THE VERMONT LODGE OF RESEARCH #10
THE TEMPLE LEGEND-1
For those who subscribe to the Scottish origin of freemasonry, tradition has always held that the Knights Templar, after the destruction of their order in 1313, took refuge in Scotland and were warmly welcomed by King Robert the Bruce and together founded the mother lodge of Kilwinning and the Order of Heredom. Scottish history professor David Stevenson in his scholarly book THE ORIGINS OF FREEMASONRY describes the early 15th and 16 century origins of masonry in the Scottish guilds. The first truly masonic document has often been credited to the first Schaw Statutes, a collection of 22 paragraphs, setting forth rules, regulations and fines for disobedience. Schaw was the master of works appointed by the king. It appeared in 1598 and provided a flood of new evidence about masonic organization in Scotland. The system was based upon the creation of lodges, presided over by a warden who was also a master mason.
The duties imposed and oaths administered were over two groups, those of the apprentice and fellow craft. In the masonic catechisms which appeared later, when the apprentice became "entered" he was given the secret name of Boaz and to the fellow craft was given the secret name of Jachin. These of course are the two pillars of Solomon's temple. However there is no reference to the secret word of the master mason until the Slone and Trinity College catechisms appearing some hundred years later in 1711. Indeed, the Sloane catechism gives the secret word of the third degree as "mahabyn"and the Irish catechism of 1711 gives the word as "matchpin." Other catechisms give a medley of words such as "maughbin" and "magboe and boe." What this means is that none of the authors of these catechisms had any clear knowledge of what these words meant or even if they were traditionally correct.
In the original Shaw statutes, the lodge was run by fellowcraft and master masons and the warden was the actual head of the lodge. However, no clear distinction was made between fellowcraft and master masons. They shared in common the secret word and grip. The master mason was clearly not a separate degree and charge. However, by the end of the of 17th century, the practice in Lodge of Edinburgh ceased to recognize the fellowcraft and master as synonymous degrees. In the Sloane catechism of 1711, to call a quorum for a meeting, there was needed two entered apprentices, two fellowcraft and two masters, now with the later two having separate words and grips of recognition. Thus, there occurred in Scotland during the 17th century, a conversion from a two grade to a three grade system in the lodge.
The confusion over the secret words of the third degree demonstrates that there was confusion over the adoption of rituals from a trigradal system. This assumes that the third grade of master mason, with a separate, word, grip and degree, arrived into Scotland during the 17th century, from an outside source, presumably, from Britain. There is good reason to assume that the separate third grade development first in England and was later transposed over to Scotland and merged with its two grade system. Scotland may have been the cradle of masonry, but England quickly became its beacon.
Professor Stevenson's research shows that at the time of the first Schaw Statutes "the main or only ceremony of
initiation came on promotion to fellowcraft. By the time of the second Schaw Statutes, the grades of entered
apprentice and fellow craft were established. " Stevenson concludes that,
" English gentlemen as non-operative masons were not organized into lodges of a Scottish or modern kind, but met in fluid ad hoc occasional lodges, for the purpose of initiation only. Most Scottish lodges were largely operative in membership. England can claim the first entirely non-operative or purely speculative lodges. Moreover, English masons evidently had only one degree rather than the Scottish two and this alone implies considerable differences in ritual. In England, rituals were based upon Scottish practices, but they were soon elaborated and altered. The Scottish two degrees were extended to three, perhaps completing an evolutionary practice already begun in Scotland. The Scottish system of permanent lodges was crowned in England with the first grand lodge (in 1717). English masons developed the lore of the Old Charges, which comprised an important part of their pre-history of freemasonry, making unusually elaborate claims to the superiority of their craft. But there is no evidence that this was reflected in any way in a unique organization of their masonic craft. The English innovations of a grand lodge, the recognition of a third degree and elaborate ritual, were the icing on the cake baked in Scotland."
So it is very clear from professor Stevenson's research, that the third degree was at some time implanted by English reformers into former Scottish two grade system of masonic rituals. So where did this third degree come from? My humble take is that Scottish masonry was imported into England when King James the VI of Scotland became James the first of England in 1603. James can truly be called the "Freemason King." He was initiated into the Lodge of Scoon and Perth in 1601, at the age of 35, where his portrait hangs to this day. When William Schaw wrote his masonic statutes in 1598, he tried to make Scottish masonry a royal institution by making the King the grand master of all lodges. However, this was thwarted by the other lodges who gave their allegiance to the family of William Sinclair of Roslin. After he moved to London and became King of England, he engaged a royal court of masons. His favorite pastime was playing the role of King Solomon in court dramas, which is the same role that the master of the lodge takes in ceremony. King James made masonry fashionable with the royal court of England as well with the leading intellectuals of the age. Francis Bacon, the single greatest scientific mind of the time, was his close friend, fellow mason and mentor. James probably played a greater role than any other single person in spreading the craft thru the ranks of the aristocracy, merchants and scientists of the age. Thru him, the link between craft masonry and the royal art was forged. However, I suggest that James had a much greater influence on masonry that history recalls.
It was also during the rein of King James that the first Rosicrucian manuscripts of the FAMA and CONFESSIO were published in Germany in 1614 and 1615. These tracts produced enormous enthusiamm amount intellectuals throughout Europe. The times were indeed challenging. The reformation had destroyed all former religious values and institutions. The publications spoke of a new society of equality and a general reformation of the whole world thru the study of natural science and Hermeticism.
These collections of Rosicrucian manuscripts also appeared in Scotland in the library of Lord Balcarres. He was a collector of alchemical manuscripts. Written In his own hand were translations of these Rosicrucian tracts dated in 1633. This predates the English versions published by Thomas Vaughan in 1652. More than a coincidence is the fact that Lord Balcarres daughter married Britain's most famous mason and founder of the Royal Society, Sir Robert Moray. Moray was also the patron of Vaughan and most likely passed on the Scottish versions to him for publication.
Professor Stevenson says "In reality there was, it is all but certain, no Rosicrucian brotherhood, either newly founded or long established." However, he does defer to a much greater scholar of the enlightenment, Dame Frances Yates , who in her book, THE ROSICRUCIAN ENLIGHTENMENT says "the European phenomenon of freemasonry almost certainly was connected with the Rosicrucian movement " and " the members of the House of Stuart tended to be carriers of freemasonry." Yates gave great credence to the essay by Thomas DeQuincy in 1824 that says " Freemasonry is nothing more or less than Rosicrucianism as modified by those who transplanted it to England."
The difference between a scholar who writes the lines and the occultist who reads between those lines is one of traditional ancient wisdom. Such an occult traditionalist was the early 20th century Frenchman, Rene Guenon, who wrote that, " Esoteric doctrines can be transmitted only thru initiation. Modern masonry resulted from a partial fusion of the Brotherhood of the Rose-Cross, which had preserved gnostic doctrine since the Middle Ages, with the ancient building guilds of the masons, whose tools had moreover already been used as symbols of the Hermetic philosophers. "
The earliest known reference to the mason's word is from a poem published in Edinburgh in 1638 which says,
"For we be brethren of the Rosie Crosse,
We have the mason's word and second sight,
Things for to come we can tell foretell aright."
Obviously not considered an actual historical personalty by mainstream academics, Christian Rosenkreutz, first became known in Germany thru a handwritten treatise in 1604 called THE CHEMICAL WEDDING, by Johann Valentin Andrea. This was later published in 1616, probably as a response to the publications of the FAMA and CONFESSIO in 1614/15. It was stated that he was born from German aristocratic descent and lived from 1378 to 1484. These are referred to hereafter as the 'three manifestos.'
According to Dr. Rudolph Steiner, Christian Rosenkreutz was born into a previous life in the middle of dark ages of
the Tartar-Mongol invasions of the 13th century where he lived a short life in seclusion with 12 other initiates. Around
1250 Seven of these initiates were incarnations of the seven Hindu rishes who carried within them all the cumulated
ancient wisdom the of seven epochs of the former Atlantean age. In addition, four contained the wisdom the first four
epochs of the post Atlantean ages, being the ancient Hindu epoch, the Persian epoch, the
Egyptian-Chaldean-Babylonian epoch and the forth, Greek-roman epoch. The 12th initiate contained the wisdom of
the present 5th epoch, particularly that of the early scientific method. In this occult manner, these 12 initiates
represented the collective wisdom of all ages since the beginning of the Atlantean age. Together these 12 gathered
around the 13th, in a manner similar to the 12 apostles gathering around the Christ as 13th, and rayed their wisdom
into the youthful aura of Christian Rosenkreutz. Dr. Steiner further describes the events of his life:
" This soul of C. R. had lived a former life during the incarnation of Christ and His crucifixion. In the incarnations that followed, he prepared himself for this mission thru humility of soul and thru a fervent life devoted to God. He was a great soul, a pious, deeply mystical human being, who had not just acquired these qualities during this life, but was born with them. He grew up entirely under the care and instructions of the twelve, who gave him all the wisdom they could give. The intent of the twelve was to unite the various religions into one great whole. At a certain time, he refused to eat and wasted away. After a few days the body of the 13th became transparent and he lay as though dead. The twelve gathered around him a certain intervals and all knowledge and wisdom flowed thru their lips. At a certain time the 13th awoke like a new soul that had experienced a great transformation. He had experienced the same event that St. Paul experienced at Damascus . His new form of wisdom was as though given by Christ himself. What he now revealed to them, the twelve called true christianity, the synthesis of all religions. The 13th died young and the twelve devoted themselves to the task of recording what the 13thhad revealed to them. The occult process that had occurred to Christian Rosenkreutz was such that his etheric body was preserved in the spiritual atmosphere of the earth, providing inspiration to the pupils, their successors and formed the Rosicrucian stream of christianity. "
It was in the next life that the historical Christian Rosenkreutz appeared during the 14th and 15th century as described in the FAMA and CONFESSIO. This legend tells that he was raised in a cloister and at the age of 28 he began a seven year journey to the great mystery centers of the east, including Damascus, where he experienced the St. Paul vision again, Egypt and Fez. He learned Arabic and studied with the hermetic and spiritual masters of Islam. He most likely met the Arab philosophers known as the Brethren of Purity and studied their 52 Epistles, an encyclopedia like collection of essays on natural and mathematical sciences, psychology and theology. These epistles probably became the source for the famous Book of M, which was recovered when his tomb was opened in 1604. He returned to Germany and formed his secret society whose pupils traveled throughout Europe undistinguished in the undistinguished guise of medical doctors who cured for no fees. He died at the age of 106. He is an eternal personalty, such as we learned of Melchizadek, Elijah and John the Baptist. He incarnates every one hundred years so that he lives in every century. He is considered of the of two great fathers of western spirituality that directs human evolution. Dr. Steiner said the painting by Rembrandt of the "Man in Armor" (1655) depicts his portrait.
The question to be asked is why is this personalty of Christian Rosenkreutz or Father C.R.C. important to masonry? Well, Dr Steiner goes on the say in 1904 that " By the time that this incarnation of Christian Rosenkreutz came to an end , he had initiated about ten other people into the Brotherhood of the Rose Cross. This small group of people then gave a certain legend, a kind of myth, to a larger, more exoteric fraternity, through whom it then became generally known to the world."
Now we know that historically over the last centuries, many researchers had assumed a connection between masonry and the Rosicrucians. However, with Dr. Steiner's lectures on the subject at the beginning of this century, he became the first to identify Christian Rosenkreutz s the actual creator of the temple legend and that it was given to masonic fraternities before the time of Father C.R.C.'s death in 1484.
It would seem very likely that the first masonic traditions reflecting the entry of the temple legend into masonry would occur in Germany. Actually, Germany has a long history of stone masons organizations. In 1250, that dark year of the 13th century, the first grand lodge of masonry was held at the city of Cologne to erect the new cathedral. This was an immense undertaking. In 1275 a congress was held in Strasbourg which records the earliest use of the mason's symbols of square and compass. Strasbourg held other Congresses in 1498 and 1563. In 1459, the year of the CHEMICAL WEDDING, the Strasbourg statutes were ratified by the Ratisbone Assembly. The first grand assembly of European masons was held in Cologne in 1535 by the Bishop. Nineteen lodges from Germany, Vienna and Zurich attended and the result was the famous, but often doubted, Charter of Cologne written in Latin. Finally, in 1563, the Ordinances and Articles of the Fraternal Stonemasons were renewed at Strasbourg. These statutes clearly set forth familiar masonic rules such as: (1) apprentices were set 'free' after completion of their duties to their master and (2) the three degrees of entered apprentice, fellowcraft and master were clearly indicated by secret oaths and handshakes.
That societies of masons in several countries were established before the Grand Lodge of England in 1717 is historically clear. However, that there were variations in degrees is also clear. As I mentioned above, in Scotland the Schaw Statutes had the traditional names for the three degrees, although, there were only two separate degrees. Initiatic Scottish masonry probably developed from the influence of the Knights Templar whose legend has it that Robert the Bruce established the Order of Heredom in 1313 to accommodate the newly arrived Knights from persecution and death in France. German initiatic masonry probably developed from the Trotten mystery centers. It can be said that there was always an historical Anglo-Saxon initiation into the masonic guilds and corporations whose members built the great cathedrals of Europe and whose hermetic symbolism is carved in the vaults, arches and alters. However, the third master mason degree did not carry the Temple Legend of Solomon and Hiram until after the year 1459.
It is my position that before 1459, if there was a third degree in initiatic masonry, the myth of the degree was of the legend of Noah which was supplanted by the Myth of the Temple legend after 1459 in Germany. Why the Noah legend?
Professor Stevenson states in his books that a version of the Old Charges of Scotland dated to 1726 refer to a ritual wherein the Sons of Noah raised the dead body of Hiram from the grave looking for a secret connected with the rebuilding of the world after the flood. Also, in these Old Charges, the two pillars of Boaz and Jachin are not the same as those in the temple of Solomon. Rather they are pillars on which all the esoteric knowledge of the Atlantean age were written in secret script to be preserved for after the deluge of the flood. Likewise, Albert Pike makes reference to the so-called " antediluvian Pillars of Enoch" in which Enoch knew that the world was to be destroyed by either fire or water. So he made two pillars, one of brick and one of stone, hoping that at least one pillar would survive the deluge. On the pillars he inscribed all the arts and sciences, the Book of Enoch..
In the so-called Matthew Cooke manuscript (1410) which is the second oldest English Book of the Old Charges, is found a similar legend of the two pillars, one of which was found by Pythagorus and the other found by Hermes. Later, when Hiram was building King Solomon's Temple, the pillars were re-discovered and formed the basis for Solomon's wisdom. There is evidence to show that in a one degree system, both pillars were used in the first degree ritual and when the degrees were split into two degrees, that one pillar was used in each, as is the present custom.
This theme also appears in the rituals of the French Order of Elect Cohens founded by Martines De Pasqually around 1775. The rituals derive from the Rite of Misraim and attempt to go back to the origins of masonry in Egypt. The rites had seven degrees, like the ancient degrees of Mithras and the lectures tell a creation myth as if taken right out of the book of Enoch. It too describes the pillars of Solomon's temple as being raised before the flood (during Atlantis) and of surviving the inundations of the flood long after.
THE USUAL SUSPECTS
To me it is a telltale sign that in the margin of the CHEMICAL WEDDING is the famous alchemical symbol of the "Monas Hieroglyphica" of the English magus, John Dee. The sign also appears on the title page. We know historically that the Rosicrucian movement began exoterically with the publication of the three manifestos in 1614/15/16. But we also know that the CHEMICAL WEDDING was actually written in 1604. This date is important because it is part of the tradition that the tomb of Father CRC could not be opened until 120 years after his death in 1484. It also seems to me that great preparations were made over the 120 years to prepare for the grand opening of the tomb.
John Dee was born in 1527 in London. He went to college at age 17 and showed a strong proclivity toward the natural, mechanical and mathematical sciences. Advanced courses in these sciences were not available in mainstream colleges, so he began a long series of travels to other countries for private studies of these subjects. He studied geography and cartography in Holland and studies for several years at the Louvain University in Belgium. His public lectures in Paris on Euclid made him famous and much sought by international scholars. His personal library contained all the great books on alchemy, magic, neo-platonicism, Kabbala and Hermeticism as well the leading scientific treatises on geometry and optics. He developed a natural philosophy based upon astrological influences combined with a mathematical analysis of phenomenon. Dee and Giordano Bruno were probably the most educated and intelligent men of the 16th century and all such men were dissatisfied with university programs, so their minds became pre-occupied with occult Hermeticism. While it can be said that Bruno was the spirit of the Age of Gabriel and accomplished a complete reform of Hermetic philosophy in his travels throughout Europe, Dee probably never met him. In a strange way, when Bruno came to England in 1583, where he composed his most important works, Dee went the opposite way to Prague and when Dee returned to England in 1589, Bruno went to Prague, like two ships passing in the night. However, they did have a strong connection together with Dee's long time student, the poet Phillip Sidney, to whom Bruno dedicated two books.
Dee's Monas treatise was published in 1564 . In 1583 he went to Prague to visit Emperor Rudolph II. Prague was the intellectual and scientific center of Europe at the time. The court of Rudolph served as host to Tyco Brah and Johannes Keplar as well a secret center for the Rosicrucian dispersion. He stayed in the Bohemian area for six years before returning to England in 1589. He also traveled extensively throughout Germany during this time. Was it likely that during his travels in Prague and Germany that he became an emissary for the new Rosicrucian movement? The timing was right.
Ashmole state s that in June of 1589 Dee meet the famous hermetic philosopher, Henricus Khunrath in Bremen. Dee's influence is apparent in that when Khunrath published his extraordinary treatise "The Amphitheater of Wisdom" in 1609, Dee's monas symbol appeared as a drawing and references were made in the text to Dee's publications. Khunrath was a very important link between occult religious philosophy and the Rosicrucian manifestos. Both Dee and Khunrath espoused a philosophy of magic, Alchemy, Kabbala, and the mathematical arts with architecture and scientific methods united in an intensively religious theme of nature and the divine plan.
Dame Francis Yates in her book, the ROSICRUCIAN ENLIGHTENMENT, argues that the three Rosicrucian manifestos expressed the direct influence of John Dee, with portions of the CONFESSIO actually having word for word quotations from Dee's MONAS treatise. The secret philosophy behind the manifestos was the direct inspiration of Dee's Monas symbols and mystical mathematical occult science. Yates suggests that the trip that Dee took during the 1580's in Bohemia and Germany became the scene of the outbreak of the Rosicrucian movement 25 years later. She says "the strangely exciting suggestion is that the Rosicrucian movement in Germany was the delayed result Dee's mission in Bohemia over 25 years earlier."
Now, when Dee returned to England, he found his library and scientific instruments stolen or broken. He was broke and his reputation as a magician and alchemist didn't leave him with many friends. Although during his heyday, he held audience with the greatest kings and princes of Europe, his experiments with magic, angelic evocation and Scrying in crystals, did not leave him in good grace with the new King James who was scared off from anything supernatural. In June of 1604, Dee appealed to King James to clear his name from charges of conjuring devils. The King ignored him and Dee died a lonely and broken man. However, the King had a very close friend with sir Francis Bacon.
Francis Bacon was truly one of the most remarkable persons to live at any time, in any century. He was a philosopher, member of parliament, attorney general, scientist, lawyer, jurist and author of poems, plays, and books on education and science. His name is synominous with the scientific method, in fact, the Baconian method is the scientific method of observation, inductive reasoning, experimentation and thesis. He played the leading role in establishing the British colonies in America, including Virginia, the Carolinas and Newfoundland. He was knighted in 1603, created Baron Verulam in 1618, and Viscount St Alban in 1621. Although his political career ended in disgrace in 1621, he survived all scandals and died in his bed of pneumonia in 1626.
He was very careful to avoid any association with the leading occultists and hermeticists of this radical age. He specifically rejected the Copernican theory and the magnetic theory of William Gilbert because of their deritative from Georgiano Bruno, who was put to death by the church in 1600. In all of his writings he never mentioned the German rosicrucians, of masonry or the hermetic-kabbaistic influences. The total separation between science and the royal arts was probably maintained so as to remain in good favor with King James, who although an initiated mason, disparaged of the work of John Dee and his likes.
However, as we have recently discovered about the life of another great scientist, Sir Issac Newton, there appears to have been a double life. In Newton's library papers which have historically remained unread, it was found that he wrote over 200,000 pages on alchemy. A recent biography on Bacon describes similar hidden tendencies revealing that his thought arose out of the post renaissance Hermetic tradition of magic, alchemy and kabbala.
In 1618, Bacon leased the York house, a large stately mansion with 40 fireplaces, in which he lived with his wife. Over the ensuing years, Bacon would host banquets at York House that were attended by the leading men of the time, including poets, scholars, authors, scientists, lawyers, diplomats, and foreign dignitaries. Within the banquet hall, Francis gathered the greatest leaders in literature, art, law, education and social reform.
On January 22, 1621 a 60th birthday party was held at York house. A select group of men assembled in the large banquet hall in without fanfare for what has been described by biographers as a Masonic banquet to
pay tribute to his lifelong achievements. Only masons attended. Lifelong friend, Ben Johnson, gave a masonic dedication to Bacon. So we know that Bacon was a mason in the court f King James, but was he also a Rosicrucian?
The double life of Bacon seems to be revealed only after his death. Amoung his unfinished papers was a manuscript that later became published as the NEW ATLANTIS. Dame Yates has carefully compared this novel with the three German Rosicrucian, manifestos. She writes,
"The novel was his allegory for a utopia, an ideal religious and scientific society. In their great college, called
Salomon's house, priest-scientists pursued researches in all the arts and sciences. They were given a scroll with a
stamp of cherubim wings, not spread, but hanging downwards, and by them a cross. So was the Rosicrucian FAMA
sealed at the end with the motto "under the shadow of Jehovah's wings," and these wings often appear as emblems
in other Rosicrucian literature. New Atlantis was governed by Rosicrucian brothers, invisibly traveling as 'merchants
of light' in an outside world from their invisible college, now called Salomon's House and following the rules of the
fraternity, to heal the sick free of charge, to wear no special dress. The island had something angelical about it,
rather than magical, and its officials wore a red cross in his turban"
Dame Yates concludes that "though the name Rose Cross is nowhere mentioned by Bacon in the NEW ATLANTIS, it is abundantly clear that he knew the Rose Cross fiction and was adapting it to his own parable.' Later in 1662, a certain John Haydon published a book and came out of the closet and declared both himself (doubtful) and Francis Bacon as Rosicrucians. He reviewed the symbolism in the NEW ATLANTIS and decrees the obvious parallels with the three manifestos. When Bacon says that they have some of the lost works of Solomon in New Atlantis, Heydon explains that they have the book of M, which was the lost work found in the tomb of Father CRC as described in the FAMA.
As to how the third degree Temple legend was supplanted into the rituals of the English lodges, there are the ususal
suspects. Men such as Robert Fludd, Michael Maier. Comenius and Michael Sendivogius are a few. However, what
can be said of no other adept than Francis Bacon, is that he was a close confidant of and probably sat on a frequent
basis in the masonic lodge associated with King James.
In conclusion, I have tried to show that in the old Scottish ritual system, there was a one degree ritual and then after the second Schaw statutes, a two grade degree system that was carried over to England during the Reign of King James I. At some time in the early 17th century in the Kings court, the original Scottish two degree system was modified into a three degree system. The third degree describing the Temple Legend of King Solomon and the building of the temple by Hiram was not always the motif. Most likely the Old Charges in both Scotland and England had a one or two degree system that had in place a sort of Noah legend with the pillars of Jachin and Boaz serving as the preservers of the ancient Atlantean wisdom for delivery into the new Aryan age. The Rosicrucian contribution to pre-existing initiatic freemasonry was the supplanting of the Temple legend for the old Noah legend based upon the Pillars of Enoch. This temple legend was created by Christian Rosenkreutz some time around 1459 and spread by the Rosicrucian fraternity, first to Germany and Bohemia, then to England and finally to Scotland, as evidenced by the hand written translations found in the library of Lord Balcarres.
King James the VI was an initiated Scottish mason when he became King of England in 1603. He carried over from Scotland the ancient masonic rites, and made masonry fashionable in his court and spread its membership throughout England. How the Rosicrucian third degree became implanted into the King's court is a mystery. But, it is likely that the famous magus, John Dee, brought it with him when he returned to England from Germany in 1589. His occultism was not acceptable to the King's court, but the King was adorned to another mason and Rosicrucian, Sir Francis Bacon. It likely that the new third degree was folded into the existing ancient rites brought over from Scotland by Frater Bacon, sometime around 1610. By 1630, the first reference to the masonic word appears in a poem, inextricably bound to Rosicrucian symbol,
"for we be brethren of the Rosie Cross,
we have the mason's word and second sight."
January 15, 2009