The Secret Teachings of All Ages, by Manly P. Hall

That's French for "the ancient system," as in the ancient system of feudal privileges and the exercise of autocratic power over the peasants. The ancien regime never goes away, like vampires and dinosaur bones they are always hidden in the earth, exercising a mysterious influence. It is not paranoia to believe that the elites scheme against the common man. Inform yourself about their schemes here.

The Secret Teachings of All Ages, by Manly P. Hall

Postby admin » Fri Jul 10, 2015 4:55 pm

by Manly P. Hall
© 1928 by Manly P. Hall




Table of Contents:

1. Preface
2. Introduction
3. The Ancient Mysteries and Secret Societies Which Have Influenced Modern Masonic Symbolism
4. The Ancient Mysteries and Secret Societies, Part Two
5. The Ancient Mysteries and Secret Societies, Part Three
6. Atlantis and the Gods of Antiquity
7. The Life and Teachings of Thoth Hermes Trismegistus
8. The Initiation of the Pyramid
9. Isis, the Virgin of the World
10. The Sun, A Universal Deity
11. The Zodiac and Its Signs
12. The Bembine Table of Isis
13. Wonders of Antiquity
14. The Life and Philosophy of Pythagoras
15. Pythagorean Mathematics
16. The Human Body in Symbolism
17. The Hiramic Legend
18. The Pythagorean Theory of Music and Color
19. Fishes, Insects, Animals, Reptiles and Birds (Part One)
20. Fishes, Insects, Animals, Reptiles and Birds (Part Two)
21. Flowers, Plants, Fruits, and Trees
22. Stones, Metals and Gems
23. Ceremonial Magic and Sorcery
24. The Elements and Their Inhabitants
25. Hermetic Pharmacology, Chemistry, and Therapeutics
26. The Qabbalah, the Secret Doctrine of Israel
27. Fundamentals of Qabbalistic Cosmogony
28. The Tree of the Sephiroth
29. Qabbalistic Keys to the Creation of Man
30. An Analysis of Tarot Cards
31. The Tabernacle in the Wilderness
32. The Fraternity of the Rose Cross
33. Rosicrucian Doctrines and Tenets
34. Fifteen Rosicrucian and Qabbalistic Diagrams
35. Alchemy and Its Exponents
36. The Theory and Practice of Alchemy: Part One
37. The Theory and Practice of Alchemy: Part Two
38. The Hermetic And Alchemical Figures of Claudius De Dominico Celentano Vallis Novi
39. The Chemical Marriage
40. Bacon, Shakspere, and the Rosicrucians
41. The Cryptogram as a factor in Symbolic Philosophy
42. Freemasonic Symbolism
43. Mystic Christianity
44. The Cross and the Crucifixion
45. The Mystery of the Apocalypse
46. The Faith of Islam
47. American Indian Symbolism
48. The Mysteries and Their Emissaries
49. Conclusion
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Re: The Secret Teachings of All Ages, by Manly P. Hall

Postby admin » Fri Jul 10, 2015 4:58 pm


Being an Interpretation of the Secret Teachings concealed within the Rituals, Allegories, and Mysteries of all Ages

By Manly P. Hall



[1928, no renewal]


NUMEROUS volumes have been written as commentaries upon the secret systems of philosophy existing in the ancient world, but the ageless truths of life, like many of the earth's greatest thinkers, have usually been clothed in shabby garments. The present work is an attempt to supply a tome worthy of those seers and sages whose thoughts are the substance of its pages. To bring about this coalescence of Beauty and Truth has proved most costly, but I believe that the result will produce an effect upon the mind of the reader which will more than justify the expenditure.

Work upon the text of this volume was begun the first day of January, 1926, and has continued almost uninterruptedly for over two years. The greater part of the research work, however, was carried on prior to the writing of the manuscript. The collection of reference material was begun in 1921, and three years later the plans for the book took definite form. For the sake of clarity, all footnotes were eliminated, the various quotations and references to other authors being embodied in the text in their logical order. The bibliography is appended primarily to assist those interested in selecting for future study the most authoritative and important items dealing with philosophy and symbolism. To make readily accessible the abstruse information contained in the book, an elaborate topical cross index is included.

I make no claim for either the infallibility or the originality of any statement herein contained. I have studied the fragmentary writings of the ancients sufficiently to realize that dogmatic utterances concerning their tenets are worse than foolhardy. Traditionalism is the curse of modern philosophy, particularly that of the European schools. While many of the statements contained in this treatise may appear at first wildly fantastic, I have sincerely endeavored to refrain from haphazard metaphysical speculation, presenting the material as far as possible in the spirit rather than the letter of the original authors. By assuming responsibility only for the mistakes which may' appear herein, I hope to escape the accusation of plagiarism which has been directed against nearly every writer on the subject of mystical philosophy.

Having no particular ism of my own to promulgate, I have not attempted to twist the original writings to substantiate preconceived notions, nor have I distorted doctrines in any effort to reconcile the irreconcilable differences present in the various systems of religio-philosophic thought.

The entire theory of the book is diametrically opposed to the modern method of thinking, for it is concerned with subjects openly ridiculed by the sophists of the twentieth century. Its true purpose is to introduce the mind of the reader to a hypothesis of living wholly beyond the pale of materialistic theology, philosophy, or science. The mass of abstruse material between its covers is not susceptible to perfect organization, but so far as possible related topics have been grouped together.

Rich as the English language is in media of expression, it is curiously lacking in terms suitable to the conveyance of abstract philosophical premises. A certain intuitive grasp of the subtler meanings concealed within groups of inadequate words is necessary therefore to an understanding of the ancient Mystery Teachings.

Although the majority of the items in the bibliography are in my own library, I wish to acknowledge gratefully the assistance rendered by the Public Libraries of San Francisco and Los Angeles, the libraries of the Scottish Rite in San Francisco and Los Angeles, the libraries of the University of California in Berkeley and Los Angeles, the Mechanics' Library in San Francisco, and the Krotona Theosophical Library at Ojai, California. Special recognition for their help is also due to the following persons: Mrs. Max Heindel, Mrs. Alice Palmer Henderson, Mr. Ernest Dawson and staff, Mr. John Howell, Mr. Paul Elder, Mr. Phillip Watson Hackett, and Mr. John R. Ruckstell. Single books were lent by other persons and organizations, to whom thanks are also given.

The matter of translation was the greatest single task in the research work incident to the preparation of this volume. The necessary German translations, which required nearly three years, were generously undertaken by Mr. Alfred Beri, who declined all remuneration for his labor. The Latin, Italian, French, and Spanish translations were made by Prof. Homer P. Earle. The Hebrew text was edited by Rabbi Jacob M. Alkow. Miscellaneous short translations and checking also were done by various individuals.

The editorial work was under the supervision of Dr. C. B. Rowlingson, through whose able efforts literary order was often brought out of literary chaos. Special recognition is also due the services rendered by Mr. Robert B. Tummonds, of the staff of H. S. Crocker Company, Inc., to whom were assigned the technical difficulties of fitting the text matter into its allotted space. For much of the literary charm of the work I am also indebted to Mr. M. M. Saxton, to whom the entire manuscript was first dictated and to whom was also entrusted the preparation of the index. The splendid efforts of Mr. J. Augustus Knapp, the illustrator, have resulted in a series of color plates which add materially to the beauty and completeness of the work. Q The printing of the book was in the hands of Mr. Frederick E. Keast, of H. S. Crocker Company, Inc., whose great personal interest in the volume has been manifested by an untiring effort to improve the quality thereof Through the gracious cooperation of Dr. John Henry Nash, the foremost designer of printing on the American Continent, the book appears in a unique and appropriate form, embodying the finest elements of the printer's craft. An increase in the number of plates and also a finer quality of workmanship than was first contemplated have been made possible by Mr. C. E. Benson, of the Los Angeles Engraving Company, who entered heart and soul into the production of this volume.

The pre-publication sale of this book has been without known precedent in book history. The subscription list for the first edition of 550 copies was entirely closed a year before the manuscript was placed in the printer's hands. The second, or King Solomon, edition, consisting of 550 copies, and the third, or Theosophical, edition, consisting of 200 copies, were sold before the finished volume was received from the printer. For so ambitious a production, this constitutes a unique achievement. The credit for this extraordinary sales program belongs to Mrs. Maud F. Galigher, who had as her ideal not to sell the book in the commercial sense of the word but to place it in the hands of those particularly interested in the subject matter it contains. Valuable assistance in this respect was also rendered by numerous friends who had attended my lectures and who without compensation undertook and successfully accomplished the distribution of the book.

In conclusion, the author wishes to acknowledge gratefully his indebtedness to each one of the hundreds of subscribers through whose advance payments the publication of this folio was made possible. To undertake the enormous expense involved was entirely beyond his individual means and those who invested in the volume had no assurance of its production and no security other than their faith in the integrity of the writer.

I sincerely hope that each reader will profit from the perusal of this book, even as I have profited from the writing of it. The years of labor and thought expended upon it have meant much to me. The research work discovered to me many great truths; the writing of it discovered to me the laws of order and patience; the printing of it discovered to me new wonders of the arts and crafts; and the whole enterprise has discovered to me a multitude of friends whom otherwise I might never have known. And so, in the words of John Bunyan:

I penned
It down, until at last it came to be,
For length and breadth, the bigness which you see.


Los Angeles, California

May 28,1928
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Re: The Secret Teachings of All Ages, by Manly P. Hall

Postby admin » Fri Jul 10, 2015 5:07 pm



PHILOSOPHY is the science of estimating values. The superiority of any state or substance over another is determined by philosophy. By assigning a position of primary importance to what remains when all that is secondary has been removed, philosophy thus becomes the true index of priority or emphasis in the realm of speculative thought. The mission of philosophy a priori is to establish the relation of manifested things to their invisible ultimate cause or nature.

"Philosophy," writes Sir William Hamilton, "has been defined [as]: The science of things divine and human, and of the causes in which they are contained [Cicero]; The science of effects by their causes [Hobbes]; The science of sufficient reasons [Leibnitz]; The science of things possible, inasmuch as they are possible [Wolf]; The science of things evidently deduced from first principles [Descartes]; The science of truths, sensible and abstract [de Condillac]; The application of reason to its legitimate objects [Tennemann]; The science of the relations of all knowledge to the necessary ends of human reason [Kant];The science of the original form of the ego or mental self [Krug]; The science of sciences [Fichte]; The science of the absolute [von Schelling]; The science of the absolute indifference of the ideal and real [von Schelling]--or, The identity of identity and non-identity [Hegel]." (See Lectures on Metaphysics and Logic.)

The six headings under which the disciplines of philosophy are commonly classified are: metaphysics, which deals with such abstract subjects as cosmology, theology, and the nature of being; logic, which deals with the laws governing rational thinking, or, as it has been called, "the doctrine of fallacies"; ethics, which is the science of morality, individual responsibility, and character--concerned chiefly with an effort to determine the nature of good; psychology, which is devoted to investigation and classification of those forms of phenomena referable to a mental origin; epistemology, which is the science concerned primarily with the nature of knowledge itself and the question of whether it may exist in an absolute form; and æsthetics, which is the science of the nature of and the reactions awakened by the beautiful, the harmonious, the elegant, and the noble.

Plato regarded philosophy as the greatest good ever imparted by Divinity to man. In the twentieth century, however, it has become a ponderous and complicated structure of arbitrary and irreconcilable notions--yet each substantiated by almost incontestible logic. The lofty theorems of the old Academy which Iamblichus likened to the nectar and ambrosia of the gods have been so adulterated by opinion--which Heraclitus declared to be a falling sickness of the mind--that the heavenly mead would now be quite unrecognizable to this great Neo-Platonist. Convincing evidence of the increasing superficiality of modern scientific and philosophic thought is its persistent drift towards materialism. When the great astronomer Laplace was asked by Napoleon why he had not mentioned God in his Traité de la Mécanique Céleste, the mathematician naively replied: "Sire, I had no need for that hypothesis!"

In his treatise on Atheism, Sir Francis Bacon tersely summarizes the situation thus: "A little philosophy inclineth man's mind to atheism; but depth in philosophy bringeth men's minds about to religion." The Metaphysics of Aristotle opens with these words: "All men naturally desire to know." To satisfy this common urge the unfolding human intellect has explored the extremities of imaginable space without and the extremities of imaginable self within, seeking to estimate the relationship between the one and the all; the effect and the cause; Nature and the groundwork of Nature; the mind and the source of the mind; the spirit and the substance of the spirit; the illusion and the reality.

An ancient philosopher once said: "He who has not even a knowledge of common things is a brute among men. He who has an accurate knowledge of human concerns alone is a man among brutes. But he who knows all that can be known by intellectual energy, is a God among men." Man's status in the natural world is determined, therefore, by the quality of his thinking. He whose mind is enslaved to his bestial instincts is philosophically not superior to the brute-, he whose rational faculties ponder human affairs is a man; and he whose intellect is elevated to the consideration of divine realities is already a demigod, for his being partakes of the luminosity with which his reason has brought him into proximity. In his encomium of "the science of sciences" Cicero is led to exclaim: "O philosophy, life's guide! O searcher--out of virtue and expeller of vices! What could we and every age of men have been without thee? Thou hast produced cities; thou hast called men scattered about into the social enjoyment of life."

In this age the word philosophy has little meaning unless accompanied by some other qualifying term. The body of philosophy has been broken up into numerous isms more or less antagonistic, which have become so concerned with the effort to disprove each other's fallacies that the sublimer issues of divine order and human destiny have suffered deplorable neglect. The ideal function of philosophy is to serve as the stabilizing influence in human thought. By virtue of its intrinsic nature it should prevent man from ever establishing unreasonable codes of life. Philosophers themselves, however, have frustrated the ends of philosophy by exceeding in their woolgathering those untrained minds whom they are supposed to lead in the straight and narrow path of rational thinking. To list and classify any but the more important of the now recognized schools of philosophy is beyond the space limitations of this volume. The vast area of speculation covered by philosophy will be appreciated best after a brief consideration of a few of the outstanding systems of philosophic discipline which have swayed the world of thought during the last twenty-six centuries. The Greek school of philosophy had its inception with the seven immortalized thinkers upon whom was first conferred the appellation of Sophos, "the wise." According to Diogenes Laertius, these were Thales, Solon, Chilon, Pittacus, Bias, Cleobulus, and Periander. Water was conceived by Thales to be the primal principle or element, upon which the earth floated like a ship, and earthquakes were the result of disturbances in this universal sea. Since Thales was an Ionian, the school perpetuating his tenets became known as the Ionic. He died in 546 B.C., and was succeeded by Anaximander, who in turn was followed by Anaximenes, Anaxagoras, and Archelaus, with whom the Ionic school ended. Anaximander, differing from his master Thales, declared measureless and indefinable infinity to be the principle from which all things were generated. Anaximenes asserted air to be the first element of the universe; that souls and even the Deity itself were composed of it.

From Babbitt's Principles of Light and Color.
ince the postulation of the atomic theory by Democritus, many efforts have been made to determine the structure of atoms and the method by which they unite to form various elements, Even science has not refrained from entering this field of speculation and presents for consideration most detailed and elaborate representations of these minute bodies. By far the most remarkable conception of the atom evolved during the last century is that produced by the genius of Dr. Edwin D. Babbitt and which is reproduced herewith. The diagram is self-explanatory. It must be borne in mind that this apparently massive structure is actually s minute as to defy analysis. Not only did Dr. Babbitt create this form of the atom but he also contrived a method whereby these particles could be grouped together in an orderly manner and thus result in the formation of molecular bodies.

Anaxagoras (whose doctrine savors of atomism) held God to be an infinite self-moving mind; that this divine infinite Mind, not inclosed in any body, is the efficient cause of all things; out of the infinite matter consisting of similar parts, everything being made according to its species by the divine mind, who when all things were at first confusedly mingled together, came and reduced them to order." Archelaus declared the principle of all things to be twofold: mind (which was incorporeal) and air (which was corporeal), the rarefaction and condensation of the latter resulting in fire and water respectively. The stars were conceived by Archelaus to be burning iron places. Heraclitus (who lived 536-470 B.C. and is sometimes included in the Ionic school) in his doctrine of change and eternal flux asserted fire to be the first element and also the state into which the world would ultimately be reabsorbed. The soul of the world he regarded as an exhalation from its humid parts, and he declared the ebb and flow of the sea to be caused by the sun.

After Pythagoras of Samos, its founder, the Italic or Pythagorean school numbers among its most distinguished representatives Empedocles, Epicharmus, Archytas, Alcmæon, Hippasus, Philolaus, and Eudoxus. Pythagoras (580-500? B.C.) conceived mathematics to be the most sacred and exact of all the sciences, and demanded of all who came to him for study a familiarity with arithmetic, music, astronomy, and geometry. He laid special emphasis upon the philosophic life as a prerequisite to wisdom. Pythagoras was one of the first teachers to establish a community wherein all the members were of mutual assistance to one another in the common attainment of the higher sciences. He also introduced the discipline of retrospection as essential to the development of the spiritual mind. Pythagoreanism may be summarized as a system of metaphysical speculation concerning the relationships between numbers and the causal agencies of existence. This school also first expounded the theory of celestial harmonics or "the music of the spheres." John Reuchlin said of Pythagoras that he taught nothing to his disciples before the discipline of silence, silence being the first rudiment of contemplation. In his Sophist, Aristotle credits Empedocles with the discovery of rhetoric. Both Pythagoras and Empedocles accepted the theory of transmigration, the latter saying: "A boy I was, then did a maid become; a plant, bird, fish, and in the vast sea swum." Archytas is credited with invention of the screw and the crane. Pleasure he declared to be a pestilence because it was opposed to the temperance of the mind; he considered a man without deceit to be as rare as a fish without bones.

The Eleatic sect was founded by Xenophanes (570-480 B.C.), who was conspicuous for his attacks upon the cosmologic and theogonic fables of Homer and Hesiod. Xenophanes declared that God was "one and incorporeal, in substance and figure round, in no way resembling man; that He is all sight and all hearing, but breathes not; that He is all things, the mind and wisdom, not generate but eternal, impassible, immutable, and rational." Xenophanes believed that all existing things were eternal, that the world was without beginning or end, and that everything which was generated was subject to corruption. He lived to great age and is said to have buried his sons with his own hands. Parmenides studied under Xenophanes, but never entirely subscribed to his doctrines. Parmenides declared the senses to be uncertain and reason the only criterion of truth. He first asserted the earth to be round and also divided its surface into zones of hear and cold.

Melissus, who is included in the Eleatic school, held many opinions in common with Parmenides. He declared the universe to be immovable because, occupying all space, there was no place to which it could be moved. He further rejected the theory of a vacuum in space. Zeno of Elea also maintained that a vacuum could not exist. Rejecting the theory of motion, he asserted that there was but one God, who was an eternal, ungenerated Being. Like Xenophanes, he conceived Deity to be spherical in shape. Leucippus held the Universe to consist of two parts: one full and the other a vacuum. From the Infinite a host of minute fragmentary bodies descended into the vacuum, where, through continual agitation, they organized themselves into spheres of substance.

The great Democritus to a certain degree enlarged upon the atomic theory of Leucippus. Democritus declared the principles of all things to be twofold: atoms and vacuum. Both, he asserted, are infinite--atoms in number, vacuum in magnitude. Thus all bodies must be composed of atoms or vacuum. Atoms possessed two properties, form and size, both characterized by infinite variety. The soul Democritus also conceived to be atomic in structure and subject to dissolution with the body. The mind he believed to be composed of spiritual atoms. Aristotle intimates that Democritus obtained his atomic theory from the Pythagorean doctrine of the Monad. Among the Eleatics are also included Protagoras and Anaxarchus.

Socrates (469-399 B.C.), the founder of the Socratic sect, being fundamentally a Skeptic, did not force his opinions upon others, but through the medium of questionings caused each man to give expression to his own philosophy. According to Plutarch, Socrates conceived every place as appropriate for reaching in that the whole world was a school of virtue. He held that the soul existed before the body and, prior to immersion therein, was endowed with all knowledge; that when the soul entered into the material form it became stupefied, but that by discourses upon sensible objects it was caused to reawaken and to recover its original knowledge. On these premises was based his attempt to stimulate the soul-power through irony and inductive reasoning. It has been said of Socrates that the sole subject of his philosophy was man. He himself declared philosophy to be the way of true happiness and its purpose twofold: (1) to contemplate God, and (2) to abstract the soul from corporeal sense.

The principles of all things he conceived to be three in number: God, matter, and ideas. Of God he said: "What He is I know not; what He is not I know." Matter he defined as the subject of generation and corruption; idea, as an incorruptible substance--the intellect of God. Wisdom he considered the sum of the virtues. Among the prominent members of the Socratic sect were Xenophon, Æschines, Crito, Simon, Glauco, Simmias, and Cebes. Professor Zeller, the great authority on ancient philosophies, has recently declared the writings of Xenophon relating to Socrates to be forgeries. When The Clouds of Aristophanes, a comedy written to ridicule the theories of Socrates, was first presented, the great Skeptic himself attended the play. During the performance, which caricatured him seated in a basket high in the air studying the sun, Socrates rose calmly in his seat, the better to enable the Athenian spectators to compare his own unprepossessing features with the grotesque mask worn by the actor impersonating him.

The Elean sect was founded by Phædo of Elis, a youth of noble family, who was bought from slavery at the instigation of Socrates and who became his devoted disciple. Plato so highly admired Phædo's mentality that he named one of the most famous of his discourses The Phædo. Phædo was succeeded in his school by Plisthenes, who in turn was followed by Menedemus. Of the doctrines of the Elean sect little is known. Menedemus is presumed to have been inclined toward the teachings of Stilpo and the Megarian sect. When Menedemus' opinions were demanded, he answered that he was free, thus intimating that most men were enslaved to their opinions. Menedemus was apparently of a somewhat belligerent temperament and often returned from his lectures in a badly bruised condition. The most famous of his propositions is stated thus: That which is not the same is different from that with which it is not the same. This point being admitted, Menedemus continued: To benefit is not the same as good, therefore good does not benefit. After the time of Menedemus the Elean sect became known as the Eretrian. Its exponents denounced all negative propositions and all complex and abstruse theories, declaring that only affirmative and simple doctrines could be true.

The Megarian sect was founded by Euclid of Megara (not the celebrated mathematician), a great admirer of Socrates. The Athenians passed a law decreeing death to any citizen of Megara found in the city of Athens. Nothing daunted, Euclid donned woman's clothing and went at night to study with Socrates. After the cruel death of their teacher, the disciples of Socrates, fearing a similar fate, fled to Megara, where they were entertained with great honor by Euclid. The Megarian school accepted the Socratic doctrine that virtue is wisdom, adding to it the Eleatic concept that goodness is absolute unity and all change an illusion of the senses. Euclid maintained that good has no opposite and therefore evil does not exist. Being asked about the nature of the gods, he declared himself ignorant of their disposition save that they hated curious persons.

From Thomasin's Recuil des Figures, Groupes, Thermes, Fontaines, Vases et autres Ornaments.
Plato's real name was Aristocles. When his father brought him to study with Socrates, the great Skeptic declared that on the previous night he had dreamed of a white swan, which was an omen that his new disciple was to become one of the world's illumined. There is a tradition that the immortal Plato was sold as a slave by the King of Sicily.

The Megarians are occasionally included among the dialectic philosophers. Euclid (who died 374? B.C.) was succeeded in his school by Eubulides, among whose disciples were Alexinus and Apollonius Cronus. Euphantus, who lived to great age and wrote many tragedies, was among the foremost followers of Eubulides. Diodorus is usually included in the Megarian school, having heard Eubulides lecture. According to legend, Diodorus died of grief because he could not answer instantly certain questions asked him by Stilpo, at one time master of the Megarian school. Diodorus held that nothing can be moved, since to be moved it must be taken out of the place in which it is and put into the place where it is not, which is impossible because all things must always be in the places where they are.

The Cynics were a sect founded by Antisthenes of Athens (444-365? B.C.), a disciple of Socrates. Their doctrine may be described as an extreme individualism which considers man as existing for himself alone and advocates surrounding him by inharmony, suffering, and direst need that be may thereby be driven to retire more completely into his own nature. The Cynics renounced all worldly possessions, living in the rudest shelters and subsisting upon the coarsest and simplest food. On the assumption that the gods wanted nothing, the Cynics affirmed that those whose needs were fewest consequently approached closest to the divinities. Being asked what he gained by a life of philosophy, Antisthenes replied that he had learned how to converse with himself.

Diogenes of Sinopis is remembered chiefly for the tub in the Metroum which for many years served him as a home. The people of Athens loved the beggar-philosopher, and when a youth in jest bored holes in the tub, the city presented Diogenes with a new one and punished the youth. Diogenes believed that nothing in life can be rightly accomplished without exercitation. He maintained that everything in the world belongs to the wise, a declaration which he proved by the following logic: "All things belong to the gods; the gods are friends to wise persons; all things are common amongst friends; therefore all things belong to the wise." Among the Cynics are Monimus, Onesicritus, Crates, Metrocles, Hipparchia (who married Crates), Menippus, and Menedemus.

The Cyrenaic sect, founded by Aristippus of Cyrene (435-356? B.C.), promulgated the doctrine of hedonism. Learning of the fame of Socrates, Aristippus journeyed to Athens and applied himself to the teachings of the great Skeptic. Socrates, pained by the voluptuous and mercenary tendencies of Aristippus, vainly labored to reform the young man. Aristippus has the distinction of being consistent in principle and practice, for he lived in perfect harmony with his philosophy that the quest of pleasure was the chief purpose of life. The doctrines of the Cyrenaics may be summarized thus: All that is actually known concerning any object or condition is the feeling which it awakens in man's own nature. In the sphere of ethics that which awakens the most pleasant feeling is consequently to be esteemed as the greatest good. Emotional reactions are classified as pleasant or gentle, harsh, and mean. The end of pleasant emotion is pleasure; the end of harsh emotion, grief; the end of mean emotion, nothing.

Through mental perversity some men do not desire pleasure. In reality, however, pleasure (especially of a physical nature) is the true end of existence and exceeds in every way mental and spiritual enjoyments. Pleasure, furthermore, is limited wholly to the moment; now is the only time. The past cannot be regarded without regret and the future cannot be faced without misgiving; therefore neither is conducive to pleasure. No man should grieve, for grief is the most serious of all diseases. Nature permits man to do anything he desires; he is limited only by his own laws and customs. A philosopher is one free from envy, love, and superstition, and whose days are one long round of pleasure. Indulgence was thus elevated by Aristippus to the chief position among the virtues. He further declared philosophers to differ markedly from other men in that they alone would not change the order of their lives if all the laws of men were abolished. Among prominent philosophers influenced by the Cyrenaic doctrines were Hegesias, Anniceris, Theodorus, and Bion.

The sect of the Academic philosophers instituted by Plato (427-347 B.C.) was divided into three major parts--the old, the middle, and the new Academy. Among the old Academics were Speusippus, Zenocrates, Poleman, Crates, and Crantor. Arcesilaus instituted the middle Academy and Carneades founded the new. Chief among the masters of Plato was Socrates. Plato traveled widely and was initiated by the Egyptians into the profundities of Hermetic philosophy. He also derived much from the doctrines of the Pythagoreans. Cicero describes the threefold constitution of Platonic philosophy as comprising ethics, physics, and dialectics. Plato defined good as threefold in character: good in the soul, expressed through the virtues; good in the body, expressed through the symmetry and endurance of the parts; and good in the external world, expressed through social position and companionship. In The Book of Speusippus on Platonic Definitions, that great Platonist thus defines God: "A being that lives immortally by means of Himself alone, sufficing for His own blessedness, the eternal Essence, cause of His own goodness. According to Plato, the One is the term most suitable for defining the Absolute, since the whole precedes the parts and diversity is dependent on unity, but unity not on diversity. The One, moreover, is before being, for to be is an attribute or condition of the One.

Platonic philosophy is based upon the postulation of three orders of being: that which moves unmoved, that which is self-moved, and that which is moved. That which is immovable but moves is anterior to that which is self-moved, which likewise is anterior to that which it moves. That in which motion is inherent cannot be separated from its motive power; it is therefore incapable of dissolution. Of such nature are the immortals. That which has motion imparted to it from another can be separated from the source of its an animating principle; it is therefore subject to dissolution. Of such nature are mortal beings. Superior to both the mortals and the immortals is that condition which continually moves yet itself is unmoved. To this constitution the power of abidance is inherent; it is therefore the Divine Permanence upon which all things are established. Being nobler even than self-motion, the unmoved Mover is the first of all dignities. The Platonic discipline was founded upon the theory that learning is really reminiscence, or the bringing into objectivity of knowledge formerly acquired by the soul in a previous state of existence. At the entrance of the Platonic school in the Academy were written the words: "Let none ignorant of geometry enter here."

After the death of Plato, his disciples separated into two groups. One, the Academics, continued to meet in the Academy where once he had presided; the other, the Peripatetics, removed to the Lyceum under the leadership of Aristotle (384-322 B.C.). Plato recognized Aristotle as his greatest disciple and, according to Philoponus, referred to him as "the mind of the school." If Aristotle were absent from the lectures, Plato would say: "The intellect is not here." Of the prodigious genius of Aristotle, Thomas Taylor writes in his introduction to The Metaphysics:

"When we consider that he was not only well acquainted with every science, as his works abundantly evince, but that he wrote on almost every subject which is comprehended in the circle of human knowledge, and this with matchless accuracy and skill, we know not which to admire most, the penetration or extent of his mind." Of the philosophy of Aristotle, the same author says: "The end of Aristotle's moral philosophy is perfection through the virtues, and the end of his contemplative philosophy an union with the one principle of all things."

From Kircher's Ars Magna Sciendi.
In the above diagram Kircher arranges eighteen objects in two vertical columns and then determines he number of arrangements in which they can be combined. By the same method Kircher further estimates that fifty objects may be arranged in 1,273,726,838,815,420,339,851,343,083,767,005,515,293,749,454,795,408,000,000,000,000 combinations. From this it will be evident that infinite diversity is possible, for the countless parts of the universe may be related to each other in an incalculable number of ways; and through the various combinations of these limitless subdivisions of being, infinite individuality and infinite variety must inevitably result. Thus it is further evident that life can never become monotonous or exhaust the possibilities of variety.

Aristotle conceived philosophy to be twofold: practical and theoretical. Practical philosophy embraced ethics and politics; theoretical philosophy, physics and logic. Metaphysics he considered to be the science concerning that substance which has the principle of motion and rest inherent to itself. To Aristotle the soul is that by which man first lives, feels, and understands. Hence to the soul he assigned three faculties: nutritive, sensitive, and intellective. He further considered the soul to be twofold--rational and irrational--and in some particulars elevated the sense perceptions above the mind. Aristotle defined wisdom as the science of first Causes. The four major divisions of his philosophy are dialectics, physics, ethics, and metaphysics. God is defined as the First Mover, the Best of beings, an immovable Substance, separate from sensible things, void of corporeal quantity, without parts and indivisible. Platonism is based upon a priori reasoning; Aristotelianism upon a posteriori reasoning. Aristotle taught his pupil, Alexander the Great, to feel that if he had not done a good deed he had not reigned that day. Among his followers were Theophrastus, Strato, Lyco, Aristo, Critolaus, and Diodorus.

Of Skepticism as propounded by Pyrrho of Elis (365-275 B.C.) and by Timon, Sextus Empiricus said that those who seek must find or deny they have found or can find, or persevere in the inquiry. Those who suppose they have found truth are called Dogmatists; those who think it incomprehensible are the Academics; those who still seek are the Skeptics. The attitude of Skepticism towards the knowable is summed up by Sextus Empiricus in the following words: "But the chief ground of Skepticism is that to every reason there is an opposite reason equivalent, which makes us forbear to dogmatize." The Skeptics were strongly opposed to the Dogmatists and were agnostic in that they held the accepted theories regarding Deity to be self-contradictory and undemonstrable. "How," asked the Skeptic, "can we have indubitate knowledge of God, knowing not His substance, form or place; for, while philosophers disagree irreconcilably on these points, their conclusions cannot be considered as undoubtedly true?" Since absolute knowledge was considered unattainable, the Skeptics declared the end of their discipline to be: "In opinionatives, indisturbance; in impulsives, moderation; and in disquietives, suspension."

The sect of the Stoics was founded by Zeno (340-265 B.C.), the Cittiean, who studied under Crates the Cynic, from which sect the Stoics had their origin. Zeno was succeeded by Cleanthes, Chrysippus, Zeno of Tarsis, Diogenes, Antipater, Panætius, and Posidonius. Most famous of the Roman Stoics are Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius. The Stoics were essentially pantheists, since they maintained that as there is nothing better than the world, the world is God. Zeno declared that the reason of the world is diffused throughout it as seed. Stoicism is a materialistic philosophy, enjoining voluntary resignation to natural law. Chrysippus maintained that good and evil being contrary, both are necessary since each sustains the other. The soul was regarded as a body distributed throughout the physical form and subject to dissolution with it. Though some of the Stoics held that wisdom prolonged the existence of the soul, actual immortality is not included in their tenets. The soul was said to be composed of eight parts: the five senses, the generative power, the vocal power, and an eighth, or hegemonic, part. Nature was defined as God mixed throughout the substance of the world. All things were looked upon as bodies either corporeal or incorporeal.

Meekness marked the attitude of the Stoic philosopher. While Diogenes was delivering a discourse against anger, one of his listeners spat contemptuously in his face. Receiving the insult with humility, the great Stoic was moved to retort: "I am not angry, but am in doubt whether I ought to be so or not!"

Epicurus of Samos (341-270 B.C.) was the founder of the Epicurean sect, which in many respects resembles the Cyrenaic but is higher in its ethical standards. The Epicureans also posited pleasure as the most desirable state, but conceived it to be a grave and dignified state achieved through renunciation of those mental and emotional inconstancies which are productive of pain and sorrow. Epicurus held that as the pains of the mind and soul are more grievous than those of the body, so the joys of the mind and soul exceed those of the body. The Cyrenaics asserted pleasure to be dependent upon action or motion; the Epicureans claimed rest or lack of action to be equally productive of pleasure. Epicurus accepted the philosophy of Democritus concerning the nature of atoms and based his physics upon this theory. The Epicurean philosophy may be summed up in four canons:

"(1) Sense is never deceived; and therefore every sensation and every perception of an appearance is true. (2) Opinion follows upon sense and is superadded to sensation, and capable of truth or falsehood, (3) All opinion attested, or not contradicted by the evidence of sense, is true. (4) An opinion contradicted, or not attested by the evidence of sense, is false." Among the Epicureans of note were Metrodorus of Lampsacus, Zeno of Sidon, and Phædrus.

Eclecticism may be defined as the practice of choosing apparently irreconcilable doctrines from antagonistic schools and constructing therefrom a composite philosophic system in harmony with the convictions of the eclectic himself. Eclecticism can scarcely be considered philosophically or logically sound, for as individual schools arrive at their conclusions by different methods of reasoning, so the philosophic product of fragments from these schools must necessarily be built upon the foundation of conflicting premises. Eclecticism, accordingly, has been designated the layman's cult. In the Roman Empire little thought was devoted to philosophic theory; consequently most of its thinkers were of the eclectic type. Cicero is the outstanding example of early Eclecticism, for his writings are a veritable potpourri of invaluable fragments from earlier schools of thought. Eclecticism appears to have had its inception at the moment when men first doubted the possibility of discovering ultimate truth. Observing all so-called knowledge to be mere opinion at best, the less studious furthermore concluded that the wiser course to pursue was to accept that which appeared to be the most reasonable of the teachings of any school or individual. From this practice, however, arose a pseudo-broadmindedness devoid of the element of preciseness found in true logic and philosophy.

From Virgil's Æneid. (Dryden's translation.)
Virgil describes part of the ritual of a Greek Mystery--possibly the Eleusinian--in his account of the descent of Æneas, to the gate of hell under the guidance of the Sibyl. Of that part of the ritual portrayed above the immortal poet writes:
"Full in the midst of this infernal Road,
An Elm displays her dusky Arms abroad;
The God of Sleep there hides his heavy Head
And empty Dreams on ev'ry Leaf are spread.
Of various Forms, unnumber'd Specters more;
Centaurs, and double Shapes, besiege the Door:
Before the Passage horrid Hydra stands,
And Briareus with all his hundred Hands:
Gorgons, Geryon with his triple Frame;
And vain Chimæra vomits empty Flame.
The Chief unsheath'd his shining Steel, prepar'd,
Tho seiz'd with sudden Fear, to force the Guard.
Off'ring his brandish'd Weapon at their Face,
Had not the Sibyl stop'd his eager Pace,
And told him what those empty Phantoms were;
Forms without Bodies, and impassive Air."

The Neo-Pythagorean school flourished in Alexandria during the first century of the Christian Era. Only two names stand out in connection with it--Apollonius of Tyana and Moderatus of Gades. Neo-Pythagoreanism is a link between the older pagan philosophies and Neo-Platonism. Like the former, it contained many exact elements of thought derived from Pythagoras and Plato; like the latter, it emphasized metaphysical speculation and ascetic habits. A striking similarity has been observed by several authors between Neo-Pythagoreanism and the doctrines of the Essenes. Special emphasis was laid upon the mystery of numbers, and it is possible that the Neo-Pythagoreans had a far wider knowledge of the true teachings of Pythagoras than is available today. Even in the first century Pythagoras was regarded more as a god than a man, and the revival of his philosophy was resorted to apparently in the hope that his name would stimulate interest in the deeper systems of learning. But Greek philosophy had passed the zenith of its splendor; the mass of humanity was awakening to the importance of physical life and physical phenomena. The emphasis upon earthly affairs which began to assert itself later reached maturity of expression in twentieth century materialism and commercialism, even though Neo-Platonism was to intervene and many centuries pass before this emphasis took definite form.

Although Ammonius Saccus was long believed to be the founder of Neo-Platonism, the school had its true beginning in Plotinus (A.D. 204-269?). Prominent among the Neo-Platonists of Alexandria, Syria, Rome, and Athens were Porphyry, Iamblichus, Sallustius, the Emperor Julian, Plutarch, and Proclus. Neo-Platonism was the supreme effort of decadent pagandom to publish and thus preserve for posterity its secret (or unwritten) doctrine. In its teachings ancient idealism found its most perfect expression. Neo-Platonism was concerned almost exclusively with the problems of higher metaphysics. It recognized the existence of a secret and all-important doctrine which from the time of the earliest civilizations had been concealed within the rituals, symbols, and allegories of religions and philosophies. To the mind unacquainted with its fundamental tenets, Neo-Platonism may appear to be a mass of speculations interspersed with extravagant flights of fancy. Such a viewpoint, however, ignores the institutions of the Mysteries--those secret schools into whose profundities of idealism nearly all of the first philosophers of antiquity were initiated.

When the physical body of pagan thought collapsed, an attempt was made to resurrect the form by instilling new life into it by the unveiling of its mystical truths. This effort apparently was barren of results. Despite the antagonism, however, between pristine Christianity and Neo-Platonism many basic tenets of the latter were accepted by the former and woven into the fabric of Patristic philosophy. Briefly described, Neo-Platonism is a philosophic code which conceives every physical or concrete body of doctrine to be merely the shell of a spiritual verity which may be discovered through meditation and certain exercises of a mystic nature. In comparison to the esoteric spiritual truths which they contain, the corporeal bodies of religion and philosophy were considered relatively of little value. Likewise, no emphasis was placed upon the material sciences.
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Re: The Secret Teachings of All Ages, by Manly P. Hall

Postby admin » Fri Jul 10, 2015 5:07 pm


The term Patristic is employed to designate the philosophy of the Fathers of the early Christian Church. Patristic philosophy is divided into two general epochs: ante-Nicene and post-Nicene. The ante-Nicene period in the main was devoted to attacks upon paganism and to apologies and defenses of Christianity. The entire structure of pagan philosophy was assailed and the dictates of faith elevated above those of reason. In some instances efforts were made to reconcile the evident truths of paganism with Christian revelation. Eminent among the ante-Nicene Fathers were St. Irenæus, Clement of Alexandria, and Justin Martyr. In the post-Nicene period more emphasis was placed upon the unfoldment of Christian philosophy along Platonic and Neo-Platonic lines, resulting in the appearance of many strange documents of a lengthy, rambling, and ambiguous nature, nearly all of which were philosophically unsound. The post-Nicene philosophers included Athanasius, Gregory of Nyssa, and Cyril of Alexandria. The Patristic school is notable for its emphasis upon the supremacy of man throughout the universe. Man was conceived to be a separate and divine creation--the crowning achievement of Deity and an exception to the suzerainty of natural law. To the Patristics it was inconceivable that there should ever exist another creature so noble, so fortunate, or so able as man, for whose sole benefit and edification all the kingdoms of Nature were primarily created.

Patristic philosophy culminated in Augustinianism, which may best be defined as Christian Platonism. Opposing the Pelasgian doctrine that man is the author of his own salvation, Augustinianism elevated the church and its dogmas to a position of absolute infallibility--a position which it successfully maintained until the Reformation. Gnosticism, a system of emanationism, interpreting Christianity in terms of Greek, Egyptian, and Persian metaphysics, appeared in the latter part of the first century of the Christian Era. Practically all the information extant regarding the Gnostics and their doctrines, stigmatized as heresy by the ante-Nicene Church Fathers, is derived from the accusations made against them, particularly from the writings of St. Irenæus. In the third century appeared Manichæism, a dualistic system of Persian origin, which taught that Good and Evil were forever contending for universal supremacy. In Manichæism, Christ is conceived to be the Principle of redeeming Good in contradistinction to the man Jesus, who was viewed as an evil personality.

The death of Boethius in the sixth century marked the close of the ancient Greek school of philosophy. The ninth century saw the rise of the new school of Scholasticism, which sought to reconcile philosophy with theology. Representative of the main divisions of the Scholastic school were the Eclecticism of John of Salisbury, the Mysticism of Bernard of Clairvaux and St. Bonaventura, the Rationalism of Peter Abelard, and the pantheistic Mysticism of Meister Eckhart. Among the Arabian Aristotelians were Avicenna and Averroes. The zenith of Scholasticism was reached with the advent of Albertus Magnus and his illustrious disciple, St. Thomas Aquinas. Thomism (the philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas, sometimes referred to as the Christian Aristotle) sought to reconcile the various factions of the Scholastic school. Thomism was basically Aristotelian with the added concept that faith is a projection of reason.

Scotism, or the doctrine of Voluntarism promulgated by Joannes Duns Scotus, a Franciscan Scholastic, emphasized the power and efficacy of the individual will, as opposed to Thomism. The outstanding characteristic of Scholasticism was its frantic effort to cast all European thought in an Aristotelian mold. Eventually the Schoolmen descended to the level of mere wordmongers who picked the words of Aristotle so clean that nothing but the bones remained. It was this decadent school of meaningless verbiage against which Sir Francis Bacon directed his bitter shafts of irony and which he relegated to the potter's field of discarded notions.

The Baconian, or inductive, system of reasoning (whereby facts are arrived at by a process of observation and verified by experimentation) cleared the way for the schools of modern science. Bacon was followed by Thomas Hobbes (for some time his secretary), who held mathematics to be the only exact science and thought to be essentially a mathematical process. Hobbes declared matter to be the only reality, and scientific investigation to be limited to the study of bodies, the phenomena relative to their probable causes, and the consequences which flow from them under every variety of circumstance. Hobbes laid special stress upon the significance of words, declaring understanding to be the faculty of perceiving the relationship between words and the objects for which they stand.

Having broken away from the scholastic and theological schools, Post-Reformation, or modern, philosophy experienced a most prolific growth along many diverse lines. According to Humanism, man is the measure of all things; Rationalism makes the reasoning faculties the basis of all knowledge; Political Philosophy holds that man must comprehend his natural, social, and national privileges; Empiricism declares that alone to be true which is demonstrable by experiment or experience; Moralism emphasizes the necessity of right conduct as a fundamental philosophic tenet; Idealism asserts the realities of the universe to be superphysical--either mental or psychical; Realism, the reverse; and Phenomenalism restricts knowledge to facts or events which can be scientifically described or explained. The most recent developments in the field of philosophic thought are Behaviorism and Neo-Realism. The former estimates the intrinsic characteristics through an analysis of behavior; the latter may be summed up as the total extinction of idealism.

From an old print, courtesy of Carl Oscar Borg.
In ridiculing the geocentric system of astronomy expounded by Claudius Ptolemy, modem astronomers have overlooked the philosophic key to the Ptolemaic system. The universe of Ptolemy is a diagrammatic representation of the relationships existing between the various divine and elemental parts of every creature, and is not concerned with astronomy as that science is now comprehended. In the above figure, special attention is called to the three circles of zodiacs surrounding the orbits of the planets. These zodiacs represent the threefold spiritual constitution of the universe. The orbits of the planets are the Governors of the World and the four elemental spheres in the center represent the physical constitution of both man and the universe, Ptolemy's scheme of the universe is simply a cross section of the universal aura, the planets and elements to which he refers having no relation to those recognized by modern astronomers.

Baruch de Spinoza, the eminent Dutch philosopher, conceived God to be a substance absolutely self-existent and needing no other conception besides itself to render it complete and intelligible. The nature of this Being was held by Spinoza to be comprehensible only through its attributes, which are extension and thought: these combine to form an endless variety of aspects or modes. The mind of man is one of the modes of infinite thought; the body of man one of the modes of infinite extension. Through reason man is enabled to elevate himself above the illusionary world of the senses and find eternal repose in perfect union with the Divine Essence. Spinoza, it has been said, deprived God of all personality, making Deity synonymous with the universe.

German philosophy had its inception with Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibnitz, whose theories are permeated with the qualities of optimism and idealism. Leibnitz's criteria of sufficient reason revealed to him the insufficiency of Descartes' theory of extension, and he therefore concluded that substance itself contained an inherent power in the form of an incalculable number of separate and all-sufficient units. Matter reduced to its ultimate particles ceases to exist as a substantial body, being resolved into a mass of immaterial ideas or metaphysical units of power, to which Leibnitz applied the term monad. Thus the universe is composed of an infinite number of separate monadic entities unfolding spontaneously through the objectification of innate active qualities. All things are conceived as consisting of single monads of varying magnitudes or of aggregations of these bodies, which may exist as physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual substances. God is the first and greatest Monad; the spirit of man is an awakened monad in contradistinction to the lower kingdoms whose governing monadic powers are in a semi-dormant state.

Though a product of the Leibnitzian-Wolfian school, Immanuel Kant, like Locke, dedicated himself to investigation of the powers and limits of human understanding. The result was his critical philosophy, embracing the critique of pure reason, the critique of practical reason, and the critique of judgment. Dr. W. J. Durant sums up Kant's philosophy in the concise statement that he rescued mind from matter. The mind Kant conceived to be the selector and coordinator of all perceptions, which in turn are the result of sensations grouping themselves about some external object. In the classification of sensations and ideas the mind employs certain categories: of sense, time and space; of understanding, quality, relation, modality, and causation; and the unity of apperception. Being subject to mathematical laws, time and space are considered absolute and sufficient bases for exact thinking. Kant's practical reason declared that while the nature of noumenon could never be comprehended by the reason, the fact of morality proves the existence of three necessary postulates: free will, immortality, and God. In the critique of judgment Kant demonstrates the union of the noumenon and the phenomenon in art and biological evolution. German superintellectualism is the outgrowth of an overemphasis of Kant's theory of the autocratic supremacy of the mind over sensation and thought. The philosophy of Johann Gottlieb Fichte was a projection of Kant's philosophy, wherein he attempted to unite Kant's practical reason with his pure reason. Fichte held that the known is merely the contents of the consciousness of the knower, and that nothing can exist to the knower until it becomes part of those contents. Nothing is actually real, therefore, except the facts of one's own mental experience.

Recognizing the necessity of certain objective realities, Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von Schelling, who succeeded Fichte in the chair of philosophy at Jena, first employed the doctrine of identity as the groundwork for a complete system of philosophy. Whereas Fichte regarded self as the Absolute, von Schelling conceived infinite and eternal Mind to be the all-pervading Cause. Realization of the Absolute is made possible by intellectual intuition which, being a superior or spiritual sense, is able to dissociate itself from both subject and object. Kant's categories of space and time von Schelling conceived to be positive and negative respectively, and material existence the result of the reciprocal action of these two expressions. Von Schelling also held that the Absolute in its process of self-development proceeds according to a law or rhythm consisting of three movements. The first, a reflective movement, is the attempt of the Infinite to embody itself in the finite. The second, that of subsumption, is the attempt of the Absolute to return to the Infinite after involvement in the finite. The third, that of reason, is the neutral point wherein the two former movements are blended.

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel considered the intellectual intuition of von Schelling to be philosophically unsound and hence turned his attention to the establishment of a system of philosophy based upon pure logic. Of Hegel it has been said that he began with nothing and showed with logical precision how everything had proceeded from it in logical order. Hegel elevated logic to a position of supreme importance, in fact as a quality of the Absolute itself. God he conceived to be a process of unfolding which never attains to the condition of unfoldment. In like manner, thought is without either beginning or end. Hegel further believed that all things owe their existence to their opposites and that all opposites are actually identical. Thus the only existence is the relationship of opposites to each other, through whose combinations new elements are produced. As the Divine Mind is an eternal process of thought never accomplished, Hegel assails the very foundation of theism and his philosophy limits immortality to the everflowing Deity alone. Evolution is consequently the never-ending flow of Divine Consciousness out of itself; all creation, though continually moving, never arrives at any state other than that of ceaseless flow.

Johann Friedrich Herbart's philosophy was a realistic reaction from the idealism of Fichte and von Schelling. To Herbart the true basis of philosophy was the great mass of phenomena continually moving through the human mind. Examination of phenomena, however, demonstrates that a great part of it is unreal, at least incapable of supplying the mind with actual truth. To correct the false impressions caused by phenomena and discover reality, Herbart believed it necessary to resolve phenomena into separate elements, for reality exists in the elements and not in the whole. He stated that objects can be classified by three general terms: thing, matter, and mind; the first a unit of several properties, the second an existing object, the third a self-conscious being. All three notions give rise, however, to certain contradictions, with whose solution Herbart is primarily concerned. For example, consider matter. Though capable of filling space, if reduced to its ultimate state it consists of incomprehensibly minute units of divine energy occupying no physical space whatsoever.

The true subject of Arthur Schopenhauer's philosophy is the will; the object of his philosophy is the elevation of the mind to the point where it is capable of controlling the will. Schopenhauer likens the will to a strong blind man who carries on his shoulders the intellect, which is a weak lame man possessing the power of sight. The will is the tireless cause of manifestation and every part of Nature the product of will. The brain is the product of the will to know; the hand the product of the will to grasp. The entire intellectual and emotional constitutions of man are subservient to the will and are largely concerned with the effort to justify the dictates of the will. Thus the mind creates elaborate systems of thought simply to prove the necessity of the thing willed. Genius, however, represents the state wherein the intellect has gained supremacy over the will and the life is ruled by reason and not by impulse. The strength of Christianity, said Schopenhauer, lay in its pessimism and conquest of individual will. His own religious viewpoints resembled closely the Buddhistic. To him Nirvana represented the subjugation of will. Life--the manifestation of the blind will to live--he viewed as a misfortune, claiming that the true philosopher was one who, recognizing the wisdom of death, resisted the inherent urge to reproduce his kind.

From Hort's The New Pantheon.
Before a proper appreciation of the deeper scientific aspects of Greek mythology is possible, it is necessary to organize the Greek pantheon and arrange its gods, goddesses, and various superhuman hierarchies in concatenated order. Proclus, the great Neo-Platonist, in his commentaries on the theology of Plato, gives an invaluable key to the sequence of the various deities in relation to the First Cause and the inferior powers emanating from themselves. When thus arranged, the divine hierarchies may be likened to the branches of a great tree. The roots of this tree are firmly imbedded in Unknowable Being. The trunk and larger branches of the tree symbolize the superior gods; the twigs and leaves, the innumerable existences dependent upon the first and unchanging Power.

Of Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche it has been said that his peculiar contribution to the cause of human hope was the glad tidings that God had died of pity! The outstanding features of Nietzsche's philosophy are his doctrine of eternal recurrence and the extreme emphasis placed by him upon the will to power--a projection of Schopenhauer's will to live. Nietzsche believed the purpose of existence to be the production of a type of all-powerful individual, designated by him the superman. This superman was the product of careful culturing, for if not separated forcibly from the mass and consecrated to the production of power, the individual would sink back to the level of the deadly mediocre. Love, Nietzsche said, should be sacrificed to the production of the superman and those only should marry who are best fitted to produce this outstanding type. Nietzsche also believed in the rule of the aristocracy, both blood and breeding being essential to the establishment of this superior type. Nietzsche's doctrine did not liberate the masses; it rather placed over them supermen for whom their inferior brothers and sisters should be perfectly reconciled to die. Ethically and politically, the superman was a law unto himself. To those who understand the true meaning of power to be virtue, self-control, and truth, the ideality behind Nietzsche's theory is apparent. To the superficial, however, it is a philosophy heartless and calculating, concerned solely with the survival of the fittest.

Of the other German schools of philosophic thought, limitations of space preclude detailed mention. The more recent developments of the German school are Freudianism and Relativism (often called the Einstein theory). The former is a system of psychoanalysis through psychopathic and neurological phenomena; the latter attacks the accuracy of mechanical principles dependent upon the present theory of velocity.

René Descartes stands at the head of the French school of philosophy and shares with Sir Francis Bacon the honor of founding the systems of modern science and philosophy. As Bacon based his conclusions upon observation of external things, so Descartes founded his metaphysical philosophy upon observation of internal things. Cartesianism (the philosophy of Descartes) first eliminates all things and then replaces as fundamental those premises without which existence is impossible. Descartes defined an idea as that which fills the mind when we conceive a thing. The truth of an idea must be determined by the criteria of clarity and distinctness. Hence Descartes, held that a clear and distinct idea must be true. Descartes has the distinction also of evolving his own philosophy without recourse to authority. Consequently his conclusions are built up from the simplest of premises and grow in complexity as the structure of his philosophy takes form.

The Positive philosophy of Auguste Comte is based upon the theory that the human intellect develops through three stages of thought. The first and lowest stage is theological; the second, metaphysical; and the third and highest, positive. Thus theology and metaphysics are the feeble intellectual efforts of humanity's child-mind and positivism is the mental expression of the adult intellect. In his Cours de Philosophie positive, Comte writes:

"In the final, the positive state, the mind has given over the vain search after Absolute notions, the origin and destination of the universe, and the causes of phenomena, and applies itself to the study of their laws,--that is, their invariable relations of succession and resemblance. Reasoning and observation, duly combined, are the means of this knowledge." Comte's theory is described as an "enormous system of materialism." According to Comte, it was formerly said that the heavens declare the glory of God, but now they only recount the glory of Newton and Laplace.

Among the French schools of philosophy are Traditionalism (often applied to Christianity), which esteems tradition as the proper foundation for philosophy; the Sociological school, which regards humanity as one vast social organism; the Encyclopedists, whose efforts to classify knowledge according to the Baconian system revolutionized European thought; Voltairism, which assailed the divine origin of the Christian faith and adopted an attitude of extreme skepticism toward all matters pertaining to theology; and Neo-Criticism, a French revision of the doctrines of Immanuel Kant.

Henri Bergson, the intuitionalist, undoubtedly the greatest living French philosopher, presents a theory of mystic anti-intellectualism founded upon the premise of creative evolution, His rapid rise to popularity is due to his appeal to the finer sentiments in human nature, which rebel against the hopelessness and helplessness of materialistic science and realistic philosophy. Bergson sees God as life continually struggling against the limitations of matter. He even conceives the possible victory of life over matter, and in time the annihilation of death.

Applying the Baconian method to the mind, John Locke, the great English philosopher, declared that everything which passes through the mind is a legitimate object of mental philosophy, and that these mental phenomena are as real and valid as the objects of any other science. In his investigations of the origin of phenomena Locke departed from the Baconian requirement that it was first necessary to make a natural history of facts. The mind was regarded by Locke to be blank until experience is inscribed upon it. Thus the mind is built up of received impressions plus reflection. The soul Locke believed to be incapable of apprehension of Deity, and man's realization or cognition of God to be merely an inference of the reasoning faculty. David Hume was the most enthusiastic and also the most powerful of the disciples of Locke.

Attacking Locke's sensationalism, Bishop George Berkeley substituted for it a philosophy founded on Locke's fundamental premises but which he developed as a system of idealism. Berkeley held that ideas are the real objects of knowledge. He declared it impossible to adduce proof that sensations are occasioned by material objects; he also attempted to prove that matter has no existence. Berkeleianism holds that the universe is permeated and governed by mind. Thus the belief in the existence of material objects is merely a mental condition, and the objects themselves may well be fabrications of the mind. At the same time Berkeley considered it worse than insanity to question the accuracy of the perceptions; for if the power of the perceptive faculties be questioned man is reduced to a creature incapable of knowing, estimating, or realizing anything whatsoever.

In the Associationalism of Hartley and Hume was advanced the theory that the association of ideas is the fundamental principle of psychology and the explanation for all mental phenomena. Hartley held that if a sensation be repeated several times there is a tendency towards its spontaneous repetition, which may be awakened by association with some other idea even though the object causing the original reaction be absent. The Utilitarianism of Jeremy Bentham, Archdeacon Paley, and James and John Stuart Mill declares that to be the greatest good which is the most useful to the greatest number. John Stuart Mill believed that if it is possible through sensation to secure knowledge of the properties of things, it is also possible through a higher state of the mind--that is, intuition or reason--to gain a knowledge of the true substance of things.

Darwinism is the doctrine of natural selection and physical evolution. It has been said of Charles Robert Darwin that he determined to banish spirit altogether from the universe and make the infinite and omnipresent Mind itself synonymous with the all-pervading powers of an impersonal Nature. Agnosticism and Neo-Hegelianism are also noteworthy products of this period of philosophic thought. The former is the belief that the nature of ultimates is unknowable; the latter an English and American revival of Hegel's idealism.

From Hone's Ancient Mysteries Described.
In an effort to set forth in an appropriate figure the Christian doctrine of the Trinity, it was necessary to devise an image in which the three persons--Father, Son, and Holy Ghost--were separate and yet one. In different parts of Europe may be seen figures similar to the above, wherein three faces are united in one head. This is a legitimate method of for to those able to realize the sacred significance of the threefold head a great mystery is revealed. However, in the presence of such applications of symbology in Christian art, it is scarcely proper to consider the philosophers of other faiths as benighted if, like the Hindus, they have a three-faced Brahma, or, like the Romans, a two-faced Janus.

Dr. W. J. Durant declares that Herbert Spencer's Great Work, First Principles, made him almost at once the most famous philosopher of his time. Spencerianism is a philosophic positivism which describes evolution as an ever-increasing complexity with equilibrium as its highest possible state. According to Spencer, life is a continuous process from homogeneity to heterogeneity and back from heterogeneity to homogeneity. Life also involves the continual adjustment of internal relations to external relations. Most famous of all Spencer's aphorisms is his definition of Deity: "God is infinite intelligence, infinitely diversified through infinite time and infinite space, manifesting through an infinitude of ever-evolving individualities." The universality of the law of evolution was emphasized by Spencer, who applied it not only to the form but also to the intelligence behind the form. In every manifestation of being he recognized the fundamental tendency of unfoldment from simplicity to complexity, observing that when the point of equilibrium is reached it is always followed by the process of dissolution. According to Spencer, however, disintegration took place only that reintegration might follow upon a higher level of being.

The chief position in the Italian school of philosophy should be awarded to Giordano Bruno, who, after enthusiastically accepting Copernicus' theory that the sun is the center of the solar system, declared the sun to be a star and all the stars to be suns. In Bruno's time the earth was regarded as the center of all creation. Consequently when he thus relegated the world and man to an obscure corner in space the effect was cataclysmic. For the heresy of affirming a multiplicity of universes and conceiving Cosmos to be so vast that no single creed could fill it, Bruno paid the forfeit of his life.

Vicoism is a philosophy based upon the conclusions of Giovanni Battista Vico, who held that God controls His world not miraculously but through natural law. The laws by which men rule themselves, Vico declared, issue from a spiritual source within mankind which is en rapport with the law of the Deity. Hence material law is of divine origin and reflects the dictates of the Spiritual Father. The philosophy of Ontologism developed by Vincenzo Gioberti (generally considered more as a theologian than a philosopher) posits God as the only being and the origin of all knowledge, knowledge being identical with Deity itself. God is consequently called Being; all other manifestations are existences. Truth is to be discovered through reflection upon this mystery.

The most important of modern Italian philosophers is Benedetto Croce, a Hegelian idealist. Croce conceives ideas to be the only reality. He is anti-theological in his viewpoints, does not believe in the immortality of the soul, and seeks to substitute ethics and aesthetics for religion. Among other branches of Italian philosophy should be mentioned Sensism (Sensationalism), which posits the sense perceptions as the sole channels for the reception of knowledge; Criticism, or the philosophy of accurate judgment; and Neo-Scholasticism, which is a revival of Thomism encouraged by the Roman Catholic Church.

The two outstanding schools of American philosophy are Transcendentalism and Pragmatism. Transcendentalism, exemplified in the writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson, emphasizes the power of the transcendental over the physical. Many of Emerson's writings show pronounced Oriental influence, particularly his essays on the Oversoul and the Law of Compensation. The theory of Pragmatism, while not original with Professor William James, owes its widespread popularity as a philosophic tenet to his efforts. Pragmatism may be defined as the doctrine that the meaning and nature of things are to be discovered from consideration of their consequences. The true, according to James, "is only an expedient in the way of our thinking, just as 'the right' is only an expedient in the way of our behaving." (See his Pragmatism.) John Dewey, the Instrumentalist, who applies the experimental attitude to all the aims of life, should be considered a commentator of James. To Dewey, growth and change are limitless and no ultimates are postulated. The long residence in America of George Santayana warrants the listing of this great Spaniard among the ranks of American philosophers. Defending himself with the shield of skepticism alike from the illusions of the senses and the cumulative errors of the ages, Santayana seeks to lead mankind into a more apprehending state denominated by him the life of reason.

(In addition to the authorities already quoted, in the preparation of the foregoing abstract of the main branches of philosophic thought the present writer has had recourse to Stanley's History of Philosophy; Morell's An Historical and Critical View of the Speculative Philosophy of Europe in the Nineteenth Century; Singer's Modern Thinkers and Present Problems; Rand's Modern Classical Philosophers; Windelband's History of Philosophy; Perry's Present Philosophical Tendencies; Hamilton's Lectures on Metaphysics and Logic; and Durant's The Story of Philosophy.)

Having thus traced the more or less sequential development of philosophic speculation from Thales to James and Bergson, it is now in order to direct the reader's attention to the elements leading to and the circumstances attendant upon the genesis of philosophic thinking. Although the Hellenes proved themselves peculiarly responsive to the disciplines of philosophy, this science of sciences should not be considered indigenous to them. "Although some of the Grecians," writes Thomas Stanley, "have challenged to their nation the original of philosophy, yet the more learned of them have acknowledged it [to be] derived from the East." The magnificent institutions of Hindu, Chaldean, and Egyptian learning must be recognized as the actual source of Greek wisdom. The last was patterned after the shadow cast by the sanctuaries of Ellora, Ur, and Memphis upon the thought substance of a primitive people. Thales, Pythagoras, and Plato in their philosophic wanderings contacted many distant cults and brought back the lore of Egypt and the inscrutable Orient.

From indisputable facts such as these it is evident that philosophy emerged from the religious Mysteries of antiquity, not being separated from religion until after the decay of the Mysteries. Hence he who would fathom the depths of philosophic thought must familiarize himself with the teachings of those initiated priests designated as the first custodians of divine revelation. The Mysteries claimed to be the guardians of a transcendental knowledge so profound as to be incomprehensible save to the most exalted intellect and so potent as to be revealed with safety only to those in whom personal ambition was dead and who had consecrated their lives to the unselfish service of humanity. Both the dignity of these sacred institutions and the validity of their claim to possession of Universal Wisdom are attested by the most illustrious philosophers of antiquity, who were themselves initiated into the profundities of the secret doctrine and who bore witness to its efficacy.

The question may legitimately be propounded: If these ancient mystical institutions were of such "great pith and moment," why is so little information now available concerning them and the arcana they claimed to possess? The answer is simple enough: The Mysteries were secret societies, binding their initiates to inviolable secrecy, and avenging with death the betrayal of their sacred trusts. Although these schools were the true inspiration of the various doctrines promulgated by the ancient philosophers, the fountainhead of those doctrines was never revealed to the profane. Furthermore, in the lapse of time the teachings became so inextricably linked with the names of their disseminators that the actual but recondite source--the Mysteries--came to be wholly ignored.

Symbolism is the language of the Mysteries; in fact it is the language not only of mysticism and philosophy but of all Nature, for every law and power active in universal procedure is manifested to the limited sense perceptions of man through the medium of symbol. Every form existing in the diversified sphere of being is symbolic of the divine activity by which it is produced. By symbols men have ever sought to communicate to each other those thoughts which transcend the limitations of language. Rejecting man-conceived dialects as inadequate and unworthy to perpetuate divine ideas, the Mysteries thus chose symbolism as a far more ingenious and ideal method of preserving their transcendental knowledge. In a single figure a symbol may both reveal and conceal, for to the wise the subject of the symbol is obvious, while to the ignorant the figure remains inscrutable. Hence, he who seeks to unveil the secret doctrine of antiquity must search for that doctrine not upon the open pages of books which might fall into the hands of the unworthy but in the place where it was originally concealed.

Far-sighted were the initiates of antiquity. They realized that nations come and go, that empires rise and fall, and that the golden ages of art, science, and idealism are succeeded by the dark ages of superstition. With the needs of posterity foremost in mind, the sages of old went to inconceivable extremes to make certain that their knowledge should be preserved. They engraved it upon the face of mountains and concealed it within the measurements of colossal images, each of which was a geometric marvel. Their knowledge of chemistry and mathematics they hid within mythologies which the ignorant would perpetuate, or in the spans and arches of their temples which time has not entirely obliterated. They wrote in characters that neither the vandalism of men nor the ruthlessness of the elements could completely efface, Today men gaze with awe and reverence upon the mighty Memnons standing alone on the sands of Egypt, or upon the strange terraced pyramids of Palanque. Mute testimonies these are of the lost arts and sciences of antiquity; and concealed this wisdom must remain until this race has learned to read the universal language--SYMBOLISM.

The book to which this is the introduction is dedicated to the proposition that concealed within the emblematic figures, allegories, and rituals of the ancients is a secret doctrine concerning the inner mysteries of life, which doctrine has been preserved in toto among a small band of initiated minds since the beginning of the world. Departing, these illumined philosophers left their formulæ that others, too, might attain to understanding. But, lest these secret processes fall into uncultured hands and be perverted, the Great Arcanum was always concealed in symbol or allegory; and those who can today discover its lost keys may open with them a treasure house of philosophic, scientific, and religious truths.

From Bryant's An Analysis of Ancient Mythology.
The ancient symbol of the Orphic Mysteries was the serpent-entwined egg, which signified Cosmos as encircled by the fiery Creative Spirit. The egg also represents the soul of the philosopher; the serpent, the Mysteries. At the time of initiation the shell is broke. and man emerges from the embryonic state of physical existence wherein he had remained through the fetal period of philosophic regeneration.
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Re: The Secret Teachings of All Ages, by Manly P. Hall

Postby admin » Fri Jul 10, 2015 5:12 pm

The Ancient Mysteries and Secret Societies Which Have Influenced Modern Masonic Symbolism

WHEN confronted with a problem involving the use of the reasoning faculties, individuals of strong intellect keep their poise, and seek to reach a solution by obtaining facts bearing upon the question. Those of immature mentality, on the other hand, when similarly confronted, are overwhelmed. While the former may be qualified to solve the riddle of their own destiny, the latter must be led like a flock of sheep and taught in simple language. They depend almost entirely upon the ministrations of the shepherd. The Apostle Paul said that these little ones must be fed with milk, but that meat is the food of strong men. Thoughtlessness is almost synonymous with childishness, while thoughtfulness is symbolic of maturity.

There are, however, but few mature minds in the world; and thus it was that the philosophic-religious doctrines of the pagans were divided to meet the needs of these two fundamental groups of human intellect--one philosophic, the other incapable of appreciating the deeper mysteries of life. To the discerning few were revealed the esoteric, or spiritual, teachings, while the unqualified many received only the literal, or exoteric, interpretations. In order to make simple the great truths of Nature and the abstract principles of natural law, the vital forces of the universe were personified, becoming the gods and goddesses of the ancient mythologies. While the ignorant multitudes brought their offerings to the altars of Priapus and Pan (deities representing the procreative energies), the wise recognized in these marble statues only symbolic concretions of great abstract truths.

In all cities of the ancient world were temples for public worship and offering. In every community also were philosophers and mystics, deeply versed in Nature's lore. These individuals were usually banded together, forming seclusive philosophic and religious schools. The more important of these groups were known as the Mysteries. Many of the great minds of antiquity were initiated into these secret fraternities by strange and mysterious rites, some of which were extremely cruel. Alexander Wilder defines the Mysteries as "Sacred dramas performed at stated periods. The most celebrated were those of Isis, Sabazius, Cybele, and Eleusis." After being admitted, the initiates were instructed in the secret wisdom which had been preserved for ages. Plato, an initiate of one of these sacred orders, was severely criticized because in his writings he revealed to the public many of the secret philosophic principles of the Mysteries.

Every pagan nation had (and has) not only its state religion, but another into which the philosophic elect alone have gained entrance. Many of these ancient cults vanished from the earth without revealing their secrets, but a few have survived the test of ages and their mysterious symbols are still preserved. Much of the ritualism of Freemasonry is based on the trials to which candidates were subjected by the ancient hierophants before the keys of wisdom were entrusted to them.

Few realize the extent to which the ancient secret schools influenced contemporary intellects and, through those minds, posterity. Robert Macoy, 33°, in his General History of Freemasonry, pays a magnificent tribute to the part played by the ancient Mysteries in the rearing of the edifice of human culture. He says, in part: "It appears that all the perfection of civilization, and all the advancement made in philosophy, science, and art among the ancients are due to those institutions which, under the veil of mystery, sought to illustrate the sublimest truths of religion, morality, and virtue, and impress them on the hearts of their disciples.* * * Their chief object was to teach the doctrine of one God, the resurrection of man to eternal life, the dignity of the human soul, and to lead the people to see the shadow of the deity, in the beauty, magnificence, and splendor of the universe."

With the decline of virtue, which has preceded the destruction of every nation of history, the Mysteries became perverted. Sorcery took the place of the divine magic. Indescribable practices (such as the Bacchanalia) were introduced, and perversion ruled supreme; for no institution can be any better than the members of which it is composed. In despair, the few who were true sought to preserve the secret doctrines from oblivion. In some cases they succeeded, but more often the arcanum was lost and only the empty shell of the Mysteries remained.

Thomas Taylor has written, "Man is naturally a religious animal." From the earliest dawning of his consciousness, man has worshiped and revered things as symbolic of the invisible, omnipresent, indescribable Thing, concerning which he could discover practically nothing. The pagan Mysteries opposed the Christians during the early centuries of their church, declaring that the new faith (Christianity) did not demand virtue and integrity as requisites for salvation. Celsus expressed himself on the subject in the following caustic terms:

"That I do not, however, accuse the Christians more bitterly than truth compels, may be conjectured from hence, that the cryers who call men to other mysteries proclaim as follows: 'Let him approach whose hands are pure, and whose words are wise.' And again, others proclaim: 'Let him approach who is pure from all wickedness, whose soul is not conscious of any evil, and who leads a just and upright life.' And these things are proclaimed by those who promise a purification from error. Let us now hear who those are that are called to the Christian mysteries: Whoever is a sinner, whoever is unwise, whoever is a fool, and whoever, in short, is miserable, him the kingdom of God will receive. Do you not, therefore, call a sinner, an unjust man, a thief, a housebreaker, a wizard, one who is sacrilegious, and a robber of sepulchres? What other persons would the cryer nominate, who should call robbers together?"

It was not the true faith of the early Christian mystics that Celsus attacked, but the false forms that were creeping in even during his day. The ideals of early Christianity were based upon the high moral standards of the pagan Mysteries, and the first Christians who met under the city of Rome used as their places of worship the subterranean temples of Mithras, from whose cult has been borrowed much of the sacerdotalism of the modern church.

The ancient philosophers believed that no man could live intelligently who did not have a fundamental knowledge of Nature and her laws. Before man can obey, he must understand, and the Mysteries were devoted to instructing man concerning the operation of divine law in the terrestrial sphere. Few of the early cults actually worshiped anthropomorphic deities, although their symbolism might lead one to believe they did. They were moralistic rather than religionistic; philosophic rather than theologic. They taught man to use his faculties more intelligently, to be patient in the face of adversity, to be courageous when confronted by danger, to be true in the midst of temptation, and, most of all, to view a worthy life as the most acceptable sacrifice to God, and his body as an altar sacred to the Deity.

From Montfaucon's Antiquities.
This illustration shows Cybele, here called the Syrian Goddess, in the robes of a hierophant. Montfaucon describes the figure as follows: "Upon her head is an episcopal mitre, adorned on the lower part with towers and pinnacles; over the gate of the city is a crescent, and beneath the circuit of the walls a crown of rays. The Goddess wears a sort of surplice, exactly like the surplice of a priest or bishop; and upon the surplice a tunic, which falls down to the legs; and over all an episcopal cope, with the twelve signs of the Zodiac wrought on the borders. The figure hath a lion on each side, and holds in its left hand a Tympanum, a Sistrum, a Distaff, a Caduceus, and another instrument. In her right hand she holds with her middle finger a thunderbolt, and upon the same am animals, insects, and, as far as we may guess, flowers, fruit, a bow, a quiver, a torch, and a scythe." The whereabouts of the statue is unknown, the copy reproduced by Montfaucon being from drawings by Pirro Ligorio.

Sun worship played an important part in nearly all the early pagan Mysteries. This indicates the probability of their Atlantean origin, for the people of Atlantis were sun worshipers. The Solar Deity was usually personified as a beautiful youth, with long golden hair to symbolize the rays of the sun. This golden Sun God was slain by wicked ruffians, who personified the evil principle of the universe. By means of certain rituals and ceremonies, symbolic of purification and regeneration, this wonderful God of Good was brought back to life and became the Savior of His people. The secret processes whereby He was resurrected symbolized those cultures by means of which man is able to overcome his lower nature, master his appetites, and give expression to the higher side of himself. The Mysteries were organized for the purpose of assisting the struggling human creature to reawaken the spiritual powers which, surrounded by the flaming ring of lust and degeneracy, lay asleep within his soul. In other words, man was offered a way by which he could regain his lost estate. (See Wagner's Siegfried.)

In the ancient world, nearly all the secret societies were philosophic and religious. During the mediæval centuries, they were chiefly religious and political, although a few philosophic schools remained. In modern times, secret societies, in the Occidental countries, are largely political or fraternal, although in a few of them, as in Masonry, the ancient religious and philosophic principles still survive.

Space prohibits a detailed discussion of the secret schools. There were literally scores of these ancient cults, with branches in all parts of the Eastern and Western worlds. Some, such as those of Pythagoras and the Hermetists, show a decided Oriental influence, while the Rosicrucians, according to their own proclamations, gained much of their wisdom from Arabian mystics. Although the Mystery schools are usually associated with civilization, there is evidence that the most uncivilized peoples of prehistoric times had a knowledge of them. Natives of distant islands, many in the lowest forms of savagery, have mystic rituals and secret practices which, although primitive, are of a decided Masonic tinge.


"The original and primitive inhabitants of Britain, at some remote period, revived and reformed their national institutes. Their priest, or instructor, had hitherto been simply named Gwydd, but it was considered to have become necessary to divide this office between the national, or superior, priest and another whose influence [would] be more limited. From henceforth the former became Der-Wydd (Druid), or superior instructor, and [the latter] Go-Wydd, or O-Vydd (Ovate), subordinate instructor; and both went by the general name of Beirdd (Bards), or teachers of wisdom. As the system matured and augmented, the Bardic Order consisted of three classes, the Druids, Beirdd Braint, or privileged Bards, and Ovates." (See Samuel Meyrick and Charles Smith, The Costume of The Original Inhabitants of The British Islands.)

The origin of the word Druid is under dispute. Max Müller believes that, like the Irish word Drui, it means "the men of the oak trees." He further draws attention to the fact that the forest gods and tree deities of the Greeks were called dryades. Some believe the word to be of Teutonic origin; others ascribe it to the Welsh. A few trace it to the Gaelic druidh, which means "a wise man" or "a sorcerer." In Sanskrit the word dru means "timber."

At the time of the Roman conquest, the Druids were thoroughly ensconced in Britain and Gaul. Their power over the people was unquestioned, and there were instances in which armies, about to attack each other, sheathed their swords when ordered to do so by the white-robed Druids. No undertaking of great importance was scatted without the assistance of these patriarchs, who stood as mediators between the gods and men. The Druidic Order is deservedly credited with having had a deep understanding of Nature and her laws. The Encyclopædia Britannica states that geography, physical science, natural theology, and astrology were their favorite studies. The Druids had a fundamental knowledge of medicine, especially the use of herbs and simples. Crude surgical instruments also have been found in England and Ireland. An odd treatise on early British medicine states that every practitioner was expected to have a garden or back yard for the growing of certain herbs necessary to his profession. Eliphas Levi, the celebrated transcendentalist, makes the following significant statement:

"The Druids were priests and physicians, curing by magnetism and charging amylets with their fluidic influence. Their universal remedies were mistletoe and serpents' eggs, because these substances attract the astral light in a special manner. The solemnity with which mistletoe was cut down drew upon this plant the popular confidence and rendered it powerfully magnetic. * * * The progress of magnetism will some day reveal to us the absorbing properties of mistletoe. We shall then understand the secret of those spongy growths which drew the unused virtues of plants and become surcharged with tinctures and savors. Mushrooms, truffles, gall on trees, and the different kinds of mistletoe will be employed with understanding by a medical science, which will be new because it is old * * * but one must not move quicker than science, which recedes that it may advance the further. " (See The History of Magic.)

Not only was the mistletoe sacred as symbolic of the universal medicine, or panacea, but also because of the fact that it grew upon the oak tree. Through the symbol of the oak, the Druids worshiped the Supreme Deity; therefore, anything growing upon that tree was sacred to Him. At certain seasons, according to the positions of the sun, moon, and stars, the Arch-Druid climbed the oak tree and cut the mistletoe with a golden sickle consecrated for that service. The parasitic growth was caught in white cloths provided for the purpose, lest it touch the earth and be polluted by terrestrial vibrations. Usually a sacrifice of a white bull was made under the tree.

The Druids were initiates of a secret school that existed in their midst. This school, which closely resembled the Bacchic and Eleusinian Mysteries of Greece or the Egyptian rites of Isis and Osiris, is justly designated the Druidic Mysteries. There has been much speculation concerning the secret wisdom that the Druids claimed to possess. Their secret teachings were never written, but were communicated orally to specially prepared candidates. Robert Brown, 32°, is of the opinion that the British priests secured their information from Tyrian and Phœnician navigators who, thousands of years before the Christian Era, established colonies in Britain and Gaul while searching for tin. Thomas Maurice, in his Indian Antiquities, discourses at length on Phœnician, Carthaginian, and Greek expeditions to the British Isles for the purpose of procuring tin. Others are of the opinion that the Mysteries as celebrated by the Druids were of Oriental origin, possibly Buddhistic.

The proximity of the British Isles to the lost Atlantis may account for the sun worship which plays an important part in the rituals of Druidism. According to Artemidorus, Ceres and Persephone were worshiped on an island close to Britain with rites and ceremonies similar to those of Samothrace. There is no doubt that the Druidic Pantheon includes a large number of Greek and Roman deities. This greatly amazed Cæsar during his conquest of Britain and Gaul, and caused him to affirm that these tribes adored Mercury, Apollo, Mars, and Jupiter, in a manner similar to that of the Latin countries. It is almost certain that the Druidic Mysteries were not indigenous to Britain or Gaul, but migrated from one of the more ancient civilizations.

The school of the Druids was divided into three distinct parts, and the secret teachings embodied therein are practically the same as the mysteries concealed under the allegories of Blue Lodge Masonry. The lowest of the three divisions was that of Ovate (Ovydd). This was an honorary degree, requiring no special purification or preparation. The Ovates dressed in green, the Druidic color of learning, and were expected to know something about medicine, astronomy, poetry if possible, and sometimes music. An Ovate was an individual admitted to the Druidic Order because of his general excellence and superior knowledge concerning the problems of life.

The second division was that of Bard (Beirdd). Its members were robed in sky-blue, to represent harmony and truth, and to them was assigned the labor of memorizing, at least in part, the twenty thousand verses of Druidic sacred poetry. They were often pictured with the primitive British or Irish harp--an instrument strung with human hair, and having as many strings as there were ribs on one side of the human body. These Bards were often chosen as teachers of candidates seeking entrance into the Druidic Mysteries. Neophytes wore striped robes of blue, green, and white, these being the three sacred colors of the Druidic Order.

The third division was that of Druid (Derwyddon). Its particular labor was to minister to the religious needs of the people. To reach this dignity, the candidate must first become a Bard Braint. The Druids always dressed in white--symbolic of their purity, and the color used by them to symbolize the sun.

From Wellcome's Ancient Cymric Medicine.
The most striking adornment of the Arch-Druid was the iodhan moran, or breastplate of judgment, which possessed the mysterious Power of strangling any who made an untrue statement while wearing it. Godfrey Higgins states that this breastplate was put on the necks of witnesses to test the veracity of their evidence. The Druidic tiara, or anguinum, its front embossed with a number of points to represent the sun's rays, indicated that the priest was a personification of the rising sun. On the front of his belt the Arch-Druid wore the liath meisicith--a magic brooch, or buckle in the center of which was a large white stone. To this was attributed the power of drawing the fire of the gods down from heaven at the priest's command This specially cut stone was a burning glass, by which the sun's rays were concentrated to light the altar fires. The Druids also had other symbolic implements, such as the peculiarly shaped golden sickle with which they cut the mistletoe from the oak, and the cornan, or scepter, in the form of a crescent, symbolic of the sixth day of the increasing moon and also of the Ark of Noah. An early initiate of the Druidic Mysteries related that admission to their midnight ceremony was gained by means of a glass boat, called Cwrwg Gwydrin. This boat symbolized the moon, which, floating upon the waters of eternity, preserved the seeds of living creatures within its boatlike crescent.

In order to reach the exalted position of Arch-Druid, or spiritual head of the organization, it was necessary for a priest to pass through the six successive degrees of the Druidic Order. (The members of the different degrees were differentiated by the colors of their sashes, for all of them wore robes of white.) Some writers are of the opinion that the title of Arch-Druid was hereditary, descending from father to son, but it is more probable that the honor was conferred by ballot election. Its recipient was chosen for his virtues and integrity from the most learned members of the higher Druidic degrees.

According to James Gardner, there were usually two Arch-Druids in Britain, one residing on the Isle of Anglesea and the other on the Isle of Man. Presumably there were others in Gaul. These dignitaries generally carried golden scepters and were crowned with wreaths of oak leaves, symbolic of their authority. The younger members of the Druidic Order were clean-shaven and modestly dressed, but the more aged had long gray beards and wore magnificent golden ornaments. The educational system of the Druids in Britain was superior to that of their colleagues on the Continent, and consequently many of the Gallic youths were sent to the Druidic colleges in Britain for their philosophical instruction and training.

Eliphas Levi states that the Druids lived in strict abstinence, studied the natural sciences, preserved the deepest secrecy, and admitted new members only after long probationary periods. Many of the priests of the order lived in buildings not unlike the monasteries of the modern world. They were associated in groups like ascetics of the Far East. Although celibacy was not demanded of them, few married. Many of the Druids retired from the world and lived as recluses in caves, in rough-stone houses, or in little shacks built in the depths of a forest. Here they prayed and medicated, emerging only to perform their religious duties.

James Freeman Clarke, in his Ten Great Religions, describes the beliefs of the Druids as follows: "The Druids believed in three worlds and in transmigration from one to the other: In a world above this, in which happiness predominated; a world below, of misery; and this present state. This transmigration was to punish and reward and also to purify the soul. In the present world, said they, Good and Evil are so exactly balanced that man has the utmost freedom and is able to choose or reject either. The Welsh Triads tell us there are three objects of metempsychosis: to collect into the soul the properties of all being, to acquire a knowledge of all things, and to get power to conquer evil. There are also, they say, three kinds of knowledge: knowledge of the nature of each thing, of its cause, and its influence. There are three things which continually grow less: darkness, falsehood, and death. There are three which constantly increase: light, life, and truth."

Like nearly all schools of the Mysteries, the teachings of the Druids were divided into two distinct sections. The simpler, a moral code, was taught to all the people, while the deeper, esoteric doctrine was given only to initiated priests. To be admitted to the order, a candidate was required to be of good family and of high moral character. No important secrets were intrusted to him until he had been tempted in many ways and his strength of character severely tried. The Druids taught the people of Britain and Gaul concerning the immortality of the soul. They believed in transmigration and apparently in reincarnation. They borrowed in one life, promising to pay back in the next. They believed in a purgatorial type of hell where they would be purged of their sins, afterward passing on to the happiness of unity with the gods. The Druids taught that all men would be saved, but that some must return to earth many times to learn the lessons of human life and to overcome the inherent evil of their own natures.

Before a candidate was intrusted with the secret doctrines of the Druids, he was bound with a vow of secrecy. These doctrines were imparted only in the depths of forests and in the darkness of caves. In these places, far from the haunts of men, the neophyte was instructed concerning the creation of the universe, the personalities of the gods, the laws of Nature, the secrets of occult medicine, the mysteries of the celestial bodies, and the rudiments of magic and sorcery. The Druids had a great number of feast days. The new and full moon and the sixth day of the moon were sacred periods. It is believed that initiations took place only at the two solstices and the two equinoxes. At dawn of the 25th day of December, the birth of the Sun God was celebrated.

The secret teachings of the Druids are said by some to be tinctured with Pythagorean philosophy. The Druids had a Madonna, or Virgin Mother, with a Child in her arms, who was sacred to their Mysteries; and their Sun God was resurrected at the time of the year corresponding to that at which modern Christians celebrate Easter.

Both the cross and the serpent were sacred to the Druids, who made the former by cutting off all the branches of an oak tree and fastening one of them to the main trunk in the form of the letter T. This oaken cross became symbolic of their superior Deity. They also worshiped the sun, moon, and stars. The moon received their special veneration. Caesar stated that Mercury was one of the chief deities of the Gauls. The Druids are believed to have worshiped Mercury under the similitude of a stone cube. They also had great veneration for the Nature spirits (fairies, gnomes, and undines), little creatures of the forests and rivers to whom many offerings were made. Describing the temples of the Druids, Charles Heckethorn, in The Secret Societies of All Ages & Countries, says:

"Their temples wherein the sacred fire was preserved were generally situate on eminences and in dense groves of oak, and assumed various forms--circular, because a circle was the emblem of the universe; oval, in allusion to the mundane egg, from which issued, according to the traditions of many nations, the universe, or, according to others, our first parents; serpentine, because a serpent was the symbol of Hu, the Druidic Osiris; cruciform, because a cross is an emblem of regeneration; or winged, to represent the motion of the Divine Spirit. * * * Their chief deities were reducible to two--a male and a female, the great father and mother--Hu and Ceridwen, distinguished by the same characteristics as belong to Osiris and Isis, Bacchus and Ceres, or any other supreme god and goddess representing the two principles of all Being."

Godfrey Higgins states that Hu, the Mighty, regarded as the first settler of Britain, came from a place which the Welsh Triads call the Summer Country, the present site of Constantinople. Albert Pike says that the Lost Word of Masonry is concealed in the name of the Druid god Hu. The meager information extant concerning the secret initiations of the Druids indicates a decided similarity between their Mystery school and the schools of Greece and Egypt. Hu, the Sun God, was murdered and, after a number of strange ordeals and mystic rituals, was restored to life.

There were three degrees of the Druidic Mysteries, but few successfully passed them all. The candidate was buried in a coffin, as symbolic of the death of the Sun God. The supreme test, however, was being sent out to sea in an open boat. While undergoing this ordeal, many lost their lives. Taliesin, an ancient scholar, who passed through the Mysteries, describes the initiation of the open boat in Faber's Pagan Idolatry. The few who passed this third degree were said to have been "born again," and were instructed in the secret and hidden truths which the Druid priests had preserved from antiquity. From these initiates were chosen many of the dignitaries of the British religious and political world. (For further details, see Faber's Pagan Idolatry, Albert Pike's Morals and Dogma, and Godfrey Higgins' Celtic Druids.)


When the Persian Mysteries immigrated into Southern Europe, they were quickly assimilated by the Latin mind. The cult grew rapidly, especially among the Roman soldiery, and during the Roman wars of conquest the teachings were carried by the legionaries to nearly all parts of Europe. So powerful did the cult of Mithras become that at least one Roman Emperor was initiated into the order, which met in caverns under the city of Rome. Concerning the spread of this Mystery school through different parts of Europe, C. W. King, in his Gnostics and Their Remains, says:

"Mithraic bas-reliefs cut on the faces of rocks or on stone tablets still abound in the countries formerly the western provinces of the Roman Empire; many exist in Germany, still more in France, and in this island (Britain) they have often been discovered on the line of the Picts' Wall and the noted one at Bath."

Alexander Wilder, in his Philosophy and Ethics of the Zoroasters, states that Mithras is the Zend title for the sun, and he is supposed to dwell within that shining orb. Mithras has a male and a female aspect, though not himself androgynous. As Mithras, he is the ford of the sun, powerful and radiant, and most magnificent of the Yazatas (Izads, or Genii, of the sun). As Mithra, this deity represents the feminine principle; the mundane universe is recognized as her symbol. She represents Nature as receptive and terrestrial, and as fruitful only when bathed in the glory of the solar orb. The Mithraic cult is a simplification of the more elaborate teachings of Zarathustra (Zoroaster), the Persian fire magician.

From Maurice's Indian Antiquities.
The Druid temples of places of religious worship were not patterned after those of other nations. Most of their ceremonies were performed at night, either in thick groves of oak trees or around open-air altars built of great uncut stones. How these masses of rock were moved ahs not been satisfactorily explained. The most famous of their altars, a great stone ring of rocks, is Stonehenge, in Southwestern England. This structure, laid out on an astronomical basis, still stands, a wonder of antiquity.

According to the Persians, there coexisted in eternity two principles. The first of these, Ahura-Mazda, or Ormuzd, was the Spirit of Good. From Ormuzd came forth a number of hierarchies of good and beautiful spirits (angels and archangels). The second of these eternally existing principles was called Ahriman. He was also a pure and beautiful spirit, but he later rebelled against Ormuzd, being jealous of his power. This did not occur, however, until after Ormuzd had created light, for previously Ahriman had not been conscious of the existence of Ormuzd. Because of his jealousy and rebellion, Ahriman became the Spirit of Evil. From himself he individualized a host of destructive creatures to injure Ormuzd.

When Ormuzd created the earth, Ahriman entered into its grosser elements. Whenever Ormuzd did a good deed, Ahriman placed the principle of evil within it. At last when Ormuzd created the human race, Ahriman became incarnate in the lower nature of man so that in each personality the Spirit of Good and the Spirit of Evil struggle for control. For 3,000 years Ormuzd ruled the celestial worlds with light and goodness. Then he created man. For another 3,000 years he ruled man with wisdom, and integrity. Then the power of Ahriman began, and the struggle for the soul of man continues through the next period of 3,000 years. During the fourth period of 3,000 years, the power of Ahriman will be destroyed. Good will return to the world again, evil and death will be vanquished, and at last the Spirit of Evil will bow humbly before the throne of Ormuzd. While Ormuzd and Ahriman are struggling for control of the human soul and for supremacy in Nature, Mithras, God of Intelligence, stands as mediator between the two. Many authors have noted the similarity between mercury and Mithras. As the chemical mercury acts as a solvent (according to alchemists), so Mithras seeks to harmonize the two celestial opposites.

There are many points of resemblance between Christianity and the cult of Mithras. One of the reasons for this probably is that the Persian mystics invaded Italy during the first century after Christ and the early history of both cults was closely interwoven. The Encyclopædia Britannica makes the following statement concerning the Mithraic and Christian Mysteries:

"The fraternal and democratic spirit of the first communities, and their humble origin; the identification of the object of adoration with light and the sun; the legends of the shepherds with their gifts and adoration, the flood, and the ark; the representation in art of the fiery chariot, the drawing of water from the rock; the use of bell and candle, holy water and the communion; the sanctification of Sunday and of the 25th of December; the insistence on moral conduct, the emphasis placed on abstinence and self-control; the doctrine of heaven and hell, of primitive revelation, of the mediation of the Logos emanating from the divine, the atoning sacrifice, the constant warfare between good and evil and the final triumph of the former, the immortality of the soul, the last judgment, the resurrection of the flesh and the fiery destruction of the universe--[these] are some of the resemblances which, whether real or only apparent, enabled Mithraism to prolong its resistance to Christianity,"

The rites of Mithras were performed in caves. Porphyry, in his Cave of the Nymphs, states that Zarathustra (Zoroaster) was the first to consecrate a cave to the worship of God, because a cavern was symbolic of the earth, or the lower world of darkness. John P. Lundy, in his Monumental Christianity, describes the cave of Mithras as follows:

"But this cave was adorned with the signs of the zodiac, Cancer and Capricorn. The summer and winter solstices were chiefly conspicuous, as the gates of souls descending into this life, or passing out of it in their ascent to the Gods; Cancer being the gate of descent, and Capricorn of ascent. These are the two avenues of the immortals passing up and down from earth to heaven, and from heaven to earth."

The so-called chair of St. Peter, in Rome, was believed to have been used in one of the pagan Mysteries, possibly that of Mithras, in whose subterranean grottoes the votaries of the Christian Mysteries met in the early days of their faith. In Anacalypsis, Godfrey Higgins writes that in 1662, while cleaning this sacred chair of Bar-Jonas, the Twelve Labors of Hercules were discovered upon it, and that later the French discovered upon the same chair the Mohammedan confession of faith, written in Arabic.

Initiation into the rites of Mithras, like initiation into many other ancient schools of philosophy, apparently consisted of three important degrees. Preparation for these degrees consisted of self-purification, the building up of the intellectual powers, and the control of the animal nature. In the first degree the candidate was given a crown upon the point of a sword and instructed in the mysteries of Mithras' hidden power. Probably he was taught that the golden crown represented his own spiritual nature, which must be objectified and unfolded before he could truly glorify Mithras; for Mithras was his own soul, standing as mediator between Ormuzd, his spirit, and Ahriman, his animal nature. In the second degree he was given the armor of intelligence and purity and sent into the darkness of subterranean pits to fight the beasts of lust, passion, and degeneracy. In the third degree he was given a cape, upon which were drawn or woven the signs of the zodiac and other astronomical symbols. After his initiations were over, he was hailed as one who had risen from the dead, was instructed in the secret teachings of the Persian mystics, and became a full-fledged member of the order. Candidates who successfully passed the Mithraic initiations were called Lions and were marked upon their foreheads with the Egyptian cross. Mithras himself is often pictured with the head of a lion and two pairs of wings. Throughout the entire ritual were repeated references to the birth of Mithras as the Sun God, his sacrifice for man, his death that men might have eternal life, and lastly, his resurrection and the saving of all humanity by his intercession before the throne of Ormuzd. (See Heckethorn.)

While the cult of Mithras did not reach the philosophic heights attained by Zarathustra, its effect upon the civilization of the Western world was far-reaching, for at one time nearly all Europe was converted to its doctrines. Rome, in her intercourse with other nations, inoculated them with her religious principles; and many later institutions have exhibited Mithraic culture. The reference to the "Lion" and the "Grip of the Lion's Paw" in the Master Mason's degree have a strong Mithraic tinge and may easily have originated from this cult. A ladder of seven rungs appears in the Mithraic initiation. Faber is of the opinion that this ladder was originally a pyramid of seven steps. It is possible that the Masonic ladder with seven rungs had its origin in this Mithraic symbol. Women were never permitted to enter the Mithraic Order, but children of the male sex were initiates long before they reached maturity. The refusal to permit women to join the Masonic Order may be based on the esoteric reason given in the secret instructions of the Mithraics. This cult is another excellent example of those secret societies whose legends are largely symbolic representations of the sun and his journey through the houses of the heavens. Mithras, rising from a stone, is merely the sun rising over the horizon, or, as the ancients supposed, out of the horizon, at the vernal equinox.

John O'Neill disputes the theory that Mithras was intended as a solar deity. In The Night of the Gods he writes: "The Avestan Mithra, the yazata of light, has '10,000 eyes, high, with full knowledge (perethuvaedayana), strong, sleepless and ever awake (jaghaurvaunghem).'The supreme god Ahura Mazda also has one Eye, or else it is said that 'with his eyes, the sun, moon and stars, he sees everything.' The theory that Mithra was originally a title of the supreme heavens-god--putting the sun out of court--is the only one that answers all requirements. It will be evident that here we have origins in abundance for the Freemason's Eye and 'its nunquam dormio.'" The reader must nor confuse the Persian Mithra with the Vedic Mitra. According to Alexander Wilder, "The Mithraic rites superseded the Mysteries of Bacchus, and became the foundation of the Gnostic system, which for many centuries prevailed in Asia, Egypt, and even the remote West."

From Lundy's Monumental Christianity.
The most famous sculpturings and reliefs of this prototokos show Mithras kneeling upon the recumbent form of a great bull, into whose throat he is driving a sword. The slaying of the bull signifies that the rays of the sun, symbolized by the sword, release at the vernal equinox the vital essences of the earth--the blood of the bull--which, pouring from the wound made by the Sun God, fertilize the seeds of living things. Dogs were held sacred to the cult of Mithras, being symbolic of sincerity and trustworthiness. The Mithraics used the serpent a an emblem of Ahriman, the Spirit of Evil, and water rats were held sacred to him. The bull is esoterically the Constellation of Taurus; the serpent, its opposite in the zodiac, Scorpio; the sun, Mithras, entering into the side of the bull, slays the celestial creature and nourishes the universe with its blood.

From Montfaucon's Antiquities
Mithras was born out of a rock, which, breaking open, permitted him to emerge. This occurred in the darkness of a subterranean chamber. The Church of the Nativity at Bethlehem confirms the theory that Jesus was born in a grotto, or cave. According to Dupuis, Mithras was put to death by crucifixion and rose again on the third day.
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Re: The Secret Teachings of All Ages, by Manly P. Hall

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The Ancient Mysteries and Secret Societies: Part Two

THE entire history of Christian and pagan Gnosticism is shrouded in the deepest mystery and obscurity; for, while the Gnostics were undoubtedly prolific writers, little of their literature has survived. They brought down upon themselves the animosity of the early Christian Church, and when this institution reached its position of world power it destroyed all available records of the Gnostic cultus. The name Gnostic means wisdom, or knowledge, and is derived from the Greek Gnosis. The members of the order claimed to be familiar with the secret doctrines of early Christianity. They interpreted the Christian Mysteries according to pagan symbolism. Their secret information and philosophic tenets they concealed from the profane and taught to a small group only of especially initiated persons.

Simon Magus, the magician of New Testament fame, is often supposed to have been the founder of Gnosticism. If this be true, the sect was formed during the century after Christ and is probably the first of the many branches which have sprung from the main trunk of Christianity. Everything with which the enthusiasts of the early Christian Church might not agree they declared to be inspired by the Devil. That Simon Magus had mysterious and supernatural powers is conceded even by his enemies, but they maintained that these powers were lent to him by the infernal spirits and furies which they asserted were his ever present companions. Undoubtedly the most interesting legend concerning Simon is that which tells of his theosophic contests with the Apostle Peter while the two were promulgating their differing doctrines in Rome. According to the story that the Church Fathers have preserved, Simon was to prove his spiritual superiority by ascending to heaven in a chariot of fire. He was actually picked up and carried many feet into the air by invisible powers. When St. Peter saw this, he cried out in a loud voice, ordering the demons (spirits of the air) to release their hold upon the magician. The evil spirits, when so ordered by the great saint, were forced to obey. Simon fell a great distance and was killed, which decisively proved the superiority of the Christian powers. This story is undoubtedly manufactured out of whole cloth, as it is only one out of many accounts concerning his death, few of which agree. As more and more evidence is being amassed to the effect that St, Peter was never in Rome, its last possible vestige of authenticity is rapidly being dissipated.

That Simon was a philosopher there is no doubt, for wherever his exact words are preserved his synthetic and transcending thoughts are beautifully expressed. The principles of Gnosticism are well described in the following verbatim statement by him, supposed to have been preserved by Hippolytus: "To you, therefore, I say what I say, and write what I write. And the writing is this. Of the universal Æons [periods, planes, or cycles of creative and created life in substance and space, celestial creatures] there are two shoots, without beginning or end, springing from one Root, which is the power invisible, inapprehensible silence [Bythos]. Of these shoots one is manifested from above, which is the Great Power, the Universal Mind ordering all things, male, and the other, [is manifested] from below, the Great Thought, female, producing all things. Hence pairing with each other, they unite and manifest the Middle Distance, incomprehensible Air, without beginning or end. In this is the Father Who sustains all things, and nourishes those things which have a beginning and end." (See Simon Magus, by G. R. S. Mead.) By this we are to understand that manifestation is the result of a positive and a negative principle, one acting upon the other, and it takes place in the middle plane, or point of equilibrium, called the pleroma. This pleroma is a peculiar substance produced out of the blending of the spiritual and material æons. Out of the pleroma was individualized the Demiurgus, the immortal mortal, to whom we are responsible for our physical existence and the suffering we must go through in connection with it. In the Gnostic system, three pairs of opposites, called Syzygies, emanated from the Eternal One. These, with Himself, make the total of seven. The six (three pairs) Æons (living, divine principles) were described by Simon in the Philosophumena in the following manner: The first two were Mind (Nous) and Thought (Epinoia). Then came Voice (Phone) and its opposite, Name (Onoma), and lastly, Reason (Logismos) and Reflection (Enthumesis). From these primordial six, united with the Eternal Flame, came forth the Æons (Angels) who formed the lower worlds through the direction of the Demiurgus. (See the works of H. P. Blavatsky.) How this first Gnosticism of Simon Magus and Menander, his disciple, was amplified, and frequently distorted, by later adherents to the cult must now be considered.

The School of Gnosticism was divided into two major parts, commonly called the Syrian Cult and the Alexandrian Cult. These schools agreed in essentials, but the latter division was more inclined to be pantheistic, while the former was dualistic. While the Syrian cult was largely Simonian, the Alexandrian School was the outgrowth of the philosophical deductions of a clever Egyptian Christian, Basilides by name, who claimed to have received his instructions from the Apostle Matthew. Like Simon Magus, he was an emanationist, with Neo-Platonic inclinations. In fact, the entire Gnostic Mystery is based upon the hypothesis of emanations as being the logical connection between the irreconcilable opposites Absolute Spirit and Absolute Substance, which the Gnostics believed to have been coexistent in Eternity. Some assert that Basilides was the true founder of Gnosticism, but there is much evidence to the effect that Simon Magus laid down its fundamental principles in the preceding century.

From the Nuremberg Chronicle.
Simon Magus, having called upon the Spirits of the Air, is here shown being picked up by the demons. St. Peter demands that the evil genii release their hold upon the magician. The demons are forced to comply and Simon Magus is killed by the fall.

The Alexandrian Basilides inculcated Egyptian Hermeticism, Oriental occultism, Chaldean astrology, and Persian philosophy in his followers, and in his doctrines sought to unite the schools of early Christianity with the ancient pagan Mysteries. To him is attributed the formulation of that peculiar concept of the Deity which carries the name of Abraxas. In discussing the original meaning of this word, Godfrey Higgins, in his Celtic Druids, has demonstrated that the numerological powers of the letters forming the word Abraxas when added together result in the sum of 365. The same author also notes that the name Mithras when treated in a similar manner has the same numerical value. Basilides caught that the powers of the universe were divided into 365 Æons, or spiritual cycles, and that the sum of all these together was the Supreme Father, and to Him he gave the Qabbalistical appellation Abraxas, as being symbolical, numerologically, of His divine powers, attributes, and emanations. Abraxas is usually symbolized as a composite creature, with the body of a human being and the head of a rooster, and with each of his legs ending in a serpent. C. W. King, in his Gnostics and Their Remains, gives the following concise description of the Gnostic philosophy of Basilides, quoting from the writings of the early Christian bishop and martyr, St. Irenæus: "He asserted that God, the uncreated, eternal Father, had first brought forth Nous, or Mind; this the Logos, Word; this again Phronesis, Intelligence; from Phronesis sprung Sophia, Wisdom, and Dynamis, Strength."

In describing Abraxas, C. W. King says: "Bellermann considers the composite image, inscribed with the actual name Abraxas, to be a Gnostic Pantheos, representing the Supreme Being, with the Five Emanations marked out by appropriate symbols. From the human body, the usual form assigned to the Deity, spring the two supporters, Nous and Logos, expressed in the serpents, symbols of the inner senses, and the quickening understanding; on which account the Greeks had made the serpent the attribute of Pallas. His head--that of a cock--represents Phronesis, that bird being the emblem of foresight and of vigilance. His two arms hold the symbols of Sophia and Dynamis: the shield of Wisdom and the whip of Power."

The Gnostics were divided in their opinions concerning the Demiurgus, or creator of the lower worlds. He established the terrestrial universe with the aid of six sons, or emanations (possibly the planetary Angels) which He formed out of, and yet within, Himself. As stated before, the Demiurgus was individualized as the lowest creation out of the substance called pleroma. One group of the Gnostics was of the opinion that the Demiurgus was the cause of all misery and was an evil creature, who by building this lower world had separated the souls of men from truth by encasing them in mortal vehicles. The other sect viewed the Demiurgus as being divinely inspired and merely fulfilling the dictates of the invisible Lord. Some Gnostics were of the opinion that the Jewish God, Jehovah, was the Demiurgus. This concept, under a slightly different name, apparently influenced mediæval Rosicrucianism, which viewed Jehovah as the Lord of the material universe rather than as the Supreme Deity. Mythology abounds with the stories of gods who partook of both celestial and terrestrial natures. Odin, of Scandinavia, is a good example of a deity subject to mortality, bowing before the laws of Nature and yet being, in certain senses at least, a Supreme Deity.

The Gnostic viewpoint concerning the Christ is well worthy of consideration. This order claimed to be the only sect to have actual pictures of the Divine Syrian. While these were, in all probability, idealistic conceptions of the Savior based upon existing sculpturings and paintings of the pagan sun gods, they were all Christianity had. To the Gnostics, the Christ was the personification of Nous, the Divine Mind, and emanated from the higher spiritual Æons. He descended into the body of Jesus at the baptism and left it again before the crucifixion. The Gnostics declared that the Christ was not crucified, as this Divine Nous could not suffer death, but that Simon, the Cyrenian, offered his life instead and that the Nous, by means of its power, caused Simon to resemble Jesus. Irenæus makes the following statement concerning the cosmic sacrifice of the Christ:

"When the uncreated, unnamed Father saw the corruption of mankind, He sent His firstborn, Nous, into the world, in the form of Christ, for the redemption of all who believe in Him, out of the power of those that have fabricated the world (the Demiurgus, and his six sons, the planetary genii). He appeared amongst men as the Man Jesus, and wrought miracles." (See King's Gnostics and Their Remains.)

The Gnostics divided humanity into three parts: those who, as savages, worshiped only the visible Nature; those who, like the Jews, worshiped the Demiurgus; and lastly, themselves, or others of a similar cult, including certain sects of Christians, who worshiped Nous (Christ) and the true spiritual light of the higher Æons.

After the death of Basilides, Valentinus became the leading inspiration of the Gnostic movement. He still further complicated the system of Gnostic philosophy by adding infinitely to the details. He increased the number of emanations from the Great One (the Abyss) to fifteen pairs and also laid much emphasis on the Virgin Sophia, or Wisdom. In the Books of the Savior, parts of which are commonly known as the Pistis Sophia, may be found much material concerning this strange doctrine of Æons and their strange inhabitants. James Freeman Clarke, in speaking of the doctrines of the Gnostics, says: "These doctrines, strange as they seem to us, had a wide influence in the Christian Church." Many of the theories of the ancient Gnostics, especially those concerning scientific subjects, have been substantiated by modern research. Several sects branched off from the main stem of Gnosticism, such as the Valentinians, the Ophites (serpent worshipers), and the Adamites. After the third century their power waned, and the Gnostics practically vanished from the philosophic world. An effort was made during the Middle Ages to resurrect the principles of Gnosticism, but owing to the destruction of their records the material necessary was not available. Even today there are evidences of Gnostic philosophy in the modern world, but they bear other names and their true origin is not suspected. Many of the Gnostic concepts have actually been incorporated into the dogmas of the Christian Church, and our newer interpretations of Christianity are often along the lines of Gnostic emanationism.


The identity of the Greco-Egyptian Serapis (known to the Greeks as Serapis and the Egyptians as Asar-Hapi) is shrouded by an impenetrable veil of mystery. While this deity was a familiar figure among the symbols of the secret Egyptian initiatory rites, his arcane nature was revealed only to those who had fulfilled the requirements of the Serapic cultus. Therefore, in all probability, excepting the initiated priests, the Egyptians themselves were ignorant of his true character. So far as known, there exists no authentic account of the rites of Serapis, but an analysis of the deity and his accompanying symbols reveals their salient points. In an oracle delivered to the King of Cyprus, Serapis described himself thus:

''A god I am such as I show to thee,
The Starry Heavens are my head, my trunk the sea,
Earth forms my feet, mine ears the air supplies,
The Sun's far-darting, brilliant rays, mine eyes."

Several unsatisfactory attempts have been made to etymologize the word Serapis. Godfrey Higgins notes that Soros was the name given by the Egyptians to a stone coffin, and Apis was Osiris incarnate in the sacred bull. These two words combined result in Soros-Apis or Sor-Apis, "the tomb of the bull." But it is improbable that the Egyptians would worship a coffin in the form of a man.

Several ancient authors, including Macrobius, have affirmed that Serapis was a name for the Sun, because his image so often had a halo of light about its head. In his Oration Upon the Sovereign Sun, Julian speaks of the deity in these words: "One Jove, one Pluto, one Sun is Serapis." In Hebrew, Serapis is Saraph, meaning "to blaze out" or "to blaze up." For this reason the Jews designated one of their hierarchies of spiritual beings, Seraphim.

The most common theory, however, regarding the origin of the name Serapis is that which traces its derivation from the compound Osiris-Apis. At one time the Egyptians believed that the dead were absorbed into the nature of Osiris, the god of the dead. While marked similarity exists between Osiris-Apis and Serapis, the theory advanced by Egyptologists that Serapis is merely a name given to the dead Apis, or sacred bull of Egypt, is untenable in view of the transcendent wisdom possessed by the Egyptian priestcraft, who, in all probability, used the god to symbolize the soul of the world (anima mundi). The material body of Nature was called Apis; the soul which escaped from the body at death but was enmeshed with the form during physical life was designated Serapis.

C. W. King believes Serapis to be a deity of Brahmanic extraction, his name being the Grecianized form of Ser-adah or Sri-pa, two titles ascribed to Yama, the Hindu god of death. This appears reasonable, especially since there is a legend to the effect that Serapis, in the form of a bull, was driven by Bacchus from India to Egypt. The priority of the Hindu Mysteries would further substantiate such a theory.

Among other meanings suggested for the word Serapis are: "The Sacred Bull," "The Sun in Taurus," "The Soul of Osiris," "The Sacred Serpent," and "The Retiring of the Bull." The last appellation has reference to the ceremony of drowning the sacred Apis in the waters of the Nile every twenty-five years.

From Montfaucon's Antiquities.
This Gnostic gem represents by its serpentine body the pathway of the Sun and by its lion head the exaltation of the solar in the constellation of Leo.

From Montfaucon's Antiquities.
Labyrinths and mazes were favored places of initiation among many ancient cults. Remains of these mystic mazes have been found among the American Indians, Hindus, Persians, Egyptians, and Greeks. Some of these mazes are merely involved pathways lined with stones; others are literally miles of gloomy caverns under temples or hollowed from the sides of mountains. The famous labyrinth of Crete, in which roamed the bull-headed Minotaur, was unquestionably a place of initiation into the Cretan Mysteries.

There is considerable evidence that the famous statue of Serapis in the Serapeum at Alexandria was originally worshiped under another name at Sinope, from which it was brought to Alexandria. There is also a legend which tells that Serapis was a very early king of the Egyptians, to whom they owed the foundation of their philosophical and scientific power. After his death this king was elevated to the estate of a god. Phylarchus declared that the word Serapis means "the power that disposed the universe into its present beautiful order."

In his Isis and Osiris, Plutarch gives the following account of the origin of the magnificent statue of Serapis which stood in the Serapeum at Alexandria:

While he was Pharaoh of Egypt, Ptolemy Soter had a strange dream in which he beheld a tremendous statue, which came to life and ordered the Pharaoh to bring it to Alexandria with all possible speed. Ptolemy Soter, not knowing the whereabouts of the statue, was sorely perplexed as to how he could discover it. While the Pharaoh was relating his dream, a great traveler by the name of Sosibius, coming forward, declared that he had seen such an image at Sinope. The Pharaoh immediately dispatched Soteles and Dionysius to negotiate for the removal of the figure to Alexandria. Three years elapsed before the image was finally obtained, the representatives of the Pharaoh finally stealing it and concealing the theft by spreading a story that the statue had come to life and, walking down the street leading from its temple, had boarded the ship prepared for its transportation to Alexandria. Upon its arrival in Egypt, the figure was brought into the presence of two Egyptian Initiates--the Eumolpid Timotheus and Manetho the Sebennite--who, immediately pronounced it to be Serapis. The priests then declared that it was equipollent to Pluto. This was a masterly stroke, for in Serapis the Greeks and Egyptians found a deity in common and thus religious unity was consummated between the two nations.

Several figures of Serapis that stood in his various temples in Egypt and Rome have been described by early authors. Nearly all these showed Grecian rather than Egyptian influence. In some the body of the god was encircled by the coils of a great serpent. Others showed him as a composite of Osiris and Apis.

A description of the god that in all probability is reasonably accurate is that which represents him as a tall, powerful figure, conveying the twofold impression of manly strength and womanly grace. His face portrayed a deeply pensive mood, the expression inclining toward sadness. His hair was long and arranged in a somewhat feminine manner, resting in curls upon his breast and shoulders. The face, save for its heavy beard, was also decidedly feminine. The figure of Serapis was usually robed from head to foot in heavy draperies, believed by initiates to conceal the fact that his body was androgynous.

Various substances were used in making the statues of Serapis. Some undoubtedly were carved from stone or marble by skilled craftsmen; others may have been cast from base or precious metals. One colossus of Serapis was composed of plates of various metals fitted together. In a labyrinth sacred to Serapis stood a thirteen-foot statue of him reputed to have been made from a single emerald. Modern writers, discussing this image, state that it was made of green glass poured into a mold. According to the Egyptians, however, it withstood all the tests of an actual emerald.

Clement of Alexandria describes a figure of Serapis compounded from the following elements: First, filings of gold, silver, lead, and tin; second, all manner of Egyptian stones, including sapphires, hematites, emeralds, and topazes; all these being ground down and mixed together with the coloring matter left over from the funeral of Osiris and Apis. The result was a rare and curious figure, indigo in color. Some of the statues of Serapis must have been formed of extremely hard substances, for when a Christian soldier, carrying out the edict of Theodosius, struck the Alexandrian Serapis with his ax, that instrument was shattered into fragments and sparks flew from it. It is also quite probable that Serapis was worshiped in the form of a serpent, in common with many of the higher deities of the Egyptian and Greek pantheons.

Serapis was called Theon Heptagrammaton, or the god with the name of seven letters. The name Serapis (like Abraxas and Mithras) contains seven letters. In their hymns to Serapis the priests chanted the seven vowels. Occasionally Serapis is depicted with horns or a coronet of seven rays. These evidently represented the seven divine intelligences manifesting through the solar light. The Encyclopædia Britannica notes that the earliest authentic mention of Serapis is in connection with the death of Alexander. Such was the prestige of Serapis that he alone of the gods was consulted in behalf of the dying king.

The Egyptian secret school of philosophy was divided into the Lesser and the Greater Mysteries, the former being sacred to Isis and the latter to Serapis and Osiris. Wilkinson is of the opinion that only the priests were permitted to enter the Greater Mysteries. Even the heir to the throne was not eligible until he had been crowned Pharaoh, when, by virtue of his kingly office, he automatically became a priest and the temporal head of the state religion. (See Wilkinson's Manners and Customs of the Egyptians.) A limited number were admitted into the Greater Mysteries: these preserved their secrets inviolate.

Much of the information concerning the rituals of the higher degrees of the Egyptian Mysteries has been gleaned from an examination of the chambers and passageways in which the initiations were given. Under the temple of Serapis destroyed by Theodosius were found strange mechanical contrivances constructed by the priests in the subterranean crypts and caverns where the nocturnal initiatory rites were celebrated. These machines indicate the severe tests of moral and physical courage undergone by the candidates. After passing through these tortuous ways, the neophytes who Survived the ordeals were ushered into the presence of Serapis, a noble and awe-inspiring figure illumined by unseen lights.

Labyrinths were also a striking feature in connection with the Rice of Serapis, and E. A. Wallis Budge, in his Gods of the Egyptians, depicts Serapis(Minotaur-like) with the body of a man and the head of a bull. Labyrinths were symbolic of the involvements and illusions of the lower world through which wanders the soul of man in its search for truth. In the labyrinth dwells the lower animal man with the head of the bull, who seeks to destroy the soul entangled in the maze of worldly ignorance. In this relation Serapis becomes the Tryer or Adversary who tests the souls of those seeking union with the Immortals. The maze was also doubtless used to represent the solar system, the Bull-Man representing the sun dwelling in the mystic maze of its planets, moons, and asteroids.

The Gnostic Mysteries were acquainted with the arcane meaning of Serapis, and through the medium of Gnosticism this god became inextricably associated with early Christianity. In fact, the Emperor Hadrian, while traveling in Egypt in A.D. 24, declared in a letter to Servianus that the worshipers of Serapis were Christians and that the Bishops of the church also worshiped at his shrine. He even declared that the Patriarch himself, when in Egypt, was forced to adore Serapis as well as Christ. (See Parsons' New Light on the Great Pyramid.)

The little-suspected importance of Serapis as a prototype of Christ can be best appreciated after a consideration of the following extract from C. W. King's Gnostics and Their Remains: "There can be no doubt that the head of Serapis, marked as the face is by a grave and pensive majesty, supplied the first idea for the conventional portraits of the Saviour. The Jewish prejudices of the first converts were so powerful that we may be sure no attempt was made to depict His countenance until some generations after all that had beheld it on earth had passed away."

From Mosaize Historie der Hebreeuwse Kerke.
Serapis is often shown standing on the back of the sacred crocodile, carrying in his left hand a rule with which to measure the inundations of the Nile, and balancing with his right hand a curious emblem consisting of an animal with the heads. The first head--that of a lion--signified the present; the second head--that of a wolf--the past; and the third head--that of a dog--the future. The body with its three heads was enveloped by the twisted coils of a serpent. Figures of Serapis are occasionally accompanied by Cerberus, the three-headed dog of Pluto, and--like Jupiter--carry baskets of grain upon their heads.

Serapis gradually usurped the positions previously occupied by the other Egyptian and Greek gods, and became the supreme deity of both religions. His power continued until the fourth century of the Christian Era. In A.D. 385, Theodosius, that would-be exterminator of pagan philosophy, issued his memorable edict De Idolo Serapidis Diruendo. When the Christian soldiers, in obedience to this order, entered the Serapeum at Alexandria to destroy the image of Serapis which had stood there for centuries, so great was their veneration for the god that they dared not touch the image lest the ground should open at their feet and engulf them. At length, overcoming their fear, they demolished the statue, sacked the building, and finally as a fitting climax to their offense burned the magnificent library which was housed within the lofty apartments of the Serapeum. Several writers have recorded the remarkable fact that Christian symbols were found in the ruined foundations of this pagan temple. Socrates, a church historian of the fifth century, declared that after the pious Christians had razed the Serapeum at Alexandria and scattered the demons who dwelt there under the guise of gods, beneath the foundations was found the monogram of Christ!

Two quotations will further establish the relationship existing between the Mysteries of Serapis and those of other ancient peoples. The first is from Richard Payne Knight's Symbolical Language of Ancient Art and Mythology: "Hence Varro [in De Lingua Latina] says that Cœlum and Terra, that is universal mind and productive body, were the Great Gods of the Samothracian Mysteries; and the same as the Serapis and Isis of the later Ægyptians: the Taautos and Astarte of the Phœnicians, and the Saturn and Ops of the Latins." The second quotation is from Albert Pike's Morals and Dogma: "'Thee,' says Martianus Capella, in his hymn to the Sun, 'dwellers on the Nile adore as Serapis, and Memphis worships as Osiris: in the sacred rites of Persia thou art Mithras, in Phrygia, Atys, and Libya bows down to thee as Ammon, and Phœnician Byblos as Adonis; thus the whole world adores thee under different names.'"


The date of the founding of the Odinic Mysteries is uncertain, some writers declaring that they were established in the first century before Christ; others, the first century after Christ. Robert Macoy, 33°, gives the following description of their origin: "It appears from the northern chronicles that in the first century of the Christian Era, Sigge, the chief of the Aser, an Asiatic tribe, emigrated from the Caspian sea and the Caucasus into northern Europe. He directed his course northwesterly from the Black sea to Russia, over which, according to tradition, he placed one of his sons as a ruler, as he is said to have done over the Saxons and the Franks. He then advanced through Cimbria to Denmark, which acknowledged his fifth son Skiold as its sovereign, and passed over to Sweden, where Gylf, who did homage to the wonderful stranger, and was initiated into his mysteries, then ruled. He soon made himself master here, built Sigtuna as the capital of his empire, and promulgated a new code of laws, and established the sacred mysteries. He, himself, assumed the name of Odin, founded the priesthood of the twelve Drottars (Druids?) who conducted the secret worship, and the administration of justice, and, as prophets, revealed the future. The secret rites of these mysteries celebrated the death of Balder, the beautiful and lovely, and represented the grief of Gods and men at his death, and his restoration to life." (General History of Freemasonry.)

After his death, the historical Odin was apotheosized, his identity being merged into that of the mythological Odin, god of wisdom, whose cult he had promulgated. Odinism then supplanted the worship of Thor, the thunderer, the supreme deity of the ancient Scandinavian pantheon. The mound where, according to legend, King Odin was buried is still to be seen near the site of his great temple at Upsala.

The twelve Drottars who presided over the Odinic Mysteries evidently personified the twelve holy and ineffable names of Odin. The rituals of the Odinic Mysteries were very similar to those of the Greeks, Persians, and Brahmins, after which they were patterned. The Drottars, who symbolized the signs of the zodiac, were the custodians of the arts and sciences, which they revealed to those who passed successfully the ordeals of initiation. Like many other pagan cults, the Odinic Mysteries, as an institution, were destroyed by Christianity, but the underlying cause of their fall was the corruption of the priesthood.

Mythology is nearly always the ritual and the symbolism of a Mystery school. Briefly stated, the sacred drama which formed the basis of the Odinic Mysteries was as follows:

The Supreme, invisible Creator of all things was called All-Father. His regent in Nature was Odin, the one-eyed god. Like Quetzalcoatl, Odin was elevated to the dignity of the Supreme Deity. According to the Drottars, the universe was fashioned from the body of Ymir, the hoarfrost giant. Ymir was formed from the clouds of mist that rose from Ginnungagap, the great cleft in chaos into which the primordial frost giants and flame giants had hurled snow and fire. The three gods--Odin, Vili, and Ve--slew Ymir and from him formed the world. From Ymir's various members the different parts of Nature were fashioned.

After Odin had established order, he caused a wonderful palace, called Asgard, to be built on the top of a mountain, and here the twelve Æsir (gods) dwelt together, far above the limitations of mortal men. On this mountain also was Valhalla, the palace of the slain, where those who had heroically died fought and feasted day after day. Each night their wounds were healed and the boar whose flesh they ate renewed itself as rapidly as it was consumed.

Balder the Beautiful--the Scandinavian Christ--was the beloved son of Odin. Balder was not warlike; his kindly and beautiful spirit brought peace and joy to the hearts of the gods, and they all loved him save one. As Jesus had a Judas among His twelve disciples, so one of the twelve gods was false--Loki, the personification of evil. Loki caused Höthr, the blind god of fate, to shoot Balder with a mistletoe arrow. With the death of Balder, light and joy vanished from the lives of the other deities. Heartbroken, the gods gathered to find a method whereby they could resurrect this spirit of eternal life and youth. The result was the establishment of the Mysteries.

The Odinic Mysteries were given in underground crypts or caves, the chambers, nine in number, representing the Nine Worlds of the Mysteries. The candidate seeking admission was assigned the task of raising Balder from the dead. Although he did not realize it, he himself played the part of Balder. He called himself a wanderer; the caverns through which he passed were symbolic of the worlds and spheres of Nature. The priests who initiated him were emblematic of the sun, the moon, and the stars. The three supreme initiators--the Sublime, the Equal to the Sublime, and the Highest--were analogous to the Worshipful Master and the junior and Senior Wardens of a Masonic lodge.

After wandering for hours through the intricate passageways, the candidate was ushered into the presence of a statue of Balder the Beautiful, the prototype of all initiates into the Mysteries. This figure stood in the center of a great apartment roofed with shields. In the midst of the chamber stood a plant with seven blossoms, emblematic of the planers. In this room, which symbolized the house of the Æsir, or Wisdom, the neophyte took his oath of secrecy and piety upon the naked blade of a sword. He drank the sanctified mead from a bowl made of a human skull and, having passed successfully through all the tortures and trials designed to divert him from the course of wisdom, he was finally permitted to unveil the mystery of Odin--the personification of wisdom. He was presented, in the name of Balder, with the sacred ring of the order; he was hailed as a man reborn; and it was said of him that he had died and had been raised again without passing through the gates of death.

Richard Wagner's immortal composition, Der Ring des Nibelungen, is based upon the Mystery rituals of the Odinic cult. While the great composer took many liberties with the original story, the Ring Operas, declared to be the grandest tetralogy of music dramas the world possesses, have caught and preserved in a remarkable manner the majesty and power of the original sagas. Beginning with Das Rheingold, the action proceeds through Die Walküre and Siegfried to an awe-inspiring climax in Götterdämmerung, "The Twilight of the Gods."

The Nordic Mysteries were given in nine chambers, or caverns, the candidate advancing through them in sequential order. These chambers of initiation represented the nine spheres into which the Drottars divided the universe: (1) Asgard, the Heaven World of the Gods; (2) Alf-heim, the World of the light and beautiful Elves, or Spirits; (3) Nifl-heim, the World of Cold and Darkness, which is located in the North; (4) Jotun-heim, the World of the Giants, which is located in the East; (5) Midgard, the Earth World of human beings, which is located in the midst, or middle place; (6) Vana-heim, the World of the Vanes, which is located in the West; (7) Muspells-heim, the World of Fire, which is located in the South; 8) Svart-alfa-heim, the World of the dark and treacherous Elves, which is under the earth; and (9) Hel-heim, the World of cold and the abode of the dead, which is located at the very lowest point of the universe. It is to be understood that all of these worlds are invisible to the senses, except Midgard, the home of human creatures, but during the process of initiation the soul of the candidate--liberated from its earthly sheath by the secret power of the priests--wanders amidst the inhabitants of these various spheres. There is undoubtedly a relationship between the nine worlds of the Scandinavians and the nine spheres, or planes, through which initiates of the Eleusinian Mysteries passed in their ritual of regeneration.
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Re: The Secret Teachings of All Ages, by Manly P. Hall

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The Ancient Mysteries and Secret Societies: Part Three

THE most famous of the ancient religious Mysteries were the Eleusinian, whose rites were celebrated every five years in the city of Eleusis to honor Ceres (Demeter, Rhea, or Isis) and her daughter, Persephone. The initiates of the Eleusinian School were famous throughout Greece for the beauty of their philosophic concepts and the high standards of morality which they demonstrated in their daily lives. Because of their excellence, these Mysteries spread to Rome and Britain, and later the initiations were given in both these countries. The Eleusinian Mysteries, named for the community in Attica where the sacred dramas were first presented, are generally believed to have been founded by Eumolpos about fourteen hundred years before the birth of Christ, and through the Platonic system of philosophy their principles have been preserved to modern times.

The rites of Eleusis, with their Mystic interpretations of Nature's most precious secrets, overshadowed the civilizations of their time and gradually absorbed many smaller schools, incorporating into their own system whatever valuable information these lesser institutions possessed. Heckethorn sees in the Mysteries of Ceres and Bacchus a metamorphosis of the rites of Isis and Osiris, and there is every reason to believe that all so-called secret schools of the ancient world were branches from one philosophic tree which, with its root in heaven and its branches on the earth, is--like the spirit of man--an invisible but ever-present cause of the objectified vehicles that give it expression. The Mysteries were the channels through which this one philosophic light was disseminated, and their initiates, resplendent with intellectual and spiritual understanding, were the perfect fruitage of the divine tree, bearing witness before the material world of the recondite source of all Light and Truth.

The rites of Eleusis were divided into what were called the Lesser and the Greater Mysteries. According to James Gardner, the Lesser Mysteries were celebrated in the spring (probably at the time of the vernal equinox) in the town of Agræ, and the Greater, in the fall (the time of the autumnal equinox) at Eleusis or Athens. It is supposed that the former were given annually and the latter every five years. The rituals of the Eleusinians were highly involved, and to understand them required a deep study of Greek mythology, which they interpreted in its esoteric light with the aid of their secret keys.

The Lesser Mysteries were dedicated to Persephone. In his Eleusinian and Bacchic Mysteries, Thomas Taylor sums up their purpose as follows: "The Lesser Mysteries were designed by the ancient theologists, their founders, to signify occultly the condition of the unpurified soul invested with an earthy body, and enveloped in a material and physical nature."

The legend used in the Lesser rites is that of the abduction of the goddess Persephone, the daughter of Ceres, by Pluto, the lord of the underworld, or Hades. While Persephone is picking flowers in a beautiful meadow, the earth suddenly opens and the gloomy lord of death, riding in a magnificent chariot, emerges from its somber depths and, grasping her in his arms, carries the screaming and struggling goddess to his subterranean palace, where he forces her to become his queen.

It is doubtful whether many of the initiates themselves understood the mystic meaning of this allegory, for most of them apparently believed that it referred solely to the succession of the seasons. It is difficult to obtain satisfactory information concerning the Mysteries, for the candidates were bound by inviolable oaths never to reveal their inner secrets to the profane. At the beginning of the ceremony of initiation, the candidate stood upon the skins of animals sacrificed for the purpose, and vowed that death should seal his lips before he would divulge the sacred truths which were about to be communicated to him. Through indirect channels, however, some of their secrets have been preserved. The teachings given to the neophytes were substantially as follows:

The soul of man--often called Psyche, and in the Eleusinian Mysteries symbolized by Persephone--is essentially a spiritual thing. Its true home is in the higher worlds, where, free from the bondage of material form and material concepts, it is said to be truly alive and self-expressive. The human, or physical, nature of man, according to this doctrine, is a tomb, a quagmire, a false and impermanent thing, the source of all sorrow and suffering. Plato describes the body as the sepulcher of the soul; and by this he means not only the human form but also the human nature.

The gloom and depression of the Lesser Mysteries represented the agony of the spiritual soul unable to express itself because it has accepted the limitations and illusions of the human environment. The crux of the Eleusinian argument was that man is neither better nor wiser after death than during life. If he does not rise above ignorance during his sojourn here, man goes at death into eternity to wander about forever, making the same mistakes which he made here. If he does not outgrow the desire for material possessions here, he will carry it with him into the invisible world, where, because he can never gratify the desire, he will continue in endless agony. Dante's Inferno is symbolically descriptive of the sufferings of those who never freed their spiritual natures from the cravings, habits, viewpoints, and limitations of their Plutonic personalities. Those who made no endeavor to improve themselves (whose souls have slept) during their physical lives, passed at death into Hades, where, lying in rows, they slept through all eternity as they had slept through life.

To the Eleusinian philosophers, birch into the physical world was death in the fullest sense of the word, and the only true birth was that of the spiritual soul of man rising out of the womb of his own fleshly nature. "The soul is dead that slumbers," says Longfellow, and in this he strikes the keynote of the Eleusinian Mysteries. Just as Narcissus, gazing at himself in the water (the ancients used this mobile element to symbolize the transitory, illusionary, material universe) lost his life trying to embrace a reflection, so man, gazing into the mirror of Nature and accepting as his real self the senseless clay that he sees reflected, loses the opportunity afforded by physical life to unfold his immortal, invisible Self.

From Thomassin's Recucil des Figures, Groupes, Themes, Fontaines, Vases et autres Ornements.
Pluto, the lord of the underworld, represents the body intelligence of man; and the rape of Persephone is symbolic of the divine nature assaulted and defiled by the animal soul and dragged downward into the somber darkness of Hades, which is here used as a synonym for the material, or objective, sphere of consciousness.
In his Disquisitions upon the Painted Greek Vases, James Christie presents Meursius' version of the occurrences taking place during the nine days required for the enactment of the Greater Eleusinian Rites. The first day was that of general meeting, during which those to be initiated were questioned concerning their several qualifications. The second day was spent in a procession to the sea, possibly for the submerging of a image of the presiding goddess. The third day was opened by the sacrifice of a mullet. On the fourth day the mystic basket containing certain sacred symbols was brought to Eleusis, accompanied by a number of female devotees carrying smaller baskets. On the evening of the fifth day there was a torch race, on the sixth a procession led by a statue of Iacchus, and on the seventh an athletic contest. The eighth day was devoted to a repetition of the ceremonial for the benefit of any who might have been prevented from coming sooner. The ninth and last day was devoted to the deepest philosophical issues of the Eleusinia, during which an urn or jar--the symbol of Bacchus--was exhibited as an emblem of supreme importance.

An ancient initiate once said that the living are ruled by the dead. Only those conversant with the Eleusinian concept of life could understand that statement. It means that the majority of people are not ruled by their living spirits but by their senseless (hence dead) animal personalities. Transmigration and reincarnation were taught in these Mysteries, but in a somewhat unusual manner. It was believed that at midnight the invisible worlds were closest to the Terrestrial sphere and that souls coming into material existence slipped in during the midnight hour. For this reason many of the Eleusinian ceremonies were performed at midnight. Some of those sleeping spirits who had failed to awaken their higher natures during the earth life and who now floated around in the invisible worlds, surrounded by a darkness of their own making, occasionally slipped through at this hour and assumed the forms of various creatures.

The mystics of Eleusis also laid stress upon the evil of suicide, explaining that there was a profound mystery concerning this crime of which they could not speak, but warning their disciples that a great sorrow comes to all who take their own lives. This, in substance, constitutes the esoteric doctrine given to the initiates of the Lesser Mysteries. As the degree dealt largely with the miseries of those who failed to make the best use of their philosophic opportunities, the chambers of initiation were subterranean and the horrors of Hades were vividly depicted in a complicated ritualistic drama. After passing successfully through the tortuous passageways, with their trials and dangers, the candidate received the honorary title of Mystes. This meant one who saw through a veil or had a clouded vision. It also signified that the candidate had been brought up to the veil, which would be torn away in the higher degree. The modern word mystic, as referring to a seeker after truth according to the dictates of the heart along the path of faith, is probably derived from this ancient word, for faith is belief in the reality of things unseen or veiled.

The Greater Mysteries (into which the candidate was admitted only after he had successfully passed through the ordeals of the Lesser, and not always then) were sacred to Ceres, the mother of Persephone, and represent her as wandering through the world in quest of her abducted daughter. Ceres carried two torches, intuition and reason, to aid her in the search for her lost child (the soul). At last she found Persephone not far from Eleusis, and out of gratitude taught the people there to cultivate corn, which is sacred to her. She also founded the Mysteries. Ceres appeared before Pluto, god of the souls of the dead, and pleaded with him to allow Persephone to return to her home. This the god at first refused to do, because Persephone had eaten of the pomegranate, the fruit of mortality. At last, however, he compromised and agreed to permit Persephone to live in the upper world half of the year if she would stay with him in the darkness of Hades for the remaining half.

The Greeks believed that Persephone was a manifestation of the solar energy, which in the winter months lived under the earth with Pluto, but in the summer returned again with the goddess of productiveness. There is a legend that the flowers loved Persephone and that every year when she left for the dark realms of Pluto, the plants and shrubs would die of grief. While the profane and uninitiated had their own opinions on these subjects, the truths of the Greek allegories remained safely concealed by the priests, who alone recognized the sublimity of these great philosophic and religious parables.

Thomas Taylor epitomizes the doctrines of the Greater Mysteries in the following statement: "The Greater (Mysteries) obscurely intimated, by mystic and splendid visions, the felicity of the soul both here and hereafter when purified from the defilement of a material nature, and constantly elevated to the realities of intellectual (spiritual) vision."

Just as the Lesser Mysteries discussed the prenatal epoch of man when the consciousness in its nine days (embryologically, months) was descending into the realm of illusion and assuming the veil of unreality, so the Greater Mysteries discussed the principles of spiritual regeneration and revealed to initiates not only the simplest but also the most direct and complete method of liberating their higher natures from the bondage of material ignorance. Like Prometheus chained to the top of Mount Caucasus, man's higher nature is chained to his inadequate personality. The nine days of initiation were also symbolic of the nine spheres through which the human soul descends during the process of assuming a terrestrial form. The secret exercises for spiritual unfoldment given to disciples of the higher degrees are unknown, but there is every reason to believe that they were similar to the Brahmanic Mysteries, since it is known that the Eleusinian ceremonies were closed with the Sanskrit words "Konx Om Pax."

That part of the allegory referring to the two six-month periods during one of which Persephone must remain with Pluto, while during the other she may revisit the upper world, offers material for deep consideration. It is probable that the Eleusinians realized that the soul left the body during steep, or at least was made capable of leaving by the special training which undoubtedly they were in a position to give. Thus Persephone would remain as the queen of Pluto's realm during the waking hours, but would ascend to the spiritual worlds during the periods of sleep. The initiate was taught how to intercede with Pluto to permit Persephone (the initiate's soul) to ascend from the darkness of his material nature into the light of understanding. When thus freed from the shackles of clay and crystallized concepts, the initiate was liberated not only for the period of his life but for all eternity, for never thereafter was he divested of those soul qualities which after death were his vehicles for manifestation and expression in the so-called heaven world.

In contrast to the idea of Hades as a state of darkness below, the gods were said to inhabit the tops of mountains, a well-known example being Mount Olympus, where the twelve deities of the Greek pantheon were said to dwell together. In his initiatory wanderings the neophyte therefore entered chambers of ever-increasing brilliancy to portray the ascent of the spirit from the lower worlds into the realms of bliss. As the climax to such wanderings he entered a great vaulted room, in the center of which stood a brilliantly illumined statue of the goddess Ceres. Here, in the presence of the hierophant and surrounded by priests in magnificent robes, he was instructed in the highest of the secret mysteries of the Eleusis. At the conclusion of this ceremony he was hailed as an Epoptes, which means one who has beheld or seen directly. For this reason also initiation was termed autopsy. The Epoptes was then given certain sacred books, probably written in cipher, together with tablets of stone on which secret instructions were engraved.

In The Obelisk in Freemasonry, John A. Weisse describes the officiating personages of the Eleusinian Mysteries as consisting of a male and a female hierophant who directed the initiations; a male and a female torchbearer; a male herald; and a male and a female altar attendant. There were also numerous minor officials. He states that, according to Porphyry, the hierophant represents Plato's Demiurgus, or Creator of the world; the torch bearer, the Sun; the altar man, the Moon; the herald, Hermes, or Mercury; and the other officials, minor stars.

From the records available, a number of strange and apparently supernatural phenomena accompanied the rituals. Many initiates claim to have actually seen the living gods themselves. Whether this was the result of religious ecstasy or the actual cooperation of invisible powers with the visible priests must remain a mystery. In The Metamorphosis, or Golden Ass, Apuleius thus describes what in all probability is his initiation into the Eleusinian Mysteries:

"I approached to the confines of death, and having trod on the threshold of Proserpine I, returned from it, being carried through all the elements. At midnight I saw the sun shining with a splendid light; and I manifestly drew near to, the gods beneath, and the gods above, and proximately adored them."

Women and children were admitted to the Eleusinian Mysteries, and at one time there were literally thousands of initiates. Because this vast host was not prepared for the highest spiritual and mystical doctrines, a division necessarily took place within the society itself. The higher teachings were given to only a limited number of initiates who, because of superior mentality, showed a comprehensive grasp of their underlying philosophical concepts. Socrates refused to be initiated into the Eleusinian Mysteries, for knowing its principles without being a member of the order he realized that membership would seal his tongue. That the Mysteries of Eleusis were based upon great and eternal truths is attested by the veneration in which they were held by the great minds of the ancient world. M. Ouvaroff asks, "Would Pindar, Plato, Cicero, Epictetus, have spoken of them with such admiration, if the hierophant had satisfied himself with loudly proclaiming his own opinions, or those of his order?"

From a mural painting in Pompeii.
Ceres, or Demeter, was the daughter of Kronos and Rhea, and by Zeus the mother of Persephone. Some believe her to be the goddess of the earth, but more correctly she is the deity protecting agriculture in general and corn in particular. The Poppy is sacred to Ceres and she is often shown carrying or ornamented by a garland of these flowers. In the Mysteries, Ceres represented riding in a chariot drawn by winged serpents.

From Ovid's Metamorphosis.
In the initiation, of the Bacchic Mysteries, the rôle of Bacchus is played by the candidate who, set upon by priests in the guise of the Titans, is slain and finally restored to life amidst great rejoicing. The Bacchic Mysteries were given every three years, and like the Eleusinian Mysteries, were divided into two degrees. The initiates were crowned with myrtle and ivy, plants which were sacred to Bacchus.
In the Anacalypsis, Godfrey Higgins conclusively establishes Bacchus (Dionysos) as one of the early pagan forms of the Christos myth, "The birthplace of Bacchus, called Sabazius or Sabaoth, was claimed by several places in Greece; but on Mount Zelmisus, in Thrace, his worship seems to have been chiefly celebrated. He was born of a virgin on the 25th of December; he performed great miracles for the good of mankind; particularly one in which he changed water into wine; he rode in a triumphal procession on an ass; he was put to death by the Titans, and rose again from the dead on the 25th of March: he was always called the Saviour. In his mysteries, he was shown to the people, as an infant is by the Christians at this day, on Christmas Day morning in Rome."
While Apollo most generally represents the sun, Bacchus is also a form of solar energy, for his resurrection was accomplished with the assistance of Apollo. The resurrection of Bacchus signifies merely the extraction or disentanglement of the various Parts of the Bacchic constitution from the Titanic constitution of the world. This is symbolized by the smoke or soot rising from the burned bodies of the Titans. The soul is symbolized by smoke because it is extracted by the fire of the Mysteries. Smoke signifies the ascension of the soul, far evolution is the process of the soul rising, like smoke, from the divinely consumed material mass. At me time the Bacchic Rites were of a high order, but later they became much degraded . The Bacchanalia, or orgies of Bacchus, are famous in literature.

The garments in which candidates were initiated were preserved for many years and were believed to possess almost sacred properties. Just as the soul can have no covering save wisdom and virtue, so the candidates--being as yet without true knowledge--were presented to the Mysteries unclothed, being first: given the skin of an animal and later a consecrated robe to symbolize the philosophical teachings received by the initiate. During the course of initiation the candidate passed through two gates. The first led downward into the lower worlds and symbolized his birth into ignorance. The second led upward into a room brilliantly lighted by unseen lamps, in which was the statue of Ceres and which symbolized the upper world, or the abode of Light and Truth. Strabo states that the great temple of Eleusis would hold between twenty and thirty thousand people. The caves dedicated by Zarathustra also had these two doors, symbolizing the avenues of birth and death.

The following paragraph from Porphyry gives a fairly adequate conception of Eleusinian symbolism: "God being a luminous principle, residing in the midst of the most subtile fire, he remains for ever invisible to the eyes of those who do not elevate themselves above material life: on this account, the sight of transparent bodies, such as crystal, Parian marble, and even ivory, recalls the idea of divine light; as the sight of gold excites an idea of its purity, for gold cannot he sullied. Some have thought by a black stone was signified the invisibility of the divine essence. To express supreme reason, the Divinity was represented under the human form--and beautiful, for God is the source of beauty; of different ages, and in various attitudes, sitting or upright; of one or the other sex, as a virgin or a young man, a husband or a bride, that all the shades and gradations might be marked. Every thing luminous was subsequently attributed to the gods; the sphere, and all that is spherical, to the universe, to the sun and the moon--sometimes to Fortune and to Hope. The circle, and all circular figures, to eternity--to the celestial movements; to the circles and zones of the heavens. The section of circles, to the phases of the moon; and pyramids and obelisks, to the igneous principle, and through that to the gods of Heaven. A cone expresses the sun, a cylinder the earth; the phallus and triangle (a symbol of the matrix) designate generation." (From Essay on the Mysteries of Eleusis by M. Ouvaroff.)

The Eleusinian Mysteries, according to Heckethorn, survived all others and did not cease to exist as an institution until nearly four hundred years after Christ, when they were finally suppressed by Theodosius (styled the Great), who cruelly destroyed all who did not accept the Christian faith. Of this greatest of all philosophical institutions Cicero said that it taught men not only how to live but also how to die.


Orpheus, the Thracian bard, the great initiator of the Greeks, ceased to be known as a man and was celebrated as a divinity several centuries before the Christian Era. "As to Orpheus himself * * *, " writes Thomas Taylor, "scarcely a vestige of his life is to be found amongst the immense ruins of time. For who has ever been able to affirm any thing with certainty of his origin, his age, his country, and condition? This alone may be depended on, from general assent, that there formerly lived a person named Orpheus, who was the founder of theology among the Greeks; the institutor of their lives and morals; the first of prophets, and the prince of poets; himself the offspring of a Muse; who taught the Greeks their sacred rites and mysteries, and from whose wisdom, as from a perennial and abundant fountain, the divine muse of Homer and the sublime theology of Pythagoras and Plato flowed." (See The Mystical Hymns of Orpheus.)

Orpheus was founder of the Grecian mythological system which he used as the medium for the promulgation of his philosophical doctrines. The origin of his philosophy is uncertain. He may have got it from the Brahmins, there being legends to the effect that he got it was a Hindu, his name possibly being derived from ὀρφανῖος, meaning "dark." Orpheus was initiated into the Egyptian Mysteries, from which he secured extensive knowledge of magic, astrology, sorcery, and medicine. The Mysteries of the Cabiri at Samothrace were also conferred upon him, and these undoubtedly contributed to his knowledge of medicine and music.

The romance of Orpheus and Eurydice is one of the tragic episodes of Greek mythology and apparently constitutes the outstanding feature of the Orphic Rite. Eurydice, in her attempt to escape from a villain seeking to seduce her, died from the venom of a poisonous serpent which stung her in the heel. Orpheus, penetrating to the very heart of the underworld, so charmed Pluto and Persephone with the beauty of his music that they agreed to permit Eurydice to return to life if Orpheus could lead her back to the sphere of the living without once looking round to see if she were following. So great was his fear, however, that she would stray from him that he turned his head, and Eurydice with a heartbroken cry was swept back into the land of death.

Orpheus wandered the earth for a while disconsolate, and there are several conflicting accounts of the manner of his death. Some declare that he was slain by a bolt of lightning; others, that failing to save his beloved Eurydice, he committed suicide. The generally accepted version of his death, however, is that he was torn to pieces by Ciconian women whose advances he had spurned. In the tenth book of Plato's Republic it is declared that, because of his sad fate at the hands of women, the soul that had once been Orpheus, upon being destined to live again in the physical world, chose rather to return in the body of a swan than be born of woman. The head of Orpheus, after being torn from his body, was cast with his lyre into the river Hebrus, down which it floated to the sea, where, wedging in a cleft in a rock, it gave oracles for many years. The lyre, after being stolen from its shrine and working the destruction of the thief, was picked up by the gods and fashioned into a constellation.

Orpheus has long been sung as the patron of music. On his seven-stringed lyre he played such perfect harmonies that the gods themselves were moved to acclaim his power. When he touched the strings of his instrument the birds and beasts gathered about him, and as he wandered through the forests his enchanting melodies caused even the ancient trees with mighty effort to draw their gnarled roots from out the earth and follow him. Orpheus is one of the many Immortals who have sacrificed themselves that mankind might have the wisdom of the gods. By the symbolism of his music he communicated the divine secrets to humanity, and several authors have declared that the gods, though loving him, feared that he would overthrow their kingdom and therefore reluctantly encompassed his destruction.

As time passed on the historical Orpheus became hopelessly confounded with the doctrine he represented and eventually became the symbol of the Greek school of the ancient wisdom. Thus Orpheus was declared to be the son of Apollo, the divine and perfect truth, and Calliope, the Muse of harmony and rhythm. In other words, Orpheus is the secret doctrine (Apollo) revealed through music (Calliope). Eurydice is humanity dead from the sting of the serpent of false knowledge and imprisoned in the underworld of ignorance. In this allegory Orpheus signifies theology, which wins her from the king of the dead but fails to accomplish her resurrection because it falsely estimates and mistrusts the innate understanding within the human soul. The Ciconian women who tore Orpheus limb from limb symbolize the various contending theological factions which destroy the body of Truth. They cannot accomplish this, however, until their discordant cries drown out the harmony drawn by Orpheus from his magic lyre. The head of Orpheus signifies the esoteric doctrines of his cult. These doctrines continue to live and speak even after his body (the cult) has been destroyed. The lyre is the secret teaching of Orpheus; the seven strings are the seven divine truths which are the keys to universal knowledge. The differing accounts of his death represent the various means used to destroy the secret teachings: wisdom can die in many ways at the same time. The allegory of Orpheus incarnating in the white swan merely signifies that the spiritual truths he promulgated will continue and will be taught by the illumined initiates of all future ages. The swan is the symbol of the initiates of the Mysteries; it is a symbol also of the divine power which is the progenitor of the world.


The Bacchic Rite centers around the allegory of the youthful Bacchus (Dionysos or Zagreus) being torn to pieces by the Titans. These giants accomplished the destruction of Bacchus by causing him to become fascinated by his own image in a mirror. After dismembering him, the Titans first boiled the pieces in water and afterwards roasted them. Pallas rescued the heart of the murdered god, and by this precaution Bacchus (Dionysos) was enabled to spring forth again in all his former glory. Jupiter, the Demiurgus, beholding the crime of the Titans, hurled his thunderbolts and slew them, burning their bodies to ashes with heavenly fire. Our of the ashes of the Titans--which also contained a portion of the flesh of Bacchus, whose body they had partly devoured--the human race was created. Thus the mundane life of every man was said to contain a portion of the Bacchic life.

For this reason the Greek Mysteries warned against suicide. He who attempts to destroy himself raises his hand against the nature of Bacchus within him, since man's body is indirectly the tomb of this god and consequently must be preserved with the greatest care.

Bacchus (Dionysos) represents the rational soul of the inferior world. He is the chief of the Titans--the artificers of the mundane spheres. The Pythagoreans called him the Titanic monad. Thus Bacchus is the all-inclusive idea of the Titanic sphere and the Titans--or gods of the fragments--the active agencies by means of which universal substance is fashioned into the pattern of this idea. The Bacchic state signifies the unity of the rational soul in a state of self-knowledge, and the Titanic state the diversity of the rational soul which, being scattered throughout creation, loses the consciousness of its own essential one-ness. The mirror into which Bacchus gazes and which is the cause of his fall is the great sea of illusion--the lower world fashioned by the Titans. Bacchus (the mundane rational soul), seeing his image before him, accepts the image as a likeness of himself and ensouls the likeness; that is, the rational idea ensouls its reflection--the irrational universe. By ensouling the irrational image it implants in it the urge to become like its source, the rational image. Therefore the ancients said that man does not know the gods by logic or by reason but rather by realizing the presence of the gods within himself.

After Bacchus gazed into the mirror and followed his own reflection into matter, the rational soul of the world was broken up and distributed by the Titans throughout the mundane sphere of which it is the essential nature, but the heart, or source, of it they could not: scatter. The Titans took the dismembered body of Bacchus and boiled it in water--symbol of immersion in the material universe--which represents the incorporation of the Bacchic principle in form. The pieces were afterwards roasted to signify the subsequent ascension of the spiritual nature out of form.

When Jupiter, the father of Bacchus and the Demiurgus of the universe, saw that the Titans were hopelessly involving the rational or divine idea by scattering its members through the constituent parts of the lower world, he slew the Titans in order that the divine idea might not be entirely lost. From the ashes of the Titans he formed mankind, whose purpose of existence was to preserve and eventually to release the Bacchic idea, or rational soul, from the Titanic fabrication. Jupiter, being the Demiurgus and fabricator of the material universe, is the third person of the Creative Triad, consequently the Lord of Death, for death exists only in the lower sphere of being over which he presides. Disintegration takes place so that reintegration may follow upon a higher level of form or intelligence. The thunderbolts of Jupiter are emblematic of his disintegrative power; they reveal the purpose of death, which is to rescue the rational soul from the devouring power of the irrational nature.

Man is a composite creature, his lower nature consisting of the fragments of the Titans and his higher nature the sacred, immortal flesh (life) of Bacchus. Therefore man is capable of either a Titanic (irrational) or a Bacchic (rational) existence. The Titans of Hesiod, who were twelve in number, are probably analogous to the celestial zodiac, whereas the Titans who murdered and dismembered Bacchus represent the zodiacal powers distorted by their involvement in the material world. Thus Bacchus represents the sun who is dismembered by the signs of the zodiac and from whose body the universe is formed. When the terrestrial forms were created from the various parts of his body the sense of wholeness was lost and the sense of separateness established. The heart of Bacchus, which was saved by Pallas, or Minerva, was lifted out of the four elements symbolized by his dismembered body and placed in the ether. The heart of Bacchus is the immortal center of the rational soul.

After the rational soul had been distributed throughout creation and the nature of man, the Bacchic Mysteries were instituted for the purpose of disentangling it from the irrational Titanic nature. This disentanglement was the process of lifting the soul out of the state of separateness into that of unity. The various parts and members of Bacchus were collected from the different corners of the earth. When all the rational parts are gathered Bacchus is resurrected.

The Rites of Dionysos were very similar to those of Bacchus, and by many these two gods are considered as one. Statues of Dionysos were carried in the Eleusinian Mysteries, especially the lesser degrees. Bacchus, representing the soul of the mundane sphere, was capable of an infinite multiplicity of form and designations. Dionysos apparently was his solar aspect.

The Dionysiac Architects constituted an ancient secret society, in principles and doctrines much like the modern Freemasonic Order. They were an organization of builders bound together by their secret knowledge of the relationship between the earthly and the divine sciences of architectonics. They were supposedly employed by King Solomon in the building of his Temple, although they were not Jews, nor did they worship the God of the Jews, being followers of Bacchus and Dionysos. The Dionysiac Architects erected many of the great monuments of antiquity. They possessed a secret language and a system of marking their stones. They had annual convocations and sacred feasts. The exact nature of their doctrines is unknown. It is believed that CHiram Abiff was an initiate of this society.
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Re: The Secret Teachings of All Ages, by Manly P. Hall

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Atlantis and the Gods of Antiquity

ATLANTIS is the subject of a short but important article appearing in the Annual Report of the Board of Regents of The Smithsonian Institution for the year ending June 30th, 1915. The author, M. Pierre Termier, a member of the Academy of Sciences and Director of Service of the Geologic Chart of France, in 1912 delivered a lecture on the Atlantean hypothesis before the Institut Océanographique; it is the translated notes of this remarkable lecture that are published in the Smithsonian report.

"After a long period of disdainful indifference," writes M. Termier, "observe how in the last few years science is returning to the study of Atlantis. How many naturalists, geologists, zoologists, or botanists are asking one another today whether Plato has not transmitted to us, with slight amplification, a page from the actual history of mankind. No affirmation is yet permissible; but it seems more and more evident that a vast region, continental or made up of great islands, has collapsed west of the Pillars of Hercules, otherwise called the Strait of Gibraltar, and that its collapse occurred in the not far distant past. In any event, the question of Atlantis is placed anew before men of science; and since I do not believe that it can ever be solved without the aid of oceanography, I have thought it natural to discuss it here, in this temple of maritime science, and to call to such a problem, long scorned but now being revived, the attention of oceanographers, as well as the attention of those who, though immersed in the tumult of cities, lend an ear to the distant murmur of the sea."

In his lecture M. Termier presents geologic, geographic, and zoologic data in substantiation of the Atlantis theory. Figuratively draining the entire bed of the Atlantic Ocean, he considers the inequalities of its basin and cites locations on a line from the Azores to Iceland where dredging has brought lava to the surface from a depth of 3,000 meters. The volcanic nature of the islands now existing in the Atlantic Ocean corroborates Plato's statement that the Atlantean continent was destroyed by volcanic cataclysms. M. Termier also advances the conclusions of a young French zoologist, M. Louis Germain, who admitted the existence of an Atlantic continent connected with the Iberian Peninsula and with Mauritania and prolonged toward the south so as to include some regions of desert climate. M. Termier concludes his lecture with a graphic picture of the engulfment of that continent.

The description of the Atlantean civilization given by Plato in the Critias may be summarized as follows. In the first ages the gods divided the earth among themselves, proportioning it according to their respective dignities. Each became the peculiar deity of his own allotment and established therein temples to himself, ordained a priestcraft, and instituted a system of sacrifice. To Poseidon was given the sea and the island continent of Atlantis. In the midst of the island was a mountain which was the dwelling place of three earth-born primitive human beings--Evenor; his wife, Leucipe; and their only daughter, Cleito. The maiden was very beautiful, and after the sudden death of her parents she was wooed by Poseidon, who begat by her five pairs of male children. Poseidon apportioned his continent among these ten, and Atlas, the eldest, he made overlord of the other nine. Poseidon further called the country Atlantis and the surrounding sea the Atlantic in honor of Atlas. Before the birth of his ten sons, Poseidon divided the continent and the coastwise sea into concentric zones of land and water, which were as perfect as though turned upon a lathe. Two zones of land and three of water surrounded the central island, which Poseidon caused to be irrigated with two springs of water--one warm and the other cold.

The descendants of Atlas continued as rulers of Atlantis, and with wise government and industry elevated the country to a position of surpassing dignity. The natural resources of Atlantis were apparently limitless. Precious metals were mined, wild animals domesticated, and perfumes distilled from its fragrant flowers. While enjoying the abundance natural to their semitropic location, the Atlanteans employed themselves also in the erection of palaces, temples, and docks. They bridged the zones of sea and later dug a deep canal to connect the outer ocean with the central island, where stood the palaces And temple of Poseidon, which excelled all other structures in magnificence. A network of bridges and canals was created by the Atlanteans to unite the various parts of their kingdom.

Plato then describes the white, black, and red stones which they quarried from beneath their continent and used in the construction of public buildings and docks. They circumscribed each of the land zones with a wall, the outer wall being covered with brass, the middle with tin, and the inner, which encompassed the citadel, with orichalch. The citadel, on the central island, contained the pal aces, temples, and other public buildings. In its center, surrounded by a wall of gold, was a sanctuary dedicated to Cleito and Poseidon. Here the first ten princes of the island were born and here each year their descendants brought offerings. Poseidon's own temple, its exterior entirely covered with silver and its pinnacles with gold, also stood within the citadel. The interior of the temple was of ivory, gold, silver, and orichalch, even to the pillars and floor. The temple contained a colossal statue of Poseidon standing in a chariot drawn by six winged horses, about him a hundred Nereids riding on dolphins. Arranged outside the building were golden statues of the first ten kings and their wives.

In the groves and gardens were hot and cold springs. There were numerous temples to various deities, places of exercise for men and for beasts, public baths, and a great race course for horses. At various vantage points on the zones were fortifications, and to the great harbor came vessels from every maritime nation. The zones were so thickly populated that the sound of human voices was ever in the air.

That part of Atlantis facing the sea was described as lofty and precipitous, but about the central city was a plain sheltered by mountains renowned for their size, number, and beauty. The plain yielded two crops each year,, in the winter being watered by rains and in the summer by immense irrigation canals, which were also used for transportation. The plain was divided into sections, and in time of war each section supplied its quota of fighting men and chariots.

From Cartari's Imagini degli Dei degli Antichi.
By ascending successively through the fiery sphere of Hades, the spheres of water, Earth, and air, and the heavens of the moon, the plane of Mercury is reached. Above Mercury are the planes of Venus, the sun, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn, the latter containing the symbols of the Zodiacal constellations. Above the arch of the heavens (Saturn) is the dwelling Place of the different powers controlling the universe. The supreme council of the gods is composed of twelve deities--six male and six female--which correspond to the positive and negative signs of the zodiac. The six gods are Jupiter, Vulcan, Apollo, Mars, Neptune, and Mercury; the six goddesses are Juno, Ceres, Vesta, Minerva, Venus, and Diana. Jupiter rides his eagle as the symbol of his sovereignty over the world, and Juno is seated upon a peacock, the proper symbol of her haughtiness and glory.

The ten governments differed from each other in details concerning military requirements. Each of the kings of Atlantis had complete control over his own kingdom, but their mutual relationships were governed by a code engraved by the first ten kings on a column' of orichalch standing in the temple of Poseidon. At alternate intervals of five and six years a pilgrimage was made to this temple that equal honor might be conferred upon both the odd and the even numbers. Here, with appropriate sacrifice, each king renewed his oath of loyalty upon the sacred inscription. Here also the kings donned azure robes and sat in judgment. At daybreak they wrote their sentences upon a golden tablet: and deposited them with their robes as memorials. The chief laws of the Atlantean kings were that they should not take up arms against each other and that they should come to the assistance of any of their number who was attacked. In matters of war and great moment the final decision was in the hands of the direct descendants of the family of Atlas. No king had the power of life and death over his kinsmen without the assent of a majority of the ten.

Plato concludes his description by declaring that it was this great empire which attacked the Hellenic states. This did not occur, however, until their power and glory had lured the Atlantean kings from the pathway of wisdom and virtue. Filled with false ambition, the rulers of Atlantis determined to conquer the entire world. Zeus, perceiving the wickedness of the Atlanteans, gathered the gods into his holy habitation and addressed them. Here Plato's narrative comes to an abrupt end, for the Critias was never finished. In the Timæus is a further description of Atlantis, supposedly given to Solon by an Egyptian priest and which concludes as follows:

"But afterwards there occurred violent earthquakes and floods; and in a single day and night of rain all your warlike men in a body sank into the earth, and the island of Atlantis in like manner disappeared, and was sunk beneath the sea. And that is the reason why the sea in those parts is impassable and impenetrable, because there is such a quantity of shallow mud in the way; and this was caused by the subsidence of the island."

In the introduction to his translation of the Timæus, Thomas Taylor quotes from a History of Ethiopia written by Marcellus, which contains the following reference to Atlantis: "For they relate that in their time there were seven islands in the Atlantic sea, sacred to Proserpine; and besides these, three others of an immense magnitude; one of which was sacred to Pluto, another to Ammon, and another, which is the middle of these, and is of a thousand stadia, to Neptune." Crantor, commenting upon Plato, asserted that the Egyptian priests declared the story of Atlantis to be written upon pillars which were still preserved circa 300 B.C. (See Beginnings or Glimpses of Vanished Civilizations.) Ignatius Donnelly, who gave the subject of Atlantis profound study, believed that horses were first domesticated by the Atlanteans, for which reason they have always been considered peculiarly sacred to Poseidon. (See Atlantis.)

From a careful consideration of Plato's description of Atlantis it is evident that the story should not be regarded as wholly historical but rather as both allegorical and historical. Origen, Porphyry, Proclus, Iamblichus, and Syrianus realized that the story concealed a profound philosophical mystery, but they disagreed as to the actual interpretation. Plato's Atlantis symbolizes the threefold nature of both the universe and the human body. The ten kings of Atlantis are the tetractys, or numbers, which are born as five pairs of opposites. (Consult Theon of Smyrna for the Pythagorean doctrine of opposites.) The numbers 1 to 10 rule every creature, and the numbers, in turn, are under the control of the Monad, or 1--the Eldest among them.

With the trident scepter of Poseidon these kings held sway over the inhabitants of the seven small and three great islands comprising Atlantis. Philosophically, the ten islands symbolize the triune powers of the Superior Deity and the seven regents who bow before His eternal throne. If Atlantis be considered as the archetypal sphere, then its immersion signifies the descent of rational, organized consciousness into the illusionary, impermanent realm of irrational, mortal ignorance. Both the sinking of Atlantis and the Biblical story of the "fall of man" signify spiritual involution--a prerequisite to conscious evolution.

Either the initiated Plato used the Atlantis allegory to achieve two widely different ends or else the accounts preserved by the Egyptian priests were tampered with to perpetuate the secret doctrine. This does not mean to imply that Atlantis is purely mythological, but it overcomes the most serious obstacle to acceptance of the Atlantis theory, namely, the fantastic accounts of its origin, size, appearance, and date of destruction--9600 B.C. In the midst of the central island of Atlantis was a lofty mountain which cast a shadow five thousand stadia in extent and whose summit touched the sphere of æther. This is the axle mountain of the world, sacred among many races and symbolic of the human head, which rises out of the four elements of the body. This sacred mountain, upon whose summit stood the temple of the gods, gave rise to the stories of Olympus, Meru, and Asgard. The City of the Golden Gates--the capital of Atlantis--is the one now preserved among numerous religions as the City of the Gods or the Holy City. Here is the archetype of the New Jerusalem, with its streets paved with gold and its twelve gates shining with precious stones.

"The history of Atlantis," writes Ignatius Donnelly, "is the key of the Greek mythology. There can be no question that these gods of Greece were human beings. The tendency to attach divine attributes to great earthly rulers is one deeply implanted in human nature." (See Atlantis.)

The same author sustains his views by noting that the deities of the Greek pantheon were nor looked upon as creators of the universe but rather as regents set over it by its more ancient original fabricators. The Garden of Eden from which humanity was driven by a flaming sword is perhaps an allusion to the earthly paradise supposedly located west of the Pillars of Hercules and destroyed by volcanic cataclysms. The Deluge legend may be traced also to the Atlantean inundation, during which a "world" was destroyed by water.

Was the religious, philosophic, and scientific knowledge possessed by the priestcrafts of antiquity secured from Atlantis, whose submergence obliterated every vestige of its part in the drama of world progress? Atlantean sun worship has been perpetuated in the ritualism and ceremonialism of both Christianity and pagandom. Both the cross and the serpent were Atlantean emblems of divine wisdom. The divine (Atlantean) progenitors of the Mayas and Quichés of Central America coexisted within the green and azure radiance of Gucumatz, the "plumed" serpent. The six sky-born sages came into manifestation as centers of light bound together or synthesized by the seventh--and chief--of their order, the "feathered" snake. (See the Popol Vuh.) The title of "winged" or "plumed" snake was applied to Quetzalcoatl, or Kukulcan, the Central American initiate. The center of the Atlantean Wisdom-Religion was presumably a great pyramidal temple standing on the brow of a plateau rising in the midst of the City of the Golden Gates. From here the Initiate-Priests of the Sacred Feather went forth, carrying the keys of Universal Wisdom to the uttermost parts of the earth.

The mythologies of many nations contain accounts of gods who "came out of the sea." Certain shamans among the American Indians tell of holy men dressed in birds' feathers and wampum who rose out of the blue waters and instructed them in the arts and crafts. Among the legends of the Chaldeans is that of Oannes, a partly amphibious creature who came out of the sea and taught the savage peoples along the shore to read and write, till the soil, cultivate herbs for healing, study the stars, establish rational forms of government, and become conversant with the sacred Mysteries. Among the Mayas, Quetzalcoatl, the Savior-God (whom some Christian scholars believe to have been St. Thomas), issued from the waters and, after instructing the people in the essentials of civilization, rode out to sea on a magic raft of serpents to escape the wrath of the fierce god of the Fiery Mirror, Tezcatlipoca.

May it not have been that these demigods of a fabulous age who, Esdras-like, came out of the sea were Atlantean priests? All that primitive man remembered of the Atlanteans was the glory of their golden ornaments, the transcendency of their wisdom, and the sanctity of their symbols--the cross and the serpent. That they came in ships was soon forgotten, for untutored minds considered even boats as supernatural. Wherever the Atlanteans proselyted they erected pyramids and temples patterned after the great sanctuary in the City of the Golden Gates. Such is the origin of the pyramids of Egypt, Mexico, and Central America. The mounds in Normandy and Britain, as well as those of the American Indians, are remnants of a similar culture. In the midst of the Atlantean program of world colonization and conversion, the cataclysms which sank Atlantis began. The Initiate-Priests of the Sacred Feather who promised to come back to their missionary settlements never returned; and after the lapse of centuries tradition preserved only a fantastic account of gods who came from a place where the sea now is.

H. P. Blavatsky thus sums up the causes which precipitated the Atlantean disaster: "Under the evil insinuations of their demon, Thevetat, the Atlantis-race became a nation of wicked magicians. In consequence of this, war was declared, the story of which would be too long to narrate; its substance may be found in the disfigured allegories of the race of Cain, the giants, and that of Noah and his righteous family. The conflict came to an end by the submersion of the Atlantis; which finds its imitation in the stories of the Babylonian and Mosaic flood: The giants and magicians '* * * and all flesh died * * * and every man.' All except Xisuthrus and Noah, who are substantially identical with the great Father of the Thlinkithians in the Popol Vuh, or the sacred book of the Guatemaleans, which also tells of his escaping in a large boat, like the Hindu Noah--Vaiswasvata. " (See Isis Unveiled.)

From the Atlanteans the world has received not only the heritage of arts and crafts, philosophies and sciences, ethics and religions, but also the heritage of hate, strife, and perversion. The Atlanteans instigated the first war; and it has been said that all subsequent wars were fought in a fruitless effort to justify the first one and right the wrong which it caused. Before Atlantis sank, its spiritually illumined Initiates, who realized that their land was doomed because it had departed from the Path of Light, withdrew from the ill-fated continent. Carrying with them the sacred and secret doctrine, these Atlanteans established themselves in Egypt, where they became its first "divine" rulers. Nearly all the great cosmologic myths forming the foundation of the various sacred books of the world are based upon the Atlantean Mystery rituals.


The myth of Tammuz and Ishtar is one of the earliest examples of the dying-god allegory, probably antedating 4000 B. C. (See Babylonia and Assyria by Lewis Spence.) The imperfect condition of the tablets upon which the legends are inscribed makes it impossible to secure more than a fragmentary account of the Tammuz rites. Being the esoteric god of the sun, Tammuz did not occupy a position among the first deities venerated by the Babylonians, who for lack of deeper knowledge looked upon him as a god of agriculture or a vegetation spirit. Originally he was described as being one of the guardians of the gates of the underworld. Like many other Savior-Gods, he is referred to as a "shepherd" or "the lord of the shepherd seat." Tammuz occupies the remarkable position of son and husband of Ishtar, the Babylonian and Assyrian Mother-goddess. Ishtar--to whom the planer Venus was sacred--was the most widely venerated deity of the Babylonian and Assyrian pantheon. She was probably identical with Ashterorh, Astarte, and Aphrodite. The story of her descent into the underworld in search presumably for the sacred elixir which alone could restore Tammuz to life is the key to the ritual of her Mysteries. Tammuz, whose annual festival took place just before the summer solstice, died in midsummer in the ancient month which bore his name, and was mourned with elaborate ceremonies. The manner of his death is unknown, but some of the accusations made against Ishtar by Izdubar (Nimrod) would indicate that she, indirectly at least, had contributed to his demise. The resurrection of Tammuz was the occasion of great rejoicing, at which time he was hailed as a "redeemer" of his people.

With outspread wings, Ishtar, the daughter of Sin (the Moon), sweeps downward to the gates of death. The house of darkness--the dwelling of the god Irkalla--is described as "the place of no return." It is without light; the nourishment of those who dwell therein is dust and their food is mud. Over the bolts on the door of the house of Irkalla is scattered dust, and the keepers of the house are covered with feathers like birds. Ishtar demands that the keepers open the gates, declaring that if they do not she will shatter the doorposts and strike the hinges and raise up dead devourers of the living. The guardians of the gates beg her to be patient while they go to the queen of Hades from whom they secure permission to admit Ishtar, but only in the same manner as all others came to this dreary house. Ishtar thereupon descends through the seven gates which lead downward into the depths of the underworld. At the first gate the great crown is removed from her head, at the second gate the earrings from her ears, at the third gate the necklace from her neck, at the fourth gate the ornaments from her breast, at the fifth gate the girdle from her waist, at the sixth gate the bracelets from her hands and feet, and at the seventh gate the covering cloak of her body. Ishtar remonstrates as each successive article of apparel is taken from her, bur the guardian tells her that this is the experience of all who enter the somber domain of death. Enraged upon beholding Ishtar, the Mistress of Hades inflicts upon her all manner of disease and imprisons her in the underworld.

As Ishtar represents the spirit of fertility, her loss prevents the ripening of the crops and the maturing of all life upon the earth.

In this respect the story parallels the legend of Persephone. The gods, realizing that the loss of Ishtar is disorganizing all Nature, send a messenger to the underworld and demand her release. The Mistress of Hades is forced to comply, and the water of life is poured over Ishtar. Thus cured of the infirmities inflicted on her, she retraces her way upward through the seven gates, at each of which she is reinvested with the article of apparel which the guardians had removed. (See The Chaldean Account of Genesis.) No record exists that Ishtar secured the water of life which would have wrought the resurrection of Tammuz.

The myth of Ishtar symbolizes the descent of the human spirit through the seven worlds, or spheres of the sacred planets, until finally, deprived of its spiritual adornments, it incarnates in the physical body--Hades--where the mistress of that body heaps every form of sorrow and misery upon the imprisoned consciousness. The waters of life--the secret doctrine--cure the diseases of ignorance; and the spirit, ascending again to its divine source, regains its God-given adornments as it passes upward through the rings of the planets.

Another Mystery ritual among the Babylonians and Assyrians was that of Merodach and the Dragon. Merodach, the creator of the inferior universe, slays a horrible monster and out of her body forms the universe. Here is the probable source of the so-called Christian allegory of St. George and the Dragon.

The Mysteries of Adonis, or Adoni, were celebrated annually in many parts of Egypt, Phœnicia, and Biblos. The name Adonis, or Adoni, means "Lord" and was a designation applied to the sun and later borrowed by the Jews as the exoteric name of their God. Smyrna, mother of Adonis, was turned into a tree by the gods and after a time the bark burst open and the infant Savior issued forth. According to one account, he was liberated by a wild boar which split the wood of the maternal tree with its tusks. Adonis was born at midnight of the 24th of December, and through his unhappy death a Mystery rite was established that wrought the salvation of his people. In the Jewish month of Tammuz (another name for this deity) he was gored to death by a wild boar sent by the god Ars (Mars). The Adoniasmos was the ceremony of lamenting the premature death of the murdered god.

In Ezekiel viii. 14, it is written that women were weeping for Tammuz (Adonis) at the north gate of the Lord's House in Jerusalem. Sir James George Frazer cites Jerome thus: "He tells us that Bethlehem, the traditionary birthplace of the Lord, was shaded by a grove of that still older Syrian Lord, Adonis, and that where the infant Jesus had wept, the lover of Venus was bewailed." (See The Golden Bough.) The effigy of a wild boar is said to have been set over one of the gates of Jerusalem in honor of Adonis, and his rites celebrated in the grotto of the Nativity at Bethlehem. Adonis as the "gored" (or "god") man is one of the keys to Sir Francis Bacon's use of the "wild boar" in his cryptic symbolism.

Adonis was originally an androgynous deity who represented the solar power which in the winter was destroyed by the evil principle of cold--the boar. After three days (months) in the tomb, Adonis rose triumphant on the 25th day of March, amidst the acclamation of his priests and followers, "He is risen!" Adonis was born out of a myrrh tree. Myrrh, the symbol of death because of its connection with the process of embalming, was one of the gifts brought by the three Magi to the manger of Jesus.

From Kircher's Œdipus Ægyptiacus.
The great Pan was celebrated as the author and director of the sacred dances which he is supposed to have instituted to symbolize the circumambulations of the heavenly bodies. Pan was a composite creature, the upper part--with the exception of his horns--being human, and the lower part in the form of a goat. Pan is the prototype of natural energy and, while undoubtedly a phallic deity, should nor be confused with Priapus. The pipes of Pan signify the natural harmony of the spheres, and the god himself is a symbol of Saturn because this planet is enthroned in Capricorn, whose emblem is a goat. The Egyptians were initiated into the Mysteries of Pan, who was regarded as a phase of Jupiter, the Demiurgus. Pan represented the impregnating power of the sun and was the chief of a horde rustic deities, and satyrs. He also signified the controlling spirit of the lower worlds. The fabricated a story to the effect that at the time of the birth of Christ the oracles were silenced after giving utterance to one last cry, "Great Pan is dead!"

In the Mysteries of Adonis the neophyte passed through the symbolic death of the god and, "raised" by the priests, entered into the blessed state of redemption made possible by the sufferings of Adonis. Nearly all authors believe Adonis to have been originally a vegetation god directly connected with the growth and maturing of flowers and fruits. In support of this viewpoint they describe the "gardens of Adonis, " which were small baskets of earth in which seeds were planted and nurtured for a period of eight days. When those plants prematurely died for lack of sufficient earth, they were considered emblematic of the murdered Adonis and were usually cast into the sea with images of the god.

In Phrygia there existed a remarkable school of religious philosophy which centered around the life and untimely fate of another Savior-God known as Atys, or Attis, by many considered synonymous with Adonis. This deity was born at midnight on the 24th day of December. Of his death there are two accounts. In one he was gored to death like Adonis; in the other he emasculated himself under a pine tree and there died. His body was taken to a cave by the Great Mother (Cybele), where it remained through the ages without decaying. To the rites of Atys the modern world is indebted for the symbolism of the Christmas tree. Atys imparted his immortality to the tree beneath which he died, and Cybele took the tree with her when she removed the body. Atys remained three days in the tomb, rose upon a date corresponding with Easter morn, and by this resurrection overcame death for all who were initiated into his Mysteries.

"In the Mysteries of the Phrygians, "says Julius Firmicus, "which are called those of the MOTHER OF THE GODS, every year a PINE TREE is cut down and in the inside of the tree the image of a YOUTH is tied in! In the Mysteries of Isis the trunk of a PINE TREE is cut: the middle of the trunk is nicely hollowed out; the idol of Osiris made from those hollowed pieces is BURIED. In the Mysteries of Proserpine a tree cut is put together into the effigy and form of the VIRGIN, and when it has been carried within the city it is MOURNED 40 nights, but the fortieth night it is BURNED!" (See Sod, the Mysteries of Adoni.)

The Mysteries of Atys included a sacramental meal during which the neophyte ate out of a drum and drank from a cymbal. After being baptized by the blood of a bull, the new initiate was fed entirely on milk to symbolize that he was still a philosophical infant, having but recently been born out of the sphere of materiality. (See Frazer's The Golden Bough.) Is there a possible connection between this lacteal diet prescribed by the Attic rite and St. Paul's allusion to the food for spiritual babes? Sallust gives a key to the esoteric interpretation of the Attic rituals. Cybele, the Great Mother, signifies the vivifying powers of the universe, and Atys that aspect of the spiritual intellect which is suspended between the divine and animal spheres. The Mother of the gods, loving Atys, gave him a starry hat, signifying celestial powers, but Atys (mankind), falling in love with a nymph (symbolic of the lower animal propensities), forfeited his divinity and lost his creative powers. It is thus evident that Atys represents the human consciousness and that his Mysteries are concerned with the reattainment of the starry hat. (See Sallust on the Gods and the World.)

The rites of Sabazius were very similar to those of Bacchus and it is generally believed that the two deities are identical. Bacchus was born at Sabazius, or Sabaoth, and these names are frequently assigned to him. The Sabazian Mysteries were performed at night, and the ritual included the drawing of a live snake across the breast of the candidate. Clement of Alexandria writes: "The token of the Sabazian Mysteries to the initiated is 'the deity gliding over the breast.'" A golden serpent was the symbol of Sabazius because this deity represented the annual renovation of the world by the solar power. The Jews borrowed the name Sabaoth from these Mysteries and adopted it as one of the appellations of their supreme God. During the time the Sabazian Mysteries were celebrated in Rome, the cult gained many votaries and later influenced the symbolism of Christianity.

The Cabiric Mysteries of Samothrace were renowned among the ancients, being next to the Eleusinian in public esteem. Herodotus declares that the Samothracians received their doctrines, especially those concerning Mercury, from the Pelasgians. Little is known concerning the Cabiric rituals, for they were enshrouded in the profoundest secrecy. Some regard the Cabiri as seven in number and refer to them as "the Seven Spirits of fire before the throne of Saturn." Others believe the Cabiri to be the seven sacred wanderers, later called the planets.

While a vast number of deities are associated with the Samothracian Mysteries, the ritualistic drama centers around four brothers. The first three--Aschieros, Achiochersus, and Achiochersa--attack and murder the fourth--Cashmala (or Cadmillus). Dionysidorus, however, identifies Aschieros with Demeter, Achiochersus with Pluto, Achiochersa with Persephone, and Cashmala with Hermes. Alexander Wilder notes that in the Samothracian ritual "Cadmillus is made to include the Theban Serpent-god, Cadmus, the Thoth of Egypt, the Hermes of the Greeks, and the Emeph or Æsculapius of the Alexandrians and Phœnicians. " Here again is a repetition of the story of Osiris, Bacchus, Adonis, Balder, and Hiram Abiff. The worship of Atys and Cybele was also involved in the Samothracian Mysteries. In the rituals of the Cabiri is to be traced a form of pine-tree worship, for this tree, sacred to Atys, was first trimmed into the form of a cross and then cut down in honor of the murdered god whose body was discovered at its foot.

"If you wish to inspect the orgies of the Corybantes, " writes Clement, "Then know that, having killed their third brother, they covered the head of the dead body with a purple cloth, crowned it, and carrying it on the point of a spear, buried it under the roots of Olympus. These mysteries are, in short, murders and funerals. [This ante-Nicene Father in his efforts to defame the pagan rites apparently ignores the fact that, like the Cabirian martyr, Jesus Christ was foully betrayed, tortured, and finally murdered!] And the priests Of these rites, who are called kings of the sacred rites by those whose business it is to name them, give additional strangeness to the tragic occurrence, by forbidding parsley with the roots from being placed on the table, for they think that parsley grew from the Corybantic blood that flowed forth; just as the women, in celebrating the Thcsmophoria, abstain from eating the seeds of the pomegranate, which have fallen on the ground, from the idea that pomegranates sprang from the drops of the blood of Dionysus. Those Corybantes also they call Cabiric; and the ceremony itself they announce as the Cabiric mystery."

The Mysteries of the Cabiri were divided into three degrees, the first of which celebrated the death of Cashmala, at the hands of his three brothers; the second, the discovery of his mutilated body, the parts of which had been found and gathered after much labor; and the third--accompanied by great rejoicing and happiness--his resurrection and the consequent salvation of the world. The temple of the Cabiri at Samothrace contained a number of curious divinities, many of them misshapen creatures representing the elemental powers of Nature, possibly the Bacchic Titans. Children were initiated into the Cabirian cult with the same dignity as adults, and criminals who reached the sanctuary were safe from pursuit. The Samothracian rites were particularly concerned with navigation, the Dioscuri--Castor and Pollux, or the gods of navigation--being among those propitiated by members of that cult. The Argonautic expedition, listening to the advice of Orpheus, stopped at the island of Samothrace for the purpose of having its members initiated into the Cabiric rites.

Herodotus relates that when Cambyses entered the temple of the Cabiri he was unable to restrain his mirth at seeing before him the figure of a man standing upright and, facing the man, the figure of a woman standing on her head. Had Cambyses been acquainted with the principles of divine astronomy, he would have realized that he was then in the presence of the key to universal equilibrium. "'I ask,' says Voltaire, 'who were these Hierophants, these sacred Freemasons, who celebrated their Ancient Mysteries of Samothracia, and whence came they and their gods Cabiri?'" (See Mackey's Encyclopædia of Freemasonry.) Clement speaks of the Mysteries of the Cabiri as "the sacred Mystery of a brother slain by his brethren," and the "Cabiric death" was one of the secret symbols of antiquity. Thus the allegory of the Self murdered by the not-self is perpetuated through the religious mysticism of all peoples. The philosophic death and the philosophic resurrection are the Lesser and the Greater Mysteries respectively.

A curious aspect of the dying-god myth is that of the Hanged Man. The most important example of this peculiar conception is found in the Odinic rituals where Odin hangs himself for nine nights from the branches of the World Tree and upon the same occasion also pierces his own side with the sacred spear. As the result of this great sacrifice, Odin, while suspended over the depths of Nifl-heim, discovered by meditation the runes or alphabets by which later the records of his people were preserved. Because of this remarkable experience, Odin is sometimes shown seated on a gallows tree and he became the patron deity of all who died by the noose. Esoterically, the Hanged Man is the human spirit which is suspended from heaven by a single thread. Wisdom, not death, is the reward for this voluntary sacrifice during which the human soul, suspended above the world of illusion, and meditating upon its unreality, is rewarded by the achievement of self-realization.

From a consideration of all these ancient and secret rituals it becomes evident that the mystery of the dying god was universal among the illumined and venerated colleges of the sacred teaching. This mystery has been perpetuated in Christianity in the crucifixion and death of the God-man-Jesus the Christ. The secret import of this world tragedy and the Universal Martyr must be rediscovered if Christianity is to reach the heights attained by the pagans in the days of their philosophic supremacy. The myth of the dying god is the key to both universal and individual redemption and regeneration, and those who do not comprehend the true nature of this supreme allegory are not privileged to consider themselves either wise or truly religious.
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Re: The Secret Teachings of All Ages, by Manly P. Hall

Postby admin » Fri Jul 10, 2015 5:29 pm

The Life and Teachings of Thoth Hermes Trismegistus

THUNDER rolled, lightning flashed, the veil of the Temple was rent from top to bottom. The venerable initiator, in his robes of blue and gold, slowly raised his jeweled wand and pointed with it into the darkness revealed by the tearing of the silken curtain: "Behold the Light of Egypt! " The candidate, in his plain white robe, gazed into the utter blackness framed by the two great Lotus-headed columns between which the veil had hung. As he watched, a luminous haze distributed itself throughout the atmosphere until the air was a mass of shining particles. The face of the neophyte was illumined by the soft glow as he scanned the shimmering cloud for some tangible object. The initiator spoke again: "This Light which ye behold is the secret luminance of the Mysteries. Whence it comes none knoweth, save the 'Master of the Light.' Behold Him!" Suddenly, through the gleaming mist a figure appeared, surrounded by a flickering greenish sheen. The initiator lowered his wand and, bowing his head, placed one hand edgewise against his breast in humble salutation. The neophyte stepped back in awe, partly blinded by the glory of the revealed figure. Gaining courage, the youth gazed again at the Divine One. The Form before him was considerably larger than that of a mortal man. The body seemed partly transparent so that the heart and brain could be seen pulsating and radiant. As the candidate watched, the heart changed into an ibis, and the brain into a flashing emerald. In Its hand this mysterious Being bore a winged rod, entwined with serpents. The aged initiator, raising his wand, cried out in a loud voice: "All hail Thee, Thoth Hermes, Thrice Greatest; all hail Thee, Prince of Men; all hail Thee who standeth upon the head of Typhon!" At the same instant a lurid writhing dragon appeared--a hideous monster, part serpent, part crocodile, and part hog. From its mouth and nostrils poured sheets of flame and horrible sounds echoed through the vaulted chambers. Suddenly Hermes struck the advancing reptile with the serpent-wound staff and with snarling cry the dragon fell over upon its side, while the flames about it slowly died away. Hermes placed His foot upon the skull of the vanquished Typhon. The next instant, with a blaze of unbearable glory that sent the neophyte staggering backward against a pillar, the immortal Hermes, followed by streamers of greenish mist, passed through the chamber and faded into nothingness.


Iamblichus averred that Hermes was the author of twenty thousand books; Manetho increased the number to more than thirty-six thousand (see James Gardner)--figures which make it evident that a solitary individual, even though he be overshadowed by divine prerogative, could scarcely have accomplished such a monumental labor. Among the arts and sciences which it is affirmed Hermes revealed to mankind were medicine, chemistry, law, arc, astrology, music, rhetoric, Magic, philosophy, geography, mathematics (especially geometry), anatomy, and oratory. Orpheus was similarly acclaimed by the Greeks.

In his Biographia Antiqua, Francis Barrett says of Hermes: "* * * if God ever appeared in man, he appeared in him, as is evident both from his books and his Pymander; in which works he has communicated the sum of the Abyss, and the divine knowledge to all posterity; by which he has demonstrated himself to have been not only an inspired divine, but also a deep philosopher, obtaining his wisdom from God and heavenly things, and not from man."

His transcendent learning caused Hermes to be identified with many of the early sages and prophets. In his Ancient Mythology, Bryant writes: "I have mentioned that Cadmus was the same as the Egyptian Thoth; and it is manifest from his being Hermes, and from the invention of letters being attributed to him. " (In the chapter on the theory of Pythagorean Mathematics will be found the table of the original Cadmean letters.) Investigators believe that it was Hermes who was known to the Jews as "Enoch," called by Kenealy the "Second Messenger of God." Hermes was accepted into the mythology of the Greeks, later becoming the Mercury of the Latins. He was revered through the form of the planet Mercury because this body is nearest to the sun: Hermes of all creatures was nearest to God, and became known as the Messenger of the Gods.

In the Egyptian drawings of him, Thoth carries a waxen writing tablet and serves as the recorder during the weighing of the souls of the dead in the judgment Hall of Osiris--a ritual of great significance. Hermes is of first importance to Masonic scholars, because he was the author of the Masonic initiatory rituals, which were borrowed from the Mysteries established by Hermes. Nearly all of the Masonic symbols are Hermetic in character. Pythagoras studied mathematics with the Egyptians and from them gained his knowledge of the symbolic geometric solids. Hermes is also revered for his reformation of the calendar system. He increased the year from 360 to 365 days, thus establishing a precedent which still prevails. The appellation "Thrice Greatest" was given to Hermes because he was considered the greatest of all philosophers, the greatest of all priests, and the greatest of all kings. It is worthy of note that the last poem of America's beloved poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, was a lyric ode to Hermes. (See Chambers' Encyclopædia.)


On the subject of the Hermetic books, James Campbell Brown, in his History of Chemistry, has written: "Leaving the Chaldean and earliest Egyptian periods, of which we have remains but no record, and from which no names of either chemists or philosophers have come down to us, we now approach the Historic Period, when books were written, not at first upon parchment or paper, but upon papyrus. A series of early Egyptian books is attributed to Hermes Trismegistus, who may have been a real savant, or may be a personification of a long succession of writers. * * * He is identified by some with the Greek god Hermes, and the Egyptian Thoth or Tuti, who was the moon-god, and is represented in ancient paintings as ibis-headed with the disc and crescent of the moon. The Egyptians regarded him as the god of wisdom, letters, and the recording of time. It is in consequence of the great respect entertained for Hermes by the old alchemists that chemical writings were called 'hermetic,' and that the phrase 'hermetically sealed' is still in use to designate the closing of a glass vessel by fusion, after the manner of chemical manipulators. We find the same root in the hermetic medicines of Paracelsus, and the hermetic freemasonry of the Middle Ages."

Among the fragmentary writings believed to have come from the stylus of Hermes are two famous works. The first is the Emerald Table, and the second is the Divine Pymander, or, as it is more commonly called, The Shepherd of Men, a discussion of which follows. One outstanding point in connection with Hermes is that he was one of the few philosopher-priests of pagandom upon whom the early Christians did not vent their spleen. Some Church Fathers went so far as to declare that Hermes exhibited many symptoms of intelligence, and that if he had only been born in a more enlightened age so that he might have benefited by their instructions he would have been a really great man!

In his Stromata, Clement of Alexandria, one of the few chroniclers of pagan lore whose writings have been preserved to this age, gives practically all the information that is known concerning the original forty-two books of Hermes and the importance with which these books were regarded by both the temporal and spiritual powers of Egypt. Clement describes one of their ceremonial processions as follows:

From Historia Deorum Fatidicorum.
Master of all arts and sciences. perfect in all crafts, Ruler of the Three Worlds, Scribe of the Gods, and Keeper of the Books of Life, Thoth Hermes Trismegistus--the Three Times Greatest, the "First Intelligencer"--was regarded by the ancient Egyptians as the embodiment of the Universal Mind. While in all probability there actually existed a great sage and educator by the name of Hermes, it is impossible to extricate the historical man from the mass of legendary accounts which attempt to identify him with the Cosmic Principle of Thought.

"For the Egyptians pursue a philosophy of their own. This is principally shown by their sacred ceremonial. For first advances the Singer, bearing some one of the symbols of music. For they say that he must learn two of the books of Hermes, the one of which contains the hymns of the gods, the second the regulations for the king's life. And after the Singer advances the Astrologer, with a horologe in his hand, and a palm, the symbols of astrology. He must have the astrological books of Hermes, which are four in number, always in his mouth. Of these, one is about the order of the fixed stars that are visible, and another about the conjunctions and luminous appearances of the sun and moon; and the rest respecting their risings. Next in order advances the sacred Scribe, with wings on his head, and in his hand a book and rule, in which were writing ink and the reed, with which they write. And he must be acquainted with what are called hieroglyphics, and know about cosmography and geography, the position of the sun and moon, and about the five planets; also the description of Egypt, and the chart of the Nile; and the description of the equipment of the priests and of the place consecrated to them, and about the measures and the things in use in the sacred rites. Then the Stole-keeper follows those previously mentioned, with the cubit of justice and the cup for libations. He is acquainted with all points called Pædeutic (relating to training) and Moschophaltic (sacrificial). There are also ten books which relate to the honour paid by them to their gods, and containing the Egyptian worship; as that relating to sacrifices, first-fruits, hymns, prayers, processions, festivals, and the like. And behind all walks the Prophet, with the water-vase carried openly in his arms; who is followed by those who carry the issue of loaves. He, as being the governor of the temple, learns the ten books called 'Hieratic'; and they contain all about the laws, and the gods, and the whole of the training of the priests. For the Prophet is, among the Egyptians, also over the distribution of the revenues. There are then forty-two books of Hermes indispensably necessary; of which the six-and-thirty containing the whole philosophy of the Egyptians are learned by the forementioned personages; and the other six, which are medical, by the Pastophoroi (image-bearers),--treating of the structure of the body, and of disease, and instruments, and medicines, and about the eyes, and the last about women.

One of the greatest tragedies of the philosophic world was the loss of nearly all of the forty-two books of Hermes mentioned in the foregoing. These books disappeared during the burning of Alexandria, for the Romans--and later the Christians--realized that until these books were eliminated they could never bring the Egyptians into subjection. The volumes which escaped the fire were buried in the desert and their location is now known to only a few initiates of the secret schools.


While Hermes still walked the earth with men, he entrusted to his chosen successors the sacred Book of Thoth. This work contained the secret processes by which the regeneration of humanity was to be accomplished and also served as the key to his other writings. Nothing definite is known concerning the contents of the Book of Thoth other than that its pages were covered with strange hieroglyphic figures and symbols, which gave to those acquainted with their use unlimited power over the spirits of the air and the subterranean divinities. When certain areas of the brain are stimulated by the secret processes of the Mysteries, the consciousness of man is extended and he is permitted to behold the Immortals and enter into the presence of the superior gods. The Book of Thoth described the method whereby this stimulation was accomplished. In truth, therefore, it was the "Key to Immortality."

According to legend, the Book of Thoth was kept in a golden box in the inner sanctuary of the temple. There was but one key and this was in the possession of the "Master of the Mysteries," the highest initiate of the Hermetic Arcanum. He alone knew what was written in the secret book. The Book of Thoth was lost to the ancient world with the decay of the Mysteries, but its faithful initiates carried it sealed in the sacred casket into another land. The book is still in existence and continues to lead the disciples of this age into the presence of the Immortals. No other information can be given to the world concerning it now, but the apostolic succession from the first hierophant initiated by Hermes himself remains unbroken to this day, and those who are peculiarly fitted to serve the Immortals may discover this priceless document if they will search sincerely and tirelessly for it.

It has been asserted that the Book of Thoth is, in reality, the mysterious Tarot of the Bohemians--a strange emblematic book of seventy-eight leaves which has been in possession of the gypsies since the time when they were driven from their ancient temple, the Serapeum. (According to the Secret Histories the gypsies were originally Egyptian priests.) There are now in the world several secret schools privileged to initiate candidates into the Mysteries, but in nearly every instance they lighted their altar fires from the flaming torch of Herm. Hermes in his Book of Thoth revealed to all mankind the "One Way," and for ages the wise of every nation and every faith have reached immortality by the "Way" established by Hermes in the midst of the darkness for the redemption of humankind.


The Divine Pymander of Hermes Mercurius Trismegistus is one of the earliest of the Hermetic writings now extant. While probably not in its original form, having been remodeled during the first centuries of the Christian Era and incorrectly translated since, this work undoubtedly contains many of the original concepts of the Hermetic cultus. The Divine Pymander consists of seventeen fragmentary writings gathered together and put forth as one work. The second book of The Divine Pymander, called Poimandres, or The Vision, is believed to describe the method by which the divine wisdom was first revealed to Hermes. It was after Hermes had received this revelation that he began his ministry, teaching to all who would listen the secrets of the invisible universe as they had been unfolded to him.

The Vision is the most: famous of all the Hermetic fragments, and contains an exposition of Hermetic cosmogony and the secret sciences of the Egyptians regarding the culture and unfoldment of the human soul. For some time it was erroneously called "The Genesis of Enoch," but that mistake has now been rectified. At hand while preparing the following interpretation of the symbolic philosophy concealed within The Vision of Hermes the present author has had these reference works: The Divine Pymander of Hermes Mercurius Trismegistus (London, 1650), translated out of the Arabic and Greek by Dr. Everard; Hermetica (Oxford, 1924), edited by Walter Scott; Hermes, The Mysteries of Egypt (Philadelphia, 1925), by Edouard Schure; and the Thrice-Greatest Hermes (London, 1906), by G. R. S. Mead. To the material contained in the above volumes he has added commentaries based upon the esoteric philosophy of the ancient Egyptians, together with amplifications derived partly from other Hermetic fragments and partly from the secret arcanum of the Hermetic sciences. For the sake of clarity, the narrative form has been chosen in preference to the original dialogic style, and obsolete words have given place to those in current use.

Hermes, while wandering in a rocky and desolate place, gave himself over to meditation and prayer. Following the secret instructions of the Temple, he gradually freed his higher consciousness from the bondage of his bodily senses; and, thus released, his divine nature revealed to him the mysteries of the transcendental spheres. He beheld a figure, terrible and awe-inspiring. It was the Great Dragon, with wings stretching across the sky and light streaming in all directions from its body. (The Mysteries taught that the Universal Life was personified as a dragon.) The Great Dragon called Hermes by name, and asked him why he thus meditated upon the World Mystery. Terrified by the spectacle, Hermes prostrated himself before the Dragon, beseeching it to reveal its identity. The great creature answered that it was Poimandres, the Mind of the Universe, the Creative Intelligence, and the Absolute Emperor of all. (Schure identifies Poimandres as the god Osiris.) Hermes then besought Poimandres to disclose the nature of the universe and the constitution of the gods. The Dragon acquiesced, bidding Trismegistus hold its image in his mind.

From Wilkinson's Manners & Customs of the Ancient Egyptians.
It is doubtful that the deity called Thoth by the Egyptians was originally Hermes, but the two personalities were blended together and it is now impossible to separate them. Thoth was called "The Lord of the Divine Books" and "Scribe of the Company of the Gods." He is generally depicted with the body of a man and the head of an ibis. The exact symbolic meaning of this latter bird has never been discovered. A careful analysis of the peculiar shape of the ibis--especially its head and beak--should prove illuminating.

Immediately the form of Poimandres changed. Where it had stood there was a glorious and pulsating Radiance. This Light was the spiritual nature of the Great Dragon itself. Hermes was "raised" into the midst of this Divine Effulgence and the universe of material things faded from his consciousness. Presently a great darkness descended and, expanding, swallowed up the Light. Everything was troubled. About Hermes swirled a mysterious watery substance which gave forth a smokelike vapor. The air was filled with inarticulate moanings and sighings which seemed to come from the Light swallowed up in the darkness. His mind told Hermes that the Light was the form of the spiritual universe and that the swirling darkness which had engulfed it represented material substance.

Then out of the imprisoned Light a mysterious and Holy Word came forth and took its stand upon the smoking waters. This Word--the Voice of the Light--rose out of the darkness as a great pillar, and the fire and the air followed after it, but the earth and the water remained unmoved below. Thus the waters of Light were divided from the waters of darkness, and from the waters of Light were formed the worlds above and from the waters of darkness were formed the worlds below. The earth and the water next mingled, becoming inseparable, and the Spiritual Word which is called Reason moved upon their surface, causing endless turmoil.

Then again was heard the voice of Poimandres, but His form was not revealed: "I Thy God am the Light and the Mind which were before substance was divided from spirit and darkness from Light. And the Word which appeared as a pillar of flame out of the darkness is the Son of God, born of the mystery of the Mind. The name of that Word is Reason. Reason is the offspring of Thought and Reason shall divide the Light from the darkness and establish Truth in the midst of the waters. Understand, O Hermes, and meditate deeply upon the mystery. That which in you sees and hears is not of the earth, but is the Word of God incarnate. So it is said that Divine Light dwells in the midst of mortal darkness, and ignorance cannot divide them. The union of the Word and the Mind produces that mystery which is called Life. As the darkness without you is divided against itself, so the darkness within you is likewise divided. The Light and the fire which rise are the divine man, ascending in the path of the Word, and that which fails to ascend is the mortal man, which may not partake of immortality. Learn deeply of the Mind and its mystery, for therein lies the secret of immortality."

The Dragon again revealed its form to Hermes, and for a long time the two looked steadfastly one upon the other, eye to eye, so that Hermes trembled before the gaze of Poimandres. At the Word of the Dragon the heavens opened and the innumerable Light Powers were revealed, soaring through Cosmos on pinions of streaming fire. Hermes beheld the spirits of the stars, the celestials controlling the universe, and all those Powers which shine with the radiance of the One Fire--the glory of the Sovereign Mind. Hermes realized that the sight which he beheld was revealed to him only because Poimandres had spoken a Word. The Word was Reason, and by the Reason of the Word invisible things were made manifest. Divine Mind--the Dragon--continued its discourse:

"Before the visible universe was formed its mold was cast. This mold was called the Archetype, and this Archetype was in the Supreme Mind long before the process of creation began. Beholding the Archetypes, the Supreme Mind became enamored with Its own thought; so, taking the Word as a mighty hammer, It gouged out caverns in primordial space and cast the form of the spheres in the Archetypal mold, at the same time sowing in the newly fashioned bodies the seeds of living things. The darkness below, receiving the hammer of the Word, was fashioned into an orderly universe. The elements separated into strata and each brought forth living creatures. The Supreme Being--the Mind--male and female, brought forth the Word; and the Word, suspended between Light and darkness, was delivered of another Mind called the Workman, the Master-Builder, or the Maker of Things.

"In this manner it was accomplished, O Hermes: The Word moving like a breath through space called forth the Fire by the friction of its motion. Therefore, the Fire is called the Son of Striving. The Workman passed as a whirlwind through the universe, causing the substances to vibrate and glow with its friction, The Son of Striving thus formed Seven Governors, the Spirits of the Planets, whose orbits bounded the world; and the Seven Governors controlled the world by the mysterious power called Destiny given them by the Fiery Workman. When the Second Mind (The Workman) had organized Chaos, the Word of God rose straightway our of its prison of substance, leaving the elements without Reason, and joined Itself to the nature of the Fiery Workman. Then the Second Mind, together with the risen Word, established Itself in the midst of the universe and whirled the wheels of the Celestial Powers. This shall continue from an infinite beginning to an infinite end, for the beginning and the ending are in the same place and state.

"Then the downward-turned and unreasoning elements brought forth creatures without Reason. Substance could not bestow Reason, for Reason had ascended out of it. The air produced flying things and the waters such as swim. The earth conceived strange four-footed and creeping beasts, dragons, composite demons, and grotesque monsters. Then the Father--the Supreme Mind--being Light and Life, fashioned a glorious Universal Man in Its own image, not an earthy man but a heavenly Man dwelling in the Light of God. The Supreme Mind loved the Man It had fashioned and delivered to Him the control of the creations and workmanships.

"The Man, desiring to labor, took up His abode in the sphere of generation and observed the works of His brother--the Second Mind--which sat upon the Ring of the Fire. And having beheld the achievements of the Fiery Workman, He willed also to make things, and His Father gave permission. The Seven Governors, of whose powers He partook, rejoiced and each gave the Man a share of Its own nature.

"The Man longed to pierce the circumference of the circles and understand the mystery of Him who sat upon the Eternal Fire. Having already all power, He stooped down and peeped through the seven Harmonies and, breaking through the strength of the circles, made Himself manifest to Nature stretched out below. The Man, looking into the depths, smiled, for He beheld a shadow upon the earth and a likeness mirrored in the waters, which shadow and likeness were a reflection of Himself. The Man fell in love with His own shadow and desired to descend into it. Coincident with the desire, the Intelligent Thing united Itself with the unreasoning image or shape.

"Nature, beholding the descent, wrapped herself about the Man whom she loved, and the two were mingled. For this reason, earthy man is composite. Within him is the Sky Man, immortal and beautiful; without is Nature, mortal and destructible. Thus, suffering is the result of the Immortal Man's falling in love with His shadow and giving up Reality to dwell in the darkness of illusion; for, being immortal, man has the power of the Seven Governors--also the Life, the Light, and the Word-but being mortal, he is controlled by the Rings of the Governors--Fate or Destiny.

"Of the Immortal Man it should be said that He is hermaphrodite, or male and female, and eternally watchful. He neither slumbers nor sleeps, and is governed by a Father also both male and female, and ever watchful. Such is the mystery kept hidden to this day, for Nature, being mingled in marriage with the Sky Man, brought forth a wonder most wonderful--seven men, all bisexual, male and female, and upright of stature, each one exemplifying the natures of the Seven Governors. These O Hermes, are the seven races, species, and wheels.

"After this manner were the seven men generated. Earth was the female element and water the male element, and from the fire and the æther they received their spirits, and Nature produced bodies after the species and shapes of men. And man received the Life and Light of the Great Dragon, and of the Life was made his Soul and of the Light his Mind. And so, all these composite creatures containing immortality, but partaking of mortality, continued in this state for the duration of a period. They reproduced themselves out of themselves, for each was male and female. But at the end of the period the knot of Destiny was untied by the will of God and the bond of all things was loosened.

"Then all living creatures, including man, which had been hermaphroditical, were separated, the males being set apart by themselves and the females likewise, according to the dictates of Reason.

"Then God spoke to the Holy Word within the soul of all things, saying: 'Increase in increasing and multiply in multitudes, all you, my creatures and workmanships. Let him that is endued with Mind know himself to be immortal and that the cause of death is the love of the body; and let him learn all things that are, for he who has recognized himself enters into the state of Good.'

From Bryant's Mythology.
The name Hermes is derived from "Herm," a form of CHiram, the Personified Universal Life Principle, generally represented by fire. The Scandinavians worshiped Hermes under the name of Odin; the Teutons as Wotan, and certain of the Oriental peoples as Buddha, or Fo. There are two theories concerning his demise. The first declares that Hermes was translated like Enoch and carried without death into the presence of God, the second states that he was buried in the Valley of Ebron and a great treasure placed in his tomb--not a treasure of gold but of books and sacred learning.
The Egyptians likened humanity to a flock of sheep. The Supreme and Inconceivable Father was the Shepherd, and Hermes was the shepherd dog. The origin of the shepherd's crook in religious symbolism may be traced to the Egyptian rituals. The three scepters of Egypt include the shepherd's crook, symbolizing that by virtue of the power reposing in that symbolic staff the initiated Pharaohs guided the destiny of their people.

"And when God had said this, Providence, with the aid of the Seven Governors and Harmony, brought the sexes together, making the mixtures and establishing the generations, and all things were multiplied according to their kind. He who through the error of attachment loves his body, abides wandering in darkness, sensible and suffering the things of death, but he who realizes that the body is but the tomb of his soul, rises to immortality."

Then Hermes desired to know why men should be deprived of immortality for the sin of ignorance alone. The Great Dragon answered:, To the ignorant the body is supreme and they are incapable of realizing the immortality that is within them. Knowing only the body which is subject to death, they believe in death because they worship that substance which is the cause and reality of death."

Then Hermes asked how the righteous and wise pass to God, to which Poimandres replied: "That which the Word of God said, say I: 'Because the Father of all things consists of Life and Light, whereof man is made.' If, therefore, a man shall learn and understand the nature of Life and Light, then he shall pass into the eternity of Life and Light."

Hermes next inquired about the road by which the wise attained to Life eternal, and Poimandres continued: "Let the man endued with a Mind mark, consider, and learn of himself, and with the power of his Mind divide himself from his not-self and become a servant of Reality."

Hermes asked if all men did not have Minds, and the Great Dragon replied: "Take heed what you say, for I am the Mind--the Eternal Teacher. I am the Father of the Word--the Redeemer of all men--and in the nature of the wise the Word takes flesh. By means of the Word, the world is saved. I, Thought (Thoth)--the Father of the Word, the Mind--come only unto men that are holy and good, pure and merciful, and that live piously and religiously, and my presence is an inspiration and a help to them, for when I come they immediately know all things and adore the Universal Father. Before such wise and philosophic ones die, they learn to renounce their senses, knowing that these are the enemies of their immortal souls.

"I will not permit the evil senses to control the bodies of those who love me, nor will I allow evil emotions and evil thoughts to enter them. I become as a porter or doorkeeper, and shut out evil, protecting the wise from their own lower nature. But to the wicked, the envious and the covetous, I come not, for such cannot understand the mysteries of Mind; therefore, I am unwelcome. I leave them to the avenging demon that they are making in their own souls, for evil each day increases itself and torments man more sharply, and each evil deed adds to the evil deeds that are gone before until finally evil destroys itself. The punishment of desire is the agony of unfulfillment."

Hermes bowed his head in thankfulness to the Great Dragon who had taught him so much, and begged to hear more concerning the ultimate of the human soul. So Poimandres resumed: "At death the material body of man is returned to the elements from which it came, and the invisible divine man ascends to the source from whence he came, namely the Eighth Sphere. The evil passes to the dwelling place of the demon, and the senses, feelings, desires, and body passions return to their source, namely the Seven Governors, whose natures in the lower man destroy but in the invisible spiritual man give life.

"After the lower nature has returned to the brutishness, the higher struggles again to regain its spiritual estate. It ascends the seven Rings upon which sit the Seven Governors and returns to each their lower powers in this manner: Upon the first ring sits the Moon, and to it is returned the ability to increase and diminish. Upon the second ring sits Mercury, and to it are returned machinations, deceit, and craftiness. Upon the third ring sits Venus, and to it are returned the lusts and passions. Upon the fourth ring sits the Sun, and to this Lord are returned ambitions. Upon the fifth ring sits Mars, and to it are returned rashness and profane boldness. Upon the sixth ring sits Jupiter, and to it are returned the sense of accumulation and riches. And upon the seventh ring sits Saturn, at the Gate of Chaos, and to it are returned falsehood and evil plotting.

"Then, being naked of all the accumulations of the seven Rings, the soul comes to the Eighth Sphere, namely, the ring of the fixed stars. Here, freed of all illusion, it dwells in the Light and sings praises to the Father in a voice which only the pure of spirit may understand. Behold, O Hermes, there is a great mystery in the Eighth Sphere, for the Milky Way is the seed-ground of souls, and from it they drop into the Rings, and to the Milky Way they return again from the wheels of Saturn. But some cannot climb the seven-runged ladder of the Rings. So they wander in darkness below and are swept into eternity with the illusion of sense and earthiness.

"The path to immortality is hard, and only a few find it. The rest await the Great Day when the wheels of the universe shall be stopped and the immortal sparks shall escape from the sheaths of substance. Woe unto those who wait, for they must return again, unconscious and unknowing, to the seed-ground of stars, and await a new beginning. Those who are saved by the light of the mystery which I have revealed unto you, O Hermes, and which I now bid you to establish among men, shall return again to the Father who dwelleth in the White Light, and shall deliver themselves up to the Light and shall be absorbed into the Light, and in the Light they shall become Powers in God. This is the Way of Good and is revealed only to them that have wisdom.

"Blessed art thou, O Son of Light, to whom of all men, I, Poimandres, the Light of the World, have revealed myself. I order you to go forth, to become as a guide to those who wander in darkness, that all men within whom dwells the spirit of My Mind (The Universal Mind) may be saved by My Mind in you, which shall call forth My Mind in them. Establish My Mysteries and they shall not fail from the earth, for I am the Mind of the Mysteries and until Mind fails (which is never) my Mysteries cannot fail." With these parting words, Poimandres, radiant with celestial light, vanished, mingling with the powers of the heavens. Raising his eyes unto the heavens, Hermes blessed the Father of All Things and consecrated his life to the service of the Great Light.

Thus preached Hermes: "O people of the earth, men born and made of the elements, but with the spirit of the Divine Man within you, rise from your sleep of ignorance! Be sober and thoughtful. Realize that your home is not in the earth but in the Light. Why have you delivered yourselves over unto death, having power to partake of immortality? Repent, and change your minds. Depart from the dark light and forsake corruption forever. Prepare yourselves to climb through the Seven Rings and to blend your souls with the eternal Light."

Some who heard mocked and scoffed and went their way, delivering themselves to the Second Death from which there is no salvation. But others, casting themselves before the feet of Hermes, besought him to teach them the Way of Life. He lifted them gently, receiving no approbation for himself, and staff in hand, went forth teaching and guiding mankind, and showing them how they might be saved. In the worlds of men, Hermes sowed the seeds of wisdom and nourished the seeds with the Immortal Waters. And at last came the evening of his life, and as the brightness of the light of earth was beginning to go down, Hermes commanded his disciples to preserve his doctrines inviolate throughout all ages. The Vision of Poimandres he committed to writing that all men desiring immortality might therein find the way.

In concluding his exposition of the Vision, Hermes wrote: "The sleep of the body is the sober watchfulness of the Mind and the shutting of my eyes reveals the true Light. My silence is filled with budding life and hope, and is full of good. My words are the blossoms of fruit of the tree of my soul. For this is the faithful account of what I received from my true Mind, that is Poimandres, the Great Dragon, the Lord of the Word, through whom I became inspired by God with the Truth. Since that day my Mind has been ever with me and in my own soul it hath given birth to the Word: the Word is Reason, and Reason hath redeemed me. For which cause, with all my soul and all my strength, I give praise and blessing unto God the Father, the Life and the Light, and the Eternal Good.

"Holy is God, the Father of all things, the One who is before the First Beginning.

"Holy is God, whose will is performed and accomplished by His own Powers which He hath given birth to out of Himself.

"Holy is God, who has determined that He shall be known, and who is known by His own to whom He reveals Himself.

"Holy art Thou, who by Thy Word (Reason) hast established all things.

"Holy art Thou, of whom all Nature is the image.

"Holy art Thou, whom the inferior nature has not formed.

"Holy art Thou, who art stronger than all powers.

"Holy art Thou, who art greater than all excellency.

"Holy art Thou, who art better than all praise.

"Accept these reasonable sacrifices from a pure soul and a heart stretched out unto Thee.

"O Thou Unspeakable, Unutterable, to be praised with silence!

"I beseech Thee to look mercifully upon me, that I may not err from the knowledge of Thee and that I may enlighten those that are in ignorance, my brothers and Thy sons.

"Therefore I believe Thee and bear witness unto Thee, and depart in peace and in trustfulness into Thy Light and Life.

"Blessed art Thou, O Father! The man Thou hast fashioned would be sanctified with Thee as Thou hast given him power to sanctify others with Thy Word and Thy Truth."

The Vision of Hermes, like nearly all of the Hermetic writings, is an allegorical exposition of great philosophic and mystic truths, and its hidden meaning may be comprehended only by those who have been "raised" into the presence of the True Mind.
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Re: The Secret Teachings of All Ages, by Manly P. Hall

Postby admin » Fri Jul 10, 2015 5:31 pm

The Initiation of the Pyramid

SUPREME among the wonders of antiquity, unrivaled by the achievements of later architects and builders, the Great Pyramid of Gizeh bears mute witness to an unknown civilization which, having completed its predestined span, passed into oblivion. Eloquent in its silence, inspiring in its majesty, divine in its simplicity, the Great Pyramid is indeed a sermon in stone. Its magnitude overwhelms the puny sensibilities of man. Among the shifting sands of time it stands as a fitting emblem of eternity itself. Who were the illumined mathematicians who planned its parts and dimensions, the master craftsmen who supervised its construction, the skilled artisans who trued its blocks of stone?

The earliest and best-known account of the building of the Great Pyramid is that given by that highly revered but somewhat imaginative historian, Herodotus. "The pyramid was built in steps, battlement-wise, as it is called, or, according to others, altar-wise. After laying the stones for the base, they raised the remaining stones to their places by means of machines formed of short wooden planks. The first machine raised them from the ground to the top of the first step. On this there was another machine, which received the stone upon its arrival, and conveyed it to the second step, whence a third machine advanced it still higher. Either they had as many machines as there were steps in the pyramid, or possibly they had but a single machine, which, being easily moved, was transferred from tier to tier as the stone rose. Both accounts are given, and therefore I mention both. The upper portion of the pyramid was finished first, then the middle, and finally the part which was lowest and nearest the ground. There is an inscription in Egyptian characters on the pyramid which records the quantity of radishes, onions, and garlick consumed by the labourers who constructed it; and I perfectly well remember that the interpreter who read the writing to me said that the money expended in this way was 1600 talents of silver. If this then is a true record, what a vast sum must have been spent on the iron tools used in the work, and on the feeding and clothing of the labourers, considering the length of time the work lasted, which has already been stated [ten years], and the additional time--no small space, I imagine--which must have been occupied by the quarrying of the stones, their conveyance, and the formation of the underground apartments."

While his account is extremely colorful, it is apparent that the Father of History, for reasons which he doubtless considered sufficient, concocted a fraudulent story to conceal the true origin and purpose of the Great Pyramid. This is but one of several instances in his writings which would lead the thoughtful reader to suspect that Herodotus himself was an initiate of the Sacred Schools and consequently obligated to preserve inviolate the secrets of the ancient orders. The theory advanced by Herodotus and now generally accepted that the Pyramid was the tomb of the Pharaoh Cheops cannot be substantiated. In fact, Manetho, Eratosthenes, and Diodorus Siculus all differ from Herodotus--as well as from each other--regarding the name of the builder of this supreme edifice. The sepulchral vault, which, according to the Lepsius Law of pyramid construction, should have been finished at the same time as the monument or sooner, was never completed. There is no proof that the building was erected by the Egyptians, for the elaborate carvings with which the burial chambers of Egyptian royalty are almost invariably ornamented are entirely lacking and it embodies none of the elements of their architecture or decoration, such as inscriptions, images, cartouches, paintings, and other distinctive features associated with dynastic mortuary art. The only hieroglyphics to be found within the Pyramid are a few builders' marks sealed up in the chambers of construction, first opened by Howard Vyse. These apparently were painted upon the stones before they were set in position, for in a number of instances the marks were either inverted or disfigured by the operation of fitting the blocks together. While Egyptologists have attempted to identify the crude dabs of paint as cartouches of Cheops, it is almost inconceivable that this ambitious ruler would have permitted his royal name to suffer such indignities. As the most eminent authorities on the subject are still uncertain as to the true meaning of these crude markings, whatever proof they might be that the building was erected during the fourth dynasty is certainly offset by the sea shells at the base of the Pyramid which Mr. Gab advances as evidence that it was erected before the Deluge--a theory substantiated by the much-abused Arabian traditions. One Arabian historian declared that the Pyramid was built by the Egyptian sages as a refuge against the Flood, while another proclaimed it to have been the treasure house of the powerful antediluvian king Sheddad Ben Ad. A panel of hieroglyphs over the entrance, which the casual observer might consider to afford a solution of the mystery, unfortunately dates back no further than A.D. 1843, having been cut at that time by Dr. Lepsius as a tribute to the King of Prussia.

Caliph al Mamoun, an illustrious descendant of the Prophet, inspired by stories of the immense treasures sealed within its depths, journeyed from Bagdad to Cairo, A.D. 820, with a great force of workmen to open the mighty Pyramid. When Caliph al Mamoun first reached the foot of the "Rock of Ages" and gazed up at its smooth glistening surface, a tumult of emotions undoubtedly racked his soul. The casing stones must have been in place at the time of his visit, for the Caliph could find no indication of an entrance--four perfectly smooth surfaces confronted him. Following vague rumors, he set his followers to work on the north side of the Pyramid, with instructions to keep on cutting and chiseling until they discovered something. To the Moslems with their crude instruments and vinegar it was a herculean effort to tunnel a full hundred feet through the limestone. Many times they were on the point of rebellion, but the word of the Caliph was law and the hope of a vast fortune buoyed them up.

At last on the eve of total discouragement fate came to their rescue. A great stone was heard to fall somewhere in the wall near the toiling and disgruntled Arabs. Pushing on toward the sound with renewed enthusiasm, they finally broke into the descending passage which leads into the subterranean chamber. They then chiseled their way around the great stone portcullis which had fallen into a position barring their progress, and attacked and removed one after another the granite plugs which for a while continued to slide down the passage leading from the Queen's Chamber above.

Finally no more blocks descended and the way was clear for the followers of the Prophet. But where were the treasures? From room to room the frantic workmen rushed, looking in vain for loot. The discontent of the Moslems reached such a height that Caliph al Mamoun--who had inherited much of the wisdom of his illustrious father, the Caliph al Raschid--sent to Bagdad for funds, which he caused to be secretly buried near the entrance of the Pyramid. He then ordered his men to dig at that spot and great was their rejoicing when the treasure was discovered, the workmen being deeply impressed by the wisdom of the antediluvian monarch who had carefully estimated their wages and thoughtfully caused the exact amount to be buried for their benefit!

From Levi's Les Mystères de la Kaballe.
The Egyptian Sphinx is closely related to the Greek legend of Œdipus, who first solved the famous riddle propounded by the mysterious creature with the body of a winged lion and the head of a woman which frequented the highway leading to Thebes. To each who passed her lair the sphinx addressed the question, "What animal is it that in the morning goes on four feet, at noon on two feet, and in the evening on three feet?" These who failed to answer her riddle she destroyed. Œdipus declared the answer to be man himself, who in childhood crawled upon his hands and knees, in manhood stood erect, and in old age shuffled along supporting himself by a staff. Discovering one who knew the answer to her riddle, the sphinx cast herself from the cliff which bordered the road and perished.
There is still another answer to the riddle of the sphinx, an answer best revealed by a consideration of the Pythagorean values of numbers. The 4, the 2 and the 3 produce the sum of 9, which is the natural number of man and also of the lower worlds. The 4 represents the ignorant man, the 2 the intellectual man, and the 3 the spiritual man. Infant humanity walks on four legs, evolving humanity on two legs, and to the power of his own mind the redeemed and illumined magus adds the staff of wisdom. The sphinx is therefore the mystery of Nature, the embodiment of the secret doctrine, and all who cannot solve her riddle perish. To pass the sphinx is to attain personal immortality.

The Caliph then returned to the city of his fathers and the Great Pyramid was left to the mercy of succeeding generations. In the ninth century the sun's rays striking the highly polished surfaces of the original casing stones caused each side of the Pyramid to appear as a dazzling triangle of light. Since that time, all but two of these casing stones have disappeared. Investigation has resulted in their discovery, recut and resurfaced, in the walls of Mohammedan mosques and palaces in various parts of Cairo and its environs.


C. Piazzi Smyth asks: "Was the Great Pyramid, then, erected before the invention of hieroglyphics, and previous to the birth of the Egyptian religion?" Time may yet prove that the upper chambers of the Pyramid were a sealed mystery before the establishment of the Egyptian empire. In the subterranean chamber, however, are markings which indicate that the Romans gained admission there. In the light of the secret philosophy of the Egyptian initiates, W. W. Harmon, by a series of extremely complicated yet exact mathematical calculations; determines that the first ceremonial of the Pyramid was performed 68,890 years ago on the occasion when the star Vega for the first time sent its ray down the descending passage into the pit. The actual building of the Pyramid was accomplished in the period of from ten to fifteen years immediately preceding this date.

While such figures doubtless will evoke the ridicule of modern Egyptologists, they are based upon an exhaustive study of the principles of sidereal mechanics as incorporated into the structure of the Pyramid by its initiated builders. If the casing stones were in position at the beginning of the ninth century, the so-called erosion marks upon the outside were not due to water. The theory also that the salt upon the interior stones of the Pyramid is evidence that the building was once submerged is weakened by the scientific fact that this kind of stone is subject to exudations of salt. While the building may have been submerged, at least in part, during the many thousands of years since its erection, the evidence adduced to prove this point is not conclusive.

The Great Pyramid was built of limestone and granite throughout, the two kinds of rock being combined in a peculiar and significant manner. The stones were trued with the utmost precision, and the cement used was of such remarkable quality that it is now practically as hard as the stone itself. The limestone blocks were sawed with bronze saws, the teeth of which were diamonds or other jewels. The chips from the stones were piled against the north side of the plateau on which the structure stands, where they form an additional buttress to aid in supporting the weight of the structure. The entire Pyramid is an example of perfect orientation and actually squares the circle. This last is accomplished by dropping a vertical line from the apex of the Pyramid to its base line. If this vertical line be considered as the radius of an imaginary circle, the length of the circumference of such a circle will be found to equal the sum of the base lines of the four sides of the Pyramid.

If the passage leading to the King's Chamber and the Queen's Chamber was sealed up thousands of years before the Christian Era, those later admitted into the Pyramid Mysteries must have received their initiations in subterranean galleries now unknown. Without such galleries there could have been no possible means of ingress or egress, since the single surface entrance was completely dosed with casing stones. If not blocked by the mass of the Sphinx or concealed in some part of that image, the secret entrance may be either in one of the adjacent temples or upon the sides of the limestone plateau.

Attention is called to the granite plugs filling the ascending passageway to the Queen's Chamber which Caliph al Mamoun was forced practically to pulverize before he could clear a way into the upper chambers. C. Piazzi Smyth notes that the positions of the stones demonstrate that they were set in place from above--which made it necessary for a considerable number of workmen to depart from the upper chambers. How did they do it? Smyth believes they descended through the well (see diagram), dropping the ramp stone into place behind them. He further contends that robbers probably used the well as a means of getting into the upper chambers. The ramp stone having been set in a bed of plaster, the robbers were forced to break through it, leaving a jagged opening. Mr. Dupré, an architect who has spent years investigating the pyramids, differs from Smyth, however, in that he believes the well itself to be a robbers' hole, being the first successful attempt made to enter the upper chambers from the subterranean chamber, then the only open section of the Pyramid.

Mr. Dupré bases his conclusion upon the fact that the well is merely a rough hole and the grotto an irregular chamber, without any evidence of the architectural precision with which the remainder of the structure was erected. The diameter of the well also precludes the possibility of its having been dug downward; it must have been gouged out from below, and the grotto was necessary to supply air to the thieves. It is inconceivable that the Pyramid builders would break one of their own ramp stones and leave its broken surface and a gaping hole in the side wall of their otherwise perfect gallery. If the well is a robbers' hole, it may explain why the Pyramid was empty when Caliph al Mamoun entered it and what happened to the missing coffer lid. A careful examination of the so-called unfinished subterranean chamber, which must have been the base of operations for the robbers, might disclose traces of their presence or show where they piled the rubble which must have accumulated as a result of their operations. While it is not entirely clear by what entrance the robbers reached the subterranean chamber, it is improbable that they used the descending passageway.

There is a remarkable niche in the north wall of the Queen's Chamber which the Mohammedan guides glibly pronounce to be a shrine. The general shape of this niche, however, with its walls converging by a series of overlaps like those of the Grand Gallery, would indicate that originally it had been intended as a passageway. Efforts made to explore this niche have been nonproductive, but Mr. Dupré believes an entrance to exist here through which--if the well did not exist at the time--the workmen made their exit from the Pyramid after dropping the stone plugs into the ascending gallery.

Biblical scholars have contributed a number of most extraordinary conceptions regarding the Great Pyramid. This ancient edifice has been identified by them as Joseph's granary (despite its hopelessly inadequate capacity); as the tomb prepared for the unfortunate Pharaoh of the Exodus who could not be buried there because his body was never recovered from the Red Sea; and finally as a perpetual confirmation of the infallibility of the numerous prophecies contained in the Authorized Version!


Although the Great Pyramid, as Ignatius Donnelly has demonstrated, is patterned after an antediluvian type of architecture, examples of which are to be found in nearly every part of the world, the Sphinx (Hu) is typically Egyptian. The stele between its paws states the Sphinx is an image of the Sun God, Harmackis, which was evidently made in the similitude of the Pharaoh during whose reign it was chiseled. The statue was restored and completely excavated by Tahutmes IV as the result of a vision in which the god had appeared and declared himself oppressed by the weight of the sand about his body. The broken beard of the Sphinx was discovered during excavations between the front paws. The steps leading up to the sphinx and also the temple and altar between the paws are much later additions, probably Roman, for it is known that the Romans reconstructed many Egyptian antiquities. The shallow depression in the crown of the head, once thought to be the terminus of a closed up passageway leading from the Sphinx to the Great Pyramid, was merely intended to help support a headdress now missing.

Metal rods have been driven into the Sphinx in a vain effort to discover chambers or passages within its body. The major part of the Sphinx is a single stone, but the front paws have been built up of smaller stones. The Sphinx is about 200 feet long, 70 feet high, and 38 feet wide across the shoulders. The main stone from which it was carved is believed by some to have been transported from distant quarries by methods unknown, while others assert it to be native rock, possibly an outcropping somewhat resembling the form into which it was later carved. The theory once advanced that both the Pyramid and the Sphinx were built from artificial stones made on the spot has been abandoned. A careful analysis of the limestone shows it to be composed of small sea creatures called mummulites.

The popular supposition that the Sphinx was the true portal of the Great Pyramid, while it survives with surprising tenacity, has never been substantiated. P. Christian presents this theory as follows, basing it in part upon the authority of Iamblichus:

"The Sphinx of Gizeh, says the author of the Traité des Mystères, served as the entrance to the sacred subterranean chambers in which the trials of the initiate were undergone. This entrance, obstructed in our day by sands and rubbish, may still be traced between the forelegs of the crouched colossus. It was formerly closed by a bronze gate whose secret spring could be operated only by the Magi. It was guarded by public respect: and a sort of religious fear maintained its inviolability better than armed protection would have done. In the belly of the Sphinx were cut out galleries leading to the subterranean part of the Great Pyramid. These galleries were so artfully crisscrossed along their course to the Pyramid that in setting forth into the passage without a guide through this network, one ceaselessly and inevitably returned to the starting point." (See Histoire de la Magie.)

Unfortunately, the bronze door referred to cannot be found, nor is there any evidence that it ever existed. The passing centuries have wrought many changes in the colossus, however, and the original opening may have been closed.

From Smyth's Life and Wok at the Great Pyramid.
The Great Pyramid stands upon a limestone plateau at the base of which, according to ancient history, the Nile once flooded, thus supplying a method for the huge blocks used in its construction. Presuming that the capstone as originally in place, the Pyramid is, according to John Taylor, in round figures 486 feet high; the base of each side is 764 feet long, and the entire structure covers a ground area of more than 13 acres.
The Great Pyramid is the only one in the group at Gizeh--in fact, as far as known, the only one in Egypt--that has chambers within the actual body of the Pyramid itself. Far this reason it is said to refute the Lepsius Law, which asserts that each of these structures is a monument raised over a subterranean chamber in which a ruler is entombed. The Pyramid contains four chambers, which in the diagram are lettered K, H, F, and O.
The King's Chamber (K) is an oblong apartment 39 feet long, 17 felt wide, and 19 feet high (disregarding fractional parts of a foot in each case), with a flat roof consisting of nine great stones, the largest in the Pyramid. Above the King's Chamber are five low compartments (L), generally termed construction chambers. In the lowest of these the so-called hieroglyphs of the Pharaoh Cheops are located. The roof of the fifth construction chamber is peaked. At the end of the King's Chamber opposite the entrance stands the famous sarcophagus, or coffer (I), and behind it is a shallow opening that was dug in the hope of discovering valuables. Two air vents (M, N) passing through the entire body of the Pyramid ventilate the King's Chamber. In itself this is sufficient to establish that the building was not intended for a tomb.
Between the upper end of the Grand Gallery (G. G.) and the King's Chamber is a small antechamber (H), its extreme length 9 feet, its extreme width 5 feet, and its extreme height 12 feet, with its walls grooved far purposes now unknown. In the groove nearest the Grand Gallery is a slab of stone in two sections, with a peculiar boss or knob protruding about an inch from the surface of the upper part facing the Grand Gallery. This stone does not reach to the floor of the antechamber and those entering the King's Chamber must pass under the slab. From the King's Chamber, the Grand Gallery--157 feet in length, 28 feet in height, 7 feet in width at its widest point and decreasing to 3½ feet as the result of seven converging overlaps, of the stones forming the walls--descends to a little above the level of the Queen's Chamber. Here a gallery (E) branches off, passing mere than 100 feet back towards the center of the Pyramid and opening into the Queen's Chamber (F). The Queen's Chamber is 19 feet long, 17 feet wide, and 20 feet high. Its roof is peaked and composed of great slabs of stone. Air passages not shown lead from the Queen's Chamber, but these were not open originally. In the east wall of the Queen's Chamber is a peculiar niche of gradually converging stone, which in all likelihood, may prove to be a new lost entrance way.
At the paint where the Grand Gallery ends and the horizontal passage towards the Queen's Chamber begins is the entrance to the well and also the opening leading down the first ascending passage (D) to the point where this passage meets the descending passage (A) leading from the outer wall of the Pyramid down to the subterranean chamber. After descending 59 feet down the well (P), the grotto is reached. Continuing through the floor of the grotto the well leads downward 133 feet to the descending entrance passage (A), which it meets a short distance before this passage becomes horizontal and leads into the subterranean chamber.
The subterranean chamber (O) is about 46 feet long and 27 feet wide, but is extremely low, the ceiling varying in height from a little over 3 feet to about 13 feet from the rough and apparently unfinished floor. From the south side of the subterranean chamber a low tunnel runs about 50 feet and then meets a blank wall. These constitute the only known openings in the Pyramid, with the exception of a few niches, exploration holes, blind passages, and the rambling cavernous tunnel (B) hewn out by the Moslems under the leadership of the Prophet's descendant, Caliph al Mamoun.

Nearly all students of the subject believe that subterranean chambers exist beneath the Great Pyramid. Robert Ballard writes: "The priests of the Pyramids of Lake Mœris had their vast subterranean residences. It appears to me more than probable that those of Gizeh were similarly provided. And I may go further:--Out of these very caverns may have been excavated the limestone of which the Pyramids were built. * * * In the bowels of the limestone ridge on which the Pyramids are built will yet be found, I feel convinced, ample information as to their uses. A good diamond drill with two or three hundred feet of rods is what is wanted to test this, and the solidarity of the Pyramids at the same time." (See The Solution of the Pyramid Problem.)

Mr. Ballard's theory of extensive underground apartments and quarries brings up an important problem in architectonics. The Pyramid builders were too farsighted to endanger the permanence of the Great Pyramid by placing over five million tons of limestone and granite on any but a solid foundation. It is therefore reasonably certain that such chambers or passageways as may exist beneath the building are relatively insignificant, like those within the body of the structure, which occupy less than one sixteen-hundredth of the cubic contents of the Pyramid.

The Sphinx was undoubtedly erected for symbolical purposes at the instigation of the priestcraft. The theories that the uræus upon its forehead was originally the finger of an immense sundial and that both the Pyramid and the Sphinx were used to measure time, the seasons, and the precession of the equinoxes are ingenious but not wholly convincing. If this great creature was erected to obliterate the ancient passageway leading into the subterranean temple of the Pyramid, its symbolism would be most appropriate. In comparison with the overwhelming size and dignity of the Great Pyramid, the Sphinx is almost insignificant. Its battered face, upon which may still be seen vestiges of the red paint with which the figure was originally covered, is disfigured beyond recognition. Its nose was broken off by a fanatical Mohammedan, lest the followers of the Prophet be led into idolatry. The very nature of its construction and the present repairs necessary to prevent the head from falling off indicate that it could not have survived the great periods of time which have elapsed since the erection of the Pyramid.

To the Egyptians, the Sphinx was the symbol of strength and intelligence. It was portrayed as androgynous to signify that they recognized the initiates and gods as partaking of both the positive and negative creative powers. Gerald Massey writes: "This is the secret of the Sphinx. The orthodox sphinx of Egypt is masculine in front and feminine behind. So is the image of Sut-Typhon, a type of horn and tail, male in front and female behind. The Pharaohs, who wore the tail of the Lioness or Cow behind them, were male in front and female behind. Like the Gods they included the dual totality of Being in one person, born of the Mother, but of both sexes as the Child." (See The Natural Genesis.)

Most investigators have ridiculed the Sphinx and, without even deigning to investigate the great colossus, have turned their attention to the more overwhelming mystery of the Pyramid.


The word pyramid is popularly supposed to be derived from πῦρ, fire, thus signifying that it is the symbolic representation of the One Divine Flame, the life of every creature. John Taylor believes the word pyramid to mean a "measure of wheat, " while C. Piazzi Smyth favors the Coptic meaning, "a division into ten." The initiates of old accepted the pyramid form as the ideal symbol of both the secret doctrine and those institutions established for its dissemination. Both pyramids and mounds are antitypes of the Holy Mountain, or High Place of God, which was believed to stand in the "midst" of the earth. John P. Lundy relates the Great Pyramid to the fabled Olympus, further assuming that its subterranean passages correspond to the tortuous byways of Hades.

The square base of the Pyramid is a constant reminder that the House of Wisdom is firmly founded upon Nature and her immutable laws. "The Gnostics," writes Albert Pike, "claimed that the whole edifice of their science rested on a square whose angles were: Σιγη, Silence; Βυθος, Profundity; Νους, Intelligence; and Αληθεια Truth." (See Morals and Dogma.) The sides of the Great Pyramid face the four cardinal angles, the latter signifying according to Eliphas Levi the extremities of heat and cold (south and north) and the extremities of light and darkness (east and west). The base of the Pyramid further represents the four material elements or substances from the combinations of which the quaternary body of man is formed. From each side of the square there rises a triangle, typifying the threefold divine being enthroned within every quaternary material nature. If each base line be considered a square from which ascends a threefold spiritual power, then the sum of the lines of the four faces (12) and the four hypothetical squares (16) constituting the base is 28, the sacred number of the lower world. If this be added to the three septenaries composing the sun (21), it equals 49, the square of 7 and the number of the universe.

The twelve signs of the zodiac, like the Governors' of the lower worlds, are symbolized by the twelve lines of the four triangles--the faces of the Pyramid. In the midst of each face is one of the beasts of Ezekiel, and the structure as a whole becomes the Cherubim. The three main chambers of the Pyramid are related to the heart, the brain, and the generative system--the spiritual centers of the human constitution. The triangular form of the Pyramid also is similar to the posture assumed by the body during the ancient meditative exercises. The Mysteries taught that the divine energies from the gods descended upon the top of the Pyramid, which was likened to an inverted tree with its branches below and its roots at the apex. From this inverted tree the divine wisdom is disseminated by streaming down the diverging sides and radiating throughout the world.

The size of the capstone of the Great Pyramid cannot be accurately determined, for, while most investigators have assumed that it was once in place, no vestige of it now remains. There is a curious tendency among the builders of great religious edifices to leave their creations unfinished, thereby signifying that God alone is complete. The capstone--if it existed--was itself a miniature pyramid, the apex of which again would be capped by a smaller block of similar shape, and so on ad infinitum. The capstone therefore is the epitome of the entire structure. Thus, the Pyramid may be likened to the universe and the capstone to man. Following the chain of analogy, the mind is the capstone of man, the spirit the capstone of the mind, and God--the epitome of the whole--the capstone of the spirit. As a rough and unfinished block, man is taken from the quarry and by the secret culture of the Mysteries gradually transformed into a trued and perfect pyramidal capstone. The temple is complete only when the initiate himself becomes the living apex through which the divine power is focused into the diverging structure below.

W. Marsham Adams calls the Great Pyramid "the House of the Hidden Places"; such indeed it was, for it represented the inner sanctuary of pre-Egyptian wisdom. By the Egyptians the Great Pyramid was associated with Hermes, the god of wisdom and letters and the Divine Illuminator worshiped through the planet Mercury. Relating Hermes to the Pyramid emphasizes anew the fact that it was in reality the supreme temple of the Invisible and Supreme Deity. The Great Pyramid was not a lighthouse, an observatory, or a tomb, but the first temple of the Mysteries, the first structure erected as a repository for those secret truths which are the certain foundation of all arts and sciences. It was the perfect emblem of the microcosm and the macrocosm and, according to the secret teachings, the tomb of Osiris, the black god of the Nile. Osiris represents a certain manifestation of solar energy, and therefore his house or tomb is emblematic of the universe within which he is entombed and upon the cross of which he is crucified.

Through the mystic passageways and chambers of the Great Pyramid passed the illumined of antiquity. They entered its portals as men; they came forth as gods. It was the place of the "second birth," the "womb of the Mysteries," and wisdom dwelt in it as God dwells in the hearts of men. Somewhere in the depths of its recesses there resided an unknown being who was called "The Initiator," or "The Illustrious One," robed in blue and gold and bearing in his hand the sevenfold key of Eternity. This was the lion-faced hierophant, the Holy One, the Master of Masters, who never left the House of Wisdom and whom no man ever saw save he who had passed through the gates of preparation and purification. It was in these chambers that Plato--he of the broad brow---came face to face with the wisdom of the ages personified in the Master of the Hidden House.

Who was the Master dwelling in the mighty Pyramid, the many rooms of which signified the worlds in space; the Master whom none might behold save those who had been "born again"? He alone fully knew the secret of the Pyramid, but he has departed the way of the wise and the house is empty. The hymns of praise no longer echo in muffled tones through the chambers; the neophyte no longer passes through the elements and wanders among the seven stars; the candidate no longer receives the "Word of Life" from the lips of the Eternal One. Nothing now remains that the eye of man can see but an empty shell--the outer symbol of an inner truth--and men call the House of God a tomb!

The technique of the Mysteries was unfolded by the Sage Illuminator, the Master of the Secret House. The power to know his guardian spirit was revealed to the new initiate; the method of disentangling his material body from. his divine vehicle was explained; and to consummate the magnum opus, there was revealed the Divine Name--the secret and unutterable designation of the Supreme Deity, by the very knowledge of which man and his God are made consciously one. With the giving of the Name, the new initiate became himself a pyramid, within the chambers of whose soul numberless other human beings might also receive spiritual enlightenment.

In the King's Chamber was enacted the drama of the "second death." Here the candidate, after being crucified upon the cross of the solstices and the equinoxes, was buried in the great coffer. There is a profound mystery to the atmosphere and temperature of the King's Chamber: it is of a peculiar deathlike cold which cuts to the marrow of the bone. This room was a doorway between the material world and the transcendental spheres of Nature. While his body lay in the coffer, the soul of the neophyte soared as a human-headed hawk through the celestial realms, there to discover first hand the eternity of Life, Light, and Truth, as well as the illusion of Death, Darkness, and Sin. Thus in one sense the Great Pyramid may be likened to a gate through which the ancient priests permitted a few to pass toward the attainment of individual completion. It is also to be noted incidentally that if the coffer in the King's Chamber be struck, the sound emitted has no counterpart in any known musical scale. This tonal value may have formed part of that combination of circumstances which rendered the King's Chamber an ideal setting for the conferment of the highest degree of the Mysteries.

The modern world knows little of these ancient rites. The scientist and the theologian alike gaze upon the sacred structure, wondering what fundamental urge inspired the herculean labor. If they would but think for a moment, they would realize that there is only one urge in the soul of man capable of supplying the required incentive--namely, the desire to know, to understand, and to exchange the narrowness of human mortality for the greater breadth and scope of divine enlightenment. So men say of the Great Pyramid that it is the most perfect building in the world, the source of weights and measures, the original Noah's Ark, the origin of languages, alphabets,. and scales of temperature and humidity. Few realize, however, that it is the gateway to the Eternal.

Though the modern world may know a million secrets, the ancient world knew one--and that one was greater than the million; for the million secrets breed death, disaster, sorrow, selfishness, lust, and avarice, but the one secret confers life, light, and truth. The time will come when the secret wisdom shall again be the dominating religious and philosophical urge of the world. The day is at hand when the doom of dogma shall be sounded. The great theological Tower of Babel, with its confusion of tongues, was built of bricks of mud and the mortar of slime. Out of the cold ashes of lifeless creeds, however, shall rise phœnixlike the ancient Mysteries. No other institution has so completely satisfied the religious aspirations of humanity, for since the destruction of the Mysteries there never has been a religious code to which Plato could have subscribed. The unfolding of man's spiritual nature is as much an exact science as astronomy, medicine or jurisprudence. To accomplish this end religions were primarily established; and out of religion have come science, philosophy, and logic as methods whereby this divine purpose might be realized.

The Dying God shall rise again! The secret room in the House of the Hidden Places shall be rediscovered. The Pyramid again shall stand as the ideal emblem of solidarity, inspiration, aspiration, resurrection, and regeneration. As the passing sands of time bury civilization upon civilization beneath their weight, the Pyramid shall remain as the Visible covenant between Eternal Wisdom and the world. The time may yet come when the chants of the illumined shall be heard once more in its ancient passageways and the Master of the Hidden House shall await in the Silent Place for the coming of that man who, casting aside the fallacies of dogma and tenet, seeks simply Truth and will be satisfied with neither substitute nor counterfeit.
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