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Posted July 27, 2010
John C wrote:
Something occurred to me while I was thinking about this subject. This is going to sound very familiar, so you might be tempted to just breeze by it, but I have a new take that you may or may not find interesting. I hope you do find it interesting.
Throughout all the Bible, they are talking about building temples. It’s a continuing parable that weaves itself throughout the old and new testament. Another continuing parable is the parable of the vineyard.
I’m not talking about physical temples like the temple of Solomon or the temple of Herod, but they constantly wrote about the gathering and compared it to constructing a building, with people as “living stones”, and built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone.
That sounds a little like a molecule, which is composed of “human atoms”, built upon a foundation of apostles, the 12 original apostles being the initiating molecule, with Jesus Christ being their link to a higher molecule, and the Christ principle being the energizing principle behind the individual, the atomic unit, the triad, the molecule, etc.
Very good thinking John. Just like physical atoms and molecules are building blocks for everything made in the universe, even so will human molecules be building blocks for great human temples and more.
Consider this. Before the time of Jesus the consciousness of humanity could not produce a human molecule so what did the guides of the human race do for us instead.
Because they could not construct human temples they had the people construct physical temples patterned after molecular principles.
The Masonic book Morals and Dogma gives some interesting observations on this principle:
Every Lodge is a Temple, and as a whole, and in its details symbolic. The Universe itself supplied man with the model for the first temples reared to the Divinity. The arrangement of the Temple of Solomon, the symbolic ornaments which formed its chief decorations, and the dress of the High-Priest, all had reference to the order of the Universe, as then understood. The Temple contained many emblems of the seasons–the sun, the moon, the planets, the constellations Ursa Major and Minor, the zodiac, the elements, and the other parts of the world. It is the Master of this Lodge, of the Universe, Hermes, of whom Kherem is the representative, that is one of the lights of the Lodge.
For further instruction as to the symbolism of the heavenly bodies, and of the sacred numbers, and of the temple and its details, you must wait patiently until you advance in Masonry, in the mean time exercising your intellect in studying them for yourself. To study and seek to interpret correctly the symbols of the Universe, is the work of the sage and philosopher. It is to de-cipher the writing of God, and penetrate into His thoughts.
This is what is asked and answered in our catechism, in regard to the Lodge.
A “Lodge” is defined to be “an assemblage of Freemasons, duly congregated, having the sacred writings, square, and compass, and a charter, or warrant of constitution, authorizing them to work.” The room or place in which they meet, representing some part of King Solomon’s Temple, is also called the Lodge; and it is that we are now considering.
It is said to be supported by three great columns, WISDOM, FORCE or STRENGTH, and BEAUTY, represented by the Master, the Senior Warden, and the Junior Warden; and these are said to be the columns that support the Lodge, “because Wisdom, Strength, and Beauty, are the perfections of everything, and nothing can endure without them.” “Because,” the York Rite says, “it is necessary that there should be Wisdom to conceive, Strength to support, and Beauty to adorn, all great and important undertakings.” “Know ye not,” says the Apostle Paul, “that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man desecrate the temple of God, him shall God destroy, for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.”
The laws of God are not obligatory on us because they are the enactments of His POWER, or the expression of His WILL; but because they express His infinite WISDOM. They are not right because they are His laws, but His laws because they are right. From the equilibrium of infinite wisdom and infinite force, results perfect harmony, in physics and in the moral universe. Wisdom, Power, and Harmony constitute one Masonic triad. They have other and profounder meanings, that may at some time be unveiled to you.
As to the ordinary and commonplace explanation, it may be added, that the wisdom of the Architect is displayed in combining, as only a skillful Architect can do, and as God has done everywhere,–for example, in the tree, the human frame, the egg, the cells of the honeycomb–strength, with grace, beauty, symmetry, proportion, lightness, ornamentation. That, too, is the perfection of the orator and poet–to combine force, strength, energy, with grace of style, musical cadences, the beauty of figures, the play and irradiation of imagination and fancy; and so, in a State, the warlike and industrial force of the people, and their Titanic strength, must be combined with the beauty of the arts, the sciences, and the intellect, if the State would scale the heights of excellence, and the people be really free. Harmony in this, as in all the Divine, the material, and the human, is the result of equilibrium, of the sympathy and opposite action of contraries; a single Wisdom above them holding the beam of the scales. To reconcile the moral law, human responsibility, free-will, with the absolute power of God; and the existence of evil with His absolute wisdom, and goodness, and mercy,–these are the great enigmas of the Sphynx.
You entered the Lodge between two columns. They represent the two which stood in the porch of the Temple, on each side of the great eastern gateway. These pillars, of bronze, four fingers breadth in thickness, were, according to the most authentic account–that in the First and that in the Second Book of Kings, confirmed in Jeremiah–eighteen cubits high, with a capital five cubits high. The shaft of each was four cubits in diameter. A cubit is one foot and 707/1000. That is, the shaft of each was a little over thirty feet eight inches in height, the capital of each a little over eight feet six inches in height, and the diameter of the shaft six feet ten inches. The capitals were enriched by pomegranates of bronze, covered by bronze net-work, and ornamented with wreaths of bronze; and appear to have imitated the shape of the seed-vessel of the lotus or Egyptian lily, a sacred symbol to the Hindus and Egyptians. The pillar or column on the right, or in the south, was named, as the Hebrew word is rendered in our translation of the Bible, JACHIN: and that on the left BOAZ. Our translators say that the first word means, “He shall establish;” and the second, “in it is strength.”
These columns were imitations, by Kherem, the Tyrian artist, of the great columns consecrated to the Winds and Fire, at the entrance to the famous Temple of Malkarth, in the city of Tyre. It is customary, in Lodges of the York Rite, to see a celestial globe on one, and a terrestrial globe on the other; but these are not warranted, if the object be to imitate the original two columns of the Temple. The symbolic meaning of these columns we shall leave for the present unexplained, only adding that Entered Apprentices keep their working-tools in the column JACHIN; and giving you the etymology and literal meaning of the two names.
The Dimensions of the Lodge, our Brethren of the York Rite say, “are unlimited, and its covering no less than the canopy of Heaven.” “To this object,” they say, “the mason’s mind is continually directed, and thither he hopes at last to arrive by the aid of the theological ladder which Jacob in his vision saw ascending from earth to Heaven; the three principal rounds of which are denominated Faith, Hope, and Charity; and which admonish us to have Faith in God, Hope in Immortality, and Charity to all mankind.” Accordingly a ladder, sometimes with nine rounds, is seen on the chart, resting at the bottom on the earth, its top in the clouds, the stars shining above it; and this is deemed to represent that mystic ladder, which Jacob saw in his dream, set up on the earth, and the top of it reaching to Heaven, with the angels of God ascending and descending on it. The addition of the three principal rounds to the symbolism, is wholly modern and incongruous.
The ancients counted seven planets, thus arranged: the Moon, Mercury, Venus, the Sun, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. There were seven heavens and seven spheres of these planets; on all the monuments of Mithras are seven altars or pyres, consecrated to the seven planets, as were the seven lamps of the golden candelabrum in the Temple. That these represented the planets, we are assured by Clemens of Alexandria, in his Stromata, and by Philo Judæus.
To return to its source in the Infinite, the human soul, the ancients held, had to ascend, as it had descended, through the seven spheres. The Ladder by which it reascends, has, according to Marsilius Ficinus, in his Commentary on the Ennead of Plotinus, seven degrees or steps; and in the Mysteries of Mithras, carried to Rome under the Emperors, the ladder, with its seven rounds, was a symbol referring to this ascent through the spheres of the seven planets. Jacob saw the Spirits of God ascending and descending on it; and above it the Deity Himself. The Mithraic Mysteries were celebrated in caves, where gates were marked at the four equinoctial and solstitial points of the zodiac; and the seven planetary spheres were represented, which souls needs must traverse in descending from the heaven of the fixed stars to the elements that envelop the earth; and seven gates were marked, one for each planet, through which they pass, in descending or returning.
The ORNAMENTS of a Lodge are said to be “the Mosaic Pavement, the Indented Tessel, and the Blazing Star.” The Mosaic Pavement, chequered in squares or lozenges, is said to represent the ground-floor of King Solomon’s Temple; and the Indented Tessel “that beautiful tesselated border which surrounded it.” The Blazing Star in the centre is said to be “an emblem of Divine Providence, and commemorative of the star which appeared to guide the wise men of the East to the place of our Saviour’s nativity.” But “there was no stone seen” within the Temple. The walls were covered with planks of cedar, and the floor was covered with planks of fir. There is no evidence that there was such a pavement or floor in the Temple, or such a bordering. In England, anciently, the Tracing-Board was surrounded with an indented border; and it is only in America that such a border is put around the Mosaic pavement. The tesseræ, indeed, are the squares or lozenges of the pavement. In England, also, “the indented or denticulated border” is called “tesselated,” because it has four “tassels,” said to represent Temperance, Fortitude, Prudence, and Justice. It was termed the Indented Trassel; but this is a misuse of words. It is a tesserated pavement, with an indented border round it.
The pavement, alternately black and white, symbolizes, whether so intended or not, the Good and Evil Principles of the Egyptian and Persian creed. It is the warfare of Michael and Satan, of the Gods and Titans, of Balder and Lok; between light and shadow, which is darkness; Day and Night; Freedom and Despotism; Religious Liberty and the Arbitrary Dogmas of a Church that thinks for its votaries, and whose Pontiff claims to be infallible, and the decretals of its Councils to constitute a gospel.
The edges of this pavement, if in lozenges, will necessarily be indented or denticulated, toothed like a saw; and to complete and finish it a bordering is necessary. It is completed by tassels as ornaments at the corners. If these and the bordering have any symbolic meaning, it is fanciful and arbitrary.
To find in the BLAZING STAR of five points an allusion to the Divine Providence, is also fanciful; and to make it commemorative of the Star that is said to have guided the Magi, is to give it a meaning comparatively modern. Originally it represented SIRIUS, or the Dog-star, the forerunner of the inundation of the Nile; the God ANUBIS, companion of Isis in her search for the body of OSIRIS, her brother and husband. Then it became the image of HORUS, the son of OSIRIS, himself symbolized also by the Sun, the author of the Seasons, and the God of Time; Son of Isis, who was the universal nature, himself the primitive matter, inexhaustible source of Life, spark of uncreated fire, universal seed of all beings. It was HERMES, also, the Master of Learning, whose name in Greek is that of the God Mercury. It became the sacred and potent sign or character of the Magi, the PENTALPHA, and is the significant emblem of Liberty and Freedom, blazing with a steady radiance amid the weltering elements of good and evil of Revolutions, and promising serene skies and fertile seasons to the nations, after the storms of change and tumult.
In the East of the Lodge, over the Master, inclosed in a triangle, is the Hebrew letter YœD [È or ]. In the English and American Lodges the Letter GÅà is substituted for this, as the initial of the word GOD, with as little reason as if the letter D., initial of DIEU, were used in French Lodges instead of the proper letter. YœD is, in the Kabalah, the symbol of Unity, of the Supreme Deity, the first letter of the Holy Name; and also a symbol of the Great Kabalistic Triads. To understand its mystic meanings, you must open the pages of the Sohar and Siphra de Zeniutha, and other kabalistic books, and ponder deeply on their meaning. It must suffice to say, that it is the Creative Energy of the Deity, is represented as a point, and that point in the centre of the Circle of immensity. It is to us in this Degree, the symbol of that unmanifested Deity, the Absolute, who has no name.
Our French Brethren place this letter YœD in the centre of the Blazing Star. And in the old Lectures, our ancient English Brethren said, “The Blazing Star or Glory in the centre refers us to that grand luminary, the Sun, which enlightens the earth, and by its genial influence dispenses blessings to mankind.” They called it also in the same lectures, an emblem of PRUDENCE. The word Prudentia means, in its original and fullest signification, Foresight; and, accordingly, the Blazing Star has been regarded as an emblem of Omniscience, or the All-seeing Eye, which to the
Egyptian Initiates was the emblem of Osiris, the Creator. With the YœD in the centre, it has the kabalistic meaning of the Divine Energy, manifested as Light, creating the Universe.
The Jewels of the Lodge are said to be six in number. Three are called “Movable,” and three “Immovable.” The SQUARE, the LEVEL, and the PLUMB were anciently and properly called the Movable Jewels, because they pass from one Brother to another. It is a modern innovation to call them immovable, because they must always be present in the Lodge. The immovable jewels are the ROUGH ASHLAR, the PERFECT ASHLAR or CUBICAL STONE, or, in some Rituals, the DOUBLE CUBE, and the TRACING-BOARD, or TRESTLE-BOARD.
Of these jewels our Brethren of the York Rite say: “The Square inculcates Morality; the Level, Equality; and the Plumb, Rectitude of Conduct.” Their explanation of the immovable Jewels may be read in their monitors.
* * * * * *
Our Brethren of the York Rite say that “there is represented in every well-governed Lodge, a certain point, within a circle; the point representing an individual Brother; the Circle, the boundary line of his conduct, beyond which he is never to suffer his prejudices or passions to betray him.”
This is not to interpret the symbols of Masonry. It is said by some, with a nearer approach to interpretation, that the point within the circle represents God in the centre of the Universe. It is a common Egyptian sign for the Sun and Osiris, and is still used as the astronomical sign of the great luminary. In the Kabalah the point is YœD, the Creative Energy of God, irradiating with light the circular space which God, the universal Light, left vacant, wherein to create the worlds, by withdrawing His substance of Light back on all sides from one point.
Our Brethren add that, “this circle is embordered by two perpendicular parallel lines, representing Saint John the Baptist and Saint John the Evangelist, and upon the top rest the Holy Scriptures” (an open book). “In going round this circle,” they say, “we necessarily touch upon these two lines as well as upon the Holy Scriptures; and while a Mason keeps himself circumscribed within their precepts, it is impossible that he should materially err.”
It would be a waste of time to comment upon this. Some writers have imagined that the parallel lines represent the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, which the Sun alternately touches upon at the Summer and Winter solstices. But the tropics are not perpendicular lines, and the idea is merely fanciful. If the parallel lines ever belonged to the ancient symbol, they had some more recondite and more fruitful meaning. They probably had the same meaning as the twin columns Jachin and Boaz. That meaning is not for the Apprentice. The adept may find it in the Kabalah. The JUSTICE and MERCY of God are in equilibrium, and the result is HARMONY, because a Single and Perfect Wisdom presides over both.
The Holy Scriptures are an entirely modern addition to the symbol, like the terrestrial and celestial globes on the columns of the portico. Thus the ancient symbol has been denaturalized by incongruous additions, like that of Isis weeping over the broken column containing the remains of Osiris at Byblos.