Freemasonry and the Zodiac 1
W.Bro. J.D. Blakeley, M.Sc., F.R.I.C., P.M., LODGE No. 5184
"Thus have I heard..... Have ye eyes, and see not? And have ye ears, and hear not? And do ye not remember?
When I brake the five loaves among five thousand, how many basketsful of broken meat took ye up? They said unto him 'Twelve'.... Then said he unto them: How is it that ye do not understand?"
This passage from the Gospel according to St. Mark viii. 19, is so very familiar to us and yet so full of meaning that one almost shrinks from the task of trying to enlarge upon it. Only a few verses earlier, we are told: "And he left them and, entering into the ship again, departed to the other side." Within our own limitations, that is exactly what we are attempting to do when we endeavour to pierce the veil which divides the spirit from the letter of our Rituals. We must go over to the other side, leaving what to us seems to be the firm basis of dry land to sail on the uncharted seas of the unknown, where there are no material paths for the guidance of our steps, nor wayside lamps to light our path; where, in fact, we must look to the stars if we are to understand the vastness of the mystery of our very selves.
If only each of us could cross over to the other side in our waking consciousness, what a different world would be apparent! Gone would be the hatreds and strife between man and man, and between nation and nation: gone the mad rush to accumulate the maximum amount of worldly possessions in the shortest possible time; gone the distinctions between man and his fellow men, and each one of us would be able to enter that vast silence where divisions of time shall cease, and where the faint light of the bright morning star shall be known for what it really is — the intense light which is but a reflection of the source of all life. We have been told many times that there is but one Truth and so, in tracing the mysticism of the Zodiac in our Craft symbols, we are seeing but one facet of the Divine jewel, a fragment of which is represented in the forehead of each figure of the Buddha. For some, the facet may be of interest but not of importance; for others it may lead to further revelations of cosmic beauty through meditation; at best, we shall glimpse only an infinitesimal fragment of the world on "the other side".
You will remember that, according to the passage from St. Mark, the disciples had forgotten to take bread with them — "neither had they in the ship with them more than one loaf". We have been told in our studies that "bread" refers to material possessions, and "fishes" to spiritual values. And is it not true that, like the disciples, we should expect to be rebuked if we were to approach "the other side" bringing with us no material landmarks to give us just a little sense of security? "... And they reasoned among themselves, saying: It is because we have no bread". We all know very well that "lost" feeling which comes to us when we attempt to negotiate well known paths under conditions of thick fog, and how pleased we feel when we are able to recognise some landmark. So do we, when we attempt to explore that inner realm of the spirit, often feel overwhelmed and totally unworthy to proceed onwards because the "principles of moral truth and virtue" seem to be such vague landmarks with which to "guide our progress". Are we not inclined to say: "It is because we have no bread"? And do we not forget that, in the seas which surround us, there are countless myriads of fishes? Let us try to see something of the beauty of that great light which, to the uninstructed and popular world, is but intense darkness.
THE MEANING OF THE ZODIAC
The word "Zodiac" is derived from the Greek word "Zodiacos" which really means — "The Living Creatures". Possibly this word is connected with "Zo-on" meaning "an animal". and this in turn is thought to be connected with the primitive Egyptian radicals: "Zo" (Life) and "On" (Being). The ancients thought of these groups of stars as living beings, capable of influencing the destinies of individuals, nations and races.
To the modern Astronomer, the Zodiac is a zone of the heavens within which lie the apparent paths of the sun, the moon, and the principal planets. It is about 180 wide and is usually represented as a circular plane inclined at an angle of roughly 23 1/2 degrees to the celestial equator, with which it has two points of intersection, i.e. those points where the sun appears to cross the equator of the earth and the hours of the day and the night are approximately equal. These points of intersection are called the "equinoxes". Traditionally, the zodiacal belt is divided into twelve sections, each of 30 degrees, and the zero point is assumed to be the "vernal equinox " which occurs on or about the 21st March each year.
About the 20th April, the sun passes out of the first zone of the Zodiac and enters the second one, this progress being repeated month by month until, after passing through twelve such divisions, the sun once more enters the first section in March of the following year. We must not forget, in speaking of the paths of the sun, moon, and planets, that their movement is only apparent; the sun does not move round the earth; it is the earth which moves round the sun, in addition to rotating on its own axis.
We have seen that the zodiacal belt was divided into twelve sections and, to each section, the ancients gave the name of a living creature; the divisions themselves they called "The Houses of the Zodiac". They traced imaginary creatures in the star groups of each section and, while different peoples adopted different names, those which have been handed down to us certainly were known to the ancient Egyptians, and they may well be more than 80,000 years old. We are inclined to think of the groups of stars, or "constellations" as we call them, as being stars which are close to each other; in actual fact, they are really very far apart as, for example, the stars "Castor" and "Pollux" which we call "The Heavenly Twins". Although they happen to lie close to a particular line of our vision, they are as far apart from each other as the nearest one is from the earth.
The names of the zodiacal constellations are well known to most of us but, for the sake of regularity, we will set them down below.
The dates given in this table are the periods during which, according to tradition, the sun is considered to be in each particular sign.
|Aries||The Ram||21 Mar–20 Apr|
|Taurus||The Bull||21 Apr–20 May|
|Gemini||The Twins||21 May–20 Jun|
|Cancer||The Crab||21 Jun–21 Jul|
|Leo||The Lion||22 Jul–21 Aug|
|Virgo||The Virgin||22 Aug–21 Sep|
|Libra||The Scales||22 Sep–22 Oct|
|Scorpio||The Scorpion||23 Oct–21 Nov|
|Sagittarius||The Archer||22 Nov–20 Dec|
|Capricorn||The Goat-Fish||21 Dec–19 Jan|
|Aquarius||The Waterman||20 Jan–18 Feb|
|Pisces||The Fishes||19 Feb–20 Mar|
Although the dates given here are those normally recognised in popular Astrology, they are not strictly accurate. It has been said that the sun passes through all the signs of the Zodiac each year but, actually, it does not make the full circuit in the year so that it falls behind a little each time; this amount being one degree per period of 72 years. In other words, the sun falls behind through one complete sign of the Zodiac every 2,160 years; this gradual change is known as the "precession of the equinoxes". At one time, the vernal equinox occurred when the sun was in the sign of Taurus, and we find references to the worship of the Bull. Later, the emphasis is on the Ram, e.g., in the days of Abram there is the story of the ram caught in the thicket and, later, the children of Israel set up the golden calf in an effort to revert to the old form of worship. Still later, we have the emphasis on the Fish (Pisces) and we read of Jonah and the Whale, while the followers of the Christian Master were mainly "fishermen"; indeed, the symbol of the early Christians was the sign of a fish. Now, as we have been reminded several times in Papers given before this Circle, the vernal equinox occurs when the sun is still in the sign of Aquarius, and we are in the early part of what we call — "The Aquarian Age". If no other disturbing factors occur, this sign will be predominant during the next 2,100 years.
One important factor to remember is that, when the sun is said to be in a certain sign of the Zodiac with respect to the earth, the latter really is in the opposite sign with respect to the sun. This was quite well known in ancient times and, while the uninstructed and popular world were worshipping the house of the sun's rays, on the basis that the earth was the centre of the universe, the Initiates were taught that the earth was revolving round the sun. Thus, two schools of philosophy arose — one geocentric (and exoteric), and the other heliocentric (and esoteric), but the latter was the basis of secret mystical teaching. It is of value to remember that, when the Aquarian Age is fully established, the earth will be in the sign of Leo with respect to the sun at the vernal equinox and then, indeed, shall we be justified in raising Initiates by the strong G. of the Lion's paw.
Although the signs of the Zodiac normally are regarded as referring to certain constellations of stars in the sky, and the astrologer attempts to relate the destinies of individual human beings to their influence, the Initiate knows that they are merely symbols for streams of power which are pouring their rays on to this world of ours, to guide, and even direct, our lives and affairs. In his book: "The Signs and Symbols of Primordial Man", Albert Churchward sums up the influence of the Zodiac in these words: "... The division here is in twelve parts, the twelve signs of the Zodiac, twelve Tribes of Israel, twelve gates of Heaven mentioned in Revelation, twelve entrances or portals to be passed through in the Great Pyramid before finally reaching the highest degree, the twelve Apostles in the Christian doctrine, and twelve original and perfect points in Masonry".
Before we go any further, it will be helpful if we consider some of the many references to the number 12 in our Rituals and in associated mystical teachings. The number occurs so much in the everyday life of our English system that we have twelve inches in a foot and twelve pennies in a shilling, apart from the twelve months in the year. At first sight it seems to be an unexpected number to choose as the basis of so many daily calculations, so that there must be some deeper reason for choosing it than could be ascribed to mere chance.
We are all familiar with the reference in our Ritual to the time when our Master H.a.B had retired to the Temple to pay his adoration to the M.H., as was his wonted custom at the hour of high twelve and is not this Aquarian Age exactly the time when all seriously thinking Brethren should retire into their own personal Temple to pay adoration to the M.H? Is it not true to say that materialism has gripped the hearts and desires of so many human beings that they are obsessed with the speed of an uncontrolled mad rush to gain more and more of the worldly possessions of this incarnation? Is it not a fact that the greatest tragedy of our age is that men are strangers — strangers to each other, and even strangers to the very world in which they live? And when we retire into the depths of ourselves, let each one of us remember that this Aquarian Age is the very one when the mystical sun is shining due West and East. Let us look closer at this number 12.
THE NUMBER TWELVE
You will remember that twelve basketsful of broken meat were taken up after the feeding of the fifth race, and the number twelve is always regarded as the completion of expansion, or as a condition of stability. In the Hebrew language, the letter "J" (Jodh) is given the value of 10, and the letter "B" (Beth) is given the value of 2, and we have, in the number 12, the combination of the two Pillars: "That on the L. was called "B" and that on the R. "J" ... And when conjoined "Stability". Thus we have the combination of the 10 and the 2 — the 10 which in itself contains the primordial unity and the zero, the Alpha and the Omega — and the 2 which is the first female number, the sign of the Great Mother of the Universe. The duad (the 2) is the symbol of polarity, the pairs of opposites, and, according to the teachings of the school of Pythagoras, by the power of the Duad was created the Deep, in contradistinction to the creation of the Heavens. The Deep, or the "Below" was called "Maya" (illusion), "the sea", or "the great void"; it was a reflection the Heavens. Thus the number 12 is symbolical of the whole of creation, and we say that the combination represents "Stability" ... for G. said, in str ... for ever". Remember, also that the 1 represents "Aleph" and the 2 "Beth" which, being combined form the word "AB," meaning "Father".
In the Sepher Yetzirah (The Book of Formation), the number 12 is said to be the farthest limit of self- extension and externalisation of the Creator-Spirit, after which it recedes into itself. Even the sum of the sides of right-angle triangle (3, 4 and 5) amounts to 12, and the Dodecahedron (called by us "The Sphere of the Universe") is bounded by 12 equal pentagons which, in themselves are equal to 72 right- angles. You will remember also the double cube — the combination of the two ashlars, each with six faces and twenty-four right-angles — which represents perfected humanity.
Many examples of the number 12 will be well-known to you: The 12 F.C.s who withdrew from the conspiracy, the 12 months of the year, the 12 hours of the day, the 12 notes of the musical scale (7 white and 5 black), the 12 gates of the Heavenly City, the 12 Disciples of the Christian Master, the 12 Celestial Residences in Scandinavian Mythology. and the 12 single letters of the Hebrew alphabet, with which are linked the 12 Tribes of Israel and the 12 stones of the High Priest's Breast-plate. And, in one of our ceremonies, we have the 12 banners of Masonry.
Those of you who are familiar with the dates 2515, 2992. and 3469 will find that, when conjoined, they form twelve in three groups of four. Also, the letter Tau in Hebrew is given the numerical equivalent of 400. so that the triple Tau has the equivalent value of 1,200.
It is clear, therefore, that there is a powerful occult significance in the number twelve and, in this Paper, I want to provide some food for thought which may lead to new avenues of beauty, possibly throwing light on other parts of our lovely Rituals. Let us try to go over to the "other side" to learn something of why the Zodiac has been revered by peoples of all ages.
THE TWELVE TRIBES AND THE ZODIAC
Many writers have attempted to show that the twelve Tribes of Israel were really symbolical names for the signs of the Zodiac, and many ingenious explanations have been given for the disappearance of the ten "lost" Tribes; (here again I would remind you of our two great Pillars, the one having the number two and the other the number ten). Unfortunately, most of the references differ in themselves; for example, we have the equivalents given by the Rev. F. de P. Castelis (Antiquity of the H.R.A.), H.P. Blavatsky (The Secret Doctrine), A. J. Colby Tingey (Masonic Record for Oct. 1944), and the two medieval writers — Andreas of Caesarea and Athanasius Kircher. Each of these writers gives a different order for the correspondence, but it is of interest to find that we have evidence in Masonry that the order given by Kircher is the correct one; this correspondence is given in his Oedipus Aegyptiacus and the reference will be found in the book by Manly P. Hall (Masonic, Hermetic, Qabbalistic and Rosicrucian Symbolical Philosophy). I propose to adopt the equivalents of Kircher in this Paper and we shall find the reason, in due course. His arrangement is as below.
There are two sources of confirmation for this arrangement — one from the Genevan version of the Bible, and one from the arrangement of the banners in the H.R.A. The former gives, in pictorial form, the distribution of the Tribes around the Ark of the Covenant so that, if we can agree on one equivalent, there are only two possible ways of arranging the remainder. In Transaction No. 8 of this Circle, W. Bro. Cleland arranged the signs of the Zodiac in the form of a circle, with the sign of Leo at the junction with the horizontal of the cross and the other signs following in clockwise order. We shall adopt a similar type of arrangement but, as you will see, the order of the signs will be different.
|SIGN OF ZODIAC||TRIBE||SIGN OF ZODIAC||TRIBE|
|VIRGO||NAPHTALI||PISCES||SIMEON & LEVI|
Most of the writers agree, and indeed it would be difficult to avoid the conclusion, that Leo corresponds with the Tribe of Judah. Do we not, in Freemasonry, make use of the grip of the Lion of Judah? Judah is the conqueror, the sign of strength and power. If then, we place the Tribe of Judah opposite to the sign of Leo in our zodiacal circle, we have only two possible alternatives for the remainder — either we can place them clockwise or anti-clockwise.
Our next step should be to obtain other correspondences, which will locate all the remainder. In Transaction No. 44, our President referred to the traditional equivalents of the four principal Standards of the army of Israel: Ephraim was associated with Taurus (the Bull), Judah with Leo (the Lion), Reuben with Aquarius (the Waterman), and Dan with Scorpio (the Scorpion) — as substituted by Aquila (the Eagle). These, in fact, are correct but there is some difficulty when we attempt to co- relate them with our guides in Masonry — the banners of one of the higher degrees. Traditionally, the Standard of Judah has been ascribed to the North-East of the Ark of the Covenant and, in fact, we find it so located in our Craft symbols, but the direct references in the V.S.L. merely locate it "to the East". There is a pictorial arrangement in the Genevan version of the V.S.L. which shows Issachar immediately to the East of the Ark, with Judah at the N.E. corner and Zabulon at the S.E. corner of the square. In the same picture, the Tribe of Asher is shown immediately to the North, Simeon to the South, and Manasseh to the West. (The broken lines have been added for the purpose of this Transaction.)
This will enable us to locate all the Tribes with respect to the Ark, and to compare the arrangement with that of our banners. When this is done, we find that the semi-circle from Zabulon to Manasseh inclusive is reversed, and we must cause it to be rotated through half a turn in a tmrd dimension before the correspondence is complete and accurate.
There is one other very interesting item, i.e. in the pictorial representation of the Temple in the Genevan version of the V.S.L., the North is indicated by "Aquilon" (the North Wind), which is so very similar to the reference to "Aquila" (the Eagle). Truly the simile is beautiful, and we have additional confirmation that the sign of Scorpio and the Standard of Dan are to the North. This locates Taurus and the Standard of Ephraim to the South, with Aquarius and the Standard of Reuben to the West.
You will possibly comment that the Zodiac in our figure is in the reverse order from that usually shown in illustrations which are based on the apparent path of the Sun, ie. clockwise, starting from the East, through the South, and through the West. This is the normal direction of perambulation in our Lodges, i.e. with the Sun, but this is only the exoteric form and you will know that all symbolism of raising to higher planes in our Rituals is carried out anti-clockwise. This is by no means a coincidence for the Earth rotates round the Sun anti-clockwise and, when viewed from the North, it is rotating on its own axis in an anti-clockwise direction; when the Sun appears to rise in the East and set in the West it is only because the Earth is rotating from West to East, and the Sun appears to follow the opposite path. The ancient astronomers knew this quite well but it was not given out as general teaching. Confirmation of this order of the signs will be found in some of the ancient (and possibly esoteric) zodiacal charts, e.g., that according to the teaching of Hermes as given by Kircher (Oedipus Aegyptiacus), and another from ancient Egypt as given by Cyril Fagan (Zodiacs Old and New). Although the traditional references are to the position of the Sun with respect to the signs of the Zodiac, it is probable that the signs were observed (and possibly even named) in accordance with their rising in the East immediately after sunset. Thus, when the Sun is said to be in the sign of Aquarius, the sign of Leo can be observed as rising on the far eastern horizon immediately after sunset. One month later, the sign of Virgo will rise under the same conditions, and similarly each sign will follow in order so that, to the observer, the signs appear to be located on the circumference of a gigantic wheel which is slowly turning in a clockwise direction to reveal each sign in turn at sunset in consecutive months. This analogy to the wheel is further emphasised by the curved path which the signs appear to follow in the sky during the subsequent hours of the night, and it is for this reason that the Zodiac is usually shown as a circle. Also, it is right that the signs should be disposed in an anti- clockwise arrangement round the circle so that, when the symbolical wheel is rotated in a clockwise direction, the signs will pass before the observer in the same direction as they are seen in the night sky. This will apply only, of course, to observers in the Northern Hemisphere looking South: to those in the Southern Hemisphere looking North the picture will be a mirror image of this. Thus we have some indication that, while the uninstructed and popular world were hailing the rising of the sun, and bewailing its death in the West, the true Initiates were following its path at the opposite end of the diameter by observation of the progress of the zodiacal signs in the early evening skies. They were really following the Earth in its journey round the Sun for, as indicated above, when the Sun is in any one sign with respect to the daytime observer, the Earth is in the diametrically opposite sign with respect to the Sun.
And now let us go a little further in considering our zodiacal circle. We have already noted that the Standard of Judah was to the N.E. — and it is by no means accidental that our Candidate should be associated with this Standard on his admission to more than one of our degrees — so that our next step will be to put against each sign the planet which is traditionally associated with it in Astrology. W. Bro. Cleland placed the symbols of the planets on the horizontal cross bar of his reversed Ankh Cross, but he re-arranged their order from that usually found in literature. The normal order in mystical writings is: the Moon, Mercury, Venus, the Sun, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. You will notice that he placed them in the order: (from right to left), the Sun, the Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn, thus locating Venus at the junction of the three arms of the Tau. Some modern Astrologers point out that the Sun and the Moon are not planets, and they replace the former by the planet Uranus and the latter by Neptune but I suggest that this is in conflict with occult teachings. Let us take the older astrological arrangement: We find that the Sun is said to rule the sign of Leo, the Moon that of Cancer, while each of the other planets is said to rule two zodiacal signs — one in its "day" house and one in its "night" house. The houses, as given in Transaction No. 8, are as follows:
|Ruling Planet||Sign Of Zodiac|
|Night House||Day House|
When these corresponding planets are inserted in our zodiacal circle, we find that we have the Tribes of Judah and Issachar corresponding to the Sun and the Moon respectively, with the remaining ten Tribes arranged in two curved columns with equivalent planets, ranging from Mercury towards the East, to Saturn towards the West. We are now able to discern, though perhaps imperfectly, the significance of the "three lesser lights" — the Sun to rule the day, the Moon to govern the night, and the Master to rule and direct his Lodge. Commencing with the Sun and proceeding clockwise we pass through the "Day Houses" and, commencing with the Moon and proceeding anti-clockwise we pass through the "Night Houses". In each case, we are departing from the East and journeying towards the West. "Bro. J.W., whence come you?" "The E." "Bro. S.W., whither directing your course?" "The W." And what inducement have we to leave the E. and go to the W. other than to seek for that which, in all the mystery systems of the world, has been described as "that which was lost"? What other indeed than to be able to read the open book of Nature and to know, in full clarity, of our Royal Origin. B. was the G.G. r of David — the "beloved" — our very self. The Christian Master gave us the clue — "I am ascended to my Father and your Father, and to my God and your God". He also said: "In my Father's house are many mansions". The word translated as "mansions" really means wayside inns, or temporary resting places; We vary the wording a little and can symbolise the "Father's House" as the circle of the Zodiac, as manifest to us, and we call the places of temporary sojourn "the houses of the Zodiac". As a variation of wording, we refer to the "Grand Lodge below", but we are still speaking the same language.
Although, as we have seen, the Sun occupies each sign of the Zodiac in turn, it has been appreciated by many writers that, in addition to the variable Zodiac, there was also acknowledged a fixed Zodiac by the ancients and, in many cases, this commenced with the sign of Aries, the Lamb — so much so that the sign of Aries is associated permanently with the Spring or Vernal Equinox. This was adopted as the first of the Cardinal signs, four in number and located at the extremities of two diagonals at right angles to each other, i.e.
Vernal Equinox: Aries — Sun at Northern limit — Cancer
Autumnal Equinox: Libra — Sun at Southern limit — Capricorn
We even name the Northern limit as the Tropic of Cancer and the Southern limit as the Tropic of Capricorn.
The Cardinal signs also correspond to the four Cardinal Virtues of Plato, i.e.
You will recognise these as the four Cardinal virtues of our Charge: "Let Prudence direct you, Temperance chasten you. Fortitude support you, and Justice be the guide of all your actions " — and the two arms of the cardinal cross lie four square across the face of our zodiacal circle. These are all phases of action. Without courage action is impossible, but courage without prudence would merely defeat its own ends. Courage and Prudence, uncontrolled, would lead to selfishness and, therefore, must be tempered with Justice — the wages of our F.C.s " ... well knowing they were justly entitled to them" — Justice for ourselves as well as for others. Capricorn, by demanding self-control and temperate behaviour in victory, or in seeming defeat, provides for the permanence of the results of action. In one sense, Aries and Libra each correct the tendency of the other either to excess or deficiency, while Libra and Capricorn prevent inordinate expression.
THE MASTER OF THE LODGE
We shall return to the individual signs later but, first, we ought to give some thought to the third of our "lesser lights" of the Craft Lodge, i.e. the Master of the Lodge. We refer to these lights as being situated East, South, and West, and so many exponents of the Ritual have been sorely perplexed when trying to point out these directions to the Candidate. We are so inclined to think of the J.W. as representing the Sun at "high twelye" and the S.W. as representing the Moon at the setting of the Sun, that many of us must be tempted into thinking that somebody got badly mixed up when the Ritual was formulated. It is always safe advice to think carefully when any part of the Ritual does not make sense. Remember that gems of Wisdom may appear but foolishness to the uninitiated and popular world. In our circle of the Zodiac we have seen that both the Sun and the Moon may be towards the East but that the Moon is to the South of the Sun. In the West we have Aquarius, the Waterman, and the two signs under Saturn, well known to us as Old Father Time; he governs the farthest limit in the journey from the East, as he has given his name to the last day of the week, i.e., Saturday.
We are all familiar with the names of the three G.M.s who presided at the building of the first Temple, namely S.K.I., H.K.T., and H.A.B. The name of S. is given as meaning "perfectness" and we can consider the first person of this triplicity of G.M.s as referring to the great unmanifest "I", the primeval first cause, the source of all Wisdom, whose very name in our Ritual can only be expressed as "light", the reflection of which we describe as the predominant wish of our hearts. The word Israel, as we have seen in earlier Transactions, is a compound one referring to Isis, Ish or Ishtar, whose symbol was the Moon, Ra or Re symbolised by the Sun, and El which we interpret as "Lord", or "Master". Thus, the compound word can be interpreted by reference to our circle of the Zodiac — the Sun, the Moon and the Master.
In the Genevan version of the V.S.L. the word Hiram, or rather Chiram, is given the meaning "the height of life", and Tyre is given as "strength" or "rock", so that the complete name can be interpreted as "life in manifestation" — "... and on this rock will I build my church" — not the church of bricks and stone, nor yet the Temple of KS., but in truth that building not made with hands at the construction of which there was no sound of metallic tools. No, Brethren, just as our Zodiac is a silent witness in the heavens of the beauty of manifested life, so the rock of which we speak is neither sandstone, nor limestone, nor any form of siliceous material; it is a composite structure the parts of which include ourselves and the whole of which comprehends the universe. If we can consider our first two G.M.s as life unmanifest and manifest respectively, we must try to solve the mystery of the third G.M. whose identity has puzzled so many of our Brethren. Some time ago, a book was published entitled Who was H.A.B.? I suggest that we should re-word that query and say "Who IS H.A.B.?" I am indebted to a small book by Rabbi S.M. Lehrman entitled Jewish Customs and Folklore for a clue to the probable identity of H.A.B. The first month of the Jewish sacred year commences with the month Nisan, corresponding approximately with the English month of April, and this month also is known as the month "AVIV" or "ABIB". The name "ABIB" is interpreted as meaning AB, YOD, BET — the chief (father) of the twelve months, the word AB meaning father, and the letters YOD and BET having the equivalent numbers 10 and 2 respectively. In my opinion, the similar word which we use in the name of our third G.M. was spelt originally as ABFF. You will notice that the letter F is the sixth letter in the English alphabet so that two letters F are equivalent to 12 (6+6), and the word becomes identical in meaning with the name of the first month of the Jewish Sacred year, i.e. "the Father of the Twelve". If, as we shall see later, the circle of the Zodiac can refer to the microcosm as well as to the macrocosm, our third G.M. becomes identified with that essential but non-manifest part of each one of us which is so well named "The Overself" or, if we prefer to describe him in geometrical terms, "the point within the circle from which every part of the circumference is equidistant". He thus also becomes identified with the "Ego" or what we sometimes call the Soul; that part of us which is in this world but not of it; that part which will retain the experience gathered and gained during this incarnation, for use as a guide in ascending that great spiral of the cosmic ascent, the winding staircase of our Ritual. He is indeed truly represented as the pillar of beauty — the part of ourselves which remains aloof from the ugliness of this material world and which, like the all-seeing eye, looks down upon our frail human nature with kindliness and often with pity; that divine part which indeed is crucified on the cross of material incarnation.
There is sill another thought in connection with the word ABFF. Let us look once more at the positions of the planets, and we shall see that each semi-circle starting at the East and ending at the West is a mirror image of the other. We know that the Moon reflects the light of the Sun and, in a similar manner each sign appears to be a reflection of the one opposite to it in a horizontal line. Thus we appear to have two columns, each of six signs, and surely we are reminded of the double letter "F" — the double six. If indeed H.A.B. is the Father of the two columns, symbolised in other places as two pillars, surely he is a widow's son for his Father is non-manifest, he is the great "I", the source of all Wisdom, whose very being we can only feebly symbolise as the point within the circle, the point of which we say in geometry "having position but no magnitude".
We have caught another glimmer of a great cosmic law, so let us see if we can derive any guidance from our discovery. We know that the signs of the Zodiac are of three different types — Cardinal, Fixed, and Mutable, and each type can manifest in two ways, which we can call for the time being Positive and Negative. Further, each of the three types comes under the control of the cosmic forces which we express in our symbolism as the "four elements" Earth, Air, Fire and Water — giving us the following arrangement:
You will remember the veiled reference in our Ritual to the "four elements and the sphere of the universe". We have now divided our circle of the Zodiac — the cross section of a sphere — into four sections which we refer to the four elements.
Our next step is to place our two halves of the circle, which we have likened to columns, in their correct order with respect to the signs, and we shall obtain the following:
EAST Leo F+ C- Cancer Virgo M M Gemini Libra C+ F- Taurus Scorpio F- C+ Aries Sagittarius M M Pisces Capricorn C- F+ Aquarius WEST
You will see that, not only have we formed the signs into two columns, our two Pillars, but that each is a reversed image of the other, i.e., that on the left has a fixed positive sign at the head in the East, whereas that on the right has the fixed positive sign at the base of the column in the West. Here we have again the "pairs of opposites" of mystical teaching, or the Male and Female of our human incarnation. Even the signs opposite to each other in the columns are complementary the Fixed positive being balanced and completed by the Cardinal negative, and vice versa.
W.Bro. Major Cathcart Bruce (Transaction 82) has referred to the "All-seeing Eye" and to its symbolism in the ancient Egyptian language and in our Craft Rituals. In his book on the "Egyptian Language", Sir E. A. Walbs Budge gives the meaning of the eye hieroglyphic the Utat (Sect. 4. Nos. 17 and 18). Hieroglyphic No. 17 is given as "the right eye of Ra, the Sun", and hieroglyphic No. 18 as "the left eye of Ra, the Moon" — "Then he said unto them: How is it that ye do not understand? "What beautiful symbolism is placed right under our noses at every Lodge and Chapter Meeting, and how little do we understand of what they are mutely saying to us. "There was nothing, however, in connection with this magnificent structure more remarkable, or that more particularly struck the attention than the two great P.s, which were placed at the porchway or entrance. That on the L. was called..., which denotes ... and that on the R..., which denotes to...., and when conjoined...., for God said 'In.... I will establish this Mine house to stand firm for ever'." I would refer you also to the Tarot card No. 2 — the High Priestess — the great cosmic Mother, having the equal-armed cross on her breast and holding the scroll marked Tora (Rota — the wheel — as a variation of Taro, and even the scroll is in the form of a spiral). On each side of the cube of material existence on which the High Priestess sits, is a Pillar; that on the left of the reader is black, with the Hebrew letter Beth (No. 2), and that on his right is white, with the Hebrew letter Yodh (No. 10). And the two combined add up to twelve — our circle of the Zodiac, to which we ascribe the characteristic "stability". There has been much confusion about which is that on the L. and which that on the R., although really it does not matter, as each is complementary to the other and neither is stable when standing alone, but we have a clear guide for those who respect the material aspect of symbols — the dark and the even number is symbolical of the Moon or the Feminine aspect, while the light and the odd number (the 1) refers to the Sun and to the Masculine aspect. Do not forget, also, that the names of the two P.s were changed over in the latter part of the eighteenth century, and that they remain in their original form in certain Constitutions. The rough and the perfect Ashlars of our early Masonic days each had six faces, and now we see them opened out to form two pillars of exquisite design and workmanship. You will see the same symbolism in the two forms of that silent witness — the sphinx — which appear on either side of the cubical chariot in Tarot card No. 7. In the book on the Chaldean Oracles by G.R.S. Mead, we find the following quotations:
"All things have for their Father the One Fire." "He is the all-embracing Monad who begets the Two." "From both of these there flows the Body of the Three, first yet not first: for it is not by it that things intelligible are measured."
"You are now enabled to discover the three lesser lights .... and are meant to represent the Sun, the Moon, and the Master of the Lodge. The Sun to rule the day, the Moon to govern the night, and the Master to rule and direct his Lodge." And perhaps the words "his Lodge" mean far more than the gathering of Brethren who meet to repeat the Ritual, perhaps they mean his own personal Lodge, the microcosm as a reflection of the macrocosm — the earthly Adam as a reflection of Adam Kadmon; the personal Zodiac presided over by his own brother HAB who also was a Widow's Son. O man, thou subtle handiwork of daring Nature! (Chaldean Oracle).
And concerning the P.s also, do we not learn that They were set up as a memorial to the children of Israel" — (the children of the Sun, the Moon, and the Master of the Lodge) — "of that miraculous P. of fire and cloud" — the dark and the light- "which had two wonderful effects ..." The P.s mark the way for the return from W. to E. for those who are able to understand their meaning, but they will merely be darkness and cloud to those followers of Pharoh (vengeance) who still remain citizens of Egypt (the state of anguish or tribulation). Companions of the H.R.A. will recognise the form of these P.s as now unfolded; they are the emblems on the staves ... the companions. "The height of those P.s was seventeen cubits and a half each, their circumference twelve, their diameter four ...". The circumference, of course, refers to the twelve signs of the Zodiac, and the four refers to the four "elements" or the four divisions of the army of Israel. The seventeen and a half may, at first sight, be an obscure number but twice seventeen and a half is thirty-five, and twice thirty-five is seventy-the seven or the number of perfection in this incarnation, i.e., the two P.s combined amount to three and a half (the thirty-five) and they require their higher (or heavenly) counterparts to form the perfect seven. This follows the great mystical law: "As above, so below", and "Thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven." We have here a beautiful simile that even when the pairs of opposites are brought into harmony on the material plane, the resulting stability is only half the picture; they are still only the reflections in matter of their divine counterparts. Notice also that each P. was adorned by a Chapiter five cubits high. This five when added to the seventeen and a half gives twenty-two and a half for each P., or a total of forty-five for the two P.s — and when conjoined amounting to nine (4 + 5) — the number of the perfect man (Note also: 1+2+3+4+5+6+7+8+9=45).
THE NUMBER TEN
All of us are familiar with the legend of the ten "lost" Tribes and many endeavours have been made to account for their dispersal. In the V.S.L., (I Kings, xi, 29-32), we read the following:
"And at that time, when Jeroboam went out of Jerusalem, the Prophet Ahijah the Shilonite found him in the way, having a new garment on him, and they two were alone in the field. Then Ahijah caught the new garment that was on him, and rent it in twelve pieces. And said to Jeroboam, Take unto thee ten pieces: for thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Behold, I will rent the kingdom out of the hands of Solomon, and will give ten tribes to thee. But he shall have one tribe for my servant David's sake, and for Jerusalem the citie, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel."
Again, in verses 35 and 36, we read: "But I wil take the kingdoms out of his sonne's hand, and will give it unto thee, even the ten tribes. And unto his sonne will I give one tribe, that David my servant may have a light alway before mee in Jerusalem the cite which I have chosen mee to put my Name there."
These words have been taken from the Genevan version of the V.S.L. — hence the older forms of spelling — and they are important because they suggest two things:
- One portion of the divided kingdom is represented as consisting of ten tribes, this portion afterwards being known as the kingdom of Israel.
- The other portion is referred to as "one" although it included both Judah and Benjamin, and this "one" was to occupy the city of Jerusalem.
Let us look again at our circle of the Zodiac and its governing planets. We notice that two of the signs are different from the others because they are governed respectively by the Sun and the Moon, whereas the remaining ten are governed by the true planets. And the two which are different are at the heads of the columns of the male and the female aspects respectively, the J. and the B., the 10 and the 2. In ancient mystical teaching there were two systems:
- The exoteric, based on the number twelve — the number of manifestation
- The esoteric, based on the number ten — the number of perfection.
We read that some of the ancients divided the circle of the Zodiac into ten signs, and there is the suggestion that the division into twelve was a later modification. It is very doubtful, however, if this really is true as the oldest zodiacal circles so far discovered, e.g. that of Denderah, are divided into twelve signs. What is much more likely is that there were esoteric, and secret, circles which were based on the number ten.
"The Monad is extended and begetteth the Two says the Chaldean Oracle, and we have the elements for the formation of the cross — the vertical line of pure Spirit descended into the horizontal line of Matter. The manifestation of the Spirit was represented by the number 1, (the Monad). whereas Matter which is revealed only in pairs of opposites was represented by the divisible (and therefore Feminine) number 2. But notice, and this is important, that the number 2 can only be divided in one way: 1 + 1, each being an aspect of the Monad, so that the combination of the 1 and the 2 demonstrates the omniscience of the Monad. ".... finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stones, and good (God) in everything (Shakespeare — "As You Like It")
The Decad (the number ten) was considered by the school of Pythagoras to be the greatest of all numbers, not only because it embraces the Tetractys (the ten Yodhs) but because it comprehends all arithmetical and geometrical proportions. It is said that the ten is the number of Nature because all Nations reckon to it and, when they reach it, they return to the Monad. It was called both Heaven and the World, because the former includes the latter, and it was stated that the Decad comprehended within itself the nature of odd and even, moved and unmoved, good and ill. For the number ten contains all the digits or creations and returns them once more to the Monad, i.e. 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 6 + 7 + 8 + 9 + 10 = 55 = 10 =1. Notice that the number 55 occurs again here; we have met it already in the two Chapiters on the pillars. And notice also that the first four numbers, the four elements, the four beasts, also contain and comprehend the Monad, for 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 = 10 = 1. The Zero alone is not a number because, although as the circle of infinity it contains all other numbers in potential manifestation, it requires the Divine Creative Force, the Monad, to start its evolution. But, having passed through each of the manifest numbers in turn, Man becomes the Initiate and, standing beside the Zero with the rod of Power, he is ready to become the creator and director of the forces which are to be manifested during the succeeding higher cycles. Some mystics have called the number ten "the Hand of God", because the Great Law manifests in two great divisions which they call the right hand and the left. The right hand represents the Great Law working towards perfection in perfect harmony and without opposition, while the left represents the shadow of the Law working apparently in opposition to the Good but in reality serving the Law by bringing good out of opposition (suffering or evil).
We have, then, the two systems: the "exoteric" based on the "twelve" — the one and the two, the male- female, governed by the great "I AM" or one of great tri-lateral names having a similar import — but within all this was the "esoteric" system based on the number "ten" — the manifest in balance with the unmanifest. This was not only contained in the exoteric system (the ten portion of the twelve) but it also contained the exoteric in itself since all manifest numbers return to the Monad and are themselves contained in potential in the "zero". At first sight this may appear difficult to understand but it is the basis of much the mystical teachings and it will amply repay prolonged meditation, for therein are many treasures.
From the symbolism of the "ten" another form of the Divine Name was derived by inserting the "breath of life" between the "one" and the "zero", this breath being represented by the syllable of out- breathing — "AH", or even by the letter "A" pronounced as "Ah". You will immediately recognise one of the Divine Names which we pronounce as in the Psalm x1viii, and I suggest that there is an implicit zero of non-manifestation on the end, i.e., the one, the breath, and the zero. Here I would commend to your notice the name of the second of our G.P.s which stood at the porchway or entrance, and particularly the first syllable of that name. In Hebrew we have the same symbolic name represented by the "Jodh" and the "He", the former being the tenth letter of the alphabet and the latter the fifth; hence the combined letters gave the number fifteen — a number which is very well known to all of us. In the Greek language this name was written in tri-lateral form — Iota, Alpha, Omega — and here again we have the simplified version "I AM", written by some as "AUM" and by some as "OM", but the Greek form conveys clearly the "one", the "zero", and the "breath of life" or the "vital spirit" in the midst.
Here, I want to make another suggestion for your consideration: We know that the "Tetractys" consisted of a triangle containing ten dots (or "Jodhs"), and that this "Tetractys" was considered by Pythagoras to be one of the most sacred of all emblems. Is it not probable that the triangle here was a symbol of the letter "A", the "Ah", the "breath of life" in association with the "one" and the "zero", the "Jodh", the tenth letter? In Greek numerology the letter "alpha" had the value of 1, the letter "iota" a value of 10, and the letter "omega" a value of 800. Thus, the three letters combined to give a total of 811. (= 10 = 1.), i.e. the whole returned to the Monad. Theon of Smyrna declared that the ten dots, or Tetractys of Pythagoras, was a symbol of the greatest importance for the discerning mind as it revealed the mystery of universal nature, and the Pythagoreans bound themselves by the following oath: "By Him who gave to our soul the tetractys, which hath the fountain and root of ever-springing nature". We hear of appeals from various quarters these days for the universal adoption of the "decimal system", but we may well pause to wonder if those same exponents of this system realise the inner teaching involved in its symbolism.
Before we leave this fine of thought, there is just one more item for meditation: In the arrangement of the banners of the H.R.A. the two last, M ... and E ..., do not represent brothers of the remaining ten; they were sons of Joseph (which means "increasing") of whom the Patriarch Israel said: "He shall be a fruitful bough .... and the archers grieved and shot against him and hated him. But his bow abode strong, and the hands of his arms were strengthened by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob, of whom was the feeder appointed by the stone of Israel". Here again we have a veiled reference to the division of the twelve into two parts, one of which can be referred to as single (Joseph) but which really is two (Manasseh and Ephraim); — compare this with the extract from the First Book of Kings given earlier where the reference was to the division of the kingdom into "ten Tribes" and "one Tribe". The word "Manasseh" consists of the Hebrew letters: Mem, Nun, Shin, and He, having the numbers respectively 40 + 50 + 300 + 5 = 395 = 17 = 8. — an even (female) number. The word Ephraim consists of the letters: Aleph, Pe. Resh, Yodh, and final Mem, having the numbers respectively 1 + 80 + 200 + 10 + 40 = 331 = 7 — an odd (male) number. And notice that the total of these two names is 15. We still have not finished with the interesting study of the two words because the number of the Aleph is 1 and that of the Mem is 40=4, so that the sum of the two is 5, or the number of humanity (5 fingers, 5 toes, 5 senses). In addition, both these letters in Hebrew are "Mother" letters, representing two of the "first elements"; the Aleph represents primordial "Air" — it is really silent and is pronounced merely as a gentle out-breathing — and the Mem represents primordial "Water". We have already seen that the Aleph is associated with the Monad, the 1, and the Mem with the female number, the 4, but turn now to the explanation of the meanings of these two letters, as described by Fabre d'Olivet in his book — The Hebraic Tongue Restored: "Aleph — As a symbolic image: Universal mankind, universal Man, ruling being of earth, as a sign it represents power, stability, continuity". "Mem — As a symbolic image: Woman, mother, companion of man, that which is productive or creative, grammatically it is maternal and female". Surely we are dealing here with the same meanings as are given to the two great P.s at the porchway or entrance to the Temple. And for a final thought about the two letters, they form the second portion of the great tri-lateral name "I AM". "And he said unto them — How is it that ye do not understand?"
Brethren, we have been permitted to see something of the wonderful beauty which lies behind our symbolism, beauty which is presented to us in an open book for those who have eyes to see and a heart which can understand, for know this in all certainty — the greatest lessons in life may be learned in silence and solitude. Our present day is notable above all for speed and hurry and bustle, for the urgent need of mankind to gather into crowds, preferably to the accompaniment of loud noises of one kind or another, but are we not really missing something which even may be vital? Would it not pay each one of us to pause awhile and seek to interpret the message of those silent watchers of the night, the beasts of the field, which we call the signs of the Zodiac? And let me remind you of those beautiful words in the address to the Master at his installation: "As a pattern for imitation, consider that glorious luminary of Nature which, rising in the East regularly diffuses light and lustre to all within its circle ...." Is not this circle identical with that great cosmic circle which we are studying in this Paper? The Hermetic axiom says "As above, so below", and the great Christian prayer says: "Thy Will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven". Our Ritual says the same thing: "In like manner it is your Peculiar province to communicate light and instruction to the brethren of your Lodge".
"If Sun thou canst not be, then be the humble planet. Aye, if thou art debarred from flaming like the noon-day Sun upon the snow-capped mount of purity eternal, then choose, O Neophyte, a humbler course. Point out the 'Way' — however dimly, and lost among the host — as does the evening star to those who tread their path in darkness, Behold Migmar (Mars) as in his crimson veils his 'eye' sweeps over slumbering Earth. Behold the fiery aura of the hand of Lhagpa (Mercury) extended in protecting love over the heads of his ascetics. Both are now servants to Nyima, (the Sun) left in his absence silent watchers in the night.... Be, O Lanoo, like them. Give light and comfort to the toiling pilgrim, and seek out him who knows still less than thou .... And let him hear the Law." (The Voice of the Silence).
You will remember also the words of our own Ritual: "Let me now beg you to observe that the light of a M.M. is darkness visible .... It is that mysterious veil which the eye of human reason cannot penetrate unless assisted by that light which is from above..."
"He who hath ears to hear, let him hear".
PEACE TO ALL BEINGS
END OF PART ONE