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.
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. [ The Kabalah and Theosophy was published by the Trust as a paperback in 2012 - further details]
The books by H.P. Blavatsky from which passages have been extracted are:
1. I.U. ISIS UNVEILED, Vols I and II, all editions same pagination.
2. S.D. THE SECRET DOCTRINE, Vols I and II
3. S.D. THE SECRET DOCTRINE, Vol III, only in the 1897 edition (this material is in C.W.XII)
34. C.W. THE COLLECTED WRITINGS OF H.P. BLAVATSKY
Another book which readers might care to read for much information about the craft from a Masonic point of view is:–
5. THE FREEMASON’S GUIDE AND COMPENDIUM by Bernard E. Jones, (George G. Harrop)
First published 2003 by The Theosophical Publishing House, London. Theosophical Society in England, Bookshop link
Available from: The Theosophical Society in England, 50 Gloucester Place, London W1U 8EA
Theosophical Society in England, Bookshop link