Freemasonry and the Western Tradition 1
W. Bro. J. R. Cleland, P.P.A.G., Chap., (Kent).
"This is the whole lesson we have to learn from the history of mankind: to will the inevitable, and ourselves fulfil it. The creative work of the highest self-annihilating will is the final winning of the fearless, forever loving man." (Richard Wagner, Letter to August Roeckel, 1854.)
"From all time the minds that have attained, thanks to their abnormal organisation, to a clear perception, have turned to the minds of the multitude still in bondage to the will, and, having compassion on them, have sought a means of communication with them. Foremost among these enlightened spirits have been the founders of religions, and it has been their tragic destiny that they were forced to make use of such a language and of such symbols as are alone intelligible to ordinary unenlightened minds." (Richard Wagner, ibid 1855.)
"The very thing, which is now called the Christian Religion, existed among the ancients and never did not exist from the beginnings of the human race, until Christ himself came in the flesh, from which time the true religion, which already existed, began to be called Christian." (St. Augustine, Retractatus 1.13.3.)
"It has cost much to establish liberty in England. It has needed seas of blood to drown the idol of despotic power, but the English do not think they have bought their laws too dearly. Other nations have had less trouble, have not shed less blood, but in their case the blood they have sacrificed has only cemented their servitude." (Voltaire.)
There is a well known saying in the East which, in the Sanskrit tongue, reads, SATYAN NASTI PARO DHARMA, and the literal translation is "THERE IS NO RELIGION GREATER THAN TRUTH," a statement of obvious fact which is very often overlooked by people desirous of emphasising the advantages of their own point of view. This attitude comes sometimes from genuine conviction that theirs is the only view-point from which Truth is visible, but, unfortunately, more often because they have "an axe to grind." When we of the West begin to realize that Truth is nowhere to be found in completeness, and everywhere to be found in part, we are liable to say to ourselves, "we have only a very veiled statement of truth in the West; our whole outlook is too material; our whole outlook on religion is mere superstition and we are talking about something that we do not understand. We must go to the East, 'whence cometh all wisdom,' there only will we find truth." There is quite a sound foundation for this view of things, but I hope to show that it means overlooking a very ancient tradition in the West, a statement of fundamental truth inherent in the very atmosphere of Britain and far more ancient than that statement of truth which we are apt to look upon as peculiarly of the West, although Christianity had its origin in the East and requires for its understanding a typically Eastern facility for the interpretation of picturesque imagery which we do not always possess. St. Augustine, in the statement I have quoted, is referring to that body of fundamental truth and doctrine which is found as the basis of every religion and philosophy in the world. These same fundamentals form the basis of that which I am referring to as the Western Tradition. This Tradition has passed through many phases, upon some of which we have already touched in this Circle, the Tarot Cards, the Kabbalah, the Rosicrucian Teaching and, above all, Freemasonry.
I want to see if I can put before you a logical sequence of generation and growth of this Tradition, and at least suggest a place of origin, which will be far from being the East, to which our searching eyes are so prone to turn. I have suggested that it is fundamental truth to which St. Augustine refers and that it is this same truth that we try to express in our masonic work and teachings. This truth has always existed but it has found numerous and very varied means of expression, suited to the stage of development of the people of the time and place when and where each particular messenger came to interpret it to them. So there arose a symbolic teaching peculiar to the West and as closely linked to Western religious thought and practice as the Eastern statements of the Wisdom are linked to the religious thought and practice of the East. In all cases the basic teaching is the same — there can be only one truth — but the garments in which the truth is clothed vary so much in shape, colour and decoration that it is often difficult to recognise that they clothe the same body. The religious teaching of the West today is a peculiar blending of the two great streams, and perhaps finds its finest philosophic expression in the Masonic Rituals.
In order to get a comprehensive view of the facts and growth of the Western Tradition, it will be necessary to make a brief survey of the main streams of procedure in Cosmic Evolution and trace to their source some of the basic teachings, following them up through the root-races and sub-races of our humanity. Only thus can we attain to that breadth of outline which will enable us to pack so tremendous a subject into the limits of one paper. In fact, in the initial stages, I propose to do little more than outline the facts with regard to this earth of ours and leave you to delve for yourselves into the greater Cosmic Cycles of which the existence of this earth is but a fraction of a sub-cycle. Suffice it then that the evolution of life — as distinct from that of form — in any Solar system, takes place in a series of cycles and sub-cycles, each of which has an initial period of growth to a culminating point, from which it then disintegrates. Our Solar system consists of ten planetary schemes, in seven of which there are planets capable of being seen by physical sight. These schemes stand in different stages in evolution and their humanities, except probably in one instance, do not wear bodies of dense physical matter, excepting, of course, our own earth. In other physical planets of the system, the humanity probably functions no lower than the Etheric Physical level. In each Planetary Scheme the life-force travels round a cycle of seven planets, each successively getting more dense and material until the fourth is reached, after which they decrease in density again. Our Earth-Chain, with which we are more directly concerned, has in it four physical globes, one of which is the dead remains of a former Chain, of which it was the fourth, and only physical planet. It is, of course, the Moon, from which our earth itself was born. The life on the Moon was probably at the etheric level of manifestation. Our Earth-chain is the fourth in a succession of seven of which the Moon-chain was the third, each chain starting one degree of density lower than the last until the fourth is reached, when the other succeed in reverse order. Thus, as we find ourselves upon a dense physical planet, and occupying bodies of dense physical matter, we may logically expect to find, associated with our Earth, two other physical planets, fitted for the sustenance of etheric life, and lying, as it were, on either side of us. From one of these the life-force has been flowing to our Earth, and it will flow on towards the other as the tale of the Earth works out to its close. These two are the planets which we know respectively as Mars and Mercury.
On each planet, again, the life of humanity moves forward through a succession of root-races, seven in all, each accentuating one of the characteristics of man, and each of these being divided into a succession of seven sub-races. Investigation shows that the first and second root-races of this Earth were functioning before Mars began to be deserted, some entities being available for the existing primitive conditions of life here, whom Mars was too far advanced to accommodate in the higher evolutionary level reached by its humanity. The earlier root-races on Earth were a recapitulation of the first, second and third rounds or chains, for the benefit of such entities as, although being considerably behind the average in evolution, were yet able, by a very special effort to be helped to catch up. Real humanity began to incarnate only when, vast changes taking place, about the middle of the third root-race period, brought the environment back to something like that to which the entities had before been accustomed. At this time took place the inception of certain movements intended to set out humanity definitely on the way towards that higher spiritual advancement which still lies before it. This period was some ten or eleven millions of years ago. About this same time carne the full establishment of the separation of the sexes. The guidance of the future of our humanity was then taken over by those Great Beings, who came from the vastly more evolved humanity of the planet Venus and who have come to be known as "The Lords of the Flame." The third root-race is known as the Lemurian Race. Its centre was the great continent of Lemuria, of which Australia is a remnant. This race built up a marvellous civilization and developed the arts to a high degree, more especially the art of Building. Much of their architecture was Cyclopean in its proportions and perhaps they were the builders of those great canals, joining the Pacific with the sea which occupied what is now the basin of the Amazon. The remains of these canals, with walls of dressed stone, are now to be found on top of the Andes, which rose under them and carried them up.
Probably much of the tradition with which I hope to deal was extant even at that early date, but it would be a difficult matter to pin down the descent. The Fourth Root-race was the Atlantean, from whose continent the Atlantic Ocean takes its name. Their greatest civilization was at its zenith from about 1,000,000 years ago, when their great capital city, the City of the Golden Gates, was built. From this centre came the various lines of descent which I have grouped under the term, the Western Tradition.
The inner teaching of the State religion appears to have been a statement of the fundamentals of the Ancient Wisdom and the people lived very close to the forces of Nature, which the Ancient Wisdom taught its initiates to control. The civilization was a fine one and the standard of culture high. Materially also it was well advanced. For instance, the art of building and operating flying machines was developed to an extent which makes our present methods seem but a poor substitute. But, as so often happens — and as has happened in our own day — there arose a class of materialistic self-seekers, who prostituted the powers conferred to their own selfish ends and hence developed the practice of Black Magic. Some warning was conveyed to the race in the upheaval of about 800,000 B.C., but it made no permanent impression, so that things again deteriorated and reached another climax about 210,000 B.C. This time the priests of the Ancient Wisdom had ample warning of things to come and led out an expedition of their still faithful followers to found colonies for the preservation of the Mysteries. To use modern terminology, they evacuated their people to safe areas. One of the most important of these was the great colony founded in the Nile Valley, where, to preserve the records as well as to act as a Temple of Initiation, they built the Great "Light," which still stands there, the Great Pyramid of Gizeh. Then came the overwhelming catastrophe, and for about 500 years the records lay safely sealed under water. This upheaval left the remains of the continent of Atlantis divided into two island continents, Ruta and Daitya, and these remained until the next catastrophe, in 75,025 B.C. From 200,000 B.C. for about 100,000 years, another great civilization was built up and the Ancient Wisdom was again taught in the Schools of the Mysteries. The Empire of Atlantis spread east and west and from it was derived much of that wisdom which we know as the wisdom of Egypt. But, once again, black magic became rife, and a great being known as the Lord of the Dark Face leagued himself with the earth spirits, the downward-trending natural forces, to hamper the work of the White Emperor, the work of Evolution.
Some remains of the cult then set up lingered long — and still linger in the more material aspects of the worship of Pan. Once more, the forces of Evil were triumphant and the catastrophe of 75,025 B.C. became necessary. Once again the essentials of the Ancient Wisdom and of the true worship were preserved in remote quarters.
This catastrophe consisted of another great upheaval in the region which is now the Atlantic Ocean, but its repercussions were felt in remote quarters of the globe. Ruta and Daitya were destroyed by fire and water, and in their place remained a single island, smaller than either of them, which has come down to us in history as Poseidonis.
There we will leave it for the moment, while we trace the beginnings of the Fifth, or Aryan, Root-race, from its early progenitors in Ruta and Daitya. Its actual inception dates back still further, to the days of Atlantis itself, and it is largely to those who were selected to build the bodies for its habitation that we are indebted for the preservation of the Mysteries. The first move in the final segregation of the race was taken about 100,000 years ago by the isolation of a specialized tribe from the Fifth Atlantean Sub-race, the white-skinned Semitic. The members of this tribe were forbidden to inter-marry with the people of the other tribes, and were told that they would journey later as a tribe, far away to a "promised land," under the guidance of a King or Lord, who would be physically unknown to them. As far back as this, then, we find some of the distinctive features of the Western Tradition already showing themselves. I recall a story which illustrates a point of view which is always liable to crop up in the most unlikely places. I believe it originated in a "Punch" cartoon, at the time of the processions of unemployed in London. Such a procession, with banners waving, was passing along the street when an American and a Scot found themselves together on the pavement, and the conversation ran somewhat as follows:-
"Waal, I reckon this sort of thing just couldn't happen where I come from."
"And whaur micht ye cam frae?"
"Gawd's own country, I guess!"
"Mon! ye've got an awfu' puir Scots accent!"
Each, I am sure, spoke from a deep-rooted racial conviction of pre-eminence.
About 80,000 B.C. this tribe set off through the Sahara Sea in ships, and then onwards on foot, skirting the south of Egypt to reach the highlands of Arabia. Some few remained in Egypt, despite orders to the contrary, and afterwards became slaves to a branch of the Third Atlantean Sub-race, the Toltec, a red-skinned race which then ruled the land. A few years later, a small picked nucleus set off towards the Gobi Sea, where the race was finally founded and consolidated, and whence, at various times, the nuclei of the various sub-races set out. Two of these concern us especially, a portion of the Second, the Arabian, and the Fourth, the Keltic. Later I must deal with the Fifth, the Teutonic, when I come to speak of "Parsifal."
The pioneers of the Second Sub-race set forth from the Race Centre and, about 40,000 B.C., set themselves to Aryanise the descendants of the Arabs, whom they had left behind thousands of years before. The Southern Arabian tribes maintained their independence and when, later, that section of the country was over-run, a peculiarly fanatical section, styling themselves a "Chosen People," set forth and settled on the Somali coast. Later on this sect had a schism within itset owing to the ruling High Priest breaking with this "chosen people" tradition and allowing intermarriage with neighbouring negro tribes. The conservative element moved up the Red Sea to Egypt, whence, centuries later, they passed in a body into Palestine, where we know them as the Jews. It should be noted that this title, the Chosen People, which the Jews arrogated to themselves, was actually originally applied to the Hebrew Race, which is synonymous with the Aryan Race. The Second Sub-race extended its power over Mesopotamia, most of Persia and all Africa, except Egypt. They kept together as an empire until internal trouble started in Arabia, and the governor of Persia declared its independence. Then followed civil wars and strife in Persia and Chaldea, ending with the establishment of the Great Iranian Empire. The Iranians came from the Race Centre about 30,000 B.C. and their empire continued until about 2,200 B.C. It was while this internal struggle was at its height, that Thoth, or Tahuti or, as the Greeks called him, Hermes, came to give the doctrine of the Inner Light to the Second Sub-race. His religion was founded in Egypt and he then travelled to Arabia. Later, the same teacher appeared again as the first Zarathushtra in Persia.
Now let us see something of the Fourth Sub-race, the Keltic. They passed along to the north of Persia into the Caucasus about 20,000 B.C., and settled in the district of Erivan, on the shore of Lake Sevanga, whence they overran Armenia, Kurdistan and Phrygia. About 10,000 B.C. they started westwards again. The first wave were the Ancient Greeks, from whom descended the Trojans who afterwards fought the Later Greeks. Among other successes, they defeated Poseidonis, and held the Mediterranean until the time of the final catastrophe, the date of which, as given to us by Plato, works out to 9,564 B.C. In this catastrophe, Poseidonis was finally overwhelmed and its repercussions checked the advance of our Keltic race for the moment, but later arrivals from the Caucasus enabled them to hold the Mediterranean. Later, some of the Fourth Race peoples shared the trade with them; the Phoenicians, of Semitic-Akkadian stock, and the Carthaginians, Akkadians with an admixture of Arab and Negro. On they came, wave after wave. The Albanians sprang from their second sub-division and the Italians from the third. The true Keltic Stock formed the vital fourth wave, flowing up the Iberian peninsular and finally contributing to the great Irish Stock, helping to bind Ireland under curious forms of magic, so strong that they are potent factors even today. A more important contribution to the Irish Race had come along with the sixth wave, which had progressed by the northern route through Scandinavia, where there had been some intermingling with the Fifth Sub-race. These were the Tuatha-de-Danaan, famed in Irish story and legend. After the 9,564 B.C. tidal wave, some of the Old Greeks settled down in Hellas, and to them there came Orpheus to institute his new Mysteries. Afterwards he developed into Phoebus Apollo in Greece, but in the North he became Baldur, the Beautiful.
The Fourth and Fifth Sub-races passed through Persia together, but the Fifth then broke off and settled in Dhagistan. About 8,500 B.C. they started northward and formed their great cultural centre at Cracow in Poland, the seed-bed of practically all European culture. They radiated still northward as the Slavs, some tending eastwards and others becoming the stock from which sprang the Russians of today. Another branch travelled south into Croatia, Serbia and Bosnia. A later wave still were the Letts, who gave rise to the Lithuanians and Prussians. Finally came the Germanic peoples as Teutons to South Germany and as Goths and Scandinavians to Northern Europe.
So we see Three Main Waves sweeping, as it were, in an enormous three-pronged pincer movement through North Africa and Spain, through the countries of the northern shores of the Mediterranean, and through northern Europe, to meet in and near Britain, where they linked up with a branch of the old original Atlantean Stock settled there, and preserving much of the original Atlantean culture, shorn of its evil elements. These had arrived as an "evacuation to a safe area" carried out by their leaders who had built, among other things, Stonehenge, a rebuke, in its rough grandeur, to the tarnished magnificence of Atlantis and, in its mathematical wonder, a tribute to Atlantean scientific advancement. Britain was certainly the centre of development of a cultus and a secret tradition of extra-ordinary vitality and individuality, which survived until comparatively recent times in full force, and of which stray traces are still to be found all over the country. It is well worth while to make a study of our old fairy tales and nursery rhymes. Given the necessary key, that is to say knowing what to look for, one is amazed by the wealth of knowledge of fundamentals displayed by their originators. Jack and the Beanstalk, Jack the Giant Killer, Cinderella, The Sleeping Beauty, all these and many more well-known tales are veils for underlying truths which are part and parcel of the Ancient Wisdom. Among other folk-songs and rhymes one might mention the Dorsetshire ballad of King Arthur and his three sons and the tale of Old Mother Hubbard, a tale which to outward seeming is full of ridiculous contradictions. One could multiply the list almost indefinitely. The important point to note is that practically all this folk-lore appears to be indigenous, inherent in the very atmosphere of the British Race.
Druidism had undoubtedly a much higher mystical tendency than is realised by most British people of today, who make contact with it only in the age of its decline. Wales was its last official stronghold and there still exists an immense store of manuscript material, much of which has not been investigated. There is, however, what appears to be an even older tradition which locates the real centre of Druidism in Strathclyde. That it survived further north for a long time is well known, as also is the fact that Iona was one of its last strongholds. Strathclyde is, of course, the traditional home of the Masonic Rites of Heredom and "Mother" Kilwinning. There seems to have been a close amalgamation of Druidism with the early British Christian Church. The conjunction of the priesthoods was the probable origin of that most mysterious brotherhood known as the Culdees, who were notoriously unfriendly to the authority and discipline of the Church of Rome. I shall have more to say of the early British Church in the second paper of this series. Of the Druids themselves, Julius Caesar (De Bello Gallico Vl.13.) says, "It is believed that this discipline was first instituted in Britain, and from thence transferred to Gaul, for even at this day those who desire to be perfect adepts of their art make a voyage thither to learn it," making it clear that the Gaulish Druids regarded Britain not only as the birthplace of their cult but, as it were, its headquarters, just as most other faiths have their central pivotal locality such as Rome, Mecca, Lhasa and so on. We may take it, then, that Britain was certainly one of the places where the Secret Tradition had been preserved. This bears out the contention, when linked to certain peculiarities to which we now come, that it was one of the "safe areas" to which the old Stewards of the Mysteries of the Race from Atlantis "evacuated" a nucleus of the faithful.
One of the most interesting evidences comes to light when one lays alongside one another the Traditions of Britain and those of Egypt. We find a most amazing identity of outlook and of incident. The stories of Arthur and of Osiris are, taking into consideration the difference of atmosphere and trappings, fundamentally identical. Druidism is only the Cult of Osiris in another form, and Arthur would seem to have a common origin with Ausar or Osiris. Arthur, like Osiris, is the god of a mystical cult who, in the execution of his duties, must periodically make a journey through the Under- world, partly to keep its evil inhabitants in subjection and partly to learn their secrets and passwords, in order that the souls of the "just men made perfect," the Initiates, might travel through these planes unharmed. By becoming Osirified and, thus learning the rituals and passwords of the secret lore, the initiate passes safely through Amenti to eternal light. Osiris remains King of the living dead: Arthur, slain by his treacherous nephew, Mordred, is carried in his sister's barque to the mysterious Isle of Avallach, or Avallon, in the West, "the Place of Apples," where he remains, neither alive nor dead, awaiting the time when his sword shall be required for the salvation of Britain. Osiris, slain by the treachery of his brother, Set, is carried across the Nile in the barque of his sisters, Isis and Nepthys, to the region of Aalu in the West, a place of plenteous fruits, and there he reigns, god of the not dead, "awaiting glorious resurrection." Arthur and Osiris are both closely associated with the cult of the Bull. The bull, Apis, was a form of Osiris, and in one of the best-known poems of Taliesin the sacred ox is referred to in connection with the descent of Arthur into Annwn. Horus is the resurrected form of Osiris and, like Arthur, he gathers round him a company of warriors who devote themselves to the destruction of evil monsters. Horus was typified by the hawk, as Arthur by the crow. The name of Arthur's nephew Gwalchmai means "hawk" and is almost certainly the same word as Harmachus, one of the names of Horus. The points of resemblance are so numerous and important that it would seem at least probable that the stories had a common origin. A later edition of the same story appears in the ancient ballad of Thomas the Rymour, who goes on just such a journey through the Underworld to a place which was certainly the Keltic Annwn, and equally certainly Avallon, for it was a place full of apple trees, which, as usual, must not be plucked or eaten. He enters as an initiate and is instructed in prophecy by the Queen of Faerie. Now, the actual home of Thomas was Strathclyde, which we have seen as the traditional home of Druidism. His surname was Learmont, the mount of Ler or Llyr, the old British god of the sea, corresponding to Neptune or Poseidon a fact which conveys another hint of the Atlantean origin of the rite.
The Welsh writings in the "Book of Barddas," by Iolo Morganwg, claim to have been handed down from time immemorial and they probably enshrine beliefs, ideas and practices of the primitive tradition of Britain. There is strong evidence that they contain outlines and even actual parts of the rituals of rites of initiation. Barddas gives a general view of the system and the code of conduct laid down for those desirous of gaining knowledge of higher planes of existence and, as Spence puts it, "perhaps embracing a soul philosophy more in natural conformity with our native psychology than any exotic system can possibly be." Certainly, to the peaces of antiquity, Britain was the home of Mystery, insula Sacra, the sacred island, home of the gods, to enter which was to enter a region of enchantment, the shrine of a cultus of peculiar force and sanctity. It has been called "the Egypt of the West," with perhaps more truth than was realised by those who coined the phrase. At least, associated with Britain were legends of strange and perilous marvels, preserved among the European tribes. Its status, as a country of almost unique sanctity, and the home of a survival of mysticism and occult tradition was unrivalled in Europe. It even outrivalled in antiquity and sanction, so far as Europe was concerned the traditions of Egypt and the East, with no directly traceable connection between them. Through its long insular segregation, Britain developed a system entirely its own. This system was handed down through the ages and is still largely capable of being recovered. It centres still round the ancient place of its inception in these islands, Strathclyde, and crops up as we have seen, in later times, in the rites of Heredom and Kilwinning. I am claiming, without fear of being proved wrong, that the Freemasonry of today, essentially British in origin as it is, is the casket in which the ancient Western Tradition, which emanated from Atlantis, is most fully enshrined, and by Freemasonry I do not mean to refer only to the Craft but to the whole series of degrees and rites now probably best known to the world outside as the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite. Spence, in his Mysteries of Britain has, to some extent, failed to reach a final conclusion, either because he had not realised its place of enshrinement, or because he was held back by the peculiar ideas of what constitutes secrecy which still prevail in some quarters. His conclusion "that European civilization, both Eastern and Western, arose from a common centre" is certainly true. His statement "it follows from this that the religious and mystical ideas which flowed from that common fount had also a single primitive origin" will be readily admitted. But he traces the "Iberian" or "Mediterranean" race to an origin "in North Western Africa," which is, as we have seen, if the origins are carried back sufficiently far, approximately, but not quite, correct, as the ultimate place of origin lay "to the North West of Africa." He draws attention to the cult of the dead which it "carried with it to our island, as it did to Egypt, culminating in the sublime and intellectual system of Druidism, which found here its natural home and environment, which survived in Britain long after it had perished elsewhere, and lingered on, affecting the entire process and history of British mystical thought even to the present time." At least, the main stream of culture is admitted to have arrived by sea from the south.
The tremendous impetus given to archaeological and ethnological research by the last war, not only in this country, but also in Spain, France and Scandinavia, has produced results which almost universally bear out our story of the three-pronged advance of culture across Europe and North Africa, and their convergence in the region of Britain. Nowhere does it contradict this. I hold that the probable solution of the difficulties remaining in the way of full explanation of the sacrosanctity of these islands lies in the admission of the fact that these three inflowing streams were here met by a fourth stream, already so long planted as to have become part of the very atmosphere of the soil, and having its origin in a much more recent and direct break-away from the Atlantean parent stem of which these three were, so to speak, branchlets springing from another main bough. That there was a thriving and regular trade, linking Spain and Brittany with this country, has been amply proven, and the rough-stone building plans and methods are identical on each side. The main trade-route between Spain and Denmark skirted the West coast of Scotland. Identical chambers are found in Spain and in West Scotland. Although these were often used as sepulchres for the remains of specially important people, just as we today place memorials in our cathedrals, the normal method for the disposal of dead bodies was undoubtedly by cremation. The general result of this has been, I believe, to blind the eyes of our anthropologists, to some extent, to the true facts. The remains found have been sometimes of much earlier date than has been generally supposed, for the anthropologist has set a wide gulf between two types which were probably largely contemporaneous. One, the higher type, was the man to whom was accorded the tomb-burial to preserve him as a guardian of the tribe. The other was the mental deficient, who was "tabu," safe from molestation by the tribesmen, but driven out to die by himself in the open, the afflicted of God.
The Long-barrow Men were great traders, and probably the direct progeny of the original Atlantean stock. They seem to have laid great stress upon the cult of the dead in certain cases and upon the facts of life after death, doctrines which, if misused, may lead to necromancy and black magic. This, in itself, gives a hint of the reasons for the fall of Atlantis.
The tides of European invasion flowed in upon the islands of Britain along the Northern and middle prongs of our trident, but it is noteworthy that authorities are agreed that it was the religious culture already established in these islands which triumphed, giving, for all time, a peculiar tendency towards mystical interpretation, persisting long after it had died out in Europe, and still holding its own as a tendency today. The Southern prong of the trident brought with it a tradition which is of peculiar importance and which linked with the older Atlantean tradition, as having the same original source. Whether it actually came from Egypt may be doubted, but there is no doubt that it enshrined the Egyptian tradition, and so strong was its influence that even today, the delta-shaped south-east corner of England bears the same name as the Delta of the Nile, Kent. The two stories were, in the main, the same and covered a visit to another world, the world of shades. In the West we find the poem, "the Spoils of Annwn," by the Bard Taliesin. The translation of this by Stephens in his "Literature of the Kymry," shows that it tells the story of the passage through a number of enclosures, the names of some of which are high, suggestive. Caer Sidi, the Enclosure of the Shades; Caer Vediwid, the Enclosure of the Perfect Ones; these are examples. And, the hero is Arthur. The poem follows similar lines to the better-known "Harrowing of Hell." Caer Sidi is sometimes looked upon as referring to the Zodiac itself. Arthur and his companions go to the help of Gwion, to complete his initiation. They pass through the various levels, finding, amongst other things, the Cauldron of the goddess Keridwen, warmed by the breath of nine damsels. It is the Cauldron of Inspiration.
Egyptian Mystery teaching was very closely guarded and it was always difficult for an outsider to get in. The teaching was, however, at various times, conferred upon distinguished foreigners. Moses was one such, and he passed the sacred lore on to the Jewish priesthood, in whose care it survived, in more or less definite form, even until the days of David and Solomon. King Solomon built his Temple on Egyptian Masonic lines, as a centre of masonic work and symbolism. It was intended to incorporate that set of measurements, illustrative of certain astronomical and geodetic fact, which had previously been used as the basis for the construction of the Great Pyramid of Gizeh. Solomon did not succeed in preserving the tradition in its entirety, because some of it had already been lost. The external ceremonial and even the traditional ornamentation was fairly preserved, but the inner meaning was, to a large extent, lost. Up to that time the attention of the Jewish initiate had been directed to the great House of Light at Gizeh. Solomon attempted to focus attention, instead, upon his own Temple. For the traditional Osiris legend he substituted the original form of our present Traditional History. It was his son who, later, owing to his extreme dislike for the principal architect, perpetuated it by the insertion of his name as the victim of the rite, a piece of petty spite which brought its own revenge. Solomon Judaised the whole ritual, substituting Hebrew words for the original Egyptian, only sometimes succeeding in preserving the original meaning, but bringing Jewish practice into line with that of its nearest neighbours.. Many Mystery cults formed a ring round the country occupied by the Jews. They started with the original Osiris story, but other peoples round had the stories of Adonis and Tammuz, and so on, by which they were influenced to some extent.
European Masonry owes much of its inception to Jewish influence acting upon the soldiers of Vespasian and Titus, who carried it into the Roman Collegia, whence it passed, by way of the Comacines, through the darkness of the Middle Ages, coming to the surface again when times became better and persecution less rife. Many fragments were gathered together in 1717, which belonged not only to this line but also to the line of the older Druidic rites, as well as to other sources. There is no single line of masonic orthodoxy. The parallel tradition of Chaldea had a strong influence upon Continental Freemasonry, and yet another line came through with the Crusaders which combined many of the fundamentals of the Mysteries and which found it a comparatively easy matter to combine with the existing Druidic tradition. One has to remember that nearly all these rites, if not actually secret societies, were at least societies with secrets, and this makes them all exceedingly difficult to trace through documentary evidence. Hence there arises much confusion and contradiction.
Much of the Ancient Wisdom was lost on each of these different lines of descent, yet what was left was perpetuated, treasured and communicated in secret to the brethren selected. Behind the scenes there still lived on the Great White Brotherhood, ever preserving the full body of Truth, and using its influence wherever opportunity offered, so that as much as possible should be preserved for the benefit of the earnest seeker in the outside world.
Let us summarise the influences at work.
First, there is the Atlantes-Egyptian tradition, carrying through into the home of the Fifth Race and flowing back through its Egyptian shrine, along North Africa and up through the Iberian Peninsula into Britain.
Second, there is the Chaldean Tammuz-Adonis tradition blending with the Egypto-Jewish tradition, and preserving much of the old Zoroastrian and Orphic Mystery-teaching, as it flowed through Southern Europe, springing to new life in Mithraic Mysteries, and again flowing into Britain.
Third, there is an Egypto-Aryan tradition flowing northwards to the European cultural heart of Cracow and developing the Scandinavian folk-lore, finally to spread its influence once more to Britain.
Fourth, there is the remnant of the original Atlantean tradition, showing as the primeval Druidism of Britain itself, with which all these other streams, flowing in from the East, found that they had so much in common that they blended with it as with a cult showing the fundamentals from which their own traditions might well have descended.
Later still there came the so-called Christian missionary influence, but once more the mystical and occult teachings of the early church found an apparent prototype already established in this peculiar Druidic cult, offering illustration and explanation of their teachings and doctrines. Here then we have an indigenous Church, traditionally older than the Church of Rome. Some of its professors claim, in fact, that from it the Church of Rome is schismatic. The more detailed study of this British Christian Church must be held over for the second part of this paper, which, I intend, shall start with some details of its origins, and show how it influenced the outlook of the people as a whole, created a peculiar atmosphere and, through the evolution of a new intuition and an adaptation of existing legends and symbols, led up to a statement of fundamental truth which showed itself in the great central symbol of the Holy Grail, and thence led to that presentation of truth in allegory and symbol in a complete system, which we possess today under the generic name of Freemasonry. Britain is the place of birth of Freemasonry and must remain its Mecca, simply because this island is that centre towards which all the converging streams of tradition flowed and in which they met and coalesced to form that which, for want of better name, we have called the "Western Tradition."
This Western Tradition is primarily a Tauric tradition. Its ancient traditional symbol is the Bull, the Apis of Egypt the bull of Arthurian and Mithraic legend. The Bull changes in later times to the Ram, kid or lamb. The sign of Aries links with the Chalice of Christian tradition, which, itself, is a passing from Aries to Pisces. The disciples of Jesus of Nazareth were fishers and one of the chief characters in the Grail stories is the Fisher King. Today we are in process of taking the next step, suffering the birth-pangs of a new age, whose symbol is a man, who carries a waterpot, Aquarius.
As the blood of the people is shed, so that they wade through seas of it towards the Freedom to come, more and more will they reach out to the true baptism of Water which is the prelude to the baptism of Fire. The so-called successful man-of-the-world is not the type to reach this "worship" easily, which all must ultimately gain. The real conqueror is, and can only be, the "pure fool," crazy in the eyes of the world, to whom its riches and honours mean so little that he will not go a step out of his way to pick them up and indeed hardly notices that he lacks them. He is "in the world, but not of it," Parsifal, the pure fool, of whom we will have to speak more fully later.
Before closing this part of the paper, I want to touch lightly upon a few other points. First with regard to the Stone Monuments, such as Stonehenge. This great temple, and some others, were constructed at a period so relatively early that it is extremely difficult to posit very much concerning the religion of the men who built them. One writer talks in awed tones of a date about 1800-1700 B.C., as if this were almost too early to find ready acceptance. Actually, Stonehenge was certainly in existence before 9564 B.C., and very possibly before 75025 B.C. This marvellous Circle was certainly used by many other cults having little in common with the spiritual idealists who build it in protest against the lavish luxury of their native land. Some of the later rites practised within its precincts were anything but ideal, or even pleasant to think upon. Spence suggests, of those who erected it, that if they "had not finally developed the faith of Druidism ... they were at least developing its tenets." Actually, later Druidism, while it still held much that was fine, was but the pale memory of its Ancient Wisdom teaching. " If," says Kendrick, "Stonehenge was not a temple of Druidism, then it must have been a disused ruin in the La Tene period, when Druidism was the religion of the land." He points out that a La Tene man was found buried within the precincts, but he fails to draw the conclusion that they had by then ceased to be treated as a sanctuary. Other stone circles were most probably faint imitations of the Stonehenge original, just as the many pyramids of Egypt were faint copies of the external seeming of the original "Light" at Gizeh. The Editor of Barddas points out that "there is no doubt that these bards viewed the traditions of the Gorsedd as the genuine remains of Ancient Druidism and there is reason to believe that in their main features they were so. The variations in minor points would indicate in what direction and to what extent they suffered in their passage from the Christian era downwards."
Christianity appears to have been regarded by people of Keltic stock as the fulfilment of Druidism. But one must admit that, judging from its remains, theirs appears to have been a wider and more all-embracing Christianity than that preached by the orthodox and dogmatic churches of today. It is, of course, well known that many Druids became Christian priests.
The Druid alphabets form an interesting subject for study. The three original letters — note the parallel with the three mother-letters of the Hebrew — are said to have been obtained by MENW, the aged, from the voice of God Himself. One of the symbols of this fact is used today by the Government as its particular mark, the Broad Arrow, and this is an almost universal symbol, found even among the aboriginals of Australia. The voice is said to have manifested as three rays of light, to which were given the sense and letters OIV. MENW recalls, at once, all the great law-givers of antiquity, from MANU in India and the East, through AMUN and MENA in Egypt and NUMA in Rome, to the almost universal AMEN. Always we have a NAME of power.
The three letters are said to represent Love, Knowledge and Truth, the three principal attributes emanating from God. "Only a Bard of thorough secrecy knows how the name of God is to be spoken audibly by means of the three principal columns of letters, because only he knows their meaning, accent and powers." We should note, in these words, the close parallel to other teachings with regard to a secret or lost name or pronunciation.
Arthur seems to have been a later appellation of the Druidic god, Hu Gadarn or Darvell Gadarn, whose peculiar province it was to draw souls out of Hades. He was the supreme deity, who, with his strong solar oxen, drew the Beaver of the Sun out of the water. An image of this god, probably carved in oak, his sacred wood, was taken to Smithfield in 1538 and burned, together with a "friar," who had the same name. It is on record that oxen had been sacrificed to this image. The hold upon the popular imagination, which the Arthurian legend exercised, can only be accounted for if it is seen as a restatement of a much older tradition, which can hardly have been other than Druidic. This tradition links closely with the teaching of the descent of a Solvator. Bulls, were sacrificed in connection with some such tradition in the parish of Gairloch, in Rosshire, and oblations of milk were poured out on the hills as late as the 1870's. The four organs which played round the fires of Caer Sidi form a link with the Orphic and Hermetic Mysteries, and with the Jubal of Freemasonry. Fires were used in certain rites at certain seasons of the year, such as Beltane, Midsummer (Lammas), Halloween, and Yuil.
The Cauldron of Keridwen was associated with Druidic survivals in Scotland to the end of the XVII century at least, and many places have names which are derived from it in the root Aden, Eden or Edin, which is derived from the Gaelic Aldheann, a cauldron or goblet. The drinking of water from the cauldron was one of the rites performed in the initiation of a candidate for the Mysteries of the Druidic Craft, and took place only after twenty years of intensive study and training.
Much has been said and written of the superstitions of the Druids, but it is very noticeable that the suppression of superstition is always the proclaimed objective of the most superstitious people, which says volumes in favour of the Druids. An instance is found in the rite of the mistletoe which, properly understood, was a ceremony full of truth and esoteric meaning. I hardly need touch upon the old tales of Brigantia or Brigiddu, and her change into the Irish Brigit and the Christian Saint Bridget, or of the still more peculiar confusion which led to the attribution to the Lady Godiva, an actual historical personage and wife of Earl Leofric of Mercia and mother of the famous Edwin and Morcar, of the part of leading lady in a rite of initiation whose tradition had persisted to her time, and which indeed still persists.
I may perhaps have time to touch more upon some of these tales before passing to the main theme at our next meeting, but I doubt if time will allow of it. Suffice it for the present that in Druidism we have a symbolic philosophy, a supremely pure, beautiful and wise tradition, which tells of One God, Father of All; of a people capable of directing their own free-will, yet incapable of so far diverging from the strait path as ultimately to prevent the attainment of the whole race to Union with God. In this philosophy we find such so-called "modern" ideas as the denial of the absolute existence of Space and Time, which is now called Relativity, and attached to this is a wonderful philosophic teaching of the overcoming of Death.
The philosophy of Druidism is peculiarly British. It has much in common with the mystical philosophies of the East, but it still holds its own peculiar outlook which is of particular psychological value to the British race. The fact is that we have here, if it were only possible fully to reconstruct it — and I, for one, believe that someday, perhaps in the nearer future than now seems possible, this will be done — a philosophy native to the soil and far more suited to the mental outlook of the British race than any Eastern importation, however valuable and far-reaching. It is a pure, native mysticism, applied to what is usually now called the Christian ideal, yet it is incomparably older than any Christianity under that name. The restoration of the old British Mystery Tradition is a work which will have to be done if the race is to survive and fulfil its high destiny.
It is true that "there is no religion greater than Truth," but the guise in which the truth is given may attract or repel, may please or disgust, or may have any other effect lying between the two extremes.
Let us, Brethren, be among the pioneers of the resurrection of this Ancient British Tradition, which, I believe carries healing for the West, and ultimately for the East also, borne upon its wings. In its world-embracing philosophy it holds the key to "Peace to all Beings."
Let me leave with you, in closing, that which Spence refers to as the Enigma of the Bard:-
There is nothing truly hidden but what is not conceivable,
There is nothing not conceivable but what is immeasurable,
There is nothing immeasurable but GOD;
There is no GOD but that which is not conceivable,
There is nothing not conceivable but that which is truly hidden,
There is nothing truly hidden but GOD.
End of Part I