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Morals and Dogma of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry , prepared for the Supreme Council of the Thirty Third Degree for the Southern Jurisdiction of the United States. Charleston, 1871.

Chapter 25 - Knight of the Brazen Serpent (Part 2)

Such are the coincidences of astronomical phenomena with the legend 
of Osiris and Isis; sufficing to show the origin of the he legend, 
overloaded as it became at length with all the ornamentation natural to 
the poetical and figurative genius of the Orient. 
Not only into this legend, but into those of all the ancient nations, enter 
the Bull, the Lamb, the Lion, and the Scorpion or the Serpent; and 
traces of the worship of the Sun yet linger in all religions. Everywhere, 
even in our Order, survive the equinoctial and solstitial feasts. Our 
ceilings still glitter with the greater and lesser luminaries of the 
Heavens, and our lights, in their number and arrangement, have 
astronomical references. In all churches and chapels, as in all Pagan 
temples and pagodas, the altar is in the East; and the ivy over the east 
windows of old churches is the Hedera Helix of Bacchus. Even the 
cross had an astronomical origin; and our Lodges are full of the ancient 
The learned author of the SabŠan Researches, Landseer, advances 
another theory in regard to the legend of Osiris; in which he makes the 
constellation Bo÷tes play a leading part. He observes that, as none of 
the stars were visible at the same time with the Sun, his actual place in 
the Zodiac, at any given could only be ascertained by the SabŠan 
astronomers by their observations of the stars, and of their heliacal and 
achronical risings and is settings. There were many solar festivals 
among the SabŠans, and part of them agricultural ones; and the 
concomitant signs of those festivals were the risings and settings of the 
stars of the Husbandman, Bear-driver, or Hunter, BOÍTES. His stars 
were, among the Hierophants, the established nocturnal indices or signs 
of the Sun's place in the ecliptic at different seasons of the year, and the
festivals were named, one, that of the Aphanism or disappearance; 
another, that of the Zetesis, or search, etc., of Osiris or Adonis, that is, 
of Bo÷tes. 
The returns of certain stars, as connected with their concomitant 
seasons of spring (or seed-time) and harvest, seemed to the ancients, 
who had not yet discovered that gradual change, resulting from the 
apparent movement of the stars in longitude, which bas been termed the 
precession of the equinoxes, to be eternal and immutable; and those 
periodical returns were to the initiated, even more than to the vulgar, 
celestial oracles, announcing the approach of those important changes, 
upon which the prosperity, and even the very existence of man must 
ever depend; and the oldest of the SabŠan constellations seem to have 
been, an astronomical Priest, a King, a Queen, a Husbandman, and a 
Warrior; and these more frequently recur on the SabŠan cylinders than 
any other constellations whatever. The King was Cepheus or Chepheus 
of Ethiopia: the Husbandman, Osiris, Bacchus, Sabazeus, Noah or 
Bo÷tes. To the latter sign, the Egyptians were nationally, traditionally 
and habitually grateful; for they conceived that from Osiris all the 
greatest of terrestrial enjoyments were derived. The stars of the 
Husbandman were the signal for those successive agricultural labors on 
which the annual produce of the soil depended; and they came in 
consequence to be considered and hailed, in Egypt and Ethiopia, as the 
genial stars of terrestrial productiveness; to which the oblations, 
prayers, and vows of the pious SabŠan were regularly offered up. 
Landseer says that the stars in Bo÷tes, reckoning down to those of the 
5th magnitude inclusive, are twenty-six, which, seeming achronically to 
disappear in succession, produced the fable of the cutting of Osiris into 
twenty-six pieces by Typhon. There are more stars than this in the 
constellation; but no more that the ancient votaries of Osiris, even in the 
clear atmosphere of the SabŠan climates, could observe without 
Plutarch says Osiris was cut into fourteen pieces: Diodorus, into twentysix; 
in regard to which, and to the whole legend, Landseer's ideas, 
varying from those commonly entertained, are as follows: 
Typhon, Landseer thinks, was the ocean, which the ancients 
fabled or believed surrounded the Earth, and into which all the stars in 
their turn appear successively to sink; [perhaps it was DARKNESS
personified, which the ancients called TYPHON. He was hunting by 
moonlight, says the old legend, when he met with Osiris]. 
The ancient Saba must have been near latitude 15║' north. Axoum is 
nearly in 14║, and the Western Saba or MeroŰ is to the north of that. 
Forty-eight centuries ago, Aldebaran the leading star of the year, had, 
at the Vernal Equinox, attained at daylight in the morning, an elevation 
of about 14 degrees, sufficient for him to have ceased to be combust, 
that is, to have emerged from the Sun's rays, so as to be visible. The 
ancients allowed twelve days for a star of the first magnitude to emerge 
from the solar rays and there is less twilight, the further South we go. 
At the same period, too, Cynosura was not the pole-star, but Alpha 
Draconis was; and the stars rose and set with very different degrees of 
obliquity from those of their present risings and settings. By having a 
globe constructed with circumvolving poles, capable of any adjustment 
with regard to the colures, Mr. Landseer ascertained that, at that 
remote period, in lat. 15║ north, the 26 stars in Bo÷tes, or 27, including 
Arcturus, did not set anchronically in succession; but several set 
simultaneously in couples, and six by threes simultaneously; so that, in 
all, there were but fourteen separate settings or disappearances, 
corresponding with the fourteen pieces into which Osiris was cut, 
according to Plutarch. Kappa, Iota, and Theta, in the uplifted western 
hand, disappeared together, and last of all. They really skirted the 
horizon; but were invisible in that low latitude, for the three or four days 
mentioned in some of the versions; while the Zetesis or search was 
proceeding, and the women of Phťnicia and Jerusalem sat weeping 
for the Wonder, Thammuz; after which they immediately reappeared, 
below and to the eastward of a Draconis. 
And, on the very morning after the achronical departure of the last star 
of the Husbandman, Aldebaran rose heliacally, and became visible in 
the East in the morning before day. 
And precisely at the moment of the heliacal rising of Arcturus, also rose 
Spica Virginis. One is near the middle of the Husbandman, and the 
other near that of the Virgin; and Arcturus may have been the part of 
Osiris which Isis did not recover with the other pieces of the body. 
At Dedan and Saba it was thirty-six days, from the beginning of the 
aphanism, i.e., the disappearances of these stars, to the heliacal rising
of Aldebaran. During these days, or forty at Medina, or a few more at 
Babylon and Byblos, the stars of the Husbandman successively sank 
out of sight, during the crepusculum or short-lived morning twilight of 
those Southern climes. They disappear during the glancings of the 
dawn, the special season of ancient sidereal observation. 
Thus the forty days of mourning for Osiris were measured out by the 
period of the departure of his Stars. When the last had sunken out of 
sight, the vernal season was ushered in; and the Sun arose with the 
splendid Aldebaran, the Tauric leader of the whole Hosts of Heaven; 
and the whole East rejoiced and kept holiday. 
With the exception of the Stars and , Bo÷tes did not begin to 
reappear in the Eastern quarter of the Heavens till after the lapse of 
about four months. Then the Stars of Taurus had declined Westward, 
and Virgo was rising heliacally. In that latitude, also, the Stars of Ursa 
Major [termed anciently the Ark of Osiris] set; and Benetnasch, the last 
of them, returned to the Eastern horizon, with those in the head of Leo, 
a little before the Summer Solstice. In about a month, followed the 
Stars of the Husbandman; the chief of them, Ras, Mirach, and Arcturus 
being very nearly simultaneous in their heliacal rising. 
Thus the Stars of Bo÷tes rose in the East immediately after 
Vindemiatrix, and as if under the genial influence of its rays; he had his 
annual career of prosperity; he revelled orientally for a quarter of a 
year, and attained his meridian altitude with Virgo; and then, as the 
Stars of the Water-Urn rose, and Aquarius began to pour forth his 
annual deluge, he declined Westward, preceded by the Ark of Osiris. 
In the East, he was the sign of that happiness in which Nature, the 
great Goddess of passive production, rejoiced. Now, in the West, as he 
declines toward the Northwestern horizon, his generative vigor 
gradually abates; the Solar year grows old; and as his Stars descend 
beneath the Western Wave, Osiris dies, and the world mourns. 
The Ancient Astronomers saw all the great Symbols of Masonry in the 
Stars. Sirius still glitters in our Lodges as the Blazing Star, (I'Etoile 
Flamboyante). The Sun is still symbolized by the point within a Circle; 
and, with the Moon and Mercury or Anubis, in the three Great Lights of 
the Lodge. Not only to these, but 
to the figures and numbers exhibited by the Stars, were ascribed 
peculiar and divine powers. The veneration paid to numbers had its
source there. The three Kings in Orion are in a straight line, and 
equidistant from each other, the two extreme Stars being 3║ apart, and 
each of the three distant from the one nearest it 1║ 30'. And as the 
number three is peculiar to apprentices, so the straight line is the first 
principle of Geometry, having length but no breadth, and being but the 
extension of a point, and an emblem of Unity, and thus of Good, as the 
divided or broken line is of Duality or Evil. Near these Stars are the 
Hyades, five in number, appropriate to the Fellow-Craft; and close to 
them the Pleiades, of the master's number, seven; and thus these three 
sacred numbers, consecrated in Masonry as they were in the 
Pythagorean philosophy, always appear together in the Heavens, when 
the Bull, emblem of fertility and production, glitters among the Stars, 
and Aldebaran leads the Hosts of Heaven (Tsbauth). 
Algenib in Perseus and Almaach and Algol in Andromeda form a rightangled 
triangle, illustrate the 47th problem, and display the Grand 
Master's square upon the skies. Denebola in Leo, Arcturus in Bo÷tes, 
and Spica in Virgo form an equilateral triangle, universal emblem of 
Perfection, and the Deity with His Trinity of Infinite Attributes, Wisdom, 
Power, and Harmony; and that other, the generative, preserving, and 
destroying Powers. The Three Kings form, with Rigel in Orion, two 
triangles included in one: and Capella and Menkalina in Auriga, with 
Bellatrix and Betelgueux in Orion, form two isosceles triangles with ▀ 
Tauri, that is equidistant from each pair; while the first four make a 
right-angled parallelogram, - the oblong square so often mentioned in 
our Degrees. 
Julius Firmicus, in his description of the Mysteries, says, "But in those 
funerals and lamentations which are annually celebrated in honor of 
Osiris, their defenders pretend a physical reason. They call the seeds 
of fruit, Osiris; the Earth, Isis; the natural heat, Typhon: and because 
the fruits are ripened by the natural heat, and collected for the life of 
man, and are separated from their marriage to the earth, and are sown 
again when Winter approaches, this they would have to be the death of 
Osiris: but when the fruits, by the genial fostering of the earth, begin 
again to be generated by a new procreation, this is the finding of 
No doubt the decay of vegetation and the falling of the leaves. 
emblems of dissolution and evidences of the action of that Power that 
changes Life into Death, in order to bring Life again out of Death, were
regarded as signs of that Death that seemed coming upon all Nature; as 
the springing of leaves and buds and flowers in the spring was a sign of 
restoration to life: but these were all secondary, and referred to the Sun as 
first cause. It was his figurative death that was mourned, and not theirs; and 
that with that death, as with his return to life, many of the stars were 
We have already alluded to the relations which the twelve signs of the 
Zodiac bear to the legend of the Master's Degree. Some other coincidences 
may have sufficient interest to warrant mention. 
Khir-Om was assailed at the East, West, and South Gates of the Temple. 
The two equinoxes were called, we have seen, by all the Ancients, the 
Gates of Heaven, and the Syrians and Egyptians considered the Fish (the 
Constellation near Aquarius, and one of the Stars whereof is Fomalhaut) to 
be indicative of violence and death. 
Khir-Om lay several days in the grave; and, at the Winter Solstice, for five 
or six days, the length of the days did not perceptibly increase. Then, the 
Sun commencing again to climb Northward, as Osiris was said to arise from 
the dead, so Khir-Om was raised, by the powerful attraction of the Lion 
(Leo), who waited for him at the Summer Solstice, and drew him to himself. 
The names of the three assassins may have been adopted from three Stars 
that we have already named. We search in vain in the Hebrew or Arabic for 
the names Jubelo, Jubela, and Jubelum. They embody an utter absurdity, 
and are capable of no explanation in those languages. Nor are the names 
Gibs, Gravelot, Hobhen, and the like, in the Ancient and Accepted Rite, any 
more plausible, or better referable to any ancient language. But when, by 
the precession of the Equinoxes, the Sun was in Libra at the Autumnal 
Equinox, he met in that sign, where the reign of Typhon commenced, three 
Stars forming a triangle, - Zuben-es Chamali in the West, Zuben-Hak-Rabi 
in the East, and Zuben-EI-Gubi in the South, the latter immediately below 
the Tropic of Capricorn, and so within the realm of Darkness. From these 
names, those of the murderers have perhaps been corrupted. In Zuben- 
Hak-Rabi we may see the original of Jubelum Akirop; and in Zuben-WGubi, 
that of Jubelo Gibs: and time and ignorance may even have 
transmuted the words Es Chamali into one as little like them as Gravelot. 
Isis, the Moon personified, sorrowing sought for her husband. Nine or 
twelve Fellow-Crafts (the Rites vary as to the number), in white aprons,
were sent to search for Khir-Om, in the Legend of the Master's Degree; 
or, in this Rite, the Nine Knights Elu. Along the path that the Moon 
travels are nine conspicuous Stars, by which nautical men determine 
their longitude at Sea; - Arietis, Aldebaran, Pollux, Regulus, Spica 
Virginis, Antares, Altair, Fomalhaut, and Markab. These might well be 
said to accompany Isis in her search. 
In the York Rite, twelve Fellow-Crafts were sent to search for the body 
of Khir-Om and the murderers. Their number corresponds with that of 
the Pleiades and Hyades in Taurus, among which Stars the Sun was 
found when Light began to prevail over Darkness, and the Mysteries 
were held. These Stars, we have shown, received early and particular 
attention from the astronomers and poets. The Pleiades were the Stars 
of the ocean to the benighted mariner; the Virgins of Spring, heralding 
the season of blossoms. 
As six Pleiades only are now visible, the number twelve may have been 
obtained by them, with Aldebaran, and five far more brilliant Stars than 
any other of the Hyades, in the same region of the Heavens, and which 
were always spoken of in connection with the Pleiades; - the Three 
Kings in the belt of Orion. and Bellatrix and Betelgueux on his 
shoulders; brightest of the flashing starry hosts. 
"Canst thou," asks job, "bind the sweet influences of the Pleiades or 
loose the bands of Orion?" And in the book of Amos we find these 
Stars connected with the victory of Light over Darkness: "Seek Him," 
says that Seer, "that maketh the Seven Stars (the familiar name of the 
An old legend in Masonry says that a dog led the Nine Elus to the 
cavern where Abiram was hid. Bo÷tes was anciently called Caleb 
Anubach, a Barking Dog; and was personified in Anubis, who bore the 
head of a dog, and aided Isis in her search. Arcturus, one of his Stars, 
fiery red, as if fervent and zealous, is also connected by job with the 
Pleiades and Orion. When Taurus opened the year, Arcturus rose after 
the Sun, at the time of the Winter Solstice, and seemed searching him 
through the darkness, until. sixty days afterward, he rose at the same 
hour. Orion then
also, at the Winter Solstice, rose at noon, and at night seemed to be in 
search of the Sun. 
So, referring again to the time when the Sun entered the Autumnal 
Equinox, there are nine remarkable Stars that come to the meridian 
nearly at the same time, rising as Libra sets, and so seeming to chase 
that Constellation. They are Capella and Menkalina in the Charioteer, 
Aldebaran in Taurus, Bellatrix, Betelgueux, the Three Kings, and Rigel 
in Orion. Aldebaran passes the meridian first, indicating his right to his 
peculiar title of Leader. Nowhere in the heavens are there, near the 
same meridian, so many splendid Stars. And close behind them, but 
further South, follows Sirius, the Dog-Star, who showed the nine Elus 
the way to the murderer's cave. 
Besides the division of the signs into the ascending and descending 
series (referring to the upward and downward progress of the soul), the 
latter from Cancer to Capricorn, and the former from Capricorn to 
Cancer, there was another division of them not less important; that of 
the six superior and six inferior signs; the former, 2455 years before 
our era, from Taurus to Scorpio, and 300 years before our era, from 
Aries to Libra; and the latter, 2455 years B.C. from Scorpio to Taurus, 
and 300 years B.C. from Libra to Aries; of which we have already 
spoken, as the two Hemispheres, or Kingdoms of Good and Evil, Light 
and Darkness; of Ormuzd and Ahriman among the Persians, and Osiris 
and Typhon among the Egyptians. 
With the Persians, the first six Genii, created by Ormuzd, presided over 
the first six signs, Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, and Virgo: and 
the six evil Genii, or Devs, created by Ahriman, over the six others, 
Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricornus, Aquarius, and Pisces. The 
soul was fortunate and happy under the Empire of the first six; and 
began to be sensible of evil, when it passed under the Balance or 
Libra, the seventh sign. Thus the soul entered the realm of Evil and 
Darkness when it passed into the Constellations that belong to and 
succeed the Autumnal Equinox; and it re-entered the realm of Good 
and Light, when it arrived, returning, at those of the Vernal Equinox. It 
lost its felicity by means of the Balance, and regained it by means of 
the Lamb. This is a necessary consequence of the premises; and it is 
confirmed by the authorities and by emblems still extant. 
Sallust the Philosopher, speaking of the Feasts of Rejoicing
celebrated at the Vernal Equinox, and those of Mourning, in memory of 
the rape of Proserpine, at the Autumnal Equinox, says that the former 
were celebrated, because then is effected, as it were, the return of the 
soul toward the Gods; that the time when the principle of Light 
recovered its superiority over that of Darkness, or day over night, was 
the most favorable one for souls that tend to re-ascend to their 
Principle; and that when Darkness and the Night again become victors, 
was most favorable to the descent of souls toward the infernal regions. 
For that reason, the old astrologers, as Firmicus states, fixed the 
locality of the river Styx in the 8th degree of the Balance. And he thinks 
that by Styx was allegorically meant the earth. 
The Emperor Julian gives the same explanation, but more fully 
developed. He states, as a reason why the august Mysteries of Ceres 
and Proserpine were celebrated at the Autumnal Equinox, that at that 
period of the year men feared lest the impious and dark power of the 
Evil Principle, then commencing to conquer, should do harm to their 
souls. They were a precaution and means of safety, thought to be 
necessary at the moment when the God of Light was passing into the 
opposite or adverse region of the world; while at the Vernal Equinox 
there was less to be feared, because then that God, present in one 
portion of the world, recalled souls to Him, he says, and showed 
Himself to be their Saviour. He had a little before developed that 
theological idea, of the attractive force which the Sun exercises over 
souls, drawing them to him and raising them to his luminous sphere. 
He attributes this effect to him at the feasts of Atys, dead and restored 
to life, or the feasts of Rejoicing, which at the end of three days 
succeeded the mourning for that death; and he inquires why those 
Mysteries were celebrated at the Vernal Equinox. The reason, he says, 
is evident. As the sun, arriving at the equinoctial point of Spring, 
drawing nearer to us, increases the length of the days, that period 
seems most appropriate for those ceremonies. For, besides that there 
is a great affinity between the substance of Light and the nature of the 
Gods, the Sun has that occult force of attraction, by which he draws 
matter toward himself, by means of his warmth, making plants to shoot 
and grow, etc.; and why can he not, by the same divine and pure action 
of his rays, attract and draw to him fortunate souls? Then, as light is 
analogous to the Divine Nature, and favorable to souls struggling to 
return to
their First Principle, and as that light so increases at the Vernal 
Equinox, that the days prevail in duration over the nights, and as the 
Sun has an attractive force, besides the visible energy of his rays, it 
follows that souls are attracted toward the solar light. He does not 
further pursue the explanation; because, he says, it belongs to a 
mysterious doctrine, beyond the reach of the vulgar and known only to 
those who understand the mode of action of Deity, like the Chaldean 
author whom he cites, who had treated of the Mysteries of Light, or the 
God with seven rays. 
Souls, the Ancients held, having emanated from the Principle of Light, 
partaking of its destiny here below, cannot be indifferent to nor 
unaffected by these revolutions of the Great Luminary, alternately 
victor and overcome during every Solar revolution. 
This will be found to be confirmed by an examination of some of the 
Symbols used in the Mysteries. One of the most famous of these was 
THE SERPENT, the peculiar Symbol also of this Degree. The 
Cosmogony of the Hebrews and that of the Gnostics designated this 
reptile as the author of the fate of Souls. It was consecrated in the 
Mysteries of Bacchus and in those of Eleusis. Pluto overcame the 
virtue of Proserpine under the form of a serpent; and, like the Egyptian 
God Serapis, was always pictured seated on a serpent, or with that 
reptile entwined about him. It is found on the Mithriac Monuments, and 
supplied with attributes of Typhon to the Egyptians. The sacred 
basilisc, in coil, with head and neck erect, was the royal ensign of the 
Pharaohs. Two of them were entwined around and hung suspended 
from the winged Globe on the Egyptian Monuments. On a tablet in one 
of the Tombs at Thebes, a God with a spear pierces a serpent's head. 
On a tablet from the Temple of Osiris at PhilŠ is a tree, with a man on 
one side, and a woman on the other, and in front of the woman an 
erect basilisc, with horns on its head and a disk between the horns. 
The head of Medusa was encircled by winged snakes, which, the head 
removed, left the Hierogram or Sacred Cypher of the Ophites or 
Serpent-worshippers. And the Serpent, in connection with the Globe or 
circle, is found upon the monuments of all the Ancient Nations. 
Over Libra, the sign through which souls were said to descend or fall, 
is found, on the Celestial Globe, the Serpent, grasped by Serpentarius, 
the Serpent-bearer. The head of the reptile is tinder Corona Borealis, 
the Northern Crown, called by Ovid, Libera, or
Proserpine; and the two Constellations rise, with the Balance, after the 
Virgin (or Isis), whose feet rest on the eastern horizon at Sunrise on 
the day of the equinox. As the Serpent extends over both signs, Libra 
and Scorpio, it has been the gate through which souls descend, during 
the whole time that those two signs in succession marked the Autumnal 
Equinox. To this alluded the Serpent, which, in the Mysteries of 
Bacchus Saba-Zeus was flung into the bosom of the Initiate. 
And hence came the enigmatical expression, the Serpent engenders 
the Bull, and the Bull the Serpent; alluding to the two adverse 
constellations, answering to the two equinoxes, one of which rose as 
the other set, and which were at the two points of the heavens through 
which souls passed, ascending and descending. By the Serpent of 
Autumn, souls fell; and they were regenerated again by the Bull on 
which Mithras sate, and whose attributes Bacchus-Zagreus and the 
Egyptian Osiris assumed, in their Mysteries, wherein were represented 
the fall and regeneration of souls, by the Bull slain and restored to life. 
Afterward the regenerating Sun assumed the attributes of Aries or the 
Lamb; and in the Mysteries of Ammon, souls were regenerated by 
passing through that sign, after having fallen through the Serpent. 
The Serpent-bearer, or Ophicus, was Ăsculapius, God of Healing. In 
the Mysteries of Eleusis, that Constellation was placed in the eighth 
Heaven: and on the eighth day of those Mysteries, the feast of 
Ăsculapius was celebrated. It was also termed Epidaurus, or the feast 
of the Serpent of Epidaurus. The Serpent was sacred to Ăsculapius; 
and was connected in various ways with the mythological adventures of 
So the libations to Souls, by pouring wine on the ground, and looking 
toward the two gates of Heaven, those of day and night, referred to the 
ascent and descent of Souls. 
Ceres and the Serpent, Jupiter Ammon and the Bull, all figured in the 
Mysteries of Bacchus. Suppose Aries, or Jupiter Ammon occupied by 
the Sun setting in the West; - Virgo (Ceres) will be on the Eastern 
horizon, and in her train the Crown, or Proserpine. Suppose Taurus 
setting; - then the Serpent is in the East; and reciprocally; so that 
Jupiter Ammon, or the Sun of Aries, causes the Crown to rise after the 
Virgin, in the train of which comes the Serpent. Place reciprocally the
Sun at the other equinox, with the balance in the West, in conjunction 
with the Serpent under the Crown; and we shall see the Bull and the 
Pleiades rise in the East. Thus are explained all the fables as to the 
generation of the Bull by the Serpent and of the Serpent by the Bull, 
the biting of the testicles of the Bull by the Scorpion, on the Mithriac 
Monuments; and that Jupiter made Ceres with child by tossing into her 
bosom the testicles of a Ram. 
In the Mysteries of the bull-horned Bacchus, the officers held serpents 
in their hands, raised them above their heads, and cried aloud "Eva!" 
the generic oriental name of the serpent, and the particular name of the 
constellation in which the Persians placed Eve and the serpent. The 
Arabians call it Hevan, Ophiucus himself, Hawa, and the brilliant star in 
his head, Ras-al-Hawa. The use of this word Eva or EvoŰ caused 
Clemens of Alexandria to say that the priests in the Mysteries invoked 
Eve, by whom evil was brought into the world. 
The mystic winnowing-fan, encircled by serpents, was used in the 
feasts of Bacchus. In the Isiac Mysteries a basilisc twined round the 
handle of the mystic vase. The Ophites fed a serpent in a mysterious 
ark, from which they took him when they celebrated the Mysteries, and 
allowed him to glide among the sacred bread. The Romans kept 
serpents in the Temples of Bona Dea and Ăsculapius. In the Mysteries 
of Apollo, the pursuit of Latona by the serpent Python was represented. 
In the Egyptian Mysteries, the dragon Typhon pursued Isis. 
According to Sanchoniathon, TAAUT, the interpreter of Heaven to men, 
attributed something divine to the nature of the dragon and serpents, in 
which the Phoenicians and Egyptians followed him. They have more 
vitality, more spiritual force, than any other creature; of a fiery nature, 
shown by the rapidity of their motions, without the limbs of other 
animals. They assume many shapes and attitudes, and dart with 
extraordinary quickness and force. When they have reached old age, 
they throw off that age and are young again, and increase in size and 
strength, for a certain period of years. 
The Egyptian Priests fed the sacred serpents in the temple at Thebes. 
Taaut himself had in his writings discussed these mysteries in regard 
to the serpent. Sanchoniathon said in another work, that the serpent 
was immortal, and re-entered into himself; which, according to some 
ancient theosophists, particularly those
of India, was an attribute of the Deity. And he also said that the e serpent never 
died, unless by a violent death. 
The Phoenicians called the serpent Agathodemon [the good spirit]; and Kneph 
was the Serpent-God of the Egyptians. 
The Egyptians, Sanchoniathon said, represented the serpent with the head of a 
hawk, on account of the swift flight of that bird: and the chief Hierophant, the 
sacred interpreter, gave very mysterious explanations of that symbol; saying that 
such a serpent was a very divine creature, and that, opening his eyes, he lighted 
with their rays the whole of first-born space: when he closes them, it is darkness 
again. In reality, the hawk-headed serpent, genius of light, or good genius, was 
the symbol of the Sun. 
In the hieroglyphic characters, a snake was the letter T or DJ. It occurs many 
times on the Rosetta stone. The horned serpent was the hieroglyphic for a God. 
According to Eusebius, the Egyptians represented the world by a blue circle, 
sprinkled with flames, within which was extended a serpent with the head of a 
hawk. Proclus says they represented the four quarters of the world by a cross, 
and the soul of the world, or Kneph, by a serpent surrounding it in the form of a 
We read in Anaxagoras, that Orpheus said, that the water, and the vessel that 
produced it, were the primitive principles of things, and together gave existence 
to an animated being, which was a serpent, with two heads, one of a lion and the 
other of a bull, between a which was the figure of a God whose name was 
Hercules or Kronos: that from Hercules came the egg of the world, which 
produced Heaven and earth, by dividing itself into two hemispheres: and that the 
God Phanes, which issued from that egg, was in the shape of a serpent. 
The Egyptian Goddess Ken, represented standing naked on a lion, held two 
serpents in her hand. She is the same as the Astarte or Ashtaroth of the 
Assyrians. Hera, worshipped in the Great Temple at Babylon, held in her right 
hand a serpent by the head; and near Khea, also worshipped there, were two 
large silver serpents. 
In a sculpture from Kouyunjik, two serpents attached to poles are near a firealtar, 
at which two eunuchs are standing. Upon it is the sacred fire, and a 
bearded figure leads a wild goat to the sacrifice.
The serpent of the Temple of Epidaurus was sacred to Ăsculapius, the God of 
Medicine, and 462 years after the building of the city, was taken to Rome after 
a pestilence. 
The Phoenicians represented the God Nomu (Kneph or Amun-Kneph) by a 
serpent. In Egypt, a Sun supported by two asps was the emblem of Horhat the 
good genius; and the serpent with the winged globe was placed over the doors 
and windows of the Temples as a tutelary God. Antipater of Sidon calls Amun 
"the renowned Serpent," and the Cerastes is often found embalmed in the 
On ancient Tyrian coins and Indian medals, a serpent was represented, coiled 
round the trunk of a tree. Python, the Serpent Deity, was esteemed oracular; 
and the tripod at Delphi was a triple-headed serpent of gold. 
The portals of all the Egyptian Temples are decorated with the hierogram of 
the Circle and the Serpent. It is also found upon the Temple of Naki-Rustan in 
Persia; on the triumphal arch at Pechin, in China; over the gates of the great 
Temple of Chaundi Teeva, in Java; upon the walls of Athens; and in the 
Temple of Minerva at Tegea. The Mexican hierogram was formed by the 
intersecting of two great Serpents, which described the circle with their bodies, 
and had each a human head in its mouth. 
All the Buddhists crosses in Ireland had serpents carved upon them. Wreaths 
of snakes are on the columns of the ancient Hindu Temple at Burwah-Sangor. 
Among the Egyptians, it was a symbol of Divine Wisdom, when extended at 
length; and, with its tail in its mouth, of Eternity. 
In the ritual of Zoroaster, the Serpent was a symbol of the Universe. In China, 
the ring between two Serpents was the symbol of the world governed by the 
power and wisdom of the Creator. The Bacchanals carried serpents in their 
hands or round their heads. 
The Serpent entwined round an Egg, was a symbol common to the Indians, the 
Egyptians, and the Druids. It referred to the creation of the Universe. A Serpent 
with an egg in his mouth was a symbol of the Universe containing within itself 
the germ of all things that the Sun develops. 
The property possessed by the Serpent, of casting its skin, and apparently 
renewing its youth, made it an emblem of eternity and immortality. The Syrian 
women still employ it as a charm against
barrenness, as did the devotees of Mithras and Saba-Zeus. The Earthborn 
civilizers of the early world, Fohi, Cecrops, and Erechtheus, were 
half-man, half-serpent. The snake was the guardian of the Athenian 
Acropolis. NAKHUSTAN, the brazen serpent of the wilderness, became 
naturalized among the Hebrews as a token of healing power. "Be ye," 
said Christ, "wise as serpents, and harmless as doves." 
The Serpent was as often a symbol of malevolence and enmity. It 
appears among the emblems of Siva-Roudra, the power of desolation 
and death: it is the bane of AŰpytus, Idom, Archemorus, and 
Philoctetes: it gnaws the roots of the tree of life in the Eddas, and bites 
the heel of unfortunate Eurydice. In Hebrew writers it is generally a 
type of evil; and is particularly so in the Indian and Persian 
Mythologies. When the Sea is churned by Mount Mandar rotating 
within the coils of the Cosmical Serpent Vasouki, to produce the Amrita 
or water of immortality, the serpent vomits a hideous poison, which 
spreads through and infects the Universe, but which Vishnu renders 
harmless by swallowing it. Ahriman in serpent-form invades the realm 
of Ormuzd; and the Bull, emblem of life, is wounded by him and dies. It 
was therefore a religious obligation with every devout follower of 
Zoroaster to exterminate reptiles, and other impure animals, especially 
serpents. The moral and astronomical significance of the Serpent were 
connected. It became a maxim of the Zend-Avesta, that Ahriman, the 
Principle of Evil, made the Great Serpent of Winter, who assaulted the 
creation of Ormuzd. 
A serpent-ring was a well-known symbol of time: and to express 
dramatically how time preys upon itself, the Egyptian priests fed vipers 
in a subterranean chamber, as it were in the sun's Winter abode on the 
fat of bulls, or the year's plenteousness. The dragon of Winter pursues 
Ammon, the golden ram, to Mount Casius. The Virgin of the zodiac is 
bitten in the heel by Serpens, who, with Scorpio, rises immediately 
behind her; and as honey, the emblem of purity and salvation, was 
thought to be an antidote to the serpent's bite, so the bees of AristŠus, 
the emblems of nature's abundance, are destroyed through the agency 
of the serpent, and regenerated within the entrails of the Vernal Bull. 
The Sun-God is finally victorious. Chrishna crushes the head of the 
serpent Calyia; Apollo destroys Python, and Hercules that LernŠan 
monster whose poison festered in the foot of Philoctetes,
of Mopsus, of Chiron, or of Sagittarius. The infant Hercules destroys 
the pernicious snakes detested of the gods, and ever, like St. George 
of England and Michael the Archangel, wars against hydras and 
The eclipses of the sun and moon were believed by the Orientals to be 
caused by the assaults of a dŠmon in dragon-form; and they 
endeavored to scare away the intruder by shouts and menaces. This 
was the original Leviathan or Crooked Serpent of old, transfixed in the 
olden time by the power of Jehovah, and suspended as a glittering 
trophy in the sky; yet also the Power of Darkness supposed to be ever 
in pursuit of the Sun and Moon. When it finally overtakes them, it will 
entwine them in its folds, and prevent their shining. In the last Indian 
Avatara, as in the Eddas, a serpent vomiting flames is expected to 
destroy the world. The serpent presides over the close of the year, 
where it guards the approach to the golden fleece of Aries, and the 
three apples or seasons of the Hesperides; presenting a formidable 
obstacle to the career of the Sun-God. The Great Destroyer of snakes 
is occasionally married to them; Hercules with the northern dragon 
begets the three ancestors of Scythia; for the Sun seems at one time to 
rise victorious from the contest with darkness, and at another to sink 
into its embraces. The northern constellation Draco, whose sinuosities 
wind like a river through the wintry bear, was made the astronomical 
cincture of the Universe, as the serpent encircles the mundane egg in 
Egyptian hieroglyphics. 
The Persian Ahriman was called "The old serpent, the liar from the 
beginning, the Prince of Darkness, and the rover up and down." The 
Dragon was a well-known symbol of the waters and of great rivers; and 
it was natural that by the pastoral Asiatic Tribes, the powerful nations 
of the alluvial plains in their neighborhood who adored the dragon or 
Fish, should themselves be symbolized under the form of dragons; and 
overcome by the superior might of the Hebrew God, as monstrous 
Leviathans maimed and destroyed by him. Ophioneus, in the old Greek 
Theology, warred against Kronos, and was overcome and cast into his 
proper element, the sea. There he is installed as the Sea-God Oannes 
or Dragon, the Leviathan of the watery half of creation, the dragon who 
vomited a flood of water after the persecuted woman of the 
Apocalypse, the monster who threatened to devour Hesione and 
Andromeda, and who for a time became the grave of Hercules and
Jonah; and he corresponds with the obscure name of Rahab, whom 
Jehovah is said in Job to have transfixed and overcome. 
In the Spring, the year or Sun-God appears as Mithras or Europa 
mounted on the Bull; but in the opposite half of the Zodiac he rides the 
emblem of the waters, the winged horse of Nestor or Poseidon: and the 
Serpent, rising heliacally at the Autumnal Equinox, besetting with 
poisonous influence the cold constellation Sagittarius, is explained as 
the reptile in the path who "bites the horse's heels, so that his rider falls 
backward." The same serpent, the Oannes Aphrenos or Musaros of 
Syncellus, was the Midgard Serpent which Odin sunk beneath the sea, 
but which grew to such a size as to encircle the whole earth. 
For these Asiatic symbols of the contest of the Sun-God with the 
Dragon of darkness and Winter were imported not only into the Zodiac, 
but into the more homely circle of European legend; and both Thor and 
Odin fight with dragons, as Apollo did with Python, the great scaly 
snake, Achilles with the Scamander, and Bellerophon with the 
ChimŠra. In the apocryphal book of Esther, dragons herald "a day of 
darkness and obscurity"; and St. George of England, a problematic 
Cappadocian Prince, was originally only a varying form of Mithras. 
Jehovah is said to have "cut Rahab and wounded the dragon." The 
latter is not only the type of earthly desolation, the dragon of the deep 
waters, but also the leader of the banded conspirators of the sky, of the 
rebellious stars, which, according to Enoch, "came not at the right 
time"; and his tail drew a third part of the Host of Heaven, and cast 
them to the earth. Jehovah "divided the sea by his strength, and broke 
the heads of the Dragons in the waters." And according to the Jewish 
and Persian belief, the Dragon would, in the latter days, the Winter of 
time, enjoy a short period of licensed impunity, which would be a 
season of the greatest suffering to the people of the earth; but he 
would finally be bound or destroyed in the great battle of Messiah; or, 
as it seems intimated by the Rabbinical figure of being eaten by the 
faithful, be, like Ahriman or Vasouki, ultimately absorbed by and united 
with the Principle of good. 
Near the image of Rhea, in the Temple of Bel at Babylon, were two 
large serpents of silver, says Diodorus, each weighing thirty talents; 
and in the same temple was an image of Juno, holding in her right 
hand the head of a serpent. The Greeks called Bel
Beliar; and Hesychius interprets that word to mean a dragon or great 
serpent. We learn from the book of Bel and the Dragon, that in Babylon 
was kept a great, live serpent, which the people worshipped. 
The Assyrians, the Emperors of Constantinople, the Parthians, 
Scythians, Saxons, Chinese, and Danes all bore the serpent as a 
standard, and among the spoils taken by Aurelian from Zenobia were 
such standards, Persici Dracones. The Persians represented Ormuzd 
and Ahriman by two serpents, contending for the mundane egg. 
Mithras is represented with a lion's head and human body, encircled by 
a serpent. In the Sadder is this precept: "When you kill serpents, you 
will repeat the Zend-Avesta, and thence you will obtain great merit; for 
it is the same as if you had killed so many devils." 
Serpents encircling rings and globes, and issuing from globes, are 
common in the Persian, Egyptian, Chinese, and Indian monuments. 
Vishnu is represented. reposing on a coiled serpent, whose folds form 
a canopy over him. Mahadeva is represented with a snake around his 
neck, one around his hair, and armlets of serpents on both arms. 
Bhairava sits on the coils of a serpent, whose head rises above his 
own. Parvati has snakes about her neck and waist. Vishnu is the 
Preserving Spirit, Mahadeva is Siva, the Evil Principle, Bhairava is his 
son, and Parvati his consort. The King of Evil Demons was called in 
Hindi! Mythology, Naga, the King of Serpents, in which name we trace 
the Hebrew Nachash, serpent. 
In Cashmere were seven hundred places where carved images of 
serpents were worshipped; and in Thibet the great Chinese Dragon 
ornamented the Temples of the Grand Lama. In China, the dragon was 
the stamp and symbol of royalty, sculptured in all the Temples, 
blazoned on the furniture of the houses, and interwoven with the 
vestments of the chief nobility. The Emperor bears it as his armorial 
device; it is engraved on his sceptre and diadem, and on all the vases 
of the imperial palace. The Chinese believe that there is a dragon of 
extraordinary strength and sovereign power, in Heaven, in the air, on 
the waters, and on the mountains. The God Fohi is said to have had 
the form of a man, terminating in the tail of a snake, a combination to 
be more fully explained to you in a subsequent Degree. 
The dragon and serpent are the 5th and 6th signs of the Chinese
Zodiac; and the Hindus and Chinese believe that, at every eclipse, the 
sun or moon is seized by a huge serpent or dragon, the serpent Asootee 
of the Hindus, which enfolds the globe and the constellation Draco; to 
which also refers "the War in Heaven, when Michael and his Angels 
fought against the dragon." 
Sanchoniathon says that Taaut was the author of the worship of serpents 
among the Phoenicians. He "consecrated," he says, "the species of 
dragons and serpents; and the Phťnicians and Egyptians followed him in 
this superstition." He was "the first who made an image of Cťlus"; that is, 
who represented the Heavenly Hosts of Stars by visible symbols; and was 
probably the same as the Egyptian Thoth. On the Tyrian coins of the age 
of Alexander, serpents are represented in many positions and attitudes, 
coiled around trees, erect in front of altars, and crushed by the Syrian 
The seventh letter of the Egyptian alphabet, called Zeuta or Life, was 
sacred to Thoth, and was expressed by a serpent standing on his tail; and 
that Deity, the God of healing, like Ăsculapius, to whom the serpent was 
consecrated, leans on a knotted stick around which coils a snake. The 
Isiac tablet, describing the Mysteries of Isis, is charged with serpents in 
every part, as her emblems. The Asp was specially dedicated to her, and 
is seen on the heads of her statues, on the bonnets of her priests, and on 
the tiaras of the Kings of Egypt. Serapis was sometimes represented with 
a human head and serpentine tail: and in one engraving two minor Gods 
are represented with him, one by a serpent with a bull's head, and the 
other by a serpent with the radiated head of a lion. 
On an ancient sacrificial vessel found in Denmark, having several 
compartments, a serpent is represented attacking a kneeling boy, 
pursuing him, retreating before him, appealed to beseechingly by him, 
and conversing with him. We are at once reminded of the Sun at the new 
year represented by a child sitting on a lotus, and of the relations of the 
Sun of Spring with the Autumnal Serpent, pursued by and pursuing him, 
and in conjunction with him. Other figures on this vessel belong to the 
The base of the tripod of the Pythian Priestess was a triple headed 
serpent of brass, whose body, folded in circles growing wider and wider 
toward the ground, formed a conical column, while the three heads, 
disposed triangularly, upheld the tripod
of gold. A similar column was placed on a pillar in the Hippodroine at 
Constantinople, by the founder of that city; one of the heads of which is 
said to have been broken off by Mahomet the Second, by a blow with his 
iron mace. 
The British God Hu was called "The Dragon-Ruler of the World," and his 
car was drawn by serpents. His ministers were styled adders. A Druid in a 
poem of Taliessin says, "I am a Druid, I am an Architect, I am a Prophet, I 
am a Serpent (Gnadi)." The Car of the Goddess Ceridwen also was drawn 
by serpents. 
In the elegy of Uther Pendragon, this passage occurs in a description of the 
religious rites of the Druids: "While the Sanctuary is earnestly invoking The 
Gliding King, before whom the Fair One retreats, upon the evil that covers 
the huge stones; whilst the Dragon moves round over the places which 
contain vessels of drink-offering, whilst the drink-offering is in the Golden 
Horns;ö in which we readily discover the mystic and obscure allusion to the 
Autumnal Serpent pursuing the Sun along the circle of the Zodiac, to the 
celestial cup or crater, and the Golden horns of Virgil's milk-white bull; and, 
a line or two further on, we find the Priest imploring the victorious Beli, the 
Sun-God of the Babylonians. 
With the serpent, in the Ancient Monuments, is very often found associated 
the Cross. The Serpent upon a Cross was an Egyptian Standard. It occurs 
repeatedly upon the Grand Staircase of the Temple of Osiris at PhilŠ; and 
on the pyramid of Ghizeh are represented two kneeling figures erecting a 
Cross, on the top of which is a serpent erect. The Crux Ansata was a Cross 
with a coiled Serpent above it; and it is perhaps the most common of all 
emblems on the Egyptian Monuments, carried in the hand of almost every 
figure of a Deity or a Priest. It was, as we learn by the monuments, the form 
of the iron tether-pins, used for making fast to the ground the cords by 
which young animals were confined: and as used by shepherds, became a 
symbol of Royalty to the Shepherd Kings. 
A Cross like a Teutonic or Maltese one, formed by four curved lines within a 
circle, is also common on the Monuments, and represented the Tropics and 
the Colures. 
The Caduceus, borne by Hermes or Mercury, and also by Cybele, Minerva, 
Anubis, Hercules Oginius the God of the Celts, and the personified 
Constellation Virgo, was a winged wand, entwined by
two serpents. It was originally a simple Cross, symbolizing the equator and 
equinoctial Colure, and the four elements proceeding from a common centre. 
This Cross, surmounted by a circle, and that by a crescent, became an 
emblem of the Supreme Deity - or of the active power of generation and the 
passive power of production conjoined, - and was appropriated to Thoth or 
Mercury. It then assumed an improved form, the arms of the Cross being 
changed into wings, and the circle and crescent being formed by two snakes, 
springing from the wand, forming a circle by crossing each other, and their 
heads making the horns of the crescent; in which form it is seen in the hands 
of Anubis. 
The triple Tau, in the centre of a circle and a triangle, typifies the Sacred 
Name; and represents the Sacred Triad, the Creating, Preserving, and 
Destroying Powers; as well as the three great lights of Masonry. If to the 
Masonic point within a Circle, and the two parallel lines, we add the single 
Tau Cross, we have the Ancient Egyptian Triple Tau. 
A column in the form of a cross, with a circle over it, was used by the 
Egyptians to measure the increase of the inundations of the Nile. The Tau 
and Triple Tau are found in many Ancient Alphabets. 
With the Tau or the Triple Tau may be connected, within two circles, the 
double cube, or perfection; or the perfect ashlar. 
The Crux Ansata is found on the sculptures of Khorsabad; on the ivories from 
Nimroud, of the same age, carried by an Assyrian Monarch; and on cylinders 
of the later Assyrian period. 
As the single Tau represents the one God, so, no doubt, the Triple Tau, the 
origin of which cannot be traced, was meant to represent the Trinity of his 
attributes, the three Masonic pillars, WISDOM, STRENGTH, and HARMONY. 
The Prophet Ezekiel, in the 4th verse of the 9th chapter, says: "And the Lord 
said unto him, 'Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of 
Jerusalem, and mark the letter TAU upon the foreheads of those that sigh 
and mourn for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof." So the 
Latin Vulgate, and the probably most ancient copies of the Septuagint 
translate the passage. This Tau was in the form of the cross of this Degree, 
and it was the emblem of life and salvation. The Samaritan Tau and the 
Ethiopic Tavvi are the evident prototype of the Greek t; and we learn from 
Tertullian, Origen, and St. Jerome
that the Hebrew Tau was anciently written in the form of a Cross. 
In ancient times the mark Tau was set on those who had been acquitted by their 
judges, as a symbol of innocence. The military commanders placed it on soldiers 
who escaped unhurt from the field of battle, as a sign of their safety under the 
Divine Protection. 
It was a sacred symbol among the Druids. Divesting a tree of part of its branches, 
they left it in the shape of a Tau Cross, preserved it carefully, and consecrated it 
with solemn ceremonies. On the tree they cut deeply the word THAU, by which 
they meant God. On the right arm of the Cross, they inscribed the word HESULS, 
on the left BELEN or BELENUS, and on the middle of the trunk THARAMIS. This 
represented the sacred Triad. 
It is certain that the Indians, Egyptians, and Arabians paid veneration to the sign 
of the Cross, thousands of years before the coming of Christ. Everywhere it was a 
sacred symbol. The Hindus and the Celtic Druids built many of their Temples in 
the form of a Cross, as the ruins still remaining clearly show, and particularly the 
ancient Druidical Temple at Classerniss in the Island of Lewis in Scotland. The 
Circle is of 12 Stones. On each of the sides, east, west, and south, are three. In 
the centre was the image of the Deity; and on the north an avenue of twice 
nineteen stones, and one at the entrance. The Supernal Pagoda at Benares is in 
the form of a Cross; and the Druidical subterranean grotto at New Grange in 
The Statue of Osiris at Rome had the same emblem. Isis and Ceres also bore it; 
and the caverns of initiation were constructed in that shape with a pyramid over 
the Sacellum. 
Crosses were cut in the stones of the Temple of Serapis in Alexandria; and many 
Tau Crosses are to be seen in the sculptures of Alabastion and EsnÚ, in Egypt. 
On coins, the symbol of the Egyptian God Kneph was a Cross within a Circle. 
The Crux Ansata was the particular emblem of Osiris, and his sceptre ended with 
that figure. It was also the emblem of Hermes, and was considered a Sublime 
Hieroglyphic, possessing mysterious powers and virtues, as a wonder-working 
The Sacred Tau occurs in the hands of the mummy-shaped figures between the 
forelegs of the row of Sphynxes, in the great avenue leading from Luxor to Karnac. 
By the Tau Cross the
Cabalists expressed the number 10, a perfect number, denoting heaven, and the 
Pythagorean Tetractys, or incommunicable name of God. The Tau Cross is also 
found on the stones in front of the door, of the Temple of Amunoth III, at Thebes, 
who reigned about the time when the Israelites took possession of Canaan: and the 
Egyptian Priests carried it in all the sacred processions. 
Tertullian, who had been initiated, informs us that the Tau was inscribed on the 
forehead of every person who had been admitted into the Mysteries of Mithras. 
As the simple Tau represented Life, so, when the Circle, symbol of Eternity, was 
added, it represented Eternal Life. 
At the Initiation of a King, the Tau, as the emblem of life and key of the Mysteries, 
was impressed upon his lips. 
In the Indian Mysteries, the Tau Cross, under the name of Tiluk, was marked upon 
the body of the candidate, as a sign that he was set apart for the Sacred Mysteries. 
On the upright tablet of the King, discovered at Nimroud, are the names of thirteen 
Great Gods (among which are YAV and BEL); and the left-hand character of every 
one is a cross composed of two cuneiform characters. 
The Cross appears upon an Ancient Phťnician medal found in the ruins of Citium; 
on the very ancient Buddhist Obelisk near Ferns in Ross-shire; on the Buddhist 
Round Towers in Ireland, and upon the splendid obelisk of the same era at Forres 
in Scotland. 
Upon the fašade of a temple at Kalabche in Nubia are three regal figures, each 
holding a Crux Ansata. 
Like the Subterranean Mithriatic Temple at New Grange in Scotland, the Pagodas of 
Benares and Mathura were in the form of a Cross. Magnificent Buddhist Crosses 
were erected, and are still standing, at Clonmacnoise, Finglas, and Kilcullen in 
Ireland. Wherever the monuments of Buddhism are found, in India, CeyIon, or 
Ireland, we find the Cross: for Buddha or Boudh was represented to have been 
All the planets known to the Ancients were distinguished by the Mystic Cross, in 
conjunction with the solar or lunar symbols; Saturn by a cross over a crescent, 
Jupiter by a cross under a crescent, Mars by a cross resting obliquely on a circle, 
Venus by a cross under a circle, and Mercury by a cross surmounted by a circle and 
that by a crescent.
The Solstices, Cancer and Capricorn, the two Gates of Heaven, are the 
two pillars of Hercules, beyond which he, the Sun, never journeyed: and 
they still appear in our Lodges, as the two great columns, Jachin and 
Boaz, and also as the two parallel lines that bound the circle, with a point 
in the centre, emblem of the Sun, between the two tropics of Cancer and 
The blazing Star in our Lodges, we have already said, represents Sirius, 
Anubis, or Mercury, Guardian and Guide of Souls. Our Ancient English 
brethren also considered it an emblem of the Sun. In the old Lectures 
they 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." It is also said in those lectures to be 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 Ancients was the Sun. 
Even the Dagger of the Elu of Nine is that used in the Mysteries of 
Mithras; Which, with its blade black and hilt white, was an emblem of the 
two principles of Light and Darkness. 
Isis, the same as Ceres, was, as we learn from Eratosthenes, the 
Constellation Virgo, represented by a woman holding an ear of wheat. 
The different emblems which accompany her in the description given by 
Apuleius, a serpent on either side, a golden vase, with a serpent twined 
round the handle, and the animals that marched in procession, the bear, 
the ape, and Pegasus, represented the Constellations that, rising with the 
Virgin, when on the day of the Vernal Equinox she stood in the Oriental 
gate of Heaven, brilliant with the rays of the full moon, seemed to march 
in her train. 
The cup, consecrated in the Mysteries both of Isis and Eleusis, was the 
Constellation Crater or the Cup. The sacred vessel of the Isiac ceremony 
finds its counterpart in the Heavens. The Olympic robe presented to the 
Initiate, a magnificent mantle, covered with figures of serpents and 
animals, and under which were twelve other sacred robes, wherewith he 
was clothed in the sanctuary, alluded to the starry Heaven and the twelve 
signs: while the seven preparatory immersions in the sea alluded to the 
seven spheres, through which the soul plunged, to arrive here below and 
take up its abode in a body.
The Celestial Virgin, during the last three centuries that preceded the 
Christian era, occupied the horoscope or Oriental point, and that gate 
of Heaven through which the Sun and Moon ascended above the 
horizon at the two equinoxes. Again it occupied it at midnight, at the 
Winter Solstice, the precise moment when the year commenced. Thus 
it was essentially connected with the march of times and seasons, of 
the Sun, the Moon, and day and night, at the principal epochs of the 
year. At the equinoxes were celebrated the greater and lesser 
Mysteries of Ceres. When souls descended past the Balance, at the 
moment when the Sun occupied that point, the Virgin rose before him; 
she stood at the gates of day and opened them to him. Her brilliant 
Star, Spica Virginis, and Arcturus, in Bo÷tes, northwest of it, heralded 
his coming. When he had returned to the Vernal Equinox, at the 
moment when souls were generated, again it was the Celestial Virgin 
that led the march of the signs of night; and in her stars came the 
beautiful full moon of that month. Night and day were in succession 
introduced by her, when they began to diminish in length; and souls, 
before arriving at the gates of Hell, were also led by her. In going 
through these signs, they passed the Styx in the 8th Degree of Libra. 
She was the famous Sibyl who initiated Eneas, and opened to him the 
way to the infernal regions. 
This peculiar situation of the Constellation Virgo, has caused it to enter 
into all the sacred fables in regard to nature, under different names and 
the most varied forms. It often takes the name of Isis or the Moon, 
which, when at its full at the Vernal Equinox, was in union with it or 
beneath its feet. Mercury (or Anubis) having his domicile and exaltation 
in the sign Virgo, was, in all the sacred fables and Sanctuaries, the 
inseparable companion of Isis, without whose counsels she did 
This relation between the emblems and mysterious recitals of the 
initiations, and the Heavenly bodies and order of the world, was still 
more clear in the Mysteries of Mithras, adored as the Sun in Asia 
Minor, Cappadocia, Armenia, and Persia, and whose Mysteries went to 
Rome in the time of Sylla. This is amply proved by the descriptions we 
have of the Mithriac cave, in which were figured the two movements of 
the Heavens, that of the fixed Stars and that of the Planets, the 
Constellations, the eight mystic gates of the spheres, and the symbols 
of the elements. So on a celebrated monument of that religion, found at 
Rome, were figured, the Serpent or Hydra tinder Leo, 
as in the Heavens, the Celestial Dog, 
the Bull, the Scorpion, the Seven Planets, represented by seven 
altars, the Sun, Moon, and emblems relating to Light, to Darkness, and 
to their succession during the year, where each in turn triumphs for six 
The Mysteries of Atys were celebrated when the Sun entered Aries; 
and among the emblems was a ram at the foot of a tree which was 
being cut down. 
Thus, if not the whole truth, it is yet a large part of it, that the Heathen 
Pantheon, in its infinite diversity of names and personifications, was 
but a multitudinous, though in its origin unconscious allegory, of which 
physical phenomena, and principally the Heavenly Bodies, were the 
fundamental types. The glorious images of Divinity which formed 
Jehovah's Host, were the Divine Dynasty or real theocracy which 
governed the early world; and the men of the golden age, whose looks 
held commerce with the skies, and who watched the radiant rulers 
bringing Winter and Summer to mortals, might be said with poetic truth 
to live in immediate communication with Heaven, and, like the Hebrew 
Patriarchs, to see God face to face. Then the Gods introduced their 
own worship among mankind: then Oannes, Oe or Aquarius rose from 
the Red Sea to impart science to the Babylonians; then the bright Bull 
legislated for India and Crete; and the Lights of Heaven, personified as 
Liber and Ceres, hung the Bťotian hills with vineyards, and gave the 
golden sheaf to Eleusis. The children of men were, in a sense, allied or 
married to those sons of God who sang the jubilee of creation; and the 
encircling vault with its countless Stars, which to the excited 
imagination of the solitary Chaldean wanderer appeared as animated 
intelligences, might naturally be compared to a gigantic ladder, on 
which, in their rising and setting, the Angel luminaries appeared to be 
ascending and descending between earth and Heaven. The original 
revelation died out of men's memories; they worshipped the Creature 
instead of the Creator; and holding all earthly things as connected by 
eternal links of harmony and sympathy with the heavenly bodies, they 
united in one view astronomy, astrology, and religion. Long wandering 
thus in error, they at length ceased to look upon the Stars and external 
nature as Gods; and by directing their attention to the microcosm or 
narrower world of self, they again became acquainted with the True 
Ruler and Guide of the Universe,
and used the old fables and superstitions as symbols and allegories, 
by which to convey and under which to hide the great truths which had 
faded out of most men's remembrance. 
In the Hebrew writings, the term "Heavenly Hosts" includes not only the 
counsellors and emissaries of Jehovah, but also the celestial 
luminaries; and the stars, imagined in the East to be animated 
intelligences, presiding over human weal and woe, are identified with 
the more distinctly impersonated messengers or angels, who execute 
the Divine decrees, and whose predominance in Heaven is in 
mysterious correspondence and relation with the powers and 
dominions of the earth. In job, the Morning Stars and the Sons of God 
are identified; they join in the same chorus of praise to the Almighty; 
they are both susceptible of joy; they walk in brightness, and are liable 
to impurity and imperfection in the sight of God. The Elohim originally 
included hot only foreign superstitious forms, but also all that host of 
Heaven which was revealed in poetry to the shepherds of the desert, 
now as an encampment of warriors, now as careering in chariots of fire, 
and now as winged messengers, ascending and descending the vault 
of Heaven, to communicate the will of God to mankind. 
"The Eternal," says the Bereshith Rabba to Genesis, "called forth 
Abraham and his posterity out of the dominion of the stars; by nature, 
the Israelite was a servant to the stars, and born under their influence, 
as are the heathen; but by virtue of the law given on Mount Sinai, he 
became liberated from this degrading servitude." The Arabs had a 
similar legend. The Prophet Amos explicitly asserts that the Israelites, 
in the desert, worshipped, not Jehovah, but Moloch, or a Star-God, 
equivalent to Saturn. The Gods El or Jehovah were not merely 
planetary or solar. Their symbolism, like that of every other Deity, was 
coextensive with nature, and with the mind of man. Yet the astrological 
character is assigned even to Jehovah. He is described as seated on 
the pinnacle of the Universe, leading forth the Hosts of Heaven, and 
telling them unerringly by name and number. His stars are His sons 
and His eyes, which run through the whole world, keeping watch over 
menĺs deeds. The stars and planets were properly the angels. In 
Pharisaic tradition, as in the phraseology of the New Testament, the 
Heavenly Host appears as an Angelic Army, divided into regiments and 
brigades, under the command
of imaginary chiefs, such as Massaloth, Legion, Kartor Gistra, etc., - each 
Gistra being captain of 365,000 myriads of stars. The Seven Spirits which 
stand before the throne, spoken of by several Jewish writers, and 
generally presumed to have been immediately derived from the. Persian 
Amshaspands, were ultimately the seven planetary intelligences, the 
original model of the seven-branched golden candlestick exhibited to 
Moses on God's mountain. The stars were imagined to have fought in 
their courses against Sisera. The heavens were spoken of as holding a 
predominance over earth, as governing it by signs and ordinances, and 
as containing the elements of that astrological wisdom, more especially 
cultivated by the Babylonians and Egyptians. 
Each nation was supposed by the Hebrews to have its own guardian 
angel, and its own provincial star. One of the chiefs of the Celestial 
Powers, at first Jehovah Himself in the character of the Sun, standing in 
the height of Heaven, overlooking and governing all things, afterward one 
of the angels or subordinate planetary genii of Babylonian or Persian 
mythology, was the patron and protector of their own nation, "the Prince 
that standeth for the children of thy people." The discords of earth were 
accompanied by a warfare in the sky; and no people underwent the 
visitation of the Almighty, without a corresponding chastisement being 
inflicted on its tutelary angel. 
The fallen Angels were also fallen Stars; and the first allusion to a feud 
among the spiritual powers in early Hebrew Mythology, where Rahab and 
his confederates are defeated, like the Titans in a battle against the 
Gods, seems to identify the rebellious Spirits as part of the visible 
Heavens, where the "high ones on high" are punished or chained, as a 
signal proof of God's power and justice. God, it is said ľ 
"Stirs the sea with His might - by His understanding He smote Rahab - His 
breath clears the face of Heaven - His hand pierced the crooked Serpent 
.... God withdraws not His anger; beneath Him bow the confederates of 
Rahab always means a sea-monster: probably some such legendary 
monstrous dragon, as in almost all mythologies is the adversary of 
Heaven and demon of eclipse, in whose belly, significantly called the 
belly of Hell, Hercules, like Jonah, passed three days, ultimately escaping 
with the loss of his hair or rays. Chesil, the rebellious giant Orion, 
represented in Job as riveted to the sky,
was compared to Ninus or Nimrod, the mythical founder of Nineveh 
(City of Fish) the mighty hunter, who slew lions and panthers before the 
Lord. Rahab's confederates are probably the "High ones on High," the 
Chesilim or constellations in Isaiah, the Heavenly Host or Heavenly 
Powers, among whose number were found folly and disobedience. 
"I beheld," says Pseudo-Enoch, "seven stars like great blazing 
mountains, and like Spirits, entreating me. And the angel said, This 
place, until the consummation of Heaven and Earth, will be the prison 
of the Stars and of the Host of Heaven. These are the Stars which 
overstepped God's command before their time arrived; and came not at 
their proper season; therefore was he offended with them, and bound 
them, until the time of the consummation of their crimes in the secret 
year." And again: "These Seven Stars are those which have 
transgressed the commandment of the Most High God, and which are 
here bound until the number of the days of their crimes be completed." 
The Jewish and early Christian writers looked on the worship of the 
sun and the elements with comparative indulgence. Justin Martyr and 
Clemens of Alexandria admit that God had appointed the stars as 
legitimate objects of heathen worship, in order to preserve throughout 
the world some tolerable notions of natural religion. It seemed a middle 
point between Heathenism and Christianity; and to it certain emblems 
and ordinances of that faith seemed to relate. The advent of Christ was 
announced by a Star from the East; and His nativity was celebrated on 
the shortest day of the Julian Calendar, the day when, in the physical 
commemorations of Persia and Egypt, Mithras or Osiris was newly 
found. It was then that the acclamations of the Host of Heaven, the 
unfailing attendants of the Sun, surrounded, as at the spring-dawn of 
creation, the cradle of His birth-place, and that, in the words of 
Ignatius, "a star, with light inexpressible, shone forth in the Heavens, to 
destroy the power of magic and the bonds of wickedness; for God 
Himself had appeared, in the form of man, for the renewal of eternal 
But however infinite the variety of objects which helped to develop the 
notion of Deity, and eventually assumed its place, substituting the 
worship of the creature for that of the creator; of parts of the body, for 
that of the soul, of the Universe, still the notion itself was essentially 
one of unity. The idea of one
God, of a creative, productive, governing unity, resided in the earliest 
exertion of thought: and this monotheism of the primitive ages, makes 
every succeeding epoch, unless it be the present, appear only as a 
stage in the progress of degeneracy and aberration. Everywhere in the 
old faiths we find the idea of a supreme or presiding Deity. Amun or 
Osiris presides among the many gods of Egypt; Pan, with the music of 
his pipe, directs the chorus of the constellations, as Zeus leads the 
solemn procession of the celestial troops in the astronomical theology 
of the Pythagoreans. "Amidst an infinite diversity of opinions on all 
other subjects," says Maximus Tyrius, "the whole world is unanimous in 
the belief of one only almighty King and Father of all." 
There is always a Sovereign Power, a Zeus or Deus, Mahadeva or 
Adideva, to whom belongs the maintenance of the order of the 
Universe. Among the thousand gods of India, the doctrine of Divine 
Unity is never lost sight of; and the ethereal Jove, worshipped by the 
Persian in an age long before Xenophanes or Anaxagoras, appears as 
supremely comprehensive and independent of planetary or elemental 
subdivisions, as the "Vast One" or "Great Soul" of the Vedas. 
But the simplicity of belief of the patriarchs did not exclude the 
employment of symbolical representations. The mind never rests 
satisfied with a mere feeling. That feeling ever strives to assume 
precision and durability as an idea, by some outward delineation of its 
thought. Even the ideas that are above and beyond the senses, as all 
ideas of God are, require the aid of the senses for their expression and 
communication. Hence come the representative forms and symbols 
which constitute the external investiture of every religion; attempts to 
express a religious sentiment that is essentially one, and that vainly 
struggles for adequate external utterance, striving to tell to one man, to 
paint to him, an idea existing in the mind of another, and essentially 
incapable of utterance or description, in a language all the words of 
which have a sensuous meaning. Thus, the idea being perhaps the 
same in all, its expressions and utterances are infinitely various, and 
branch into an infinite diversity of creeds and sects. 
All religious expression is symbolism; since we can describe only what 
we see; and the true objects of religion are unseen. The earliest 
instruments of education were symbols; and they and all other religious 
forms differed and still differ according to
external circumstances and imagery, and according to differences of 
knowledge and mental cultivation. To present a visible symbol to the 
eye of another is not to inform him of the meaning which that symbol 
has to you. Hence the philosopher soon super-added to these symbols, 
explanations addressed to the ear, susceptible of more precision, but 
less effective, obvious, and impressive than the painted or sculptured 
forms which he despised. Out of these explanations grew by degrees a 
variety of narratives, whose true object and meaning were gradually 
forgotten. And when these were abandoned, and philosophy resorted 
to definitions and formulas, its language was but a more refined 
symbolism, grappling with and attempting to picture ideas impossible to 
be expressed. For the most abstract expression for Deity which 
language can supply, is but a sign or symbol for an object unknown, 
and no more truthful and adequate than the terms Osiris and Vishnu, 
except as being less sensuous and explicit. To say that He is a Spirit, 
is but to say that He is not matter. What spirit is, we can only define as 
the Ancients did, by resorting, as if in despair, to some sublimized 
species of matter, as Light, Fire, or Ether. 
No symbol of Deity can be appropriate or durable except in a relative 
or moral sense. We cannot exalt words that have only a sensuous 
meaning, above sense. To call Him a Power or a Force, or an 
Intelligence, is merely to deceive ourselves into the belief that we use 
words that have a meaning to us, when they have none, or at least no 
more than the ancient visible symbols had. To call Him Sovereign, 
Father, Grand Architect of the Universe, Extension, Time, Beginning, 
Middle, and End, whose face is turned on all sides, the Source of life 
and death, is but to present other men with symbols by which we vainly 
endeavor to communicate to them the same vague ideas which men in 
all ages have impotently struggled to express. And it may be doubted 
whether we have succeeded either in communicating, or in forming in 
our own minds, any more distinct and definite and true and adequate 
idea of the Deity, with all our metaphysical conceits and logical 
subtleties, than the rude ancients did, who endeavored to symbolize 
and so to express His attributes, by the Fire, the Light, the Sun and 
Stars, the Lotus and the ScarabŠus; all of them types of what, except 
by types, more or less sufficient, could not be expressed at all. 
The Primitive man recognized the Divine Presence under a
variety of appearances, without losing his faith in this unity and 
Supremacy. The invisible God, manifested and on one of His many 
sides visible, did not cease to be God to him. He recognized Him in the 
evening breeze of Eden, in the whirlwind of Sinai, in he Stone of Beth- 
El.: and identified Him with the fire or thunder or the immovable rock 
adored in Ancient Arabia. To him the image of the Deity was reflected 
in all that was pre-eminent in excellence. He saw Jehovah, like Osiris 
and Bel, in the Sun as well as in the Stars, which were His children, His 
eyes, "which run through the whole world, and watch over the Sacred 
Soil of Palestine, from the year's commencement to its close." He was 
the sacred fire of Mount Sinai, of the burning bush, of the Persians, 
those Puritans of Paganism. 
Naturally it followed that Symbolism soon became more complicated, 
and all the powers of Heaven were reproduced on earth, until a web of 
fiction and allegory was woven, which the wit of man, with his limited 
means of explanation, will never unravel. Hebrew Theism itself became 
involved in symbolism and image-worship, to which all religions ever 
tend. We have already seen what was the symbolism of the 
Tabernacle, the Temple, and the Ark. The Hebrew establishment 
tolerated not only the use of emblematic vessels, vestments, and 
cherubs, of Sacred Pillars and Seraphim, but symbolical 
representations of Jehovah Himself, not even confined to poetical or 
illustrative language. 
"Among the Adityas," says Chrishna, in the Bagvat Ghita, "I am Vishnu, 
the radiant Sun among the Stars; among the waters, am ocean; among 
the mountains, the Himalaya; and among the mountain-tops, Meru." 
The Psalins and Isaiah are full of similar attempts to convey to the mind 
ideas of God, by ascribing to Him sensual proportions. He rides on the 
clouds, and sits on the wings of the wind. Heaven is His pavilion, and 
out of His mouth issue lightnings. Men cannot worship a mere 
abstraction. They require some outward form in which to clothe their 
conceptions, and invest their sympathies. If they do not shape and 
carve or paint visible images, they have invisible ones, perhaps quite 
as inadequate and unfaithful, within their own minds. 
The incongruous and monstrous in the Oriental images came from the 
desire to embody the Infinite, and to convey by multiplied, because 
individually inadequate symbols, a notion of the Divine Attributes to the 
understanding. Perhaps we should find
that we mentally do the same thing, and make within ourselves images 
quite as incongruous, if judged of by our own limited conceptions, if we 
were to undertake to analyze and gain a clear idea of the mass of 
infinite attributes which we assign to the Deity; and even of His infinite 
justice and infinite Mercy and Love. 
We may well say, in the language of Maximus Tyrius: "If, in the desire 
to obtain some faint conception of the Universal Father, the Nameless 
Lawgiver, men had recourse to words or names, to silver or gold, to 
animals or plants, to mountain-tops or flowing rivers, every one 
inscribing the most valued and most beautiful things with the name of 
Deity, and with the fondness of a lover clinging with rapture to each 
trivial reminiscence of the Beloved, why should we seek to reduce this 
universal practice of symbolism, necessary, indeed, since the mind 
often needs the excitement of the imagination to rouse it into activity, to 
one monotonous standard of formal propriety? Only let the image duly 
perform its task, and bring the divine idea with vividness and truth 
before the mental eye; if this be effected, whether by the art of Phidias, 
the poetry of Homer, the Egyptian Hieroglyph, or the Persian element, 
we need not cavil at external differences, or lament the seeming fertility 
of unfamiliar creeds, so long as the great essential is attained, THAT 
Certainly, when men regarded Light and Fire as something spiritual, 
and above all the corruptions and exempt from all the decay of matter; 
when they looked upon the Sun and Stars and Planets as composed of 
this finer element, and as themselves great and mysterious 
Intelligences, infinitely superior to man, living Existences, gifted with 
mighty powers and wielding vast influences, those elements and 
bodies conveyed to them, when used as symbols of Deity, a far more 
adequate idea than they can now do to us, or than we can 
comprehend, now that Fire and Light are familiar to us as air and 
water, and the Heavenly Luminaries are lifeless worlds like our own. 
Perhaps they gave them ideas as adequate as we obtain from the mere 
words by which we endeavor to symbolize and shadow forth the 
ineffable mysteries and infinite attributes of God. 
There are, it is true, dangers inseparable from symbolism, which 
countervail its advantages, and afford an impressive lesson in regard 
to the similar risks attendant on the use of language. The
imagination, invited to assist the reason, usurps its place, or leaves its 
ally helplessly entangled in its web. Names which stand for things are 
confounded with them; the means are mistaken for the end: the 
instrument of interpretation for the object; and thus symbols come to 
usurp an independent character as truths and persons. Though 
perhaps a necessary path, they were a dangerous one by which to 
approach the Deity; in which "many," says Plutarch, "mistaking the sign 
for the thing signified, fell into a ridiculous superstition; while others, in 
avoiding one extreme, plunged into the no less hideous gulf of 
irreligion and impiety." 
All great Reformers have warred against this evil, deeply feeling the 
intellectual mischief arising out of a degraded idea of the Supreme 
Being; and have claimed for their own God an existence or personality 
distinct from the objects of ancient superstition; disowning in His name 
the symbols and images that had profaned His Temple. But they have 
not seen that the utmost which can be effected by human effort, is to 
substitute impressions relatively correct, for others whose falsehood 
has been detected, and to replace a gross symbolism by a purer one. 
Every man, without being aware of it, worships a conception of his own 
mind; for all symbolism, as well as all language, shares the subjective 
character of the ideas it represents. The epithets we apply to God only 
recall either visible or intellectual symbols to the eye or mind. The 
modes or forms of manifestation of the reverential feeling that 
constitutes the religious sentiment, are incomplete and progressive; 
each term and symbol predicates a partial truth, remaining always 
amenable to improvement or modification, and, in its turn, to be 
superseded by others more accurate and comprehensive. 
Idolatry consists in confounding the symbol with the thing signified, the 
substitution of a material for a mental object of worship, after a higher 
spiritualism has become possible; an ill-judged preference of the 
inferior to the superior symbol, an inadequate and sensual conception 
of the Deity: and every religion and every conception of God is 
idolatrous, in so far as it is imperfect, and as it substitutes a feeble and 
temporary idea in the shrine of that Undiscoverable Being who can be 
known only in part, and who can therefore be honored, even by the 
most enlightened among His worshippers, only in proportion to their 
limited powers of understanding and imagining to themselves His 
Like the belief in a Deity, the belief in the soul's immortality is rather a 
natural feeling, an adjunct of self-consciousness, than a dogma 
belonging to any particular age or country. It gives eternity to man's 
nature, and reconciles its seeming anomalies and contradictions; it 
makes him strong in weakness and perfectable in imperfection; and it 
alone gives an adequate object for his hopes and energies, and value 
and dignity to his pursuits. It is concurrent with the belief in an infinite, 
eternal Spirit, since it is chiefly through consciousness of the dignity of 
the mind within us, that we learn to appreciate its evidences in the 
To fortify, and as far as possible to impart this hope, was the great aim 
of ancient wisdom, whether expressed in forms of poetry or philosophy; 
as it was of the Mysteries, and as it is of Masonry. Life rising out of 
death was the great mystery, which symbolism delighted to represent 
under a thousand ingenious forms. Nature was ransacked for 
attestations to the grand truth which seems to transcend all other gifts 
of imagination, or rather to be their essence and consummation. Such 
evidences were easily discovered. They were found in the olive and 
the lotus, in the evergreen myrtle of the Mystť, and of the grave of 
Polydorus, in the deadly but self-renewing serpent, the wonderful moth 
emerging from the coffin of the worm, the phenomena of germination, 
the settings and risings of the sun and stars, the darkening and growth 
of the moon, and in sleep, "the minor mystery of death." 
The stories of the birth of Apollo from Latona, and of dead heroes, like 
Glaucus, resuscitated in caves, were allegories of the natural 
alternations of life and death in nature, changes that are but 
expedients to preserve her virginity and purity inviolable in the general 
sum of her operations, whose aggregate presents only a majestic calm, 
rebuking alike man's presumption and his despair. The typical death of 
the Nature-God, Osiris, Atys, Adonis, Hiram, was a profound but 
consolatory mystery: the healing charms of Orpheus were connected 
with his destruction; and his bones, those valued pledges of fertility 
and victory, were, by a beautiful contrivance, often buried within the 
sacred precincts of his immortal equivalent. 
In their doctrines as to the immortality of the soul, the Greek 
Philosophers merely stated with more precision ideas long before 
extant independently among themselves, in the form of symbolical 
suggestion. Egypt and Ethiopia in these matters learned from
India, where, as everywhere else, the origin of the doctrine was as 
remote and untraceable as the origin of man himself. Its natural 
expression is found in the language of Chrishna, in the Bagvat Ghita: "I 
myself never was non-existent, nor thou, nor these princes of the Earth; 
nor shall we ever hereafter cease to be. The soul is not a thing of 
which a man may say, it hath been, or is about to be, or is to be 
hereafter; for it is a thing without birth; it is pre-existent, changeless, 
eternal, and is not to be destroyed with this mortal frame." 
According to the dogma of antiquity, the thronging forms of life are a 
series of purifying migrations, through which the divine principle reascends 
to the unity of its source. Inebriated in the bowl of Dionusos, 
and dazzled in the mirror of existence, the souls, those fragments or 
sparks of the Universal Intelligence, forgot their native dignity, and 
passed into the terrestrial frames they coveted. The most usual type of 
the spirit's descent was suggested by the sinking of the Sun and Stars 
from the upper to the lower hemisphere. When it arrived within the 
portals of the proper empire of Dionusos, the God of this World, the 
scene of delusion and change, its individuality became clothed in a 
material form; and as individual bodies were compared to a garment, 
the world was the investiture of the Universal Spirit. Again, the body 
was compared to a vase or urn, the soul's recipient; the world being the 
mighty bowl which received the descending Deity. In another image, 
ancient as the Grottoes of the Magi and the denunciations of Ezekiel, 
the world was as a dimly illuminated cavern, where shadows seem 
realities, and where the soul becomes forgetful of its celestial origin in 
proportion to its proneness to material fascinations. By another, the 
period of the Soul's embodiment is as when exhalations are 
condensed, and the aerial element assumes the grosser form of water. 
But if vapor falls in water, it was held, water is again the birth of vapors, 
which ascend and adorn the Heavens. If our mortal existence be the 
death of the spirit, our death may be the renewal of its life; as physical 
bodies are exalted from earth to water, from water to air, from air to fire, 
so the man may rise into the Hero, the Hero into the God. In the course 
of Nature, the soul, to recover its lost estate, must pass through a 
series of trials and migrations. The scene of those trials is the Grand 
Sanctuary of Initiations, the world: their primary agents are the 
elements; and Dionusos, as Sovereign of Nature, or the sensuous 
world personified,
is official Arbiter of the Mysteries, and guide of the soul, which he 
introduces into the body and dismisses from it. He is the Sun, that 
liberator of the elements, and his spiritual mediation was suggested by 
the same imagery which made the Zodiac the supposed path of the 
spirits in their descent and their return, and Cancer and Capricorn the 
gates through which they passed. 
He was not only Creator of the World, but guardian, liberator, and 
Saviour of the Soul. Ushered into the world amidst lightning and 
thunder he became the Liberator celebrated in the Mysteries of 
Thebes, delivering earth from Winter's chain, conducting the nightly 
chorus of the Stars and the celestial revolution of the year. His 
symbolism was the inexhaustible imagery employed to fill up the stellar 
devices of the Zodiac: he was the Vernal Bull, the Lion, the Ram, the 
Autumnal Goat, the Serpent: in short, the varied Deity, the resulting 
manifestation personified, the all in the many, the varied year, life 
passing into innumerable forms; essentially inferior to none, yet 
changing with the seasons, and undergoing their periodical decay. 
He mediates and intercedes for man, and reconciles the Universal 
Unseen Mind with the individualized spirit of which he is emphatically 
the Perfecter; a consummation which he effects, first through the 
vicissitudes of the elemental ordeal, the alternate fire of Summer and 
the showers of Winter, "the trials or test of an immortal Nature"; and 
secondarily and symbolically through the Mysteries. He holds not only 
the cup of generation, but also that of wisdom or initiation, whose 
influence is contrary to that of the former, causing the soul to abhor its 
material bonds, and to long for its return. The first was the Cup of 
Forgetfulness; while the second is the Urn of Aquarius, quaffed by the 
returning spirit, as by the returning Sun at the Winter Solstice, and 
emblematic of the exchange of wordly impressions for the recovered 
recollections of the glorious sights and enjoyments of its preexistence. 
Water nourishes and purifies; and the urn from which it flows was 
thought worthy to be a symbol of Deity, as of the Osiris-Canobus who 
with living water irrigated the soil of Egypt; and also an emblem of 
Hope that should cheer the dwellings of the dead. 
The second birth of Dionusos, like the rising of Osiris and Atys from the 
dead, and the raising of KhŘrŘm, is a type of the spiritual regeneration 
of man. Psyche (the Soul), like Ariadne, had
two lovers, an earthly and an immortal one. The immortal suitor is 
Dionusos, the Eros-Phanes of the Orphici, gradually exalted by the 
progress of thought, out of the symbol of Sensuality into the torchbearer 
of the Nuptials of the Gods; the Divine Influence which 
physically called the world into being, and which, awakening the soul 
from its Stygian trance, restores it from earth to Heaven. 
Thus the scientific theories of the ancients, expounded in the 
Mysteries, as to the origin of the soul, its descent, its sojourn here 
below, and its return, were not a mere barren contemplation of the 
nature of the world, and of the intelligent beings existing there. They 
were not an idle speculation as to the order of the world, and about the 
soul, but a study of the means for arriving at the great object proposed, 
- the perfecting of the soul; and, as a necessary consequence, that of 
morals and society. This Earth, to them, was not the Soul's home, but 
its place of exile. Heaven was its home, and there was its birth-place. 
To it, it ought incessantly to turn its eyes. Man was not a terrestrial 
plant. His roots were in Heaven. The soul had lost its wings, clogged 
by the viscosity of matter. It would recover them when it extricated itself 
from matter and commenced its upward flight. 
Matter being, in their view, as it was in that of St. Paul, the principle of 
all the passions that trouble reason, mislead the intelligence, and stain 
the purity of the soul, the Mysteries taught man how to enfeeble the 
action of matter on the soul, and to restore to the latter its natural 
dominion. And lest the stains so contracted should continue after 
death, lustrations were used, fastings, expiations, macerations, 
continence, and above all, initiations. Many of these practices were at 
first merely symbolical, - material signs indicating the moral purity 
required of the Initiates; but they afterward came to be regarded as 
actual productive causes of that purity. 
The effect of initiation was meant to be the same as that of philosophy, 
to purify the soul of its passions, to weaken the empire of the body over 
the divine portion of man, and to give him here below a happiness 
anticipatory of the felicity to be one day enjoyed by him, and of the 
future vision by him of the Divine Beings. And therefore Proclus and 
the other Platonists taught "that the Mysteries and initiations withdrew 
souls from this mortal and material life, to re-unite them to the gods; 
and dissipated
for the adepts the shades of ignorance 'by the splendors of the Deity." 
Such were the precious fruits of the last Degree of the Mystic Science, 
- to see Nature in her springs and sources, and to become familiar with 
the causes of things and with real existences. 
Cicero says that the soul must exercise itself in the practice of the 
virtues, if it would speedily return to its place of origin. It should, while 
imprisoned in the body, free itself therefrom by the contemplation of 
superior beings, and in some sort be divorced from the body and the 
senses. Those who remain enslaved, subjugated by their passions and 
violating the sacred laws of religion and society, will re-ascend to 
Heaven, only after they shall have been purified through a long 
succession of ages. 
The Initiate was required to emancipate himself from his passions, and 
to free himself from the hindrances of the senses and of matter, in 
order that he might rise to the contemplation of the Deity, or of that 
incorporeal and unchanging light in which live and subsist the causes 
of created natures. "We must," says Porphyry, "flee from everything 
sensual, that the soul may with ease re-unite itself with God, and live 
happily with Him." "This is the great work of initiation," says Hierocles, - 
ôto recall the soul to what is truly good and beautiful, and make it 
familiar therewith, and they its own; to deliver it from the pains and ills 
it endures here below, enchained in matter as in a dark prison; to 
facilitate its return to the celestial splendors, and to establish it in the 
Fortunate Isles, by restoring it to its first estate. Thereby, when the 
hour of death arrives, the soul, freed of its mortal garmenting, which it 
leaves behind it as a legacy to earth, will rise buoyantly to its home 
among the Stars, there to re-take its ancient condition, and approach 
toward the Divine nature as far as man may do." 
Plutarch compares Isis to knowledge, and Typhon to ignorance, 
obscuring the light of the sacred doctrine whose blaze lights the soul of 
the Initiate. No gift of the gods, he holds, is so precious as the 
knowledge of the Truth, and that of the Nature of the gods, so far as 
our limited capacities allow us to rise toward them. The Valentinians 
termed initiation LIGHT. The Initiate, says Psellus, becomes an Epopt, 
when admitted to see THE DIVINE LIGHTS. Clemens of Alexandria, 
imitating the language of an Initiate in the Mysteries of Bacchus, and 
inviting this Initiate, whom he terms blind like Tiresias, to come to see 
Christ, Who will
blaze upon his eyes with greater glory than the Sun, exclaims: "Oh 
Mysteries most truly holy! Oh pure Light! When the torch of the 
Dadoukos gleams, Heaven and the Deity are displayed to my eyes! I 
am initiated, and become holy!" This was the true object of initiation; to 
be sanctified, and TO SEE, that is, to have just and faithful conceptions 
of the Deity, the knowledge of Whom was THE LIGHT of the Mysteries. 
It was promised the Initiate at Samothrace, that he should become pure 
and just. Clemens says that by baptism, souls are illuminated, and led 
to the pure light with which mingles no darkness, nor anything material. 
The Initiate, become an Epopt, was called A SEER. "HAIL, NEWBORN 
LIGHT!" the Initiates cried in the Mysteries of Bacchus. 
Such was held to be the effect of complete initiation. It lighted up the 
soul with rays from the Divinity, and became for it, as it were, the eye 
with which, according to the Pythagoreans, it contemplates the field of 
Truth; in its mystical abstractions, wherein it rises superior to the body, 
whose action on it, it annuls for the time, to re-enter into itself, so as 
entirely to occupy itself with the view of the Divinity, and the means of 
coming to resemble Him. 
Thus enfeebling the dominion of the senses and the passions over the 
soul, and as it were freeing the latter from a sordid slavery, and by the 
steady practice of all the virtues, active and contemplative, our ancient 
brethren strove to fit themselves to return to the bosom of the Deity. Let 
not our objects as Masons fall below theirs. We use the symbols which 
they used; and teach the same great cardinal doctrines that they 
taught, of the existence of an intellectual God, and the immortality of 
the soul of man. If the details of their doctrines as to the soul seem to 
us to verge on absurdity, let us compare them with the common notions 
of our own day, and be silent. If it seems to us that they regarded the 
symbol in some cases as the thing symbolized, and worshipped the 
sign as if it were itself Deity, let us reflect how insufficient are our own 
ideas of Deity, and how we worship those ideas and images formed 
and fashioned in our own minds, and not the Deity Himself: and if we 
are inclined to smile at the importance they attached to lustrations and 
fasts, let us pause and inquire whether the same weakness of human 
nature does not exist to-day, causing rites and ceremonies to be 
regarded as actively efficient for the salvation of souls.
And let us ever remember the words of an old writer, with which we 
conclude this lecture: "It is a pleasure to stand on the shore, and to see 
ships tossed upon the sea: a pleasure to stand in the window of a 
castle, and see a battle and the adventures thereof: but no pleasure is 
comparable to the standing on the vantage-ground of TRUTH (a hill not 
to be commanded, and where the air is always clear and serene), and 
to see the errors and wanderings, and mists and tempests, in the vale 
below; so always that this prospect be with pity, and not with swelling or 
pride. Certainly it is Heaven upon Earth to have a man's mind move in 
charity, rest in Providence, AND TURN UPON THE POLES OF 

MORALS and DOGMA by Albert Pike | Go to BOOK INDEX

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