changed, and those of the summer fell in winter. It was therefore found to be necessary to make a correction of the calendar, which was done by observations taken of the heliacal rising of the dog-star Sothis, or Sinus. In their sacred calendar, however, the Egyptian priests appear to have retained the "vague" or indefinite year of three hundred and sixty days, so that the festivals of the gods illustrating the legend of Osiris might pass through all the different seasons of the year. (Wilkinson's "Ancient Egyptians," vol. ii, chapter viii.) This ignorance of the true length of the solar year produced also a similar confusion in the times of celebrating the festival of the gods in other countries, so that a festival, originally intended (for instance) to celebrate the arrival of the sun at the summer solstice, with appropriate ceremonies, might come to fall in winter, when the nature of those ceremonies had no harmony with the season. In like manner a festival, originally intended to celebrate the new birth of the sun at the winter solstice, would in process of time come to be held in the summer, and thus be in utter violation of the solar allegory. This, of course had the effect to entirely hide, or greatly obscure, the original solar allusion of these festivals, and it was probably for this reason that the Egyptian priesthood retained the "vague" year in their sacred calendar.
The neglect of the function of a year in the calendar does not appear to amount to much, but owing to this cause alone, the first of January in the time of Julius Caesar had fallen back so as to nearly coincide with the autumnal equinox. Caesar corrected the calendar, but, in order to do so, was obliged to make an extraordinary year of four hundred and forty-five days; this was called "the year of confusion." This correction made by Caesar did not prevent the recurrence of the same evil, for in process of time it was found that the seasons again began to disagree with the almanac, and the religious festivals of the Christian Church, like those of its pagan predecessor began to fall out of place. This led to the correction made by Pope Gregory, and the subsequent adoption of our present method of keeping the calendar correct. The solar allegory, when it was introduced into countries north of Egypt, and whose agriculture was not regulated by the overflow of the Nile, was modified, as we have seen, in some particulars, in order to harmonize the allegory with the climate and order of seasons which prevailed in those countries; but any want of correspondence that subsequently existed between the festivals, originally intended to celebrate the summer and winter solstices and the vernal and autumnal equinoxes, and the true time of the sun's arrival at those points, was due to an imperfect calendar, resulting from an ignorance of the length of the solar year.
Another cause which had the effect to obscure the original astronomical signification of the mythological tales of antiquity is the phenomenon known as the "precession of the equinoxes, " which has also changed the order of the seasons, so far as the same is marked by the entrance of the sun into particular constellations of the zodiac, at certain periods of the year. As, for instance, the advent of spring was anciently marked by the entrance of the sun among the stars of the con stellation Taurus, it is now marked by his appearance among the stars of the constellation Pisces. The nature of this phenomenon and the astronomical changes which it has produced will be more fully explained in the following chapter.
In our astronomical explanation of the masonic traditions, legends, and emblems, all these causes thus tending to obscure and modify the original solar allegory, will be taken into account, and the same astronomically adapted, for obvious reasons to the astronomical conditions existing in countries north of the equator at the time of the building of King Solomon's temple, and some three or four hundred years immediately before and after.
Some of the masonic emblems, however, must be referred to a period much earlier, and some to a much later date, for it must be remembered that the astronomical legends and emblems of freemasonry did not all originate at the same period of time nor among the same people. They all, however, harmonize in their allegorical method, and strictly conform to the state of the heavens, and astronomical conditions, and the order of the seasons, as well as the degree of scientific knowledge of the era and country in which they respectively originated and become incorporated into that system of symbolical instruction then already existing, and now known as masonic.
It is the intention of this work to show— 1. That the masonic tradition is but one of the numerous ancient allegories of the yearly passage of the personified Sun among the twelve constellations of the zodiac—being founded on a system of astronomical symbols and emblems employed for the purpose of teaching and illustrating the two great truths, of the being of ONE spiritual, invisible, omnipresent, and omnipotent GOD, and the immortality of the soul of man. 2. That, while these two great doctrines were also originally taught in all the ancient Mysteries, by the use of the same astronomical allegories and symbols, freemasonry alone retained its primitive truth and purity, while the others degenerated into a corrupt system of solar worship. The sun, originally intended as a symbol only of the true God, was in time confounded with the person of God himself, and thus itself worshipped as a God. In freemasonry, on the contrary, it would appear that the exact reverse of this process has taken place, for, while the idea of God as an invisible spiritual being has been reverently kept alive, on the other hand, the original symbolism and primitive category relating to the sun as an illustration and emblem of the divine nature has been lost sight of, and the true meaning and profound scientific import of the masonic tradition, legends and emblems thus almost forgotten. The Rev. Dr. Oliver, whose great learning will be disputed by none, says:
The poets, historians, and philosophers of Greece, all of whom had been initiated into the Mysteries, unite in describing the Supreme Being as ONE single, divine, and unapproachable essence, who created and governs the world. And in India the Supreme Deity is thus made to describe himself, in one of the sacred books, which has been preserved and transmitted from an unknown period: "I was even at first not any other thing; that which exists, the supreme; and afterward I am that which is; and he who must remain am I."
("Landmarks," Lecture XXI)
In the notes to this lecture of Dr. Oliver's, much valuable information on this point is also collected and condensed. The following is from the celebrated anthem of "Orpheus":
When the doors are carefully guarded to exclude the profane, I will communicate the SECRET OF SECRETS to the aspirant perfectly initiated. Attend, therefore, to my words, for I shall reveal a solemn and unexpected truth to your startled ears—a truth which will overturn all your preconceived opinions, and convey to your mind unalloyed happiness. Let your soul be elevated to the contemplation of divinity. Adore Him, for He is the governor of the world. Know that HE IS ONE—that He has no equal, and that to Him all things are indebted for their existence. He is everywhere present, though invisible, and all human thoughts are open to His inspection. (Note 27)
On the temple of Sais, in Lower Egypt, was inscribed the following sentence relating to the Deity:
"I am all that hath been, and is, and shall be, And my veil no mortal hath yet removed."
In Note 32 to the same lecture, a translation is given of an extract from the Veda, which is deemed the oldest book in the world, except certain parts of the Bible. It is a translation made in 1656 by command of the Sultan Darah of an Oupanishat, a word meaning the secret that is not to be revealed:
And what was this great mystery which was so carefully concealed in those ancient books? Like the secret of the Egyptian and Grecian Mysteries, it was nothing less than the Unity of the Godhead, under the name of Ruder, which is thus explained in another of their sacred books:
The angels have assembled themselves together in heaven before Ruder, made obeisance and asked him, "O Ruder, what art thou?" Ruder replied: " Were there any other, I would describe myself by a similitude. I always was, I always am, I always shall be. There is no other, so that I can say to you, I am like him. In this ME is the inward essence and the exterior substance of all things. I am the primitive cause of all things in the east or west, or north or south—above or below, it is I. I am all. I am older than all. I am the King of kings. My attributes are transcendent. I am Truth. I am the spirit of creation. I am the Creator. I am Almighty. I am Purity. I am the first, the middle, and the end. I am Light"
Certainly no more sublime and comprehensive description of the eternal God was ever written.
Speaking of the antiquity of the Veda, Max Muller says:
It will be difficult to settle whether the Veda is the "oldest of books," and whether some portions of the Old
Testament may not be traced back to the same or even an earlier date than the oldest hymns of the Veda. But in the Aryan world the Veda is certainly the oldest book, and its preservation amounts almost to a marvel. (See "Lecture on the Vedas," at Leeds, 1865)
Muller in the same lecture fixes the date of the Vedas at "between twelve and fifteen hundred years before the Christian era." This is over three thousand years ago.
Dr. Oliver, in Note 34 to his lectures before quoted, informs us that Zoroaster taught that
God is the first—incorruptible, eternal, unmade, invisible—most unlike everything—the leader or author of all good—unbribable—the best of the good—the wisest of the wise.
With all this evidence before him, and actually quoted in his writings, Dr. Oliver, strange as it may appear, is in the constant habit, in his works, of branding without distinction all the ancient Mysteries as "spurious freemasonry," an epithet which he invented, and which has been adopted by a few others. But, if the sublime views of God above quoted are "spurious," where shall we look for the genuine ones, for those taught in freemasonry today are the same?
Late discoveries make the fact, that the unity of God was taught in the ancient Egyptian Mysteries, beyond all doubt.
"The manifold forms of the Egyptian pantheon" (says the late E. Deutsch) "were but religious masks of the sublime doctrine of the unity of the Deity communicated to the initiated in the Mysteries" The gods of the Pantheon, says M. Pierrot, were "only manifestations of the One Being in various capacities." ("Dict. of d'Arch. Egypt.," article "Religion," Paris, 1875.) M. Maspero and other scholars arrived at the same conclusion. ("Hist. Anc. des Peuples de l'Orient," cap. i, Paris, 1876.)
The following hymn occurs in two papyri in the British Museum. It represents the thought prevalent in Egypt at the time of the Exodus, and is the work of Enna:
"Hail to thee, O Nile!
He causeth growth to fulfill all desires
He never wearies of it.
He maketh his might a buckler;
He is not graven in marble
As an image bearing the double crowns;
He is not behold;
He hath neither ministrants nor offerings; He is not adored in sanctuaries, His abode is not known.
No shrine is found with painted figures (of him). There is no building that can contain him. Unknown is his name in heaven. He does not manifest his forms; Vain are all representations of him."
And again we find the one God thus described:
He hath made the world with his hand, its waters, its atmosphere, its vegetation, all the flocks and birds, and fish, and reptiles, and beasts of the field.
(Hymn to Osiris, translated by Chabas)
"He made all the world contains, and hath given it light when there was yet no sun." (Melange's "Egypt," i, 118, 119. Chabas.)
Glory to thee who hast begotten all that exists, who hast made man, and made the gods also, and all the beasts of the field! Thou makest men to live. Thou hast no second to thee. Thou givest the breath of life. Thou art the light of the world.
(Leeman, "Monuments du Musee des Pays-Bas," ii, 3)
But although God was the creator, yet he is himself "self-created."
His commencement is from the beginning. He is the God who has existed from old time, There is no God without him. No mother bore him, no father hath begotten him. God-goddess created from himself.
In many of the hymns we find allusion made to the mystery of his name, and its being hidden, secret, and unknown— ineffable, and not to be spoken.
"Unknown is his name in heaven. Whose name is hidden from his creatures. His name which is Amen" (i.e., hidden secret). Therefore the Egyptians never spoke the unknown name, but used a phrase which expressed the self-existence of the eternal, "I am," (Ritual of the Dead.)
Says John Newenham Hoare, in the late article in the "Nineteenth Century":
The Egyptians tried to realize God by taking some natural object which should in itself convey to their minds some feature in God's nature. This became a necessity for the priests in the religious teaching of the people. Therefore in the sun they saw God manifested as the light of the world. The more fully they felt the infinite nature of God, the more they would seek in nature for symbols All the deities were regarded as manifestations of the one great Creator, the uncreated, the Father of the universe.
This is expressed in the following hymn:
Hail to the Lord of the lapse of time, king of gods! Thou of many names, of holy transformations, of mysterious forms.
Nevertheless, as in Greece and India, so also in ancient Egypt, the symbols became in the popular mind actual gods, and the people degenerated into gross idolatry.
"They changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made by corruptible man, and to birds, and to four-footed beasts, and creeping things,... and they changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the creator."
This is unfortunately the aspect in which the Egyptian Pantheon has presented itself to mankind for many centuries.
The conception of the unity of the Godhead did not prevent the Egyptians from thinking of God as very near to them.
He is their father, and they "sons beloved of their father." He is the "giver of life," "toucher of the hearts," "searcher of the inward parts is his name."
Every one glorifies thy goodness; mild is thy love toward us; thy tenderness surrounds our hearts; great is thy love in all the souls of men.
One lamentation cries:
Let not thy face be turned away from us; the joy of our hearts is to contemplate thee. Chase all anguish from our hearts. He wipes tears from off all faces. Hail to thee, Ra! Lord of all truth, whose shrine is hidden.
Lord of the gods, who listeneth to the poor in his distress, gentle of heart when we cry to thee. Deliverer of the timid man from the violent, judging the poor—the poor and oppressed. Lord of mercy, most loving; at whose coming men live, at whose goodness gods and men rejoice—sovereign of life, health, and strength.
Speak nothing offensive of the Great Creator; if the words are spoken in secret, the heart of man is no secret to him that made it. (Ibid., ii, 131)
He is present with thee though thou be alone.
As we might expect, from so lofty a conception of God, their hearts broke forth into joyous hymns of praise:
"Hail to thee, all creatures! Salutation from every land.
To the height of heaven, to the breadth of the earth,
To the depths of the sea,
The gods adore thy majesty.
The spirits thou hast made exalt thee,
Father of the father of all the gods,
Who raises the heavens, who fixes the earth.
Maker of beings, author of existences,
Sovereign of life, health, and strength,
Chief of the gods, We worship thy spirit, who alone has made us. We, whom thou hast made, thank thee that thou hast given us birth. We give thee praises for thy
Mercy toward us."
Such was the idea of God and his relations to man held by the ancient Egyptians, and, as we might expect, it drew forth in them "lovely and pleasant lives." The three cardinal requirements of Egyptian piety were— love to God, love of virtue, and love to man.
The honor due to parents sprang naturally from the belief in God as "Our Father, which art in heaven." We constantly find inscriptions on the tombs such as the following: "I honored my father and mother; I loved my brothers; I taught little children; I took care of orphans as though they had been my own children." In letters of excellent advice, addressed by an old man one hundred and ten years of age to a young friend (which forms the most ancient book in the world, dating 3000 B.C.), he says: "The obedience of a docile son is a blessing. God loves obedience. Disobedience is hated by God. The obedience of a son maketh glad the heart of his father. a son teachable in God's service will be happy in consequence of his obedience. He will grow to be old, he will find favor."
That our ancient brothers of Egypt were not deficient in the masonic virtues of "BROTHERLY LOVE AND RELIEF AND TRUTH," appears from the following:
On the tombs we find the common formula: "I have given bread to the hungry, water to the thirsty, clothes to the naked, shelter to the stranger." This tenderness for suffering humanity is characteristic of the nation.
Gratefully does a man acknowledge in his autobiography (4000 B.C.) that, "Wandering, I wandered and was hungry; bread was set before me; I fled from the land naked; there was given me fine linen."
(Chabas, "Les papyras Hieratiques de Berlin; revits d'il y a quatre mille Ans," 1863)
Love of truth and justice was also a distinguishing trait of the Egyptians. God is thus invoked, "Rock of truth is thy name." In an inscription at Sistrum a king addresses Hathor, goddess of truth, "I offer to thee the truth, O goddess, for truth is thy work, and thou thyself art the truth." Truthfulness was an essential part of the Egyptian moral code, and in the Egyptian Ritual we are informed that, when after death the soul enters the hall of the Two Truths, or Perfect Justice, it repeats the words learned upon earth: "O thou great God, Lord of Truth, I have known thee, I have known thy name: Lord of Truth is thy name. I never told a lie at the tribunal of truth."
("Religion of the Ancient Egyptians," by John Newen-ham Hoare, a late article in the "Nineteenth Century")
But enough had been advanced to establish the fact that the ancient Mysteries originally taught the unity of God, and also that their moral code was both pure and exalted.
That the ancient Mysteries, after the people became corrupt, became corrupt in their turn, there can be no doubt, but in their inception they were not so. The crowning secret was a knowledge of the true God, and the disclosure of the fact that the sun was only a symbol of the great Creator, and not itself a divine being. In the midst of an age where the worship of the sun was the established religion of all nations, no one could with safety avow his disbelieve in the divine nature of the heavenly bodies. To do so would be instant destruction.
Before the great truth of the real nature and attributes of God could be communicated, the candidate was required to take all the degrees of the Mysteries, and give the strongest proofs of his fidelity and zeal.
A knowledge of the true God was, in the language of the Orphic hymn, "the secret of secrets" to be only communicated when the aspirant was "perfectly initiated," with "doors carefully guarded and the profane excluded!" It was even then, to those to whom it was to be communicated, "a solemn and unexpected truth which "startled their ears" and "overturned their preconceived opinions."
Taught from their earliest infancy to regard the sun, moon, and stars as actual divinities, a wandering in the darkness of a false system religion, they were on their initiation into the Mysteries first brought to behold the true light and there obtained for the first time a knowledge of the true God. This was the real AUTOPSY, "bringing to light," of the candidate in the Mysteries. "It was difficult," says Plato, "to attest and dangerous to publish, the knowledge of the true God.
The light thus communicated under the strictest conditions of secrecy to be kept, when communicated, religiously hidden from the initiated, it being well known that a public profession of the great truth would be visited by a heavy hand of both the civil and religious authorities, and not only their own lives but that of their kindred be thus sacrificed to the superstitious rage of the ignorant multitude, and the interested fury of the ministers of a false religion.
It is true that the priests themselves often took an active part in the Mysteries, of which they had taken the higher degrees. The Mysteries served as a sort of theological and scientific seminary, which they studied the truths of religion and science, and from the higher degrees of which the ranks of the priesthood and rulers were from time to time recruited. But these facts could be of a help to him who rashly made a public profession of his want of faith in the national solar gods.
The policy of secrecy, by which all but truth, whether religious or scientific, was concentrated in and confined to the Mysteries, was a "stated policy" long established and though to be necessary for the well-being of society. It certainly was for the well-being of the few on whom it conferred power and wealth. To "reveal the Mysteries" was considered the very 32
highest of crimes and he who did so could hope for no mercy. The very priests who perhaps had initiated him, and who did not themselves believe in the divinity of the sun, moon, and stars, would be the first to denounce his alleged impiety and atheism, and urge on his punishment. Nor would any of the brotherhood help him, as he would be considered by them as a perjured traitor, who had violated the most solemn obligations, and now sought to destroy the order itself by exposing it to the superstitious wrath of the ignorant multitude.
The betrayers of the Mysteries were punished capitally and with merciless severity. Diagoras the Melian had revealed the Orphic and Eleusinian Mysteries, on which account he passed with the people as an atheist, and the city of Athens proscribed him and set a price on his head. The poet AEschylus had like to have been torn in pieces by the people, on the mere suspicion that in one of his scenes he had given a hint of something in the Mysteries. (Warburton)
So long, however, as the initiated held their peace, they all might, at the solemn assemblies of the Mysteries, held under circumstances of profound secrecy and sanctioned by the government itself, worship the one true God without fear; indeed, such a worship was enjoined upon them. But, should they openly disclose their belief in the actual divinity of the sun, moon, and stars, their danger was immediate and their ruin certain. Thus all alike, from the most exalted hierophant to the humblest of the initiated, were the slaves, and sometimes the victims, of a system of state policy which they all upheld and defended. It is true, however, that in the progress of many centuries the Mysteries became corrupt, and lost a knowledge of the true God, but in their original institution they not only taught the truth concerning the Deity, but protected his worshipers so long as they kept sacred their vows of secrecy. That the doctrine of immortality was also directly taught in the Mysteries, we are informed by Cicero, who had himself been initiated. (See "Tusculan Disputations," Book I, cxiii.) Among all the corruptions which at a later date prevailed, there, however, yet remained a "chosen band," who preserved the ancient teachings of the Mysteries in their purity. They were obliged for their own protection, however, to render their symbols yet more obscure, and make thicker and draw still closer the veil of allegory about the penetralia of divine truth. From these few and faithful ones the truth was handed down to following generations, and from them all that is great, glorious, and ancient in modern freemasonry was derived.
From those freemasonry received its two great doctrines of the unity of God and the immortality of man; and, together with those sublime truths, it also received that system of astronomical symbols, emblems, and allegories also peculiar to the Mysteries, which were used, anciently, both to conceal and to illustrate those great truths. Dr. Mackey, in his "Symbolism of Freemasonry," says that those to seek for an astronomical explanation of the masonic ritual, "yield all that masonry gained of religious development in past ages" (page 237). For this broad assertion he gives no reasons whatever, and I can not but think that, had he considered the full import of his words, he never would have made any such remark. There is certainly nothing irreligious or atheistical in the employment of astronomical emblems to describe and illustrate the nature and attributes of Deity. If so, the writers of the Bible have been guilty of a great sin, for that sacred volume is full of solar and astronomical illustrations of the glory and power of the creator. (Numb. 24:17; Psalm 19; 84:11; Mal. 4:2; Matt. 2:2; 17:2; Judges 5:20; Job 25:5; 38:7; Dan 12:3; Jude 13; Rev. 1:16; 10:1, etc.) Freemasonry, says Dr. Mackey, quoting Dr. Hemming with approval, is a science of morality "veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols." It is to be inferred that the moral science taught in freemasonry is any the less true, pure, or elevated, because the allegories and symbols employed to "veil and illustrate" it are astronomical in their character? Is it irreligious and atheistical to compare the great Creator to the 34
noblest and most glorious of all his physical works—the sun— and only orthodox and pious to compare his nature and attributes to a carpenter's rule or a stonecutters square? Certainly this is not what Dr. Mackey intends, yet such is the natural inference from his language.
Neither does it follow that those who give the masonic ritual an astronomical and scientific as well as a moral interpretation, deny to masonry the glorious distinction of having been in past ages the depository of a knowledge of the true God, and of the immortal nature of man. All that we contend is, that those great truths were taught not only by allegory and symbol, but originally and mainly by astronomical symbol and allegory.
The more exalted and holy any doctrine is, the more elevated and sublime should be the symbols and emblems to teach and illustrate it.
As the being and attributes of God and the immortality of the soul are the two most exalted and sublime of all truths, so are the sun, moon and stars the most glorious and sublime objects in nature. There are, therefore, a peculiar fitness and beauty in the employment of the latter to symbolically and emblematically illustrate the former. "The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth his handiwork."
In this work no attempt will be made to identify the masonic emblems, traditions, and legends with the Mysteries of any particular nation. All the Mysteries were originally astronomical in their character, but differed in form and detail, as they were founded on different modifications of the Egyptian legend of the personified sun-god. Dr. Mackey, in strange contradiction to the words which we have above quoted from page 236 of his "Symbolism of Freemasonry," devotes a whole chapter of that interesting and learned work to prove that freemasonry was derived directly from the Grecian Mysteries of Dionysus. He thinks it certain that the Tyrian artificer, Hiram, was a member of the Dionysiac fraternity, and that he, at the head of the Tyrian workmen at the time of the building of King Solomon's temple, introduced the Dionysiac Mysteries in a modified and purified form among the Hebrews (Chapter VI). Dr. Oliver, who denies in all its detail the astronomical theory, with an equal inconsistency advocates the same idea. (See his "Theocratic Philosophy of Freemasonry," Lecture VIII.) According to Dr. Mackey, and Dr. Oliver, also, freemasonry is therefore only a modified and purified form of the Grecian Mysteries of Dionysus.
It is true that, like the others, these Mysteries became corrupt, but is equally true that the Mysteries of Dionysus, like all the other Mysteries, were astronomical in their character. Dionysus is but another name for Osiris, and is the personified sun-god, the legend of whose death, the search for whose body, and its recovery, together with his subsequent "raising" from death and the grave of a new life, forms the theme of the ceremony of initiation; all of which the aspirant was caused to dramatically enact.
"One thing, at least" says Dr. Mackey, is incapable of refutation; and that is, that we are indebted to the Tyrian masons for the introduction of the symbol of Hiram Abif. The idea of the symbol, though modified by the Jewish masons, is not Jewish in its inception. It was evidently borrowed from the pagan "Mysteries," where Bacchus, Adonis, Proserpine, and a host of other apotheosized beings play the same role that Hiram does in the masonic Mysteries.
("Symbolism of Freemasonry," Chapter I, page 20)
This emphatic language of Dr. Mackey, therefore, not only admits, but declares "incapable of refutation, "the following important particulars:
1. That Hiram Abif, as described in the masonic legend, is a mystical being, or "symbol" only, and not a historical person, any more than Bacchus, Adonis, or Proserpine.
2. That the whole legend of the third degree is an allegory and not a history.
3. That the allegory is the same as that of Bacchus, or Dionysus, and therefore identical with that of Osiris. (For proof that the Mysteries of Bacchus, or Dionysus, were the same as those of Osiris, see "Herodotus," Book II, Chapter LI, sections 49-60; together with the notes to Rawlinson's edition. Also, as to the identity of Bacchus and Dionysus, see Oliver's "History of Initiation," Lecture VI, and notes.)
4. That in this allegory Hiram "plays the same role as that of Bacchus, or Dionysus, and Osiris, and all the other personified sun-gods in the various forms of the Mysteries.
Now what is this role? It is simply that of the personified sun—slain like Osiris, Bacchus, Adonis, or Dionysus, at the Autumnal equinox; lying dead during the winter months, being restored to life at the vernal equinox, and exalted in power and glory at the summer solstice.
These admissions of Dr. Mackey cover the whole ground, and sanction every position to be taken in this work. It is not, however, my intention to trace the masonic traditions, legends, and emblems, like Dr. Mackey, to any one of the ancient Mysteries to the exclusion of the others, as masonry has features derived from each of them. It is, however, my design to show that it is of an astronomical nature, and had its origin, in common with all the ancient Mysteries, in a lofty system of astronomical allegories, originally intended to teach the unity of God, the immortality of the soul, and an exalted code of morality; while at the same time, by the use of the same allegories and symbols, the leading facts of astronomical science were to be both illustrated and preserved—in other words, to show that freemasonry is a system of science as well as morality, veiled in an astronomical allegory and illustrated by astronomical symbols.
It is also the intention of this work to unlock this allegory, and to show the true scientific and astronomical meaning, as well as moral application, not only of all the legends, but of all the emblems and symbols of freemasonry which have any claim to antiquity.
The real character and true origin of the peculiar symbolism of freemasonry and its allegories have been a great puzzle to most members of the fraternity. The great moral truths which those symbols and allegories teach are plain enough; the only mystery is, how came those truths to be taught by those peculiar symbols and in that peculiar manner?
It is also worthy of remark that, while the moral truths which our emblems, symbols, and legends teach are still well understood, yet those great scientific truths, which are equally said to illustrate and teach, are wholly lost, and at least their connection with them. This lost connection between our emblems, symbols, and legends, and many of the profoundest truths of science, will be restored in the pages of this work.
Oliver and Hutchinson have both, with much labor, and the former with great learning, attempted to prove that the master-mason's degree is a Christian institution—not in the sense of its being pervaded with the spirit of Christianity, which is true, but a Christian institution in the same sense as the Church or the rite of baptism is. Dr. Mackey correctly says they have "fallen into a great error." The theory that our fraternity had its origin in the building societies of the middle ages is sufficiently disproved by our ritual itself, which has many features that are totally inconsistent with any such theory, and point to a far more remote era; although many things relating to operative masonry were no doubt then ingrafted on it.
Dr. Mackey, Oliver, and others, will not accept the astronomical theory, and thus the whole matter remains, so far as they are concerned, a mystery. The astronomical theory is, however, the only correct one, as the following pages will sufficiently show.
The great difficulty is, that it has never been properly and at the same time fully presented. It has been advanced mainly by antimasons, who understood many other things much better than they did our ritual and the legends and symbolism of our order; or by skeptics, endeavoring at the same time to tear down the Christian religion. The advocacy of the astronomical theory by this kind of writers, especially the latter, has done much to render it unpopular, and induced many authors and thinkers to discard it without a due and fair examination. Many masons, like Dr. Oliver, seem to have an illogical and almost superstitious fear of having the astronomical character of our symbolism established. The fact is, however, that the great moral truths of freemasonry are indestructible, and stand independent of the symbolism intended to illustrate them, and to conceal them also, in past ages, when disclosure exposed the initiated to persecution and death, as an unbeliever in the actual divinity of the sun, moon and stars. The great moral teachings of freemasonry will not suffer any danger of destruction or damage if it is fully established that the emblems by which they are illustrated, like the imagery of the Bible, are mainly astronomical instead of mechanical.
The following pages, it is believed, contain convincing proofs of the real character and origin of our symbolism. Portions of the masonic ritual, and a few of the emblems, have in a general way been shown by several writers to be of astronomical origin, and the assertion has been frequently made that the whole system has an astronomical significance. But it is believed that this work contains the only full and complete demonstration of the purely astronomical and scientific import of the whole ritual, and all the details of the solar allegory, as applied to masonry—accompanied by a particular exposition of the astronomical import and origin of all of its ancient emblems, symbols, and legends, over seventy in number (see index), that has ever been made. The traditions and emblems of freemasonry have been made to speak for themselves, and they tell their own origin and meaning in a language which can not fail to convince any reader, who combines a knowledge of the lodge and chapter degrees with the main outlines and leading principles of astronomy and geometry. These sciences, so often alluded to in our ritual, are eminently masonic, and without some knowledge of them what is to follow will not be fully understood.
It is hoped that this work will also not be without interest to the uninitiated. They will at least, be able to see, unfolded in its pages, a beautiful and impressive astronomical allegory, which, by the use of sublime and august emblems, teaches the unity of God and the immortality of the soul. The work also throws much light upon the religion of the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans, as well as mythology in general. How far the solar allegory may be truthfully applied to freemasonry they, of course, will not be able fully to determine for themselves, except in a general way and on minor points. As for the rest, they will be expected to be complacent enough to take the opinion of well-informed members of the fraternity.
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