In the degree of Entered Apprentice, the Candidate is shown a curious symbol which to my knowledge has survived only in the American working. It does not appear in the Emulation ritual, nor any other active version of the Entered Apprentice ritual of which I'm aware. I speak here of the symbol of the point within the circle bounded by two parallel lines. Regarding this symbol, Illustrious Brother Albert Pike tells us that
"Our Brethren of the York Rite say that 'there is represented in every wellgoverned Lodge, a certain point, within a circle; the boundary line of his conduct, beyond which he is never to suffer his prejudices or passions to betray him.'"
Pike then goes on to say that
"It is a common Egyptian sign for the sun and Osiris, and it is still used as the astronomical sign of the great luminary. ...this circle is bounded by two perpendicular parallel lines, representing Saint John the Baptist and Saint John the Evangelist..."
It is this latter interpretation of the symbol which is the topic of the present study. As the choice on the part of our ritual progenitors of the point within the circle, an ancient astrological symbol of the sun, would seem to indicate, the esoteric implication of the scrutinized emblem is naturally an astrological one. For, the feast days of the Baptist and the Evangelist fall in midsummer and midwinter, respectively. As Freemason Rene Guenon once observed, midsummer marks the annual meridian height of the sun, after which it begins its slow descent, reaching in midwinter its annual low point. Following a static period of three days, when the sun is at its lowest position in the sky, the great luminary then begins its resurrection-like ascent back into the heavens. If our Brethren will recall, it was also during midsummer that a certain Grand Master is said to have been struck down by three murderous ruffians. We should expect then to see a correlation between the three ruffians and astrological symbolism as well. And, we do. According to Freemason J.M. Ragon, the ruffians allude in a general sense to the three winter months during which time the sun is said to be 'dead' while their various blows allude to the three different distributions of Time which chop down our beloved Grand Master.
"The first [ruffian] strikes him feebly with a rule twenty-four inches long, symbol of the twenty-four hours which make up each diurnal [or daily] revolution [of the sun]; ...the second [ruffian] strikes him with an iron square, symbol of [winter,] the last season, figured by the intersection of two right lines, which would divide into four equal parts [or seasons] the Zodiacal circle, ...the third [ruffian] strikes him mortally on his forehead with a heavy blow of his mallet, whose cylindrical form symbolizes the year, the [solar] ring or circle..."
The three blows would therefore appear to allude to the daily, seasonal, and annual 'deaths' of the sun. This may also account for the presence of twelve Fellowcrafts in the French working, as opposed to the fifteen which appear in the American ritual; the twelve Fellowcrafts likely being indicative of the twelve signs of the zodiac through which the sun appears to travel in its annual course, and the three ruffians similarly alluding to the three winter signs, Capricorn, Aquarius, and Pisces, in which the sun appears to be at its weakest; that is, dead or dying.
However, while the above analysis explains the solar nature of our Grand Master's death and Raising, Hiram Abiff was not raised from his original place of interment in midwinter. He was raised, we are told, in midsummer, the same time of the year during which he was struck down, only a mere fourteen days later. The explanation for this inconsistency is quite simple: midsummer and the feast day of St. John the Baptist fall near the sign of Leo, the Lion. If our Brethren will recall, it was by the Strong Grip of the Lion's Paw that our cherished Grand Master was said to have been raised. The Strong Grip alludes therefore in all likelihood to that mysterious force which raises the green crops from their fallow period in the black soil in midsummer, the same crops which, by midwinter, will be chopped down by that same fatal distribution of time. In the mythology of the ancient Egyptians, this phenomenon was represented by the allegorical death and resurrection of the alternately green and black faced Osiris, the same of whom, according to The Book of Coming Forth by Day, was raised from the murky waters of the Nile by his sibling and wife Isis in her guise as the lion goddess Sekhmet.
The association of resurrection with the feast day of the Baptist should come as no surprise. As the apostle Paul explains in Romans 6:3-8, baptism is symbolic of death and resurrection. It implies a death to the old, ignorant self and a resurrection into the new, perfected man. And, of course, the Baptist is the central figure associated with baptism in the New Testament. While we are indeed here making use of solar symbolism, our Brethren should make no mistake. Freemasonry is not a solar cult, and the sun is considered only as a symbolic representative of Deity and perhaps of the soul. In illustration of the first correlation, we are informed by William Preston that the point in the center of the circle represents
"the Centre of the Universe, the Divine Architect, whose goodness we represent in the sun and for the benefits we derive from this great luminary."
The sun was therefore chosen only as a symbolic representative of the life giving and illuminating qualities of the one Grand Architect of the Universe Himself.
As a symbol of the soul, the emblem is equally revealing. For, just as man appears to be chopped down at the end of his days, so too does his soul rise to a new and more glorious condition following his physical death. He is veritably resurrected into a new Dawn. This leads us to our final note on Midwinter.
In the lecture for the Entered Apprentice degree the candidate learns that the blazing star is indicative of Divine Providence. However, the blazing star was earlier said by Freemason Thomas Dunckerley to be emblematical of "the star which led the wise men to Bethlehem, proclaiming to mankind the nativity of the Son of God..." As Freemasonry concerns itself principally with allegory and symbol, we know that there must be more to this explanation than is immediately evident. It is perhaps for this reason that Freemason Albert Pike wrote cryptically in his lecture for the Entered Apprentice degree that the blazing star "originally...represented Sirius." Allow me to explain.
The most likely explanation for the events surrounding the birth of Christ when the same are considered as being allegorical rather than factual is an astrological one. According to scholars, the celebration of the birth of Jesus coincides with what the Greco-Romans celebrated as the rebirth of their solar deity. The reason for this is simple. As earlier explained, following the winter solstice on the twenty-first of December, the sun rises to its lowest annual point in the sky, thereby depriving the northern hemisphere of its life and light-granting influence. This phenomenon was observed by the Greco-Romans as being the allegorical death of the sun god. After remaining in this demoted, inert position for a total of three days, on the twenty-fifth of December the solar savior then begins his resurrection-like climb back into the heavens. The birth of the "Son of God" in Christian theology therefore corresponds to the rebirth of the sun god in Greco-Roman Paganism. This rebirth is heralded by the appearance of Sirius, identified as the Star of Bethlehem, on the horizon, in the precise location from where the sun begins its ascent back into the heavens on Christmas morning. Sirius quite literally marks the place where the sun will rise at that time, it being then directly aligned with the luminary. And, trailing behind the Dog-star are the three stars which constitute the belt in the constellation of the hunter Orion. According to some scholars, these three stars are potentially explanatory of the three wise men, the same of whom are said to have followed the Star of Bethlehem to discover the birthplace of the "Son of God" in Christian theology.
Moreover, all of this points to what many see as the deeply esoteric and astrotheological significance of the Christian myth. For, precisely nine months prior to the birth of the divine child at Christmas is the crucifixion and resurrection of the deity per the Easter celebration. As the English occultist Aleister Crowley wrote in Agape vel Liber C vel Azoth, “at Easter is the Crucifixion or Copulation, and nine months later is the Birth of the Child.” Indeed, for many pagan religions, springtime and the vernal equinox are a celebration of fertility and renewal.
In Freemasonry is also celebrated a symbolic death and restoration to light and life, and just as the 'resurrection' of the winter sun is heralded by the appearance of Sirius, i.e., by the appearance of the Star of Bethlehem on the horizon, so too is the restoration of light and resurrection to life in the candidate foreshadowed in the Entered Apprentice degree with the appearance of the blazing star in the center.
I believe this to be the true significance of the presence of the two Saints John in Masonic ritual and thus of the symbol of the point within the circle bounded by two parallel lines. The choice of the two Saints John as the patrons of our Craft on the part of our ritual progenitors is no haphazard one, but on the contrary is rich with meaning and implications far more profound than surfaces appear to indicate.
I would like to close with a pertinent quote from the famous psychologist C.G. Jung, who summed up the present lesson nicely in the following excerpt from his groundbreaking work The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious.
"It is not enough for [man to] see the sun rise and set; this external observation must at the same time be a psychic happening; the sun in its course must represent the fate of a god or hero who, in the last analysis, dwells nowhere except in the soul of man. All the mythologized processes of nature, such as summer and winter...are in no sense allegories of these objective occurrences; rather they are symbolic expressions of the inner, unconscious drama of the psyche which becomes accessible to man's consciousness by way of projection – that is, mirrored in the events of nature."
Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 31-Jan-18 01:34 by P.D. Newman.
|Masonry and Astrotheology||772||P.D. Newman||30-Jan-18 16:45|
|Re: Masonry and Astrotheology||353||Itatw70s||01-Feb-18 04:53|