Here is a great chapter by Ani the Scribe, that is from the Book of the Dead called: Making the Transformation Into a Hawk of Gold that alludes to the secret teachings of alchemy and Gnosis. It goes along the lines of the ancient alchemists, who had allegorically transmuted lead into gold, and who in reality were activating their souls and higher selves through their chemical energies that they had hoped to master.
Much like Osiris, who in this chapter is like the golden hawk which cometh forth from his egg and declares, “I am master over myself and over the attributes of my head.”
Simply put, if you cannot master your thoughts or yourself, you will not turn lead into gold such like the golden hawk which cometh forth from his egg. This means that your animal self which is your body and brain, has dominion over your soul, mind and spirit, which is the light within your blood.
Making the Transformation Into a Hawk of Gold – The Osiris Ani saith:
I have risen up out of the seshett chamber, like
the golden hawk which cometh forth from his egg. I fly, I alight like a
hawk with a back of seven cubits, and the wings of which are like unto
the mother-of-emerald of the South. I have come forth from the Sektet
Boat, and my heart hath been brought unto me from the mountain of the
East. I have alighted on the Atet Boat, and there have been brought unto
me those who dwelt in their substance, and they bowed in homage before
me. I have risen, I have gathered myself together like a beautiful golden
hawk, with the head of the Benu (phoenix), and Ra hath entered in to hear my
speech]. I have taken my seat among the great gods, [the children of]
Nut. I have settled myself, the Sekhet-hetepet (the Field of Offerings)
is before me. I eat therein, I become a Spirit-soul therein, I am
supplied with food in abundance therein, as much as I desire. The Grain-
god (Nepra) hath given unto me food for my throat, and I am master over
The meaning of Nimr is “the leopard,” and rod means “to subdue.” Therefor, Nimrod either means the “leopard who subdues” or the “leopard tamer.” In Hebrew, Nimrod signifies spotted. He is often depicted in wearing a garment of a leopard.
Nimrod, who was born on December 25th, the High Sabbath of Babylon, was the founder of Babylon and the city of Nineveh. The Tower of Babble was said to have been erected by the descendants of Nimrod. There are also several places in Palestine that are named after the leopard. Places such as ‘Nimrah‘ (Numb, xxxii. 3, 36); ‘Nimrim’ (Isa. xv. 6, Jer. xlviii. 34), and ‘the mountains of the leopard’ (Cant. iv. 8). ‘Nemeirah’ is also a place near the Dead Sea.
According to the Book of Genesis and Books of Chronicles, Nimrod is the son of Cush, grandson of Harm and great-grandson of Noah. The Book of Jubilees mentions the name of “Nebrod” (the Greek form of Nimrod) only as being the father of Azurad, the wife of Eber and mother of Peleg (8:7). This account would thus make him an ancestor of Abraham, and hence of all Hebrews. His “kingdom” comprised Babel, Erech, Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Sinar, otherwise known as the land of Nimrod (Gen. 1:. 8-10; I Chron. i. 10; Micah v. 5 [A. V. 6]). (more…)
GOD is the author of everything that existeth; the Eternal, the Supreme, the Living, and Awful Being; from Whom nothing in the Universe is hidden. Make of Him no idols and visible images; but rather worship Him in the deep solitudes of sequestered forests; for He is invisible, and fills the Universe as its soul, and liveth not in any Temple!
Light and Darkness are the World’s Eternal ways. God is the principle of everything that exists, and the Father of all Beings. He is eternal, immovable, and Self-Existent. There are no bounds to His power. At one glance He sees the Past, the Present, and the Future; and the procession of the builders of the Pyramids, with us and our remotest Descendants, is now passing before Him. He reads our thoughts before they are known to ourselves. He rules the movements of the Universe, and all events and revolutions are the creatures of His will. For He is the Infinite Mind and Supreme Intelligence.
In the beginning Man had the WORD, and that WORD was from God: and out of the living power which, in and by that WORD, was communicated to man, came the LIGHT of his existence. Let no man speak the WORD, for by it THE FATHER made light and darkness, the world and living creatures!
The Chaldean upon his plains worshipped me, and the sea-loving Phœnician. They builded me temples and towers, and burned sacrifices to me upon a thousand altars. Light was divine to them, and they thought me a God. But I am nothing–nothing; and LIGHT is the creature of the unseen GOD that taught the true religion to the Ancient Patriarchs: AWFUL, MYSTERIOUS, THE ABSOLUTE.
Man was created pure; and God gave him TRUTH, as He gave him LIGHT. He has lost the truth and found error. He has wandered far into darkness; and round him Sin and Shame hover evermore. The Soul that is impure, and sinful, and defiled with earthly stains, cannot again unite with God, until, by long trials and many purifications, it is finally delivered from the old calamity; and Light overcomes Darkness and dethrones it, in the Soul.
God is the First; indestructible, eternal, UNCREATED, INDIVISIBLE. Wisdom, Justice, Truth, and Mercy, with Harmony and Love, are of His essence, and Eternity and Infinitude of Extension. He is silent, and consents with MIND, and is known to Souls through MIND alone. In Him were all things originally contained, and from Him all things were evolved. For out of His Divine SILENCE and REST, after an infinitude of time, was unfolded the WORD, or the Divine POWER; and then in turn the Mighty, ever-acting, measureless INTELLECT; and from the WORD were evolved the myriads of suns and systems that make the Universe; and fire, and light, and the electric HARMONY, which is the harmony of spheres and numbers: and from the INTELLECT all Souls and intellects of men.
In the Beginning, the Universe was but ONE SOUL. HE was THE ALL, alone with TIME and SPACE, and Infinite as they.
—— HE HAD THIS THOUGHT: “I Create Worlds:” and lo! the Universe, and the laws of harmony and motion that rule it. the expression of a thought of God; and bird and beast, and every living thing but Man: and light and air, and the mysterious cur-rents, and the dominion of mysterious numbers!
—— HE HAD THIS THOUGHT: “I Create Man, whose Soul shall be my image, and he shall rule.” And lo! Man, with senses, instinct, and a reasoning mind!
—— And yet not MAN! but an animal that breathed, and saw, and thought: until an immaterial spark from God’s own
[paragraph continues] Infinite Being penetrated the brain, and became the Soul: and lo, MAN THE IMMORTAL! Thus, threefold, fruit of God’s thought, is Man; that sees and hears and feels; that thinks and reasons; that loves and is in harmony with the Universe.
Before the world grew old, the primitive Truth faded out from men’s Souls. Then man asked himself, “What am I? and how and whence am I? and whither do I go?” And the Soul, looking inward upon itself, strove to learn whether that “I” were mere matter; its thought and reason and its passions and affections mere results of material combination; or a material Being enveloping an immaterial Spirit: . . and further it strove, by self-examination, to learn whether that Spirit were an individual essence, with a separate immortal existence, or an infinitesimal portion of a Great First Principle, inter-penetrating the Universe and the infinitude of space, and undulating like light and heat: . . and so they wandered further amid the mazes of error; and imagined vain philosophies; wallowing in the sloughs of materialism and sensualism, of beating their wings vainly in the vacuum of abstractions and idealities.
In ancient times the mark Tau was set on those who had been acquitted by their judges, as a symbol of innocence. The military commanders placed it on soldiers who escaped unhurt from the field of battle, as a sign of their safety under the Divine Protection.
It was a sacred symbol among the Druids. Divesting a tree of part of its branches, they left it in the shape of a Tau Cross, preserved it carefully, and consecrated it with solemn ceremonies. On the tree they cut deeply the word THAU, by which they meant God. On the right arm of the Cross, they inscribed the word HESULS, on the left BELEN or BELENUS, and on the middle of the trunk THARAMIS. This represented the sacred Triad.
It is certain that the Indians, Egyptians, and Arabians paid veneration to the sign of the Cross, thousands of years before the coming of Christ. Everywhere it was a sacred symbol. The Hindus and the Celtic Druids built many of their Temples in the form of a Cross, as the ruins still remaining clearly show, and particularly the ancient Druidical Temple at Classerniss in the Island of Lewis in Scotland. The Circle is of 12 Stones. On each of the sides, east, west, and south, are three. In the centre was the image of the Deity; and on the north an avenue of twice nineteen stones, and one at the entrance. The Supernal Pagoda at Benares is in the form of a Cross; and the Druidical subterranean grotto at New Grange in Ireland.
The Statue of Osiris at Rome had the same emblem. Isis and Ceres also bore it; and the caverns of initiation were constructed in that shape with a pyramid over the Sacellum.
Crosses were cut in the stones of the Temple of Serapis in Alexandria; and many Tau Crosses are to be seen in the sculptures of Alabastion and Esné, in Egypt. On coins, the symbol of the Egyptian God Kneph was a Cross within a Circle.
The Crux Ansata was the particular emblem of Osiris, and his sceptre ended with that figure. It was also the emblem of Hermes, and was considered a Sublime Hieroglyphic, possessing mysterious powers and virtues, as a wonder-working amulet.
The Sacred Tau occurs in the hands of the mummy-shaped figures between the forelegs of the row of Sphynxes, in the great avenue leading from Luxor to Karnac. By the Tau Cross the
[paragraph continues] Cabalists expressed the number 10, a perfect number, denoting Heaven, and the Pythagorean Tetractys, or incommunicable name of God. The Taft Cross is also found on the stones in front of the door of the Temple of Amunoth III, at Thebes, who reigned about the time when the Israelites took possession of Canaan: and the Egyptian Priests carried it in all the sacred processions.
Tertullian, who had been initiated, informs us that the Tau was inscribed on the forehead of every person who had been admitted into the Mysteries of Mithras.
As the simple Tau represented Life, so, when the Circle, symbol of Eternity, was added, it represented Eternal Life.
At the Initiation of a King, the Tau, as the emblem of life and key of the Mysteries, was impressed upon his lips.
In the Indian Mysteries, the Tau Cross, under the name of Tiluk, was marked upon the body of the candidate, as a sign that he was set apart for the Sacred Mysteries.
On the upright tablet of the King, discovered at Nimroud, are the names of thirteen Great Gods (among which are YAV and BEL); and the left-hand character of every one is a cross composed of two cuneiform characters.
The Cross appears upon an Ancient Phœnician medal found in the ruins of Citium; on the very ancient Buddhist Obelisk near Ferns in Ross-shire; on the Buddhist Round Towers in Ireland, and upon the splendid obelisk of the same era at Forres in Scot-land.
Upon the facade of a temple at Kalabche in Nubia are three regal figures, each holding a Crux Ansata.
Like the Subterranean Mithriatic Temple at New Grange in Scotland, the Pagodas of Benares and Mathura were in the form of a Cross. Magnificent Buddhist Crosses were erected, and are still standing, at Clonmacnoise, Finglas, and Kilcullen in Ireland. Wherever the monuments of Buddhism are found, in India, Ceylon, or Ireland, we find the Cross: for Buddha or Boudh was represented to have been crucified.
She learned that Osiris had, through mistake, had connection with her sister Nephte, which she discovered by a crown of leaves of the melilot, which he had left behind him. Of this connection a child was born, whom Isis, aided by her dogs, sought for, found, reared, and attached to herself, by the name of Anubis, her faithful guardian. The third full Moon occurs in Cancer, domicile of the Moon. The paranatellons of that sign are, the crown of Ariadne or Proserpine, made of leaves of the melilot, Procyon and Canis Major, one star of which was called the Star of Isis, while Sirius himself was honored in Egypt under the name of Anubis.
Isis repaired to Byblos, and seated herself near a fountain, where she was found by the women of the Court of a King. She was induced to visit his Court, and became the nurse of his son. The fourth full Moon was in Leo, domicile of the Sun, or of Adonis, King of Byblos. The paranatellons of this sign are the flowing water of Aquarius, and Cepheus, King of Ethiopia, called Regulus, or simply The King. Behind him rise Cassiopeia his wife, Queen of Ethiopia, Andromeda his daughter, and Perseus his son-in-law, all paranatellons in part of this sign, and in part of Virgo.
Isis suckled the child, not at her breast, but with the end of her finger, at night. She burned all the mortal parts of its body, and then, taking the shape of a swallow, she flew to the great column of the palace, made of the tamarisk-tree that grew up round the coffin containing the body of Osiris, and within which it was still enclosed. The fifth full Moon occurred in Virgo, the true image of Isis, and which Eratosthenes calls by that name. It pictured a woman suckling an infant, the son of Isis, born near the Winter Solstice. This sign has for paranatellons the mast of the Celestial Ship, and the swallow-tailed fish or swallow above it, and a portion of Perseus, son-in-law of the King of Ethiopia.
Isis, having recovered the sacred coffer, sailed from Byblos in a vessel with the eldest son of the King, toward Boutos, where Anubis was, having charge of her son Horus; and in the morning dried up a river, whence arose a strong wind. Landing, she hid the coffer in a forest. Typhon, hunting a wild boar by moonlight, discovered it, recognized the body of his rival, and cut it into fourteen pieces, the number of days between the full and new Moon, and in every one of which days the Moon loses a portion of the light that at the commencement filled her whole disk. The sixth full Moon occurred in Libra, over the divisions separating which
from Virgo are the Celestial Ship, Perseus, son of the King of Ethiopia and Boötes, said to have nursed Horus. The river of Orion that sets in the morning is also a paranatellon of Libra, as are Ursa Major, the Great Bear or Wild Boar of Erymanthus, and the Dragon of the North Pole, or the celebrated Python from which the attributes of Typhon were borrowed. All these surround the full Moon of Libra, last of the Superior Signs, and the one that precedes the new Moon of Spring, about to be reproduced in Taurus, and there be once more in conjunction with the Sun.
Isis collects the scattered fragments of the body of Osiris, buries them, and consecrates the phallus, carried in pomp at the Pamylia, or feasts of the Vernal Equinox, at which time the congress of Osiris and the Moon was celebrated. Then Osiris had returned from the shades, to aid Horus his son and Isis his wife against the forces of Typhon. He thus reappeared, say some, under the form of a wolf, or, others say, under that of a horse. The Moon, fourteen days after she is full in Libra, arrives at Taurus and unites herself to the Sun, whose fires she thereafter for fourteen days continues to accumulate on her disk from new Moon to full. Then she unites with herself all the months in that superior portion of the world where light always reigns, with harmony and order, and she borrows from him the force which is to destroy the germs of evil that Typhon had, during the winter, planted everywhere in nature. This passage of the Sun into Taurus, whose attributes he assumes on his return from the lower hemisphere or the shades, is marked by the rising in the evening of the Wolf and the Centaur, and by the heliacal setting of Orion, called the Star of Horns, and which thenceforward is in conjunction with the Sun of Spring, in his triumph over the darkness or Typhon.
three times a day, at Sunrise, Noon, and Sunset, bowing themselves three times before the Sun. They invoked the Stars and the Intelligences which inhabited them, offered them sacrifices, and called the fixed stars and planets gods. Philo says that the Chaldæans regarded the stars as sovereign arbiters of the order of the world, and did not look beyond the visible causes to any invisible and intellectual being. They regarded NATURE as the great divinity, that exercised its powers through the action of its parts, the Sun, Moon, Planets, and Fixed Stars, the successive revolutions of the seasons, and the combined action of Heaven and Earth. The great feast of the Sabæans was when the Sun reached the Vernal Equinox: and they had five other feasts, at the times when the five minor planets entered the signs in which they had their exaltation.
Diodorus Siculus informs us that the Egyptians recognized two great Divinities, primary and eternal, the Sun and Moon, which they thought governed the world, and from which everything receives its nourishment and growth: that on them depended all the great work of generation, and the perfection of all effects produced in nature. We know that the two great Divinities of Egypt were Osiris and Isis, the greatest agents of nature; according to some, the Sun and Moon, and according to others, Heaven and Earth, or the active and passive principles of generation.
And we learn from Porphyry that Chæremon, a learned priest of Egypt, and many other learned men of that nation, said that the Egyptians recognized as gods the stars composing the zodiac, and all those that by their rising or setting marked its divisions; the subdivisions of the signs into decans, the horoscope and the stars that presided therein, and which were called Potent Chiefs of Heaven: that considering the Sun as the Great God, Architect, and Ruler of the World, they explained not only the fable of Osiris and Isis, but generally all their sacred legends, by the stars, by their appearance and disappearance, by their ascension, by the phases of the moon, and the increase and diminution of her light; by the march of the sun, the division of time and the heavens into two parts, one assigned to darkness and the other to light; by the Nile and, in fine, by the whole round of physical causes.
Lucian tells us that the bull Apis, sacred to the Egyptians, was the image of the celestial Bull, or Taurus; and that Jupiter Ammon, horned like a ram, was an image of the constellation Aries. Arid Clemens of Alexandria assures us that the four principal
sacred animals, carried in their processions, were emblems of the four signs or cardinal points which fixed the seasons at the equinoxes and solstices, and divided into four parts the yearly march of the sun. They worshipped fire also, and water, and the Nile, which river they styled Father, Preserver of Egypt, sacred emanation from the Great God Osiris; and in their hymns in which they called it the god crowned with millet (which grain, represented by the pschent, was part of the head-dress of their kings), bringing with him abundance. The other elements were also revered by them: and the Great Gods, whose names are found inscribed on an ancient column, are the Air, Heaven, the Earth, the Sun, the Moon, Night, and Day. And, in fine, as Eusebius says, they regarded the Universe as a great Deity, composed of a great number of gods, the different parts of itself.
The same worship of the Heavenly Host extended into every part of Europe, into Asia Minor, and among the Turks, Scythians, and Tartars. The ancient Persians adored the Sun as Mithras, and also the Moon, Venus, Fire, Earth, Air, and Water; and, having no statues or altars, they sacrificed on high places to the Heavens and to the Sun. On seven ancient pyrea they burned incense to the Seven Planets, and considered the elements to be divinities. In the Zend-Avesta we find invocations addressed to Mithras, the stars, the elements, trees, mountains, and every part of nature. The Celestial Bull is invoked there, to which the Moon unites herself; and the four great stars, Taschter, Satevis, Haftorang, and Venant, the great Star Rapitan, and the other constellations which watch over the different portions of the earth.
ineffable symbol of religious mysteries, to be looked upon in profound silence. Such as it was, its figure was that of a small urn of burnished gold, hollowed very artistically, rounded at the bottom, and covered all over the outside with the wonderful hieroglyphics of the Egyptians. The spout was not elevated, but extended laterally, projecting like a long rivulet; while on the opposite side was the handle, which, with similar lateral extension, bore on its summit an asp, curling its body into folds, and stretching upward, its wrinkled, scaly, swollen throat.”
The salient basilisk, or royal ensign of the Pharaohs, often occurs on the monuments–a serpent in folds, with his head raised erect above the folds. The basilisk was the Phœnix of the serpent-tribe; and the vase or urn was probably the vessel, shaped like a cucumber, with a projecting spout, out of which, on the monuments of Egypt, the priests are represented pouring streams of the crux ansata or Tau Cross, and of sceptres, over the kings.
In the Mysteries of Mithras, a sacred cave, representing the whole arrangement of the world, was used for the reception of the Initiates. Zoroaster, says Eubulus, first introduced this custom of consecrating caves. They were also consecrated, in Crete, to Jupiter; in Arcadia, to the Moon and Pan; and in the Island of Naxos, to Bacchus. The Persians, in the cave where the Mysteries of Mithras were celebrated, fixed the seat of that God, Father of Generation, or Demiourgos, near the equinoctial point of Spring, with the Northern portion of the world on his right, and the Southern on his left.
Mithras, says Porphyry, presided over the Equinoxes, seated on a Bull, the symbolical animal of the Demiourgos, and bearing a sword. The equinoxes were the gates through which souls passed to and fro, between the hemisphere of light and that or darkness. The milky way was also represented, passing near each of these gates: and it was, in the old theology, termed the pathway of souls. It is, according to Pythagoras, vast troops of souls that form that luminous belt.
The route followed by souls, according to Porphyry, or rather their progressive march in the world, lying through the fixed stars and planets, the Mithriac cave not only displayed the zodiacal and other constellations, and marked gates at the four equinoctial and solstitial points of the zodiac, whereat souls enter into and escape from the world of generations; and through which they
pass to and fro between the realms of light and darkness; but it represented the seven planetary spheres which they needs must traverse, in descending from the heaven of the fixed stars to the elements that envelop the earth; and seven gates were marked, one for each planet, through which they pass, in descending or returning.
We learn this from Celsus, in Origen; who says that the symbolical image of this passage among the Stars, used in the Mithriac Mysteries, was a ladder, reaching from earth to Heaven, divided into seven steps or stages, to each of which was a gate, and at the summit an eighth, that of the fixed stars. The first gate, says Celsus, was that of Saturn, and of lead, by the heavy nature whereof his dull slow progress was symbolized. The second, of tin, was that of Venus, symbolizing her soft splendor and easy flexibility. The third, of brass, was that of Jupiter, emblem of his solidity and dry nature. The fourth, of iron, was that of Mercury, expressing his indefatigable activity and sagacity. The fifth, of copper, was that of Mars, expressive of his inequalities and variable nature. The sixth, of silver, was that of the Moon: and the seventh, of gold, that of the Sun. This order is not the real order of these Planets; but a mysterious one, like that of the days of the Week consecrated to them, commencing with Saturday, and retrograding to Sunday. It was dictated, Celsus says, by certain harmonic relations, those of the fourth.
Thus there was an intimate connection between the Sacred Science of the Mysteries, and ancient astronomy and physics; and the grand spectacle of the Sanctuaries was that of the order of the Known Universe, or the spectacle of Nature itself, surrounding the soul of the Initiate, as it surrounded it when it first descended through the planetary gates, and by the equinoctal and solstitial doors, along the Milky Way, to be for the first time immured in its prison-house of matter. But the Mysteries also represented to the candidate, by sensible symbols, the invisible forces which move this visible Universe, and the virtues, qualities, and powers attached to matter, and which maintain the marvellous order observed therein. Of this Porphyry informs us.
And in this sense, as presiding over life and death, Dionusos is in the highest sense the LIBERATOR: since, like Osiris, he frees the soul, and guides it in its migrations beyond the grave, preserving it from the risk of again falling under the slavery of matter or of some inferior animal form, the purgatory of Metempsychosis; and exalting and perfecting its nature through the purifying discipline of his Mysteries. “The great consummation of all philosophy,” said Socrates, professedly quoting from traditional and mystic sources, “is Death: He who pursues philosophy aright, is studying how to die.”
All soul is part of the Universal Soul, whose totality is Dionusos; and it is therefore he who, as Spirit of Spirits, leads back the vagrant spirit to its home, and accompanies it through the purifying processes, both real and symbolical, of its earthly transit. He is therefore emphatically the Mystes or Hierophant, the great Spiritual Mediator of Greek religion.
The human soul is itself δαιμονιος a God within the mind, capable through its own power of rivalling the canonization of the Hero, of making itself immortal by the practice of the good, and the contemplation of the beautiful and true. The removal to the Happy Islands could only be understood mythically; everything earthly must die; Man, like Œdipus, is wounded from his birth, his real elysium can exist only beyond the grave. Dionusos died and descended to the shades. His passion was the great Secret of the Mysteries; as Death is the Grand Mystery of existence. His death, typical of Nature’s Death, or of her periodical decay and restoration, was one of the many symbols of the palingenesia or second birth of man.
Man descended from the elemental Forces or Titans [Elohim], who fed on the body of the Pantheistic Deity creating the Universe by self-sacrifice, commemorates in sacramental observance this mysterious passion; and while partaking of the raw flesh of the victim, seems to be invigorated by a fresh draught from the fountain of universal life, to receive a new pledge of regenerated existence. Death is the inseparable antecedent of life; the seed dies in order to produce the plant, and earth itself is rent asunder and dies at the birth of Dionusos. Hence the significancy of the phallus, or of its inoffensive substitute, the obelisk, rising as an emblem of resurrection by the tomb of buried Deity at Lerna or at Sais.
Dionusos-Orpheus descended to the Shades to recover the lost Virgin of the Zodiac, to bring back his mother to the sky as Thyone; or what has the same meaning, to consummate his eventful marriage with Persephone, thereby securing, like the nuptials of his father with Semele or Danaë, the perpetuity of Nature. His under-earth office is the depression of the year, the wintry aspect in the alternations of bull and serpent, whose united series makes up the continuity of Time, and in which, physically speaking, the stern and dark are ever the parents of the beautiful and bright.
It was this aspect, sombre for the moment, but bright by anticipation, which was contemplated in the Mysteries: the human sufferer was consoled by witnessing the severer trials of the Gods; and the vicissitudes of life and death, expressed by apposite symbols, such as the sacrifice or submersion of the Bull, the extinction and re-illumination of the torch, excited corresponding emotions of alternate grief and joy, that play of passion which was present at the origin of Nature, and which accompanies all her changes.
The greater Eleusiniæ were celebrated in the month Boëdromion, when the seed was buried in the ground, and when the year, verging to its decline, disposes the mind to serious reflection. The first days of the ceremonial were passed in sorrow and anxious silence, in fasting and expiatory or lustral offices. On a sudden, the scene was changed: sorrow and lamentation were discarded, the glad name of Iacchus passed from mouth to mouth, the image of the God, crowned with myrtle and bearing a lighted torch, was borne in joyful procession from the Ceramicus to Eleusis, where, during the ensuing night, the initiation was completed by an imposing revelation. The first scene was in the προναος, or outer court of the sacred enclosure, where amidst utter darkness, or while the meditating God, the star illuminating the Nocturnal Mystery, alone carried an unextinguished torch, the candidates were overawed with terrific sounds and noises, while they painfully groped their way, as in the gloomy cavern of the soul’s sublunar migration; a scene justly compared to the passage of the Valley of the Shadow of Death. For by the immutable law exemplified in the trials of Psyche, man must pass through the terrors of the under-world, before he can reach the height of Heaven. At length the gates of the adytum were thrown open, a supernatural light streamed from the illuminated statue
SYMBOLS were the almost universal language of ancient theology. They were the most obvious method of instruction; for, like nature herself, they addressed the understanding through the eye; and the most ancient expressions denoting communication of religious knowledge, signify ocular exhibition. The first teachers of mankind borrowed this method of instruction; and it comprised an endless store of pregnant hieroglyphics. These lessons of the olden time were the riddles of the Sphynx, tempting the curious by their quaintness, but involving the personal risk of the adventurous interpreter. “The Gods themselves,” it was said, “disclose their intentions to the wise, but to fools their teaching is unintelligible;” and the King of the Delphic Oracle was said not to declare, nor on the other hand to conceal; but emphatically to “intimate or signify.”
The Ancient Sages, both barbarian and Greek, involved their meaning in similar indirections and enigmas; their lessons were conveyed either in visible symbols, or in those “parables and dark sayings of old,” which the Israelites considered it a sacred duty to hand down unchanged to successive generations. The explanatory tokens employed by man, whether emblematical objects or actions, symbol’s or mystic ceremonies, were like the mystic signs and portents either in dreams or by the wayside, supposed to be significant of the intentions of the Gods; both required the aid of anxious thought and skillful interpretation. It was only by a correct appreciation of analogous problems of nature, that the will of Heaven could be understood by the Diviner, or the lessons of Wisdom become manifest to the Sage.
The Mysteries were a series of symbols; and what was spoken there consisted wholly of accessory explanations of the act or image; sacred commentaries, explanatory of established symbols; with little of those independent traditions embodying physical or moral speculation, in which the elements or planets were the
actors, and the creation and revolutions of the world were intermingled with recollections of ancient events: and yet with so much of that also, that nature became her own expositor through the medium of an arbitrary symbolical instruction; and the ancient views of the relation between the human and divine received dramatic forms.
There has ever been an intimate alliance between the two systems, the symbolic and the philosophical, in the allegories of the monuments of all ages, in the symbolic writings of the priests of all nations, in the rituals of all secret and mysterious societies; there has been a constant series, an invariable uniformity of principles, which come from an aggregate, vast, imposing, and true, composed of parts that fit harmoniously only there.
Symbolical instruction is recommended by the constant and uniform usage of antiquity; and it has retained its influence throughout all ages, as a system of mysterious communication. The Deity, in his revelations to man, adopted the use of material images for the purpose of enforcing sublime truths; and Christ taught by symbols and parables. The mysterious knowledge of the Druids was embodied in signs and symbols. Taliesin, describing his initiation, says: “The secrets were imparted to me by the old Giantess (Ceridwen, or Isis), without the use of audible language.” And again he says, “I am a silent proficient.”
Initiation was a school, in which were taught the truths of primitive revelation, the existence and attributes of one God, the immortality of the Soul, rewards and punishments in a future life, the phenomena of Nature, the arts, the sciences, morality, legislation, philosophy, and philanthropy, and what we now style psychology and metaphysics, with animal magnetism, and the other occult sciences.
All the ideas of the Priests of Hindostan, Persia, Syria, Arabia, Chaldæa, Phœnicia, were known to the Egyptian Priests. The rational Indian philosophy, after penetrating Persia and Chaldæa, gave birth to the Egyptian Mysteries. We find that the use of Hieroglyphics was preceded in Egypt by that of the easily understood symbols and figures, from the mineral, animal, and vegetable kingdoms, used by the Indians, Persians, and Chaldæans to express their thoughts; and this primitive philosophy was the basis of the modern philosophy of Pythagoras and Plato.
All the philosophers and legislators that made Antiquity illustrious, were pupils of the initiation; and all the beneficent modifications in the religions of the different people instructed by them were owing to their institution and extension of the Mysteries. In the chaos of popular superstitions, those Mysteries alone kept man from lapsing into absolute brutishness. Zoroaster and Confucius drew their doctrines from the Mysteries. Clemens of Alexandria, speaking of the Great Mysteries, says: “Here ends all instruction. Nature and all things are seen and known.” Had moral truths alone been taught the Initiate, the Mysteries could never have deserved nor received the magnificent eulogiums of the most enlightened men of Antiquity,–of Pindar, Plutarch, Isocrates, Diodorus, Plato, Euripides, Socrates, Aristophanes, Cicero, Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius, and others;–philosophers hostile to the Sacerdotal Spirit, or historians devoted to the investigation of Truth. No: all the sciences were taught there; and those oral or written traditions briefly communicated, which reached back to the first age of the world.
EACH of us makes such applications to his own faith and creed, of the symbols and ceremonies of this Degree, as seems to him proper. With these special interpretations we have here nothing to do. Like the legend of the Master Khu_ru_m, in which some see figured the condemnation and sufferings of Christ; others those of the unfortunate Grand Master of the Templars; others those of the first Charles, King of England; and others still the annual descent of the Sun at the winter Solstice to the regions of darkness, the basis of many an ancient legend; so the ceremonies of this Degree receive different explanations; each interpreting them for himself, and being offended at the interpretation of no other.
In no other way could Masonry possess its character of Universality; that character which has ever been peculiar to it from its origin; and which enables two Kings, worshippers of different Deities, to sit together as Masters, while the walls of the first temple arose; and the men of Gebal, bowing down to the Phœnician Gods, to work by the side of the Hebrews to whom those Gods were abomination; and to sit with them in the same Lodge as brethren.
You have already learned that these ceremonies have one general significance, to every one, of every faith, who believes in God, and the soul’s immortality.
The primitive men met in no Temples made with human hands. “God,” said Stephen, the first Martyr, “dwelleth not in Temples made with hands.” In the open air, under the overarching mysterious sky, in the great World-Temple, they uttered their vows and thanksgivings, and adored the God of Light; of that Light that was to them the type of Good, as darkness was the type of Evil.
All antiquity solved the enigma of the existence of Evil, by supposing the existence of a Principle of Evil, of Demons, fallen Angels, an Ahriman, a Typhon, a Siva, a Lok, or a Satan, that, first falling themselves, and plunged in misery and darkness, tempted man to his fall, and brought sin into the world. All believed in a future life, to be attained by purification and trials; in a state or successive states of reward and punishment; and in a Mediator or Redeemer, by whom the Evil Principle was to be overcome, and the Supreme Deity reconciled to His creatures. The belief was general, that He was to be born of a Virgin, and suffer a painful death. The Indians called him Chrishna; the Chinese, Kioun-tse; the Persians, Sosiosch; the Chaldeans, Dhouvanai; the Egyptians, Har-Oeri; Plato, Love; and the Scandinavians, Balder.
Chrishna, the Hindoo Redeemer, was cradled and educated among Shepherds. A Tyrant, at the time of his birth, ordered all the male children to be slain. He performed miracles, say his legends, even raising the dead. He washed the feet of the Brahmins, and was meek and lowly of spirit. He was born of a Virgin; descended to Hell, rose again, ascended to Heaven, charged his disciples to teach his doctrines, and gave them the gift of miracles.
The first Masonic Legislator whose memory is preserved to us by history, was Buddha, who, about a thousand years before the Christian era, reformed the religion of Manous. He called to the Priesthood all men, without distinction of caste, who felt themselves inspired by God to instruct men. Those who so associated themselves formed a Society of Prophets under the name of Samaneans. They recognized the existence of a single uncreated God, in whose bosom everything grows, is developed and transformed.
[paragraph continues] The worship of this God reposed upon the obedience of all the beings He created. His feasts were those of the Solstices. The doctrines of Buddha pervaded India, China, and Japan. The Priests of Brahma, professing a dark and bloody creed, brutalized by Superstition, united together against Buddhism, and with the aid of Despotism, exterminated its followers. But their blood fertilized the new doctrine, which produced a new Society under the name of Gymnosophists; and a large number, fleeing to Ireland, planted their doctrines there, and there erected the round towers, some of which still stand, solid and unshaken as at first, visible monuments of the remotest ages.