I - FOREWORD.
In the two previous parts of this book a certain reticence had
to be observed with regard to points of the ritual belonging to
the Third Degree, in order that they might be read by those
who had not yet been raised. Now, however, a more general
review of the whole ritual becomes possible and before
proceeding to take the Third Degree in detail it will be
advantageous to refer briefly to the origin of the Craft, as far
as we know it, and incidentally to the origin of the modern
(a) The Origin of Freemasonry.
It is a truism that Freemasonry has been handed down to us
from the civilization of Ancient Egypt, but there is a tendency
to assume that, this being admitted, all is said, Bro.
Churchward was, I believe, the first to call attention to the
occurrence of masonic signs and symbols among primitive
peoples,' but even he assumes that Freemasonry developed
entirely owing to Egyptian influences.
As knowledge of what were formerly regarded as pre-historic
times develops, however, it becomes increasingly evident
that Ancient Egypt owed much of its culture to Asia Minor,
and even the cult of Osiris is now considered to be of foreign
extraction. I do not propose to enter here into the discussion
of a matter which is still a bone of contention between rival
schools, but it should be noted that evidence of Canaanitish
and other Asiatic influences in the masonic ritual may be
pre-Egyptian, and not necessarily picked up on the way from
Heliopolis to London.
It does not come within the scope of this book to trace the
history of the Craft down to modern times, but it is absolutely
necessary that its extreme antiquity be thoroughly
appreciated. Let us therefore consider very briefly the
evidence of this antiquity and its effect on the ritual.
The salient features of the masonic ritual are as follows:- the
i ... e is made to appear as a hum.., mis. . figure in the d ... t
ig ... e; by i ... n he is given l. . t. Later he is figuratively k ... d
and r .... d. This is not by any means peculiar to
Freemasonry. Identical ceremonies are practised to this day
among the most primitive peoples during i ... n into the
mysteries of life and magic (usually a puberty), or into some
secret society, claiming magical powers. They are world-
wide and occur, for example, amongst the Indians of North
America, (2) the African negro, (3) the Australian aborigine,
(4) and the South Sea Islander. (5) They were, we know,
characteristic of the mysteries taught by the Ancient
Egyptians, (6) by the Aztecs of South America, (7) by the
Greeks and Romans, (8) and by the Druids. (9) Among all
primitive peoples also, women are rigorously excluded from
the ceremonies, our signs are to be found in association with
them all over the world, and there are many minor points of
resemblance to our ritual found in them.
Instances of the latter are given in the notes on the individual
points; here we are concerned with the broader aspect, and
it is evident even from this that Freemasonry in its main
features is as old as man, and is identical in origin with the
magical rites of primitive man.
Now to understand these ceremonies we must first learn
something about primitive thought, and the writer is fortunate
in that he has had the opportunity during the past 16 years of
studying the tribes of Central Africa in their own homes, and
so of getting at any rate a slight insight into the working of
The savage is a very practical person; he is not concerned
with metaphysics, and when we find him taking infinite
trouble to carry out elaborate ceremonies at considerable
inconvenience we may be sure that he has, or had, some
definite object in view. His needs are few and may be
summed up in two words - Food and Sexual Vigour; and the
one is closely connected with the other. These two needs
are in the writer's view the mainspring of the magical
ceremonies he performs even at the present day: if food is
scarce he will recourse to Magic to increase the quantity or
the ease with which it may be obtained, - it is his primary
If, however, he lives in a fertile country, where food is easily
obtained, his great desire is to procreate as many children
as possible, for protection against enemies, for the sake of
their help in work, and for self-glorification.
These two objects are closely connected because in the
primitive conception of "religion" the spirit immanent in
vegetation, which causes it to blossom in the spring, is the
same as that which causes woman to become pregnant, -
the savage makes no great distinction between the fruit of
the tree and that of the womb; there is a mysterious
something which lies behind both, and which can be
influenced by Magic.
We find as a result that these magic rites may be classified
roughly into two broad categories - Food-rites, and what we
may call for want of a better term "Sex-rites."
The Food-rites in their most primitive form are found among
the aborigines of Australia where they have been closely
studied by Messrs. Spencer and Gillen. (10) There each
tribe is sub-divided into Clans each of which is concerned
with a special part of the food-supply; this forms its totem,
which can be influenced only by that clan. The rites are
governed by the laws of "Imitative" or "Sympathetic" Magic,
founded on the assumption that like produces like; for
example, the almost invariable principle in a spell for causing
rain is the pouring out of water, particularly from a height. So
the pantomimic multiplication of any item of the food supply
will re-act favourably on its increase.
The significance of the ritual of d. and r. which occurs in so
many of these ceremonies is differently interpreted by
anthropologists. One school led by Sir James Frazer, holds
that this part of the ceremony is also governed by
Sympathetic Magic and that the r. of the victim from "a fig.
d." is designed to cause a similar r. of the vegetation from its
winter d.. Sir William Ridgeway, (11) on the other hand, is of
opinion "that the initiation rites are superimposed on the
food-rite and are connected with ancestor worship. The
candidate is made one with his forefathers and is thereby
qualified to be instructed in the mysteries of the clan."
There is a similar divergence of opinion, also, as to the
subsequent development of the rite, and Ridgeway sees
nothing but a hero-cult in the ancient mysteries of the near
East, while Frazer regards the victim in these rites as the
Corn God evolved out of the Spirit of Nature.
The writer's experience favours Ridgeway's interpretation of
the drama of d. and r. in the primitive ceremonies, but the
strong agricultural cast of the Mysteries (e.g., of Eleusis and
Ancient Egypt) favours Frazer's theory, though doubtless the
central figure may often be identified with a deified hero.
Strictly speaking, primitive peoples have no religion; they
merely practise Magic so as to influence the processes of
Nature, and the spirits of their ancestors are invoked (or
rather bribed) to assist. Only the spirits of Chiefs, and
especially Magician-Chiefs, are, however, appealed to, and,
further, living man also claims to be able to influence the
elements without their assistance: it is essentially a coercive
On the other hand in some tribes the prayers addressed to
the ghosts merely ask their intercession with a great Spirit of
Life: here the scattered spirits imminent in all forms of life or
movement are becoming centralized into a kind of vague
Pan-Theism, and coercion is giving way to solicitation. Then
as man becomes more "civilized" he begins to grow his own
food instead of depending entirely on that provided by
unassisted Nature, and the Spirit of Life tends to become
identified with the Corn. The planting of the seed, by
association of ideas, implies the annual d. and b. of the God,
while the sprouting ears indicate his r..
The Myth of Osiris, the God of the R. in Egypt, and a
prototype of H.A.B., would appear to have evolved on these
lines, whether the god himself was identified with a deified
king or hero or not, is immaterial.
As a Corn-God, he is often represented on the monuments
as a mummy from which corn is sprouting when awakened
by a stream of water. (12) His funeral rites were observed
annually in December, and in the early part of these the
performance of ploughing and sowing was enacted by his
priests; an image of the god, made of earth and containing
corn, was buried, which on sprouting would cause the crops
of the people to do the same, - a magical ceremony
persisting in a religious cult. (13) As a Corn-God, moreover,
he was often identified with the Moon owing to the supposed
influence of that planet on rain, (14) and in Egypt on the
inundation of the Nile. (15) After the institution of the Solar
Cult Osiris became the God of the R ... n and judge of the
Dead; the transition of a Corn-God who "gave his body to
save the people" (16) to the agent of a life after death was
an easy one, but in the process he absorbed many of the
attributes of Horus, the ancient God of Egypt and Abyssinia.
After death every Egyptian was at this period identified with
Osiris, he even adopted his name in order to assume his
attributes; by this expedient be was enabled to defeat the
evil powers which sought to bar his entrance into, and
passage through, Amenta, the Abode of the Dead. Hence, in
the mysteries, which were a dramatic representation of the
soul's passage through Amenta, the initiate was made to
enact the d. . and r. . of Osiris; we have an account of these
in the Book of the Dead to which reference is frequently
made in this work.
The Grecian gods Bacchus and Adonis were originally
identical with Osiris, just as Demeter and Persephone
correspond to Isis, the Egyptian Corn-Mother. These
retained their original character as deities of the corn to a
greater degree than the Egyptian gods, and the Mysteries of
Eleusis therefore were of a more primitive type than those of
Egypt. Thus the aspirant at Eleusis at the supreme moment
was shown an ear of corn as the central Mystery. (17)
It was, I would suggest, at this period that the allegory of the
ancient Mysteries was essentially an agricultural one,
representing the three phases of planting, harvest and
fallow, each degree presided over by an officer personating
one of the seasons of the year. * This hypothesis would
involve an annual cycle instead of the later, daily one, and to
account for the positions of the three principal officers in this
cult, therefore, we must look for a heavenly body which
would be in the East, West and South at these seasons,
which was known to primitive peoples and was used by them
as a calendar. Such is the constellation known as the
Pleiades. This marks the beginning of the planting season by
its rising in the East at sunset, the harvest by its setting in
the West in the evening, and the fallow resting season by its
disappearance from the night sky and later by its position on
the meridian at sunset. These would be appropriately
indicated by placing the W.M. in the East as representing the
early growth (r ... n) of the corn or the planting (burial) of the
seed; the S.W. in the West as personifying the harvest which
"sees that every b. has had his due," and the J.W. in the
South (or below the horizon) at the period of refreshment
after labour (after the harvest) or of the summons from
refreshment to labour at the beginning of the planting
These positions of the Pleiades would be correct for North
Africa in antiquity, though slightly different there now owing
to the precession of the equinoxes. Further, not only do we
know that the ancient Egyptians did make this use of the
Pleiades - they called it Maia, whence our month of May, -
but it is so used to this day by primitive peoples all over the
world. Every savage tribe, in both hemispheres, whether
they have named other stars or not, has a name for this
constellation and dates the seasons from its arrival in certain
positions ; many of them worship it. I would submit that such
a conjunction of significant facts cannot be due to mere
It should be mentioned, moreover, that such an origin of the
positions of the officers would account for a curious phrase
occurring in the Second Lecture in some rituals. This is to
the effect that the J.W. is placed in the South "to mark the
place of the sun below the horizon," - a quaint conception
having neither astronomical nor mythological sanction,
whereas in many parts of the world the disappearance of the
Pleiades is looked for as one of the signs of the seasons.
We see then that there is at least a prima facie case that the
Hiramic legend evolved not only from the Osirian myth but
from the magical ceremonies of primitive man: that such is
actually the case is the writer's belief.
There remains the primitive Sex-rite. This is mainly
concerned with the fertility of man though it is not always
possible to determine into which category any given
ceremony should be put, - the one is apt to merge into the
other, so closely are they allied. The ceremonies into which
the writer has been admitted among the WaYao in Central
Africa, however, belong definitely to the group of sex-rites,
and here the prototype of the Legend is missing. This tribe
endeavour to ensure fertility by pantomime and by the
construction of effigies made of earth, which, misunderstood,
might be regarded as grossly obscene. There is, however,
no idea of obscenity in their minds; the construction of a
phallus, of the yoni, of the effigy of a pregnant woman, etc.,
are merely intended to cause the people and particularly the
initiates to be prolific, acting through sympathetic magic. The
use of the phallus as a symbol of strength is a perfectly
natural one and has persisted into very recent times, while
the yoni, represented by a horseshoe, from similarity in
shape, is still nailed up over the door of stables and cow-
sheds as a charm to ensure the fertility of the cattle.
The connection between such a rite and Freemasonry is not
so obvious as that between the Food-rite and our ritual, but
there are still traces of it, as, for example, the pillars. (19) It
is of no little interest to note, therefore, that two of our signs,
that of g. and d. (Scotch), and the h.s. are used by the
WaYao in their ceremonies as well as the p.s. of an E.A. in
making a solemn asservation; moreover, a g. is dug, the
seat of the Master of the Ceremonies is in the East (facing
the West), the initiates pass from East to West, through two
pillars, and there are other minor points of resemblance.
Although, too, the cand. is not specifically k. and r., he is
definitely regarded as reborn and he becomes quite a
different personality from his former uninitiated self: his
whole mode of life is changed and he is given a new name.
At a dramatic moment in the ceremony he is seized and
carried off from his parents and they neither see nor hear
anything further of him for some weeks, or even months.
This period of seclusion is one of intensive culture; he is
indeed led to contemplate the intellectual faculties while the
secrets of his tribe and clan are "permitted to be unfolded" to
his "view." The later rites in which he is brought back by the
spirits and restored to his family are essentially a r. or rebirth
- "an emblematical representation" of a re-entry on his
In the cult of Osiris these phallic rites are also found as in the
great Asiatic religions, including India. There is therefore no
greater gap to be bridged between the primitive rites and
Masonry, in this respect, than in others. Space permits only
a brief reference to a very big subject, but more evidence of
the origin of Freemasonry in these ancient rites will be given
under specific headings.
There remain the operative features of Freemasonry. Bro.
Churchward (20) considers it is probable that these are due
partly to the Edfu metal workers in Ancient Egypt, and partly
to the priestly expedient of initiating the builders of the
temples into the lower mysteries as a means of preserving
the secrets of their construction. It may be mentioned that
guilds are found among the most primitive peoples,
especially of metal-workers, and those of Edfu were a
foreign cult who probably introduced the use of metal into
Egypt in prehistoric times: note in this connection the P.W. of
the 3rd Degree and the profession of H.A.B., who was not an
architect. The link in the operative features of Freemasonry
between Egypt and the modern Craft is probably, as Bro.
Ward suggests, (21) through the Comacine Brotherhoods
and the builders of the cathedrals.
(b) The Origin of the Modern Ritual.
Although the antiquity of the ceremonies comprising the
essence of the masonic ritual is thus well established, there
can be no doubt that a large proportion of the ritual itself is
foreign to them and is of comparatively recent introduction. A
brief review of the later history of the Craft, as far as it is
known, is therefore necessary.
The year 1717, when the first Grand Lodge was founded,
formed a turning point in the modern history of the Craft.
Before this period Freemasonry was little more than an
operative body observing certain ancient forms, mostly
derived from Sun-worship, and possibly embodying the last
remnants of Druidism. This operative body differed from
other similar associations of craftsmen in the possession of
these forms and in that it welcomed non-operative members
to a greater extent than they; these "gentlemen-masons"
were admitted at once to full participation in the secrets of
the Craft, (22) the apprentices being, latterly at any rate, all
operative members. The Freemasons of the Middle Ages,
also, were probably architects rather than stone-masons,
and there is no doubt that the operative members of the
Craft were artists rather than artisans. The prefix "free" was
not peculiar to Masonry and other guilds called themselves
Free Carpenters, Free Sewers, Free Vintners, Free
Dredgers, Free Miners, and so on; it meant that the member
of any of them was free to exercise his trade by virtue of due
service and qualification. (23)
In the latter end of the seventeenth century it would appear
that the numbers of nonoperative members increased, and
early in the following century the great wave of prosperity
commenced which placed Freemasonry on a different
footing from all its fellow societies. Apparently at this time
there was a general revival of mysticism, as represented by
other societies of more religious or magical character, both
in England and on the Continent, and it is probable that our
modern ritual is to some extent the product of a grafting on
to Freemasonry of the features of some of these. It was
probably at this period that the ceremonies tended to
assume more of a religious character and the practice arose
of searching the Old Testament for customs similar to
Masonic ones and of interpreting the latter in their light, thus
giving to "heathen" rites an odour of sanctity acceptable to
neophytes professing the established religion, - the age old
practice of finding new explanations for ancient but
incomprehensible customs. It would be at this period that the
Bible was introduced as part of the "furniture" of the Lodge,
which, in the English Constitution, eventually led to the
abolition of the altar or Cubic Stone in the Craft Lodges ;
then, too, the story of the b..g of K.S.T. and of the t.. of B..
(24) were adopted as exemplifying the earliest recorded
work of masons. By a natural transition biblical notabilities
were soon claimed as having been Freemasons, particularly
those concerned in the b..g of K.S.T., which gradually
became identified with Freemasonry to the exclusion of the
t.. of B...
It is said that the third degree containing the ancient mystery
of d. . and r. . n was added to Craft Freemasonry about the
year 1720, (25) though others state that it formed part of the
ceremonies at a much earlier date. It was probably derived
from one of the descendants of the ancient higher mysteries
and was adapted to the legend of H.A.B. in order to bring it
into conformity with the remodelled ritual: it is said that the
Hiramic legend was taken from a Jewish MSS. in the
University Library of Cambridge which was published at the
end of the 17th Century. (26) Whatever its immediate source
there is, as we have seen, no doubt as to the antiquity of the
custom of making the i..e personify a victim.
While the evidence appears conclusive that this brief sketch
would represent the true story of the origin of our present
ritual, it should be borne in mind that this evidence is almost
entirely circumstantial and is not accepted by all. Still,
however debatable the immediate sources of our modern
ritual may be, it is rather the ultimate origins of individual
parts which concern us here, in so far as such knowledge
helps us to understand their meaning; we are dealing with
the ritual as it stands, and the vexed question as to how
much of it is genuinely "masonic" need not further concern
This brings me to my last point in regard to the ritual as a
whole, - it should be mentioned that there is a large number
of printed versions in existence, but none which has been
authorized by Grand Lodge. Some of these contain errors
both of omission and of commission; many lodges have their
own, unwritten, form of working, and the rituals of the various
national constitutions also show great differences. In the
English Constitution those most commonly followed are the
Logic and the Emulation, and it is fortunate that they have
evidently been compiled by brethren possessing more
respect for the ancient "landmarks" than some of the others.
Perhaps the worst in this respect is the "Revised Ritual" by
"An Old Past Master," (27) the author of which states in his
preface that he does not know what a " landmark " is, and
acts up to this confession by deleting from the ritual many
points of great importance, and by making sundry
misstatements of a very gross kind. It is to be regretted all
the more for otherwise this version has much to commend it;
the general arrangement is evidently the result of long
experience, and it is in many ways a valuable contribution to
the smooth working of the Craft Degrees.
* The ancient Egyptians, like the modern savage, recognised
only three seasons, each corresponding to a phase of
(1) " Without scruple or diffidence."
I do not think anybody would suggest that the modern
craftsman shows either scruple or diffidence when receiving
his wages as this phrase would seem, on the face of it, to
imply. When considered in the light of an agricultural allegory
as suggested, (28) however, it at once becomes intelligible,
and we can see that the F.C. is "justly entitled" to the reward
of his labour in ploughing and planting the corn, and that he
would reap it at the harvest "without scruple, well knowing
that he was justly entitled" to it. Similarly in "receiving his
due" he would not be "diffident" as he above all others
should place "great reliance" in the Author of his gain.
(2) The P. W.
In a work on ancient ecclesiastical history (29) the following
occurs, "By a singular lapsus linguae the moderns have
substituted T.C. in the 3rd Degree for tymboxein, 'to be
entombed.' This in the ancient catechesis Arcani was the
p.w. from the symbolical representation of the state of d. h to
the restored and undying existence." Unfortunately no
authority is quoted for the statement that this p.w. was used
in the Mysteries, for if it is correct it would imply either that
masonry obtained the p.w. of this degree from the Grecian
mysteries, or that both obtained a word resembling it in
sound from some common source.
The word c. in Arabic, Hebrew and indeed all Syrian
languages, means "blacksmith" or any "smith," though in
Hebrew another word similarly pronounced means
"acquisition" (Cheyne). The word t. is derived from a Persian
word, meaning "dross" or "scoria of metal, (esp.) of iron or
copper," a word in common use to this day in Persian, Arabic
and other languages of the near East. As in so many
instances an allegorical title has in translating the Old
Testament been mistaken for the name of an actual person,
for the name itself means "a w. in m..Is." The connection with
H.A.B. is obvious.
Bro. Churchward boldly states that the Egyptian P.W. was
"Horus-Behutet." (30) He says, "Any brother who is
interested will find all in the Ritual of Ancient Egypt" (i.e., the
Book of the Dead); all I can find is that Horus - (or Heru -)
Behutet was the god of the metal-workers at Edfu (i.e.,
ancient Teb), as is also apparent from an inscription in the
temple in that place; e.g., "Heru-Behutet arrived . . . . and his
followers in the form of workers in metal." That the metal-
workers brought into Egypt this useful art as well as that of
brickmaking is not in doubt, but this is not proof that their
god's name was used as a p.w., even if we assume that the
prototype of the god was a man and "the first artificer in
It would seem probable, however, that the ancient p.w. had
reference to an artificer, mythical, if not deified, and possibly
dating back to the close of the stone age. As already
mentioned, iron-workers often form guilds among primitive
people ; in some cases they constitute a separate clan, even
a cult, while they are everywhere treated with marked
respect. Among the African tribe with which the writer has
been most associated, the iron-workers until recently
constituted a distinct clan having considerable political
power; they were called the Wachisi or "The People of the
Darkness." It is possibly from such a society, as for example
that at Edfu, that Freemasonry derived its operative
character in the first place; the more peculiarly architectural
traits may have been added later by the priests, though the
evidence as to this is not irrefutable. We know that the
Mysteries as a whole were astronomical in expression
though deeply religious in meaning, but it should be noted
that mason's tools were depicted in hieroglyphics with a
symbolic meaning so that their occurrence in the mysteries
(or indeed in Freemasonry) may have no special
significance, any more than the wafer amongst ourselves as
typifying thinness, or a board as symbolic of flatness.
III. THE CEREMONY OF RAISING.
(1) "... applies the p. . of the c... to b..b..ts.
The object of this procedure is probably the same as the
application of the p. in the 1st Degree, that is, it is a relic of
the ordeals the candidate had to undergo in ancient times.
The sq. should also be used Enter . on the sq. and c.
combined as the esoteric meaning of the masonic symbol is
not complete until they are combined.
In the absence of the cubic stone this ceremony has rather
lost its point. In all the ancient mysteries this perambulation
was observed and a similar custom is common in both
religious and magical ceremonies; the number of rounds is
usually either three or seven. It was until quite recent years
common in all parts of the British Isles especially in regard to
"holy" wells, and in many parts of the world the fields were
annually protected by means of a procession carrying lighted
torches; in Scotland this custom was observed on
Hallowe'en up to the last century. (31) The rule appears to
be that when a blessing is intended the course of the sun is
followed, but in black magic the perambulation was
performed against the sun, which has the general meaning
of Death. Muslims, however, perambulate the Kaaba at
Mecca seven times against the sun, and the WaYao (Central
Africa) do the same round a model of the sacred mountain.
Here the form of going through the lodges of the E.A. and
F.C. is observed in the course of the perambulations, which
seems incorrect - the latter is and should be observed as a
(3) The Can. gives the P.W. to the S.W..
The P.W. should be given to the W.M. who presides over the
M.M.'s Lodge. This is done, though by proxy (the candidate
not being put in possession of the P.W. until after the ob.) in
the Scotch ritual.
(4) S ... n st.ps.
Note that these s. ps are divided into groups of t. . and f. .
the meaning of which has already been explained (sq. and
tri..) (32) Bro. Ward, in his book "Who was H.A.B.?" recently
published, * suggests that the form of these s. ps is
connected with re-incarnation or rebirth, and quotes similar
customs which undoubtedly have this significance. Among
most primitive peoples, however, s....g over a g. like this
would be an unthinkable action and an insult to the d. d. It is
possible that they have a more materialistic origin and that
formerly the s. . ps of the 2nd Degree were performed on a
square, by walking round the angle, and those of the 3rd
Degree on the sq. and c. combined by s. . g on the corners
of the figure thus made. Until quite recently chalk or charcoal
drawings were executed on the floor on which the s. . ps
were carried out, though we have no information as to the
subject of these drawings.
(5) The ob: "Lodge duly opened on the centre."
In the centre of the Lodge is the Eye, the symbol of Osiris.
The dead god was said to be situated at the Pole-star,
guarded by the Seven Masters who revolved about him,
never setting (Renouf) (33); in this aspect he was
symbolised by the point within a circle. Osiris, as God of the
R ... n was the possessor of the s. sought by the candidate
in the Mysteries, which s. he would therefore expect to find
"on the centre" and in the Lodge "opened on the centre." (Cf.
the opening in the 3rd Degree).
(6) " My foot shall traverse."
Some commentators have taken exception to the use of the
word "traverse" on the grounds that it means "cross, thwart,
oppose"; they appear to have overlooked the old English
meaning of the word preserved in the nautical expression
"traverse sailing," i.e., tacking or following a zig-zag course.
It is not impossible that the wording is deliberate and has
reference to the s. ps of this degree, symbolic of adherence
to the "principles of the sq. and c . . . s." (34)
(6) The principal Architect.
This is not strictly true : H.A.B. was, of course, a worker in
metals. The title H.A.B. is taken direct from the Hebrew of 2
Chron., IV., 16, and means " H. his father." ** H. means
"Exaltation of life, their liberty or whiteness, he that
destroys"; it is of interest to note that abib in Hebrew means
"ears of corn," or "green fruits," and there is just a possibility
that this is the correct title of H..
(7) Fifteen F. C's.
There must be some reason for this number especially as it
recurs in the number of F.C ... S. who were sent out to
search for the missing H.. In the hope of finding a clue in the
myth of the d. of Osiris I have searched the authorities, but
the only reference to the number of conspirators I have been
able to find is in Plutarch's "Isis et Osiris." (35) Here the
number is given as 72, which possibly refers to the number
of hours during which the moon is absolutely invisible, day or
night; - there is, of course, very little doubt that the myth of
Osiris owes many of its details to the period when Osiris was
especially identified with the moon, witness the 14 pieces
into which he was cut up (i.e., the 14 days of the waning
moon), his age when murdered - 28, and other points. (36)
Now in the masonic legend there are three in ... rs, and 72
hours = 3 days, and without pressing the point unduly there
is at least a possibility that a lunar month of thirty days has
been taken in the masonic legend, half of them being
allegorized as conspirators and the other 15 being sent out
in search of the d. . Master, while the three m.. rs represent
the three days when the planet is not seen. There is no
mention in the Osirian myth of any of the conspirators having
relented, all the 72 being regarded as m. . rs, but if only
three out of 15 are regarded as the actual m. . rs, as in our
ritual, the transition of the remainder into 12 who relented is
The influence of the moon on growth is, in all parts of the
world, regarded as different in effect according as she is
waxing or waning; during the first half of the lunar month
growth is stimulated, in the latter half, retarded." Care must
be taken, say the wiseacres, to choose a phase of the moon
favourable o the character of the work in hand ; agriculture,
building and marriage, for instance, being relegated to the
period before full moon, haircutting and felling of trees being
better performed during the wane. (38) The same
superstition was prevalent in Egypt, and the 15th day of the
month was observed as a special festival, marking the acme
of the moon's influence, as we learn from the Book of the
Dead. (39) There is therefore some warrant for the
suggested origin of the recurrent figure of 15, though the
hypothesis is put forward merely as a suggestion, tentatively.
(8) The Entrances of the Temple.
In the English ritual the three doors at which the m..rs were
posted are given as S., N. and E.; in that of the Scotch
Constitution they are E., W. and S.. Both are agreed in this,
that the fatal blow was struck in the East. The reason for the
difference in the Scotch ritual would appear to be the custom
still observed in some lodges of enacting the m. . r, instead
of merely relating it, the three principal officers taking the
parts of the assassins; thus the cand. is taken first to the
South, then to the West, and is finally despatched by the
W.M. in the East.
The assignment of two of the entrances to the North and
South in the English ritual (and, I think, probably in the old
Scotch ritual) betrays the influences of the Solar cult, in
which the Sun was said to be in difficulties at both the
northern and southern solstices, and, in the northern
hemisphere at least, was said to die and be reborn at the
latter. The difficulties encountered by H.A.B. at the North and
South gates are therefore easily understandable; if he had
been finally despatched in the South the allegory would
obviously have referred to the annual death of the sun,
whereas his d. in the West would refer to the daily d. of that
body. Both views would have ample authority.
All rituals agree, however, that he received his d.-blow in the
East, and one is tempted at first to regard this as being so
arranged as to allow the W.M. to conduct the ceremony, and
is a mistake. Reference to the myth of Osiris, however,
shows that in the annual mourning for the god they lamented
"him who was born on the right side of the world, and who
perished on the left." (40) Now in all texts the front of the
world was the South (khent), the West is the right side
(unemi), and the East is the left (abti) (41); thus Osiris was
mourned as one who was born in the West and perished in
the East, --obviously in reference to the moon.
These facts would supply an explanation of the statement in
all rituals that H.A.B. was killed in the East, and, incidentally,
would be evidence that the Scotch ritual is wrong in
introducing the West as one of the entrances: for though the
North and South may be added in another (solar) mythology
as places where the god received injury, the West could not
be associated with the East in the same sense, but as the
birth-place of the older god would rather tend to be omitted
as in the English ritual.
(9) Without the consent of the other two.
This refers, of course, to the unity of the Trinity, - without one
the others are not. The absurdity of the statement is excused
by its allegorical meaning, but the whole story is badly
conceived. Companions of the R.A. will here note a parallel
to the method of communication of the w. in that degree.
(10) The parts of the b. of H.A.B. struck.
Some rituals make the blows correspond to the penal s. of
the first two degrees, the first m. striking him across the t.,
and the second across the b.. If any alteration be desirable
this version has something to recommend it as bringing the
three degrees together, and supplying a reason for the pp. .
of the other two. I would hazard a suggestion, also, that the
penalty of the third is of modern invention, and that the
earlier one is the, - shall we say capital one, of at least two
higher degrees; this would be more in keeping also with the
ritual as it stands.
In the Scotch ritual the reference to the R. and L.K.s is
pointed by recalling the attitude of the cand. in taking the ob.
of the first and second degrees.
(11) " . . . laid him l. at his feet."
In the Scotch and some other Constitutions the ritual up to
this point is merely related. The cand. then leaves the Lodge
and on his readmittance the m.. of H.A.B. and the search for
his b. . is enacted by the whole Lodge, the three principals
taking the chief parts. This has the merit of making the
narration of the traditional story continuous, instead of being
broken up as in the English ritual by the charge and the
communication of the s. and w..
(12) The grip of the I... or I ... like hold.
There is a regrettable tendency in some rituals to lose this
landmark, for landmark it is. Thus we find throughout the
Book of the Dead the Supreme God, whether Ra or Osiris,
appealed to as the "god in the Lion form;" always in such
cases the prayer is that the soul of the departed be permitted
to "come forth" in the East, rising with the Sun from the d ... s
of the g.. The lion, in Egypt, as nowadays, was the
personification of strength and power, but it was almost
exclusively associated with the regeneration of the Sun and
so with the r..n. Thus Sbu (Anheyu, "the Lifter") who, as the
light of the Dawn, was said to lift up the sky-goddess from
the arms of the sleeping Earth, is often represented as a
Lion, for only through him was the rebirth of the Sun made
possible. Osiris is called the Lion of Yesterday, and Ra the
Lion of To-morrow (42); the bier of Osiris is always
represented as having the head and legs of the lion, and so
It was probably from the same association of ideas that the
first sign of the Zodiac entered by the sun after the summer
solstice was named the Lion, though here the power of
Osiris in causing the inundation of the Nile, which began at
this season, may also have been allegorized.
The propriety of the expression "l.. -like gr." or "hold" in
specifying that which r. . the cand. from a figurative d. is
evident from the above. It has survived from the Solar cult
and is eminently a landmark which should be restored to all
(13) The Morning Star.
This is a figurative allusion to Sirius or Sothis, the dog-star,
which by its rising at dawn brought tidings of the
approaching inundation, and so Peace and Salvation to the
whole of Egypt. It was only the inundation of the Nile which
kept Egypt from becoming a desert like the surrounding
(14) The w..ds.
It should be noted not only that there are alternative words,
but that they have the same general form, their consonants
being identical, suggesting that they are but slightly different
form's of the same word. It is more than probable that one of
these words was that used by the "Ancients" and the other
by the "Moderns," and that they were bracketed at the time
of the Union.
In their present form the first has no meaning in Hebrew and
the second is a proper name occurring in the Old Testament.
It is the belief of the writer that the latter was adopted
because it was the only word occurring in the Authorised
Version of the Bible resembling the original word: whether
this was done by the Ancients or by the Modems there is no
evidence to show.
Now in the ritual we are given the words and their
"meanings," and since neither as it stands can have the
meaning given it follows that either a word having that
meaning has become corrupt, or that a wrong meaning has
been given to the word; in the latter case also there is no
guarantee that the original word has not been distorted. It
has been seen that spurious meanings are given in our ritual
to some Masonic words (as, for example, the P.W.s ***) and
the writer has found the same thing to have happened in
some of the "higher" degrees. It is submitted, therefore, that
in the present instance the same process has most probably
occurred and that the real meaning is different from that
given in the ritual. Obviously in such a matter and under
such circumstances no dogmatic statement can be made,
but it may be mentioned that Hebrew words meaning "the
son is d." and "Alas, my (or the) son is d." have very nearly
the same sound as the M.M's. words, and further that two
tenses of an Arabic verb identical with these two words
mean, literally, "not dying" and "we did not die" respectively.
Any of these meanings would be singularly apposite, the first
relating to the prototypes of H.A.B. (The Widow's Son)
mourned by the mother (Isis, Ishtar, etc.), and the others to
the subject of the degree.
(15) They formed ... three F. C. Lodges.
In the Scotch ritual an unspecified number is sent out in
search of the lost M., presumably in order that all the
brethren present at the ceremony may take part; the aprons
and white gloves of some rituals are there said to have been
worn by the 12 who recanted. In some old rituals this same
12 are sent out in search of the b., and they divide
themselves into four parties of three each. It is often stated
by writers on Freemasonry that 12 is the correct number,
having allusion to the 12 signs of the Zodiac.
(16) "Caught hold of a shrub ... which ... came easily out of
It seems probable that the compilers of the modern ritual
took this incident from the Aeneid, where Aeneas discovers
the body of the murdered Polydorus by accidentally plucking
up a shrub that was near him on the side of a hill. (43) The
two accounts are too much alike for mere coincidence,
especially when we find that in some rituals (e.g,, that of the
Scotch Constitution) the b. of H.A.B. is said to have been
found on the slopes of Mount Moriah. It is possible, however,
that the resemblance is due to a common origin.
The importance which even apparently insignificant details in
the ritual may possess as landmarks is well illustrated in the
"sprig" of Acacia. This tree was in ancient Egypt peculiarly
associated with the soul, and with Osiris as God of the
Resurrection; according to the most ancient accounts it was
an Acacia which grew up and enclosed his coffin - more
modern accounts state that it was either a tamarisk or a
sycamore. In the Egyptian Tale of the Two Brothers the hero
deposited his soul in an Acacia, and so intimately was his
fate bound up in it that he fell dead when it was cut down,
and came to life again when one of its seeds was thrown into
It may be mentioned, also, that the sacred character of this
tree is not by any means peculiar to Egypt; in Patagonia (45)
and in Arabia, (46) for instance, it is regarded as the
intermediary between this world and the next, and any
acacia near a village is always loaded with offerings. In India
(47) and many parts of Africa (48) its wood is essential for
the ceremonial making of fire by friction, and it is the Shittim
wood of the Old Testament, of which the Ark and Tabernacle
(18) Origin of casual and w..s.
As we shall see, many of these S.ns are found outside
Freemasonry and it is probable, therefore, that the details of
this part of the legend were invented to explain S., T. and
possibly W.s the meaning of which has been lost. The
injunction to observe incidents at the opening of the g. bears
a strong resemblance to a superstition frequently observed
even nowadays, - that of opening a sacred book at random
and taking an omen from the first words to meet the eye. So
in ancient times people were wont to take an omen from the
first words they heard after quitting the temple, as to whether
their petition would be granted. Plutarch mentions (49) that
the Egyptians "look upon children as endued with a kind of
faculty for divining" and "form omens and presages" from
their talk among themselves "especially if it be in a sacred
place." He states that this superstition originated from Isis
having obtained the first news of the fate of Osiris from some
children; by analogy, however, it is probable that this incident
in the myth was invented to explain an established custom.
(19) The S..ns.
It will be observed that the position of the r.b. in the first Cas.
S.n is identical with the final position of the same h. in the
English S.n of G. and D.: that of the Lh. is seen on Egyptian
monuments and in the vignettes, in association with a S.n
now belonging to a higher masonic degree, and made with
the r.. The second Cas. S.n is also found in Egyptian
pictures where it is used by those saluting Osiris in his coffin.
(50) The second part of the P. S.n is found in India where it
is used by Shiva (51): the navel is frequently regarded as
symbolical of the centre in Eastern and African thought; in
some Bantu (Central African) languages it is the only word
for "centre." There may also be an esoteric meaning having
reference to rebirth, which is a common rite, especially in
secret societies, in all parts of the world.
The S.n of G. and D. of the English Constitution is, I think,
misinterpreted; it should be a p. S.n. (52) The continental S.n
appears in some of our "Higher Degrees" with quite a
different, and, in my view, more correct interpretation. The
genuine S.n expressive of G. in a religious sense and of D.
in a secular, is almost certainly that used in Scotland, Ireland
and U.S.A.: it is found in the initiation ceremonies of the
WaYao to which reference has already been made, (53) with
a religious meaning, and in Ceylon (54) and Arabia (55) at
least as an appeal for assistance.
The S.n of J. and E. is the usual attitude or adoration or, with
one h., of salute, in the East ; in ancient Egypt it would
appear from the paintings to have been especially
appropriate to the Sun rising at dawn from the d. of the g.. It
probably has allusion to the attitude of Shu (the prototype of
Atlas) when raising the heavens at dawn.
It cannot be too strongly insisted upon that these Sns. were
not intended to be mere means of "proof," but were formerly
expressive of inarticulate feelings. They are just as much
symbols as the sq. and p. L, but differ in that they are deeply
religious. No doubt in Egypt they tended to become
conventionalized and may in the beginning have been
magical, but their persistence through the ages has been
due to their function of expressing abstract ideas of
dependence on the Great Spirit, worship and the like,
feelings which could not be clothed in words.
* Op. cit.. Chap. XXI..
** That is "His father, H."
*** See Part II. I. (5) and Part III. II. (2).
IV. - THE THIRD TRACING-BOARD.
(1) The Ornaments.
While there is evidence that these "ornaments" have
traditional sanction, the "explanations" given for them are
obviously modern, and have not even biblical authority
(a) The Porch.
The Porch or porpylon of the Egyptian temples was symbolic
of tattu, the Entrance to Amenta, represented by the two
p.rs, but there is no evidence whatever that it was duplicated
within the precincts; probably nothing more than "gateway"
was intended. (Lat. Porta, from which the word "porch" is
(b) The Dormer.
In all temples dedicated to the Sun the altar was so arranged
that a shaft of sunlight fell on it at noon or sunrise on the
occasion of a special festival, usually at one or other of the
solstices; obviously only when the sun was at its furthest
south or north could an annual festival be so marked: at
Stonehenge, for instance, the summer solstice was chosen.
Temples closed to the sky had a window in the roof
especially for this purpose, and I think there can be no doubt
that such is the "dormer" referred to in the ritual. The
reference to an annual festival at which special prayers were
offered tends to confirm this supposition.
(c) The square or Mosaic Pavement has already been
discussed (56); it was used in the Egyptian temples and the
occurrence of the word rizpah ("a tesselated pavement") in
Hebrew proves that it was known farther East also.
(2) The Coffin.
Some commentators have taken exception to this on the
ground that coffins were not used in Judea. That may be so
but, as everybody knows, the coffin was used in Egypt, and
it plays a very prominent part in the myth of Osiris, the
prototype of H.A.B.. The god was killed by being shut up in a
coffin by means of a stratagem (57): the coffin was then
thrown into the Nile and eventually became lodged in an
acacia which grew up and enclosed it. Out of the trunk of this
tree a pillar was made which still contained the coffin and the
body of the murdered god when discovered by Isis. (58) It is
therefore emphatically a landmark which should be retained
in the ritual.
V. - OPENING AND CLOSING THE LODGE.
"From the East ... towards the West."
This phrase and its concomitant in the closing, "From the
West," betrays the influence of the Solar cult, a daily cycle,
and refers to. the portal of d. . h in the West through which
the sun daily sinks, only by the passage of which the s. of
the M.M. can be attained.
It must be remembered that the modern arrangement of the
degrees is quite arbitrary and not identical with that of the
original ceremonies; this bit of the ritual ought to precede
that which now forms part of the lecture on the First Degree
(59) where the Freemason is said to be travelling from W. to
E. in search of a Master. That Master is Osiris in Amenta, to
reach whom the Freemason has first to pass the Western
Gate and then travel in an easterly direction.
1. "Signs and Symbols."
2. Frazer, "Balder the Beautiful," 11, 267 sqq., "Totemism
and Exogamy," III, 462 sqq., 487 sqq.; 505, 542, 546. 31.
3. "Balder the Beautiful," 11, 251 sqq.
4. Ibid., 227, 233 sq.; "Totemism," 1, 43 sq.
5. "Balder," 240, 243, sqq., 260. 34.
6. Frazer, "Adonis, Allis and Osiris," II, 85; 35. Churchward,
op. cit., 276; idem, "Arcana," 133.
7. Churchward, "Arcana," 40.
8. Frazer, "Spirits of the Corn and of the Wild,"
9. Mannhardt, "Baumkultus," 532 sqq
10. Baldwin Spencer & F. J. Gillen, "The Native Tribes of
11. Sir William Ridgeway, "Dramas and Dramatic Dances of
12. Paintings in the Temple of Isis at Philae; papyrus No.
3377, Louvre; inscription in Temple of Osiris at Denderah.
13. Inscr., T. of Osiris, Denderah.
14. Plutarch, "Isis et Osiris," XLI.
15. Ibid., XXXIL
16. "Adonis, Allis and Osiris," 11, 90.
17. Hippolytus, "Refutatio omnium haeresium," V, 8, p. 162
(Edit. Duncker & Schneidewin).
18. Frazer, "The Magic Art," 32; "Adonis, Attis and Osiris," I,
258; II, 41; "Spirits of the Corn", I. 45, 116, 122, 230 sqq. ;
id., "The Scapegoat," 262, 326.
19. Part I, VI, (3).
20. "Signs and Symbols," 340.
21. "Freemasonry and the Ancient Gods," Chap. XVIII.
22. Gould, "History of Freemasonry," I, 409.
23. Ibid., II, 153; III, 472.
24. Gateshead M.S.S. (1730), publ. "Masonic Magazine,"
25. Gould, op. cit. II, 365; III, 473.
26. Oliver, "The Historical Landmarks of Freemasonry", II,
27. Privately printed and published by Lewis, 13, Paternoster
28. Supra, I, (a).
29. "The Secret Discipline," ed. S. L. Knapp.
30. "Arcana," 61 ; "Signs and Symbols," 340.
31. "Balder the Beautiful," I, 233.
32. Part I, X, (6).
33. Renouf "Life-Work," IV, 49.
34. Phrase occurring in the ob.
35. Op. cit., XIII.
36. Plutarch, op. cit., XXII-XLIV.
37. "Adonis, Allis and Osiris," 11, 132.
38. Ibid., 133 sqq..
39. Chap. CXLIV.
40. Plutarch, op. cit., XXXII.
41. Budge, "Egyptian Literature," I, 230, notes 2 and 3; 240,
42. Renouf, "Life-Work," IV, 46.
43. Op. cit., III, 22 sqq.
44. Flinders-Petrie, "Egyptian Tales," 2nd Series, 36 sqq.
45. "The Magic Art," II, 16.
46. Ibid., 42.
47. Ibid., 249.
48. Ibid., 210.
49. "Isis et Osiris," XIV.
50. E.g. Papyrus 9908, British Museum; painting at Theb.
51. Ward, "Freemasonry and the Ancient Gods," illus.
52. Supra, III, 10.
53. Supra, III, (a).
54. Ward, "Freemasonry and the Ancient Gods," I
55. "Masonic Record."
56. Part I, VIII, (5).
57. Plutarch, op. cit., XIII.
58. Ibid., XIII and XV.
59. Part I, IX, (7).
AN APOLOGY ON BEHALF OF THE SYMBOLOGISTS.
When Darwin first carried conviction to the world that man is
but a glorified ape his converts made the mistake of
searching for "missing links" to complete a chain of evolution
connecting modern man with the modern anthropoid. There
are, as we now recognise, two chains to be traced, one from
each converging to a junction at their common ancestor, and
the modern types of all animals, including man, are now
pictured as situated at the tips of the twigs of the tree of
evolution: no two twigs are directly joined though all arise
from a common stem.
Now, I think, judging from remarks I have often heard, that
there are some Masons who are bewildered at the number
of explanations of the ritual given to them by different
authors and lecturers on Masonic origins. They are
beginning to feel that somebody is taking advantage of them,
but they cannot be sure which of their instructors is right and
which are wrong, for surely they cannot all be right. This
feeling is, I fear, in danger of reviving the old parties of
Ancients and Modems. The students who have convinced
themselves and their followers that Masonry has been
handed down from time immemorial will form the Ancients,
and the Moderns will be recruited from reactionists who are
suffering from a kind of mental dyspepsia caused by a, diet
too rich in apparently contradictory theories.
I must confess myself a convinced Ancient, and I would
crave the indulgence of the potential Modern while I attempt,
as briefly as possible, to prove to him that these many
theories are not necessarily contradictory; that these writers
and lecturers may all be right. The fact that I do not
personally agree with all of them does not affect the matter
at all ; I merely want to show that they may be right, and that
such an admission does not prove me wrong.
I would ask the reader to apply the simile of the Tree of
Evolution to the evolution of Masonry. He will see that the
ceremonies of which he has heard as prototypes of
Freemasonry may be placed in one of two positions on that
tree - either as the tip of a twig or at the fork of a branch,
according to the period at which it is being considered.
Modern Freemasonry (including the "higher degrees") we will
put at the tips of twigs - the twig may become a branch later
but with that we are not concerned now. The Mysteries of
Ancient Egypt, for example, will be placed at the fork of a
branch, and the point I wish to make is that the twig of
modem Craft Freemasonry may not be on this branch at all;
to trace its connection with the Egyptian mysteries it may be
necessary to go down to a lower fork and then climb up
again to them along another branch. At this lower fork will be
situated their common ancestor, but there is no direct
communication between them.
What constituted the trunk of the tree of Masonic evolution
we shall probably never know, but personally I regard the
modern initiatory ceremonies of savages as a stunted
branch growing very low down on it.
Still pursuing the same simile, and passing from the general
to the particular, think of the number of personages whom,
you have been told from time to time, the J.W., for instance,
typifies; (I myself have a brand new theory founded on my
experiences in Central Africa, but I spare you that now).
Consider our tree of evolution as applying to that officer only
and you will see, I think, that every one of the
impersonations you have heard claimed for him may be true.
Sitting on one branch will be the member of the Mexican
Trinity with the unpronounceable name; on another is Bro.
Ward's favourite Vishnu; over there is Bro. Churchward's
Anup, and so on. So long as the essayist does not
dogmatically state that his particular identification of the JW.
sits on the branch which bears the twig of modern Craft
Freemasonry who is to say him nay ? Observe that the
discovery (or creation ?) of another branch to the tree does
not subvert all or any of the previous identifications; they are
all forms of the original J.W. which have developed under
the influence of different cults at different periods or in
different parts of the world.
I may mention here that my experience of the primitive type
of mind leads me to the conclusion that Masonry is founded
on Magic. When Magic merged into Religion the magical
ceremonies were perpetuated by Custom, allegorised by
Mysticism and paralleled in the uninstructed world by
Superstition. This is, of course, pure speculation, but I hope
at some future time to put before my readers some evidence
in support of it.
When anyone shows symptoms of becoming longwinded we
say in Africa, "Chisonde huifia njete," which being interpreted
means "Salt made from a corn-cob is very sharp," in other
words, a little of it goes a very long way. I have said my say.
If my reader is a symbologist, I would ask him to be gentle
with his fellow-theorists - they may be as correct as he. If the
reader is as yet inarticulate-a listener (and, let me whisper it,
the listener is the salt of the earth) - I would urge him not to
be dismayed; there may be as many types of the J.W. as
there are animals in the world, and all of them just as