page from French Bible Moralisee (c 1235-1245), British Library, showing Christ as the Great Architect, designing the universe with the compass of the Freemason.
H.P.B. was exposed to Masonry via relatives and friends in her formative years, and later many of her associates were Masons. Among them were some, including Col. Olcott who helped in the founding of the Theosophical Society and became its first President,. At the time of the founding of the Society, however, there had been no public exposition of Theosophy. Later there were intimations of it in Isis Unveiled and in many of H.P.B.'s early writings. The great comprehensive teaching only came out in The Secret Doctrine published in 1888.
The significance of this in the matter of Masonry vis-à-vis Theosophy is that with the publication of the Theosophical teachings some hitherto closely guarded occult secrets were made public for the first time. Against this, as the reader of the extracts will perceive, the really significant secrets of Masonry, relating to the nature and processes of Nature herself, had been lost from early times.
The committing of so much of the Secret Doctrine to writing by H.P.B. under the supervision of the Masters of the Wisdom, was unique in the world's history. It was in effect a direct statement from them. No previous teachers of the Masters' stature, including the founders of religions, had themselves committed their teachings to writing. Even though much of this original material was later largely ignored and even altered, the original is still available to students. The importance and urgency that the Masters attached to the completion of The Secret Doctrine was such that they kept Mme Blavatsky alive for a few years after two otherwise fatal illnesses.
There is no evidence to show that, in spite of her many Masonic associations, H.P.B. was ever formally initiated into the Craft and was ever a regular attender of any Lodge. Her involvement was incidental to her exposition of the teaching and practices of Eastern Occultism (Trans-Himalayan). It was from this, and to an extent directly from her Masters, that she possessed a knowledge of the secrets and usages of Masonry and not so much from any literature which, having been published, could not have contained the real secrets of Occultism. H.P.B. learned her Occultism, the ancient Ageless Wisdom, which included the Masonic secrets, directly from her Master.
It is noteworthy that the bulk of the information about Masonry in the theosophical classical literature is in Isis Unveiled (IU) which, according to Col. Olcott's account of the writing of that book and some of H.P.B.'s own statements, was either written directly or from material otherwise provided by the Masters themselves. There is some more information in the Collected Writings (CW), but only comparatively little in The Secret Doctrine (SD).
If asked how a profane can know it [Masonry] the answer comes, ancient
and modern Freemasonry are an obligatory study with every Eastern Occultist.
What of truth is there in this Theology [Christian]? Through what sects
has it been transmitted? Whence was it primarily derived? To answer, we
must trace the history of the World Religions, alike through the secret
Christian sects as through those of other great religious subdivisions
of the race; for the Secret Doctrine is the Truth, and that religion is
nearest divine that has contained it with least adulteration.
This work puts Masonry into an historical setting and against a background of the Ancient Wisdom Religion tradition. The advance guard of the human race, in the course of evolutionary development, has become possessed of the secrets of this Ancient Wisdom, and of the structure and processes of Nature. The occult view of evolution has regard to time scales far beyond those allotted even to the age of our physical Earth. According to this view, everything is on a long journey of development, first of form, and then spiritually.
This vast process is by cycles, measured by the duration of entities comprising them, for example the kingdoms of Nature, wherein every single thing has a finite life span. Groups of such lives constitute by aggregation larger entities higher in the evolutionary scale. This applies right up to the human stage, where there are also aggregates in families, tribes, nations and races. In these groups man's progress is by waves, cycles of ebb and flow like the oceanic tides.
At any time on the Earth there are primitive men occupying lowly places in the scale of human evolution. On the other hand there are advanced human beings who have nearly finished their journey as physical beings. Their faculties of perception and understanding have reached the stage where they seem as gods of wisdom and power to men lower down the scale. These advanced men - by the process of many reincarnations - have discovered the secrets of Nature's operations and have become possessed of some of her powers.
To those of their companions fitted to receive it they have imparted some of this knowledge, but under vows of strictest secrecy. This constituted the 'knowledge' of the Initiates of the Mystery Schools. These 'Schools' constituted an enduring chain of teaching and training from time immemorial right up to the present day. The mainstream teaching spawned a number of movements, more or less public, but all shadowing in their degree something of the original and enduring Ancient Wisdom.
These schools and their evolutionary process are of interest to the present day students of Theosophy, for whom this work is principally written. It may, however, be of wider interest and start a process in other readers leading on to ever-widening horizons. Theosophy paints a broad picture, from universals down to the smallest details, and all in between. It covers both the cosmic structure and process. The structure is according to the cosmic planes, and the processes involve universal dynamism. This dynamism, manifesting throughout the whole of Cosmos, is synonymous with 'life'. The structure has two principal aspects, an upper one, the Universal Spiritual Essence, relating to what are called the formless worlds; the other to the worlds of form and objective manifestation. Man's total constitution has two corresponding aspects: an upper one referred to as his Ego or Individuality, comprising three immortal spiritual principles, and a lower one, his psychic and physical principles, which when combined during earth life comprise his Personality.
The cosmic process proceeds by cycles and alternation. Things of all magnitutudes come and go everlastingly. During the genesis period of a cosmic cycle Spiritual Essence is descending into matter, becoming more and more immersed in it until at the bottom of the cycle it, as an operating principle, is almost totally eclipsed by its material counterpart. After this nadir the process reverses and matter becomes more and more spiritualised, regenerated, so that the potentialities of spirit manifest more fully as the ascent proceeds.
By the law of analogy this process applies to everything, including man who has his spiritual principles, immortal, invisible, and his objective physical body. The latter, however, is animated by the invisible energies of Nature and these manifest in the inner worlds as his faculties of mind and emotion; when considered together with their vehicles of expression in the inner levels of being they are referred to as his psyche, soul, which is mortal as opposed to his immortal Ego.
As in the case of everything else, necessarily a living entity, there is a point in its descending arc, as a spiritual entity, when it is virtually totally immersed in matter. It is then largely motivated by selfish animalistic urges and very little influenced by its upper spiritual nature. The universal process, however, demands that by the mechanisms of evolution it must and will ascend through innumerable, increasingly spiritual experiences during many 'incarnations' until, at the end of its very long evolutionary journey, it becomes redeemed. It then manifests its full spiritual nature. In man it has acquired immense knowledge and experience. When this process is really complete he is ready to pass on into superhuman kingdoms as a developed post-human spiritual entity.
This process has been known from time immemorial. During ages past some aspirants after knowledge have made the necessary efforts and sacrifices and have achieved these high states of spiritual development. Historically there have been very few of them but, it is said, the world has never been without their guidance. They have achieved the heights of spirituality, knowledge and power, and remained in contact with the physical and psychic realms to help their less developed brothers along the long road to spiritual maturity.
There have been institutions, centres or schools where some of the mysteries of life and being have been imparted to students to guide them in their evolutionary development up to a point where they too have become possessed of some of the knowledge of Nature's inner secrets and powers. The teaching in these schools constitutes what has become known as the Ancient Wisdom tradition. In relatively recent times, apart from what may have gone on in the 'Ashrams' of competent teachers in the East, some of these teachings has been reflected in the West into the religious institutions in ancient Egypt, Persia, the Chaldees, and eventually Greece and Rome. There were the Mystery schools, all transmitting the common thread of knowledge of the secrets of Nature to their neophytes and Initiates. This knowledge has had many presentations; the chief of these is the Kabala, which is referred to as "the root of Masonry". More recently there have been other presentations in Rosicrucianism, Alchemy, Hermeticism, Astrology, and Masonry.
With time all these various presentations lost their purity. The Hierophants or Initiates died and were not replaced; gradually their secrets were lost and the schools virtually disappeared.
In some cases, however, remnants of them persisted and continued to impart the knowledge insofar as it had been preserved. Personal training, often in the form of ceremonial, was undertaken. This latter was particularly the case with Masonry but other movements also possessed their ceremonial. The object was, and is, the regeneration of man by aiding or hastening the long evolutionary process, which would otherwise involve many reincarnations. For any aspiring individual a start has to be made at a lowly level which will depend entirely on the Karma of the individual concerned, i.e., his present state of spiritual development.
Except for the Preface, Introduction and some explanatory editorial matter at the start of each chapter, no attempt has been made to produce a running narrative. The extracts are directly from the literature; they are not connected with each other which makes for a disjointed text, even though some rough grouping by subject has been attempted, in the chapters. It is important therefore to mark the content of each extract carefully. A story then emerges which becomes more and more significant. An attempt to draw some of the numerous threads together has been made in the Summary.
Something of the story as it relates particularly to Masonry is given us by H.P. Blavatsky in her voluminous writings, extracts from which constitute the bulk of the content of this work.
Because of the importance of its material to students in the matter of Masonry, the information about the Kabala given by H.P. Blavatsky has been extracted from her extensive literature. The compilation forms a companion work to this one.
Any kind of precise chronology of the history of Masonry is not discoverable from the information we have in the theosophical literature of H.P. Blavatsky (H.P.B.) and her Masters.
One reference takes us back to the third Root Race. Another reference is to the Atlanteans. It is, however, difficult to know what is being referred to. Masonry was obviously the Ageless Ancient Wisdom, constituting "The Mysteries".
According to H.P.B., from the first ages of man the fundamental truths of the nature and workings of Cosmos were in the safe keeping of the Adepts of the Sanctuary, bonded together by "a universal Freemasonry". Here, however, the word "Freemasonry" may be used in a general rather than a specific way. Nevertheless, it does appear that in some form or another what is now Freemasonry or just Masonry has been known and practised from the remotest ages. H.P.B. says:
Modern Masonry is undeniably the dim and hazy reflection of primeval Occult Masonry of the teaching of those Divine Masons who established the Mysteries of prehistoric and prediluvian Temples of Initiation, raised by truly superhuman Builders.
According to the Belgian Mason, Ragon, a Francmaçon (not maçon-libre) was initiated into the ancient Mysteries. In English maçon is translated into Mason.
The following extracts speak for themselves and require no further comment.
ESTABLISHMENT OF A DOCTRINE
In his Orthodoxie Maçonnique, rightly or wrongly, Ragon,
an illustrious and learned Belgian Mason, reproaches the English Masons
with having materialized and dishonoured Masonry, once based upon the
Ancient Mysteries, by adopting, owing to a mistaken notion of the origin
of the craft, the name of Freemasonry and Free Masons. The mistake is
due, he says, to those who connect Masonry with the building of Solomon's
Temple, deriving its origin from it. He derides the idea, and says:
MYSTERIES - ATLANTEANS
The Mysteries were carried into South and Central America, Northern Mexico
and Peru by the Atlanteans in those days when
They continued to exist down to the day of the Spanish invaders. These
destroyed the Mexican and Peruvian records, but were prevented from laying
their desecrating hands upon the many Pyramids -- the lodges of an ancient
Initiation -- whose ruins are scattered over Puente Nacional, Cholula,
and Teotihuacan. The ruins of Palenque, of Ococimgo in Chiapas, and others
in Central America are known to all. If the pyramids and temples of Guiengola
and Mitla ever betray their secrets, the present Doctrine will then be
shown to have been a forerunner of the grandest truths in Nature. Meanwhile,
they have all a claim to be called Mitla, "the place of sadness"
and "the abode of the (desecrated) dead."
GNOSTICISM AND ESOTERIC CHRISTIANITY
Masonry was, in its origin, simply archaic Gnosticism, or early esoteric
Christianity; Church Ritualism was, and is, exoteric paganism, pure and
simple - remodelled, we do not say reformed. Read the works of Ragon,
a Mason who forgot more than the Masons of today know. Study, collating
them together, the casual but numerous statements made by Greek and Latin
writers, many of whom were Initiates, most learned Neophytes and partakers
of the Mysteries. Read finally the elaborate and venomous slanders of
the Church Fathers against the Gnostics, the Mysteries and their Initiates
- and you may end by unravelling the truth. It is a few philosophers who,
driven by the political evens of the day, tracked and persecuted by the
fanatical Bishops of early Christianity - who had yet neither fixed ritual
nor dogmas nor Church - it is these Pagans who founded the latter. Blending
most ingeniously the truths of the Wisdom-religion with the exoteric fictions
so dear to the ignorant mobs, it is they who laid the first foundations
of ritualistic Churches and of the Lodges of modern Masonry. The latter
fact was demonstrated by Ragon in his ANTE-OMNIAE of the modern Liturgy
compared with the ancient Mysteries, and showing the rituals conducted
by the early Masons; the former may be ascertained by a like comparison
of the Church canonicals, the sacred vessels, and the festivals of the
Latin and other Churches and Masonry have widely diverged since the days
when both were one. If asked how a profane can know it, the answer comes:
ancient and modern Freemasonry are an obligatory study with every Eastern
... Ten ciphers, 22 alphabetical letters, one triangle, a square and
a circle. Such are the elements of the Cabala, from whose mysterious bosom
sprang all the religions of the past and present; which endowed all the
Free Masonic associations with their symbols and secrets, which alone
can reconcile human reason with God and Faith, Power with Freedom, Science
with Mystery, and which has alone the keys of the present, past and future.
GUARDIANS, PRIMITIVE DIVINE REVELATION
Yet, if the students of the dead languages know anything, they ought
to know that the method of extreme necessitarianism was practised in ancient
as well as in modern Philosophy: that from the first ages of man, the
fundamental truths of all that we are permitted to know on earth were
in the safe keeping of the Adepts of the sanctuary; that the difference
in creeds and religious practice was only external; and that those guardians
of the primitive divine revelation, who had solved every problem that
is within the grasp of human intellect, were bound together by a universal
freemasonry of science and philosophy, which formed one unbroken chain
around the globe. It is for philology and the Orientalists to endeavour
to find the end of the thread. But if they will persist in seeking it
in one direction only, and that the wrong one, truth and fact will never
be discovered. It thus remains the duty of psychology and Theosophy to
help the world to arrive at them.
PRIMITIVE ORAL RECORDS
The Secret Doctrine teaches us that the arts, sciences, theology, and
especially the philosophy of every nation which preceded the last universally
known, but not universal Deluge, has been recorded ideographically from
the primitive oral records of the Fourth Race, and that these were the
inheritance of the latter from the early Third Root-Race before the allegorical
Fall. Hence, also, the Egyptian pillars, the tablets and even the "white
Oriental porphyry stone" of the Masonic legend - which Enoch, fearing
that the real and precious secrets would be lost, concealed before the
Deluge in the bowels of the Earth - were simply the more or less symbolical
and allegorical copies from the primitive Records.
FOUNDATION BY CYCLOPS (INITIATORS)
They [the Cyclops] are called "Builders", and Occultism calls
them the INITIATORS, who, initiating some Pelasgians, thus laid the foundation
stone of true MASONRY.
KABALA - ITS BASIS
... the substance of the Kabalah is the basis upon which masonry is built,
since modern Masonry is undeniably the dim and hazy reflection of primeval
Occult Masonry, of the teaching of those divine Masons who established
the Mysteries of the prehistoric and prediluvian Temples of Initiation,
raised by truly superhuman Builders.
The Blavatsky Trust 2004