble, with certain mystic characters engraven thereon, and a veil covering the upper face of the altar. Approaching with reverential awe, I lifted the veil, and beheld what I humbly supposed to be the sacred word itself."
- Masonic ritual quoted in Christopher Knight and Robert Lomas, The Hiram Key: Pharaohs, Freemasons and the Discovery of the Secret Scrolls of Jesus

 

The meaning of the sacred word is revealed later in the ceremony. Making a "living arch", three masons grasp each other's left wrist at waist level and their right wrist over their heads. They then intone:

"As we three did agree,
In peace, love, and unity,
The Sacred Word to keep,
So we three do agree,
In peace, love, and unity,
The sacred Word to search;
Until we three,
Or three such as we, shall agree
To close this Royal Arch." "They then balance three times three, bringing the right hand with some violence down upon the left. The right hands are then raised above their heads, and the words, Jah-buh-lun, Jeho-vah, G-o-d, are given at low breath, each companion pronouncing the syllables or letters alternately..."
- Duncan's Masonic Ritual and Monitor or Guide to the Three Symbolic Degrees of the Ancient York Rite

 

"In the ritual of exaltation, the name of the great Architect of the Universe is revealed as JAH-BUL-ON....Each syllable of the 'ineffable name' represents one personality of this Trinity:
JAH = Jahweh, the God of the Hebrews
BUL = Ba'al, the ancient Canaanite fertility god associated with 'licentious rites of imitative magic'
ON = Osiris, the Ancient Egyptian god of the underworld"

"...During the years between 1723 and 1813 the invocation of the name of Christ in the endings of prayers gradually died out. In masonic quotations of scripture the name of Christ came very pointedly to be deleted from the text."
"It is perhaps because the Freemasonic God, as revealed to Royal Arch Masons, is so far from being 'that Religion to which all men agree' that it was determined that Holy Royal Arch workings should not be conducted in Lodges but separately in 'Chapters' under the control of a Grand Chapter and not of Grand Lodge."
- Stephen Knight, The Brotherhood

Knight's analysis is only partly correct and his conclusion is almost certainly off the mark.

"...The assumption that Jahbulon means Jehovah [Yahweh], Ba'al, and Osiris is itself pure conjecture. No one knows for certain what it means, or even how the name was originally pronounced before it underwent changes from centuries of strictly verbal communication."
- John J. Robinson, Born in Blood

In the initiation ceremony, the candidate is told:

"It is a compound word and its combinations form the word Jah-Bul-On. Jah the first part, is the Chaldean [Sumerian] name of God and signifies his essence and majesty incomprehensible; it is also a Hebrew word signifying 'I am' and 'shall be', thereby expressing the actual, future and eternal existence of the Most High. Bul is an Assyrian word, signifying Lord or Powerful, it is itself a compound word signifying in or on; and Bul signifying Heaven on High, therefore this word means Lord in Heaven or on High. On is an Egyptian word, signifying Father of All, and is also a Hebrew word implying strength or power, and expressive of the omnipotence of the Father of all. All the significations of these words may, therefore, be thus collected: - I am and shall be; Lord in Heaven; Father of all."
- Masonic ritual quoted in Christopher Knight and Robert Lomas, The Hiram Key: Pharaohs, Freemasons and the Discovery of the Secret Scrolls of Jesus

 

"The first part, 'Jah', is the Hebrew word for their god, very probably with a Sumerian connection. It can be seen in this form in the name of the prophet Elijah, which is actually Eli-jah, meaning 'Yahweh is my god' (El being the ancient word for a god)."
- Christopher Knight and Robert Lomas, The Hiram Key: Pharaohs, Freemasons and the Discovery of the Secret Scrolls of Jesus

"Simply, Ba'al is a Hebrew word that means lord or master. Numerous deities were addressed by that title in the Middle East, but their names have not come down to us." It is an honorific title "that is still used by the Jewish faith. For example, one who can work miracles in the name of God is known as a Ba'al shem, the lord (or master) of the Name."
- John J. Robinson, Born in Blood

On is also the Hebrew word for "one". Jah-Baal-On could thus be interpreted to mean "Yaweh, the one Lord over all" which would be very much in keeping with the Christian nature of the Royal Arch rites. Most students of Masonic lore, however, prefer to place the origin of On in ancient Egypt.

"1. JAH. This name of God is found in the 68th Psalm, v. 4. [Yahweh]
2. BAAL or BEL. This word signifies a lord, master, or possessor, and hence it was applied by many of the nations of the East to denote the Lord of all things, and the Master of the world.
3. ON. This was the name by which JEHOVAH was worshipped among the Egyptians."
- Duncan's Masonic Ritual and Monitor or Guide to the Three Symbolic Degrees of the Ancient York Rite

"During dynastic Egypt Ra's [the god of the sun during dynastic Egypt] cult center was Annu (Hebrew 'On', Greek 'Heliopolis', modern-day 'Cairo')."
- Shawn C. Knight (),"Egyptian Mythology FAQ"

"ON is but another name for the [Egyptian] god Amen...and...in Revelation 1:8, in the original, inspired text of this verse, the Greek word Christ used was 'On' - the 'existing one'."
- Brad Steiger, Worlds Before Our Own

"My feeling is that 'Jah-Baal-On' was simply the names of the three great gods, of the Jews, the Canaanites and the Egyptians , all of whom were referred to as the 'Most High'."
- Christopher Knight and Robert Lomas, The Hiram Key: Pharaohs, Freemasons and the Discovery of the Secret Scrolls of Jesus

"Today about one in five Freemasons are Royal Arch 'Companions', these constituting a more fervent, more indoctrinated, closer-knit inner circle."
- Stephen Knight, The Brotherhood

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Masonry Today


"History will show that Freemasonry has always been outlawed under totalitarian regimes. As an aside; some 200,000 Masons perished in the Nazi holocaust. Both the Church of England and the Baptist Church have recently completed studies of the Craft and have decided that it is eccentric but not dangerous."
- InterNews 1.0@wolfe.wimsey.com.

"The old English Masonic model involving three degrees of membership still exists, and many Masons stop at the third degree, that of master mason. Others, however, go through a ceremony called the royal arch, which admits them to a spectrum of higher degrees. The Ancient and Accepted Rite of Masonry is a system of thirty-three degrees that offer such titles as perfect master, prince of Jerusalem, grand pontiff, chief of the tabernacle, commander of the temple, grand elected knight kadosh, grand inspector inquisitor commander, and sublime prince of the royal secret. And the Ancient and Accepted Rite is but one of a staggering array of rites and orders."
- Ancient Wisdom and Secret Sects

"The 'Masters', who form the largest proportion of Freemasons, are in most cases quite unaware of the thirty superior degrees to which they will never be admitted, nor even hear mentioned. This is the real picture, with the three lowly [Craft] degrees governed by a Grand Lodge and the thirty higher degrees governed by a Supreme Council."
"Although Craft Freemasonry is worldwide...it has no international organization. The Ancient and Accepted Rite of the Thirty-Third Degree is the only cohesive masonic group run on truly international lines. The Supreme Council in London is one of many Supreme Councils in various parts of the globe, of which the senior is the Supreme Council of Charleston, USA, which effectively operates a worldwide network of Freemasons in the most powerful positions in the executive, legislature, judiciary and armed forces as well as the industry, commerce and professions of many nations."
- Stephen Knight, The Brotherhood

"The Grand Orient of France is considered a clandestine body by many Grand Lodges due to a major revision of the Constitution of Freemasonry. The Grand Orient of France removed the requirement for belief in a Supreme Being and for belief in the immortality of the soul in 1877. This was done on the basis of Freemasonry's lack of status as a religion. 'Whereas Freemasonry is not a religion and has therefore no doctrine or dogma to affirm in its Constitution...' This caused considerable uproar in England, whose Grand Lodge came to the conclusion that the Grand Orient's actions were in violation of the Landmarks of Freemasonry. Visitors from France could not be received in English Lodges unless they could prove that they were initiated within a Lodge the professed belief in the G.A.O.T.U. Masonic communication between the Grand Lodge of England and the Grand Orient of France ground to a screeching halt.

"The Grand Orient of France permitted the Rite of Memphis and Mizraim to govern Initiation, Passing and Raising under its own authority. Today, Craft Lodges function entirely under the authourity and legislation of the regional Grand Lodges. These Grand Lodges are extremely wary of organizations claiming to make Masons while operating in their regions. Seeing as M&M had the capacity to do exactly this as it functioned under the Grand Orient of France, and understanding the questionable status of said Grand Orient, many Grand Lodges treat it as irregular and are very cautious about the Rite of Memphis and Mizraim."
- Jody Lemoine (jody@xteam.com)

"There are also a number of social organizations that draw their membership from Masonry without actually being connected with it. In the United States, the most visible of these is the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine - better known as the Shriners - which admits only those who are at least thirty-second-degree Masons."
"Founded in New York in the 1870s, the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine was created mainly by American actor William Florence. While touring France, Forence attended a party given by an Arabian diplomat and became fascinated by Eastern rituals."
- Ancient Wisdom and Secret Sects

"Members of the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles the Mystic Shrine for North America (AASONM is an anagram for A MASON) are members of the Scottish Rite's 32nd degree, and/or Knights Templer of the York Rite. The Shrine is most noted for its emphasis on philanthropy and its jolly outlook on life-- it has been called 'the playground of Masonry'. This is expressed as 'Pleasure without intemperance, hospitality without rudeness, and jollity without coarseness'."
- Andrew Fabbro, Freemasonry FAQ Version 1.2

"The Shrine is the wealthiest 'charity' in America. Its assets for 1984 were estimated by the internal Revenue Service at $1.979 billion. That's almost twice as much as the second richest charity, the American Red Cross, with assets of $1.07 billion, and four times as much as the American Cancer Society which takes third place, with $446.8 million in assets."
"...The Shrine spent only 29.8 percent of its 1984 income on its program services, compared with 84 percent by the American Red Cross, 67.2 percent by the American Cancer Society, 70.6 percent by the American Heart Association and 73 percent by National Easter Seals. In fact, no other charity in the top fourteen listed by the IRS gave less than 57 percent of their total income to their program services - almost twice as much as the Shrine."
- William T. Still, New World Order