From the Theosophical Writings of H.P. Blavatsky
Part 8 - Symbols and Orders

compiled by Geoffrey Farthing

hpb seal

The Great Architect illustration from French Bible Moralisee

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.

l Contents and Preface l


The first extract of this Section is important in that it distinguishes ‘real’ Masonry from the Scottish Lodge, but says that some of its rites are still presented in the Grand Orient of France. Then there is the authoritative statement that Masonry rests on three degrees reflecting the triple duty of a Mason, i.e., to study whence he comes, what he is and whither he goes. These of course constitute an epitome of the teachings of Theosophy.

There follows a description of the third degree rite, as far as the resurrection from the coffin. Perhaps the whole doctrine of Devachan and some of the information given in the Mahatma Letters was some of the information which was given to us in The Secret Doctrine as never having been made public before.

Other extracts in this Section indicate much teaching by symbol and number, e.g., the Cross and Solomon’s Temple, and numbers as combinations of 3, 5, 7, 10, etc., which relate back particularly to Pythagoras (who seemingly inherited the system from the East). Geometrical figures also evinced these numbers in triangles, squares and cubes. In the Secret Doctrine these are related to the principles of man and the Cosmic Planes, with more explanations not made public before.

There are significant hints to the effect that there are some Rosicrucians who have remained in possession of the true teachings – as indeed we are told a number of times have the Eastern Adepts in the Arcane Science.

Three fundamental degrees

Masonry – not the political institution known as the Scottish Lodge, but real Masonry, some rites of which are still preserved in the Grand Orient of France, and that Elias Ashmole, a celebrated English Occult Philosopher of the XVIIth century, tried in vain to remodel, after the manner of the Indian and Egyptian Mysteries – Masonry rests, according to Ragon, the great authority upon the subject, upon three fundamental degrees: the triple duty of a Mason is to study whence he comes, what he is, and whither he goes; the study that is, of God, of himself, and of the future transformation. Masonic Initiation was modelled on that in the lesser Mysteries. The third degree was one used in both Egypt and India from time immemorial, and the remembrance of it lingers to this day in every Lodge, under the name of the death and resurrection of Hiram Abiff, the “Widow’s Son”. In Egypt the latter was called “Osiris”; in India “Loka-chakshu” (Eye of the World), and “Dinakara” (day-maker) or the Sun – and the rite itself was everywhere named the “gate of death”. The coffin, or sarcophagus, of Osiris, killed by Typhon, was brought in and placed in the middle of the Hall of the Dead, with the Initiates all around it and the candidate near by. The latter was asked whether he had participated in the murder, and not withstanding his denial, and after sundry and very hard trials, the initiator feigned to strike him on the head with a hatchet; he was thrown down, swathed in bandages like a mummy and wept over. Then came lightning and thunder, the supposed corpse was surrounded with fire, and was finally raised.

Ragon speaks of a rumour that charged the Emperor Commodus – when he was at one time enacting th part of the Initiator – with having played this part in the initiatory drama so seriously that he actually killed the postulant when dealing him the blow with the hatchet. This shows that the lesser Mystries had not quite died out in the second century A.D. [C.W.XIV, 279]

The Three Lights

If the Masonic temples are lighted with three astral lights, the sun, the moon, and the geometrical star, and with three vital lights, the Hierophant and his two Episcopes [Wardens, in French Surveillants], it is because one of the Fathers of Masonry, the learned Pythagoras, ingenuously suggests that we should not speak of divine things without a light ...

Such passages prove to us that in those days the primitive Church worshipped the great architect of the universe in its image the sun, sole of its kind ... [C.W.XI, 82]

Square - Deity - the Decad

Ten, or the Decad, brings all these digits back to unity and ends the Pythagorean table. Hence this figure, ... – unity, within zero – was the symbol of Deity, of the Universe, and of man. Such is the secret meaning of “the strong grip of the Lion’s paw of the tribe of Judah” between two hands (the “master mason’s grip”), the joint number of whose fingers is ten. [S.D.II, 581]

Swastika - Ishmael Masons

And, by adding to the cross proper + the symbol of the four cardinal points and infinity at the same time, thus + , the arms pointing above, below and right, and left, making six in the circle – the Archaic sign of the Yomas – it would make of it the Swastika, the “sacred sign” used by the order of “Ishmael masons”, which they call the Universal Hermetic Cross, and do not understand its real wisdom, nor know its origin. [C.W.VII, 294 fn]

Nos 3, 5 and 7 - Triangle, Deity

The numbers 3, 5, and 7 are prominent in speculative Masonry, as shown in Isis Unveiled. A Mason writes:–  “There are the 3, 5, and 7 steps to show a circular walk. The three faces of 3, 3; 5, 3; and 7, 3; etc., etc. Sometimes it comes in this form 753/2 = 376.5 and 9635/2 = 3817.5 and the ratio 20612/6561 feet for cubit measure gives the Great Pyramid measures,” etc., etc. Three, five and seven are mystical numbers, and the last and the first are as greatly honoured by Masons as by the Parsis - the triangle being the symbol of Deity everywhere. [S.D.I, 113 fn]

Jennings - the Rosicrucians

The ablest book that was ever written on Symbols and Mystic Orders, is most certainly Hargrave Jennings’ The Rosicrucians, and yet it has been repeatedly called “obscure trash” in my presence, and that too, by individuals who were most decidedly well-versed in the rites and mysteries of modern Freemasonry. [C.W.I, 126]

Moses, religious mysteries

Moses, an Initiate into the Egyptian Mystagogy, based the religious mysteries of the new nation which he created upon the same abstract formula derived from this sidereal cycle, which he symbolized under the form and measurements of the tabernacle, that he is supposed to have constructed in the wilderness. On these data, the later Jewish High Priests constructed the allegory of Solomon’s Temple – a building which never had a real existence, any more than had King Solomon himself, who is simply a solar myth, as much as the still later Hiram Abif of the Masons, as Ragon has well demonstrated. Thus, if the measurements of this allegorical temple, the symbol of the cycle of Initiation, coincide with those of the Great Pyramid, it is due to the fact that the former were derived from the latter through the Tabernacle of Moses. [S.D.I, 314]

Royal Arch - Triple Tau

In Masonry the Royal Arch degree retains the cross as the triple Egyptian Tau. It is the mundane circle with the astronomical cross upon it rapidly revolving; the perfect square of the Pythagorean mathematics in the scale of numbers, as its occult meaning is interpreted by Cornelius Agrippa. Fire is heat – the central point; the perpendicular ray represents the male element or spirit; and the horizontal one the female element – or matter. Spirit vivifies and fructifies the matter, and everything proceeds from the central Point, the focus of Life, and Light and Heat, represented by the terrestrial fire. [C.W.II, 145-6]

Masons, Monad and T G A O T U

... Masons, have, in their arbitrary interpretations, fathered upon the ancient sages the queer idea that “the Monad represented [with them] the throne of the Omnipotent Deity, placed in the centre of the Empyrean to indicate T.G.A.O.T.U.” – read “the Great Architect of the  Universe”. [S.D.I, 613]

Weird symbols and glyphs

Modern Kabalistic speculation is on a par now with modern “speculative Masonry”, for as the latter tries vainly to link itself with the ancient – or rather the archaic – Masonry of the Temples, failing to make the link because all its claims have been shown to be inaccurate from an archaeological standpoint, so fares it also with Kabalistic speculation. As no mystery of Nature worth running after can be revealed to humanity by settling whether Hiram Abif was a living Sidonian builder, or a solar myth, so no fresh information will be added to Occult Lore by the details of the exoteric privileges conferred on the Collegia Fabrorum by Numa Pompilius [Legendary king of Rome – 7th century b.c. Succeeded Romulus, instituted religious rites. (Hutchinsons Encyclopaedia)]. Rather must the symbols used in it be studied in the Aryan light, since all the Symbolism of the ancient Initiations came to the West with the light of the Eastern Sun.Nevertheless, we find the most learned Masons and Symbologists declaring that all these weird symbols and glyphs, that run back to a common origin of immense antiquity, were nothing more than a display of cunning natural phallicism, or emblems of primitive typology. [C.W.XIV, 192]


The Svastika is certainly one of the oldest symbols of the Ancient Races. In our century, says Kenneth R.H. MacKenzie (Royal Masonic Cyclopeadia), the Svastika “has survived in the form of the mallet” in the Masonic Fraternity. Among the many “meanings” the author gives of it, we do not find, however, the most important one, Masons evidently not knowing it. [S.D.II, 556 fn]

The Sun

Says the Royal Masonic Cyclopaedia,... In all times, the sun has necessarily played an important part as a symbol, and especially in Freemasonry....

Freemasonry derives her rites from the East ... And if it be true to say of the modern Rosicrucians that “they are invested with a knowledge of chaos, not perhaps a very desirable acquisition”, the remark is still more true when applied to all the other branches of Masonry, since the knowledge of their members about the full signification of their symbols is nil. [C.W.XIV, 281]

Theological time, 000,000,000

... “it is at present, and perhaps always will be, IMPOSSIBLE to reduce, even approximately, geological time into years, or even into millenniums.” A wise word of advice from the Occultists to the gentlemen geologists: they ought to imitate the cautious example of Masons. As chronology, they say, cannot measure the era of the creation, therefore, their “Ancient and Primitive Rite” uses 000,000,000 as the nearest approach to reality. [S.D.II, 696]

Society of Trinosophists

It is on the occult properties of the three equal lines or sides of the Triangle that Ragon based his studies and founded the famous Masonic Society of the Trinosophists (those who study three sciences; an improvement upon the ordinary three Masonic degrees, given to those who study nothing except eating and drinking at the meetings of their Lodges)....
.... The third side is left to the master mason, who has to complete his education by the study of the animal kingdom. It is symbolized by Mac-benah  ∴ (son of putrefaction). [S.D.II, 575]


Besides these signs, the French Masons, evidently under the tuition of their accomplished masters – the Jesuits, have perfected this cipher in all its details. So they have signs even for commas, diphthongs accents, dots, etc. [I.U.II, 397]


No one could ever lay hands on the Rosicrucians, and notwithstanding the alleged discoveries of “secret chambers,” vellums called “T”, and of fossil knights with ever-burning lamps, this ancient association and its true aims are to this day a mystery. Pretended Templars and sham Rose-Croix, with a few genuine kabalists, were occasionally burned and some unlucky Theosophists and alchemists sought and put to the torture; delusive confessions even were wrung from them by the most ferocious means, but yet, the true Society remains to-day as it has ever been, unknown to all, especially to its cruellest enemy – the Church. [I.U.II, 380]

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.


3. S.D. THE SECRET DOCTRINE, Vol III, only in the 1897 edition (this material is in C.W.XII)


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)


Go to Part 9 - SECRETS

First published 2003 by The Theosophical Publishing House, London.
Available from: The Theosophical Society in England, 50 Gloucester Place, London W1U 8EA

Theosophical Society in England, Bookshop link

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