THE RIGHT ANGLE
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MASONRY

From the Theosophical Writings of
H.P. Blavatsky
compiled by Geoffrey Farthing

CONTENTS

 

PREFACE

Part I
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Part II
ANCIENT ORIGINS
Part III
MODERN ORIGINS
Part IV
THE KABALA
Part V
HIRAM, SOLOMON AND HIS TEMPLE
Part VI
KNIGHTS TEMPLAR
Part VII
GENERAL INFORMATION
Part VIII
SYMBOLS AND ORDERS
Part IX
SECRETS
Part X
OPPOSITION, ENEMIES, JESUITS
Part XI
H.P.B. AND MASONRY
Part XII
SUMMARY

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.

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HIRAM, SOLOMON AND HIS TEMPLE


 

Hiram in the legend is associated with the building of Solomon’s Temple, being a Master-builder. A solar myth (S.D.I, 314), he procured the cedar and the gold for it. He is also associated closely with the sun as the following passages show.

It is worth noting that one “Chiram”, or King Hiram in the Kabalah, is mentioned in S.D.II, 113. It is not clear whether King Hiram is the same as Hiram Abiff but the passage mentioning him includes the significant words, “The Culmination of the Secret Work is Spiritual Perfect Man” (see Part.I)

To a lay reader coming across him for the first time Solomon is an enigma. In several places he is referred to by H.P.B. as a myth; he was never a living man. Elsewhere, even by H.P.B., he has been given a birth date, about 974 b.c. and his death as 937 b.c. (according to Hutchinson’s encyclopaedia). According to H.P.B. like Hiram he is a solar myth, but she does quote one of his sayings, “There is nothing new under the sun”, as indicative of his supposed wisdom. There is of course much about him in the Bible.

According to H.P.B. Solomon’s Temple is another myth, and has never existed. She argues that, if it was of such grandeur as reported, there must be something remaining of it, but even historians of the time do not mention it. It is curious, however, that its measures, as numbers and ratios, are supposed to correspond with those of the Great Pyramid and with the Ark of the Covenant.

Hiram, Solomon and his Temple figure largely in Masonic lore and ritual. Hiram was believed to have been murdered and Masons know themselves as the “Widow’s Sons”.

The literature of Freemasonry indicates that, latterly at any rate, did refer to Hiram as a myth.

HIRAM

Cedars of Lebanon - Ophir gold

Eliphas Lévi points out the great resemblance which exists between King Iarchus and the fabulous Hiram, from whom Solomon procured the cedars of Lebanon and the gold of Ophir. We would like to know whether modern Masons, even “Grand Lecturers” and the most intelligent craftsmen belonging to important lodges, understand who the Hiram is whose death they combine together to avenge? [C.W.XIV, 128]

Hierophants and Initiates

All these Hierophants and Initiates were types of the Sun and of the Creative Principle (spiritual potency) as were Visvakarman and Vikartana, from the origin of the Mysteries. Ragon, the famous Mason, gives curious details and explanations with regard to the Sun rites. He shows that the biblical Hiram, the great hero of Masonry (the “widow’s son”), a type taken from Osiris, is the sun-God, the inventor of arts, and the “architect,” the name Hiram, meaning the “elevated,”, a title belonging to the Sun. Every Occultist knows how closely related to Osiris and the Pyramids are the narratives in Kings concerning Solomon, his Temple and its construction; he knows also that the whole of the Masonic rite of Initiation is based upon the Biblical allegory of the construction of that Temple, Masons conveniently forgetting, or perhaps ignoring, the fact that the latter narrative is modelled upon Egyptian and still earlier symbolisms. Ragon explains it by showing that the three companions of Hiram, the “three murderers,” typify the three last months of the year; and that Hiram stands for the Sun – from its summer solstice downwards, when it begins decreasing – the whole rite being an astronomical allegory.

During the summer solstice, the Sun provokes songs of gratitude from all that breathes; hence Hiram, who represents it, can give to whomsoever has the right to it, the sacred Word, that is to say life. When the Sun descends to the inferior signs all Nature becomes mute, and Hiram can no longer give the sacred Word to the companions, who represent the three inert months of the year. The first companion strikes Hiram feebly with a rule twenty-four inches long, symbol of the twenty-four hours which make up each diurnal revolution; it is the first distribution of time, which after the exaltation of the mighty star, feebly assails his existence, giving him the first blow. The second companion strikes him with an iron square, symbol of the last season, figured by the intersections of two right lines, which would divide into four equal parts the Zodiacal circle, whose centre symbolises Hiram’s heart, where it touches the point of the four squares representing the four seasons; second distribution of time, which at that period strikes a heavier blow at the solar existence. The third companion strikes him mortally on his forehead with a heavy blow of his mallet, whose cylindrical form symbolises the year, the ring or circle; third distribution of time, the accomplishment of which deals the last blow to the existence of the expiring Sun. From this interpretation it has been inferred that Hiram, a founder of metals, the hero of the new legend with the title of architect, is Osiris (the Sun) of modern initiation; that Isis, his widow, is the Lodge, the emblem of the Earth (loka in Sanskrit, the world) and that Horus, son of Osiris (or of light) and the widow’s son, is the free Mason, that is to say, the Initiate who inhabits the terrestrial lodge (the child of the Widow, and of Light.)

And here again, our friends the Jesuits have to be mentioned, for the above rite is of their making. [C.W.XIV, p 264-5]

Altars in churches

Up to the IVth century the churches knew of no altars. Up to that date the altar was a table raised in the middle of the temple, for purposes of Communion, or fraternal repasts (the Caena, as mass was originally said in the evening). In the same way now the table is raised in the “Lodge”, and at which the resurrected Hiram Abifs, the “Widow’s Sons,” honour their toasts by firing, a Masonic mode of transubstantiation. Shall we call their banquet tables altars, also? Why not? [C.W.XI, 79-80]

KING SOLOMON

Solomon and David – Kabalists

... of all the most renowned Cabalists, King Solomon and his bigoted parent David, notwithstanding his penitential psalms, were the most powerful. [C.W.I, 111]

Nothing new under Sun

Many thousand years ago the wise King Solomon declared that “There is nothing new under the Sun,” and the words of this very wise man ought to be repeated till the farthest ends of  time. [C.W.I, 115]

700 wives etc. – never living man

Whose 700 wives and 300 concubines, by the bye, are merely the personations of man’s attributes, feelings, passions and his various occult powers: the Kabalistic numbers 7and 3 showing it plainly. Solomon himself, moreover, being, simply, the emblem of SOL – the “Solar Initiate” or the Christ-Sun, is a variant of the Indian “Vikarttana” (the Sun) shorn of his beams by Visvakarman, his Hierophant-Initiator, who thus shears the Chrestos-candidate for initiation of his golden radiance and crowns him with a dark, blackened aureole – the “crown of thorns.” (See The Secret Doctrine for full explanation.) Solomon was never a living man. As described in Kings, his life and works are an allegory on the trials and glory of Initiation. [C.W.X, 162 fn]

Key to “Raising Spirits”

The possibility of “raising spirits” according to the Key of Solomon, is the height of superstition and ignorance. Purity of deed and thought can alone raise us to an intercourse “with the gods” and attain for us the goal we desire. Alchemy, believed by so many to have been a spiritual philosophy as well as a physical science, belonged to the teachings of the theosophical school. [C.W.II, 96]

SOLOMON’S TEMPLE

Even Masons must know

Surely even Masons would never claim the actual existence of Solomon? As Kenealy shows, he is not noticed by Herodotus, nor by Plato, nor by any writer of standing. It is most extraordinary, he says, “that the Jewish nation, over whom but a few years before the mighty Solomon had reigned in all his glory, with a magnificence scarcely equalled by the greatest monarchs, spending nearly eight thousand millions of gold on a temple, was overlooked by the historian Herodotus, writing of Egypt on the one hand, and of Babylon on the other – visiting both places, and of course passing almost necessarily within a few miles of the splendid capital of the national Jerusalem? How can this be accounted for?” he asks (p. 457). Nay, not only are there no proofs of the twelve tribes of Israel having ever existed, but Herodotus, the most accurate of historians, who was in Assyria when Ezra flourished, never mentions the Israelites at all; and Herodotus was born in 484 B.C. How is this? [C.W.XIV, 177-8 fn]

Never existed

There are a sufficient number of stray bits in the Elohistic portions of the Bible to warrant the inference that the Hebrews who wrote it were Initiates; hence the mathematical coordinations and the perfect harmony between the measures of the Great Pyramid and the numerals of the Biblical glyphs. But surely if one borrowed from the other, it cannot be the architects of the Pyramid who borrowed from Solomon’s Temple, if only because the former exists to this day as a stupendous living monument of Esoteric records, while the famous temple has never existed outside of the far later Hebrew scrolls. [C.W.XIV, 195]

Measurements: Temple, Pyramid

The measurements of the Great Pyramid being those of the temple of Solomon, of the Ark of the Covenant, etc., according to the Piazzi Smythe and the author of The Source of Measures, and the Pyramid of Gizeh being shown on astronomical calculations to have been built 4950 B.C., and Moses have written his books – for the sake of argument – not even half that time before our era, how can this be? Surely if any one borrowed from the other, it is not the Pharaohs from Moses, even philology shows not only the Egyptian, but even the Mongolian, older than the Hebrew. [C.W.XIV, 183 fn]

Measurement of Pyramids

Having discovered that the Pyramid of Cheops with all its measurements is to be found contained in its minutest details in the structure of Solomon’s Temple; and having ascertained that the biblical names Shem, Ham and Japhet are determinative of pyramid measures, in connection with the 600 year period of Noah and the 500-year period of Shem, Ham and Japhet, . . . the terms “sons of Elohim” and “daughters of H-Adam,” [are] for one thing astronomical terms. [C.W.XIV, 65]

Quadrature – perfect measure

Parker’s quadrature is “that identical measure which was used anciently as the perfect measure, by the Egyptians, in the construction of the Great Pyramid, which was built to monument it and its uses,” and that “from it the sacred cubit-value was derived, which was the cubit-value used in the construction of the Temple of Solomon, the Ark of Noah and the Ark of the Covenant” (The Source of Measures, p. 22). [C.W.XIV, 195 fn]

Three foundations

How general must have been that geometrical figure in the world-symbols, may be inferred from the fact that there is a Masonic tradition that Solomon’s temple was built on three foundations, forming the “triple Tau” or three crosses. [C.W.XIV, 152]

Theosophy – Temple of Solomon’s Wisdom

In this respect, as it is duty and the task of every genuine theosophist to accept and carry out these principles [Buddhist tenets], Theosophy is RELIGION, and the Society its one Universal Church; the temple of Solomon’s wisdom, in building which “there was neither hammer nor axe nor any tool of iron heard in the house, while it was in building” (I Kings, vi, 7); for this “temple” is made by no human hand, nor built in any locality on earth – but, verily, is raised only in the inner sanctuary of man’s heart wherein reigns alone the awakened soul. [C.W.X, 162]

Masonic inch

Hence the most important secret yet yielded by her in our modern day is the identity of the old Roman measures and the present British measures, of the Hebrew-Egyptian cubit and the Masonic inch. [C.W.XIV, 67]

Initiation – Construction of Temple

... the whole of the Masonic rite of Initiation is based upon the Biblical allegory of the construction of that Temple [of Solomon], Masons conveniently forgetting, or perhaps ignoring, the fact that the latter narrative is modelled upon Egyptian and still earlier symbolisms. Ragon explains it by showing that the three companions of Hiram stands for the Sun – from its summer solstice downwards, when it begins decreasing – the whole rite being an astronomical allegory. [C.W.XIV, 264]

The Temple, a Symbol

The building of the Temple of Solomon is the symbolic representation of the gradual acquirement of the secret wisdom, or magic; the erection and development of the spiritual from the earthly; the manifestation of the power and splendour of the spirit in the physical world, through the wisdom and genius of the builder. The latter, when he has become an adept, is a mightier king than Solomon himself, the emblem of the sun or Light himself – the light of the real subjective world, shining in the darkness of the objective universe. This is the “Temple” which can be reared without the sound of the hammer, or any tool of iron being heard in the house while it is “in building”....

Throughout the countries of the Orient, wherever magic and the wisdom-religion are studied, its practitioners and students are known among their craft as Builders, while the students, or neophytes are classed as speculative or theoretical. The former exemplify in works their control over the forces of inanimate as well as animate nature; the latter are but perfecting themselves in the rudiments of the sacred science. These terms were evidently borrowed at the beginning by the unknown founders of the first Masonic guilds.

In the now popular jargon, “Operative Masons” are understood to be the bricklayers and the handicraftsmen, who composed the Craft down to Sir Christopher Wren’s time; and “Speculative Masons,” all members of the Order, as now understood. The sentence attributed to Jesus, “Thou are Peter . . . upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it,” disfigured, as it is, by mistranslation and misinterpretation, plainly indicates its real meaning. We have shown the significance of Pater and Petra, with the hierophants – the interpretation traced on the tables of stone of the final initiation, was handed by the initiator to the chosen future interpreter. Having acquainted himself with its mysterious contents, which revealed to him the mysteries of creation, the initiated became a builder himself, for he was made acquainted with the dodecahedron, or the geometrical figure on which the universe was built. To what he had learned in previous initiations of the use of the rule and of architectural principles, was added a cross, the perpendicular and horizontal lines of which were supposed to form the foundation of the spiritual temple, by placing them across the junction, or central primordial point, the element of all existences, representing the first concrete idea of deity. Henceforth he could, as a Master builder (see i Corinthians, iii. io), erect a temple of wisdom on that rock of Petra, for himself; and having laid a sure foundation, let “another build thereon”. [I.U.II, 391-2]

Royal Arch Masonry

Had Moses Michael Hayes, the Israelite Brother who introduced Royal Arch Masonry into this country (in December 1778)*, had a prophetic presentiment of future treasons, he might have instituted more efficacious obligations than he has. [I.U.II, 393] [* The first Grand Chapter was instituted at Philadelphia, in 1797.]

Truly, the grand omnific Royal Arch word, “long lost but now found,” has fulfilled its prophetic promise. The password of that degree is no more “I am that I am”. It is now simply “I was but am no more!”


The books by H.P. Blavatsky from which passages have been extracted are:-

ISIS UNVEILED (I.U.), Vols I and II
THE SECRET DOCTRINE (S.D.), Vols I and II
THE SECRET DOCTRINE (S.D.), Vol. III, only in the 1897 edition (this material is in C.W.XII)
THE COLLECTED WRITINGS (C.W.), Vols I to XIV


Go to Part 6 - KNIGHTS TEMPLAR

An expanded version of this publication is reproduced in a 50 page booklet, THE RIGHT ANGLE available from the Book Department at 50 Gloucester Place, London W1U 8EA
books - http://www.theosophical-society.org.uk

 

 

Geoffrey Farthing (1909-2004), author and international lecturer made the study of Theosophy, and in particular the esoteric writings of H.P. Blavatsky, his abiding interest for over 60 years. Geoffrey held most positions in the Theosophical Society in England including General Secretary (1969-72). He served a term as a member of the Society's General Council at Adyar, India, and was a member of the Executive Committee of the European Federation for a number of years. He founded The Blavatsky Trust, an educational charity, in England in 1974. In the same year he gave the prestigious Blavatsky Lecture at the Annual Convention of the English Theosophical Society on Life, Death and Dreams, and in 1996, was awarded the Subba Row Medal for his significant contribution to theosophical literature.
Geoffrey wrote numerous theosophical books including After-Death States and Consciousness; Deity, Cosmos and Man (1993); Theosophy, What’s It All About?; When We Die; and Exploring the Great Beyond. His most recent book is The Right Angle: H. P. Blavatsky on Masonry (2003)


Originally published on Internet, The Blavatsky Trust 2004

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