KNIGHT OF THE SUN, OR PRINCE ADEPT.
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.
While yet the first oaks still put forth their leaves, man lost the perfect knowledge of the One True God, the Ancient Absolute Existence, the Infinite Mind and Supreme Intelligence; and floated helplessly out upon the shoreless ocean of conjecture. Then the soul vexed itself with seeking to learn whether the material Universe was a mere chance combination of atoms, or the work of Infinite, Uncreated Wisdom: . . whether the Deity was a concentrated, and the Universe an extended immateriality; or whether He was a personal existence, an Omnipotent, Eternal, Supreme Essence, regulating matter at will; or subjecting it to unchangeable laws throughout eternity; and to Whom, Himself Infinite and Eternal, Space and Time are unknown. With their finite limited vision they sought to learn the source and explain the existence of Evil, and Pain, and Sorrow; and so they wandered ever deeper into the darkness, and were lost; and there was for them no longer any God; but only a great, dumb, soulless Universe, full of mere emblems and symbols.
You have heretofore, in some of the Degrees through which you have passed, heard much of the ancient worship of the Sun, the Moon, and the other bright luminaries of Heaven, and of the Elements and Powers of Universal Nature. You have been made, to
some extent, familiar with their personifications as Heroes suffering or triumphant, or as personal Gods or Goddesses, with human characteristics and passions, and with the multitude of legends and fables that do but allegorically represent their risings and settings, their courses, their conjunctions and oppositions, their domiciles and places of exaltation.
Perhaps you have supposed that we, like many who have written on these subjects, have intended to represent this worship to you as the most ancient and original worship of the first men that lived. To undeceive you, if such was your conclusion, we have caused the Personifications of the Great Luminary of Heaven, under the names by which he was known to the most ancient nations, to proclaim the old primitive truths that were known to the Fathers of our race, before men came to worship the visible manifestations of the Supreme Power and Magnificence and the Supposed Attributes of the Universal Deity in the Elements and in the glittering armies that Night regularly marshals and arrays upon the blue field of the firmament.
We ask now your attention to a still further development of these truths, after we shall have added something to what we have already said in regard to the Chief Luminary of Heaven, in explanation of the names and characteristics of the several imaginary Deities that represented him among the ancient races of men.
ATHOM or ATHOM-RE, was the Chief and Oldest Supreme God of Upper Egypt, worshipped at Thebes; the same as the OM or AUM of the Hindu_s, whose name was unpronounceable, and who, like the BREHM of the latter People, was “The Being that was, and is, and is to come; the Great God, the Great Omnipotent, Omniscient, and Omnipresent One, the Greatest in the Universe, the Lord;” whose emblem was a perfect sphere, showing that He was first, last, midst, and without end; superior to all Nature-Gods, and all personifications of Powers, Elements, and Luminaries; symbolized by Light, the Principle of Life.
AMUN was the Nature-God, or Spirit of Nature, called by that name or AMUN-RE, and worshipped at Memphis in Lower Egypt, and in Libya, as well as in Upper Egypt. He was the Libyan Jupiter, and represented the intelligent and organizing force that develops itself in Nature, when the intellectual types or forms of bodies are revealed to the senses in the world’s order, by their
union with matter, whereby the generation of bodies is effected. He was the same with Kneph, from whose mouth issued the Orphic egg out of which came the Universe.
DIONUSOS was the Nature-God of the Greeks, as AMUN was of the Egyptians. In the popular legend, Dionusos, as well as Hercules, was a Theban Hero, born of a mortal mother. Both were sons of Zeus, both persecuted by Here. But in Hercules the God is subordinate to the Hero; while Dionusos, even in poetry, retains his divine character, and is identical with Iacchus, the presiding genius of the Mysteries. Personification of the Sun in Taurus, as his ox-hoofs showed, the delivered earth from the harsh dominion of Winter, conducted the mighty chorus of the Stars, and the celestial revolution of the year, changed with the seasons, and underwent their periodical decay. He was the Sun as invoked by the Eleans, Πυριγενης, ushered into the world amidst lightning and thunder, the Mighty Hunter of the Zodiac, Zagreus the Golden or ruddy-faced. The Mysteries taught the doctrine of Divine Unity; and that Power Whose Oneness is a seeming mystery, but really a truism, was Dionusos, the God of Nature, or of that moisture, which is the life of Nature, who prepares in darkness, in Hades or Iasion, the return of life and vegetation, or is himself the light and change evolving their varieties. In the Egean Islands he was Butes, Dardanus, Himeros or Imbros; in Crete he appears as Iasius or even Zeus, whose orgiastic worship, remaining unveiled by the usual forms of mystery, betrayed to profane curiosity the symbols which, if irreverently contemplated, were sure to be misunderstood.
He was the same with the dismembered Zagreus, the son of Persephoné, an Ancient Subterranean Dionusos, the horned progeny of Zeus in the Constellation of the Serpent, entrusted by his father with the thunderbolt, and encircled with the protecting dance of Curetes. Through the envious artifices of Here, the Titans eluded the vigilance of his guardians and tore him to pieces; but Pallas restored the still palpitating heart to his father, who commanded Apollo to bury the dismembered remains upon Parnassus.
Dionusos, as well as Apollo, was leader of the Muses; the tomb of one accompanied the worship of the other; they were the same, yet different, contrasted, yet only as filling separate parts in the same drama; and the mystic and heroic personifications, the God of Nature and of Art, seem, at some remote period, to have proceeded from a common source. Their separation was one of form
rather than of substance: and from the time when Hercules obtained initiation from Triptolemus, or Pythagoras received Orphic tenets, the two conceptions were tending to re-combine. It was said that Dionusos or Poseidon had preceded Apollo in the Oracular office; and Dionusos continued to be esteemed in Greek Theology as Healer and Saviour, Author of Life and Immortality. The dispersed Pythagoreans, “Sons of Apollo,” immediately betook themselves to the Orphic Service of Dionusos, and there are indications that there was always something Dionysiac in the worship of Apollo.
Dionusos is the Sun, that liberator of the elements; and his spiritual meditation was suggested by the same imagery which made the Zodiac the supposed path of the Spirits in their descent and their return. His second birth, as offspring of the highest, is a type of the spiritual regeneration of man. He, as well as Apollo, was preceptor of the Muses and source of inspiration. His rule prescribed no unnatural mortification: its yoke was easy, and its mirthful choruses, combining the gay with the severe, did but commemorate that golden age when earth enjoyed eternal spring, and when fountains of honey, milk, and wine burst forth out of its bosom at the touch of the thyrsus. He is the “Liberator.” 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. All soul is part of the Universal Soul, whose totality is Dionusos; and he leads back the vagrant spirit to its home, and accompanies it through the purifying processes, both real and symbolical, of its earthly transit. He died and descended to the Shades; and his suffering was the great secret of the Mysteries, as death is the grand mystery of existence. He is the immortal suitor of Psyche (the Soul), the Divine influence which physically called the world into being, and which, awakening the soul from its Stygian trance, restores it from earth to Heaven.
Of HERMES, the Mercury of the Greeks, the Thoth of the Egyptians, and the Taaut of the Phœnicians, we have heretofore spoken sufficiently at length. He was the inventor of letters and of Oratory, the winged messenger of the Gods, bearing the Caduceus wreathed with serpents; and in our Council he is represented by the ORATOR.
The Hindu_s called the Sun SURYA; the Persians, MITHRAS;
the Egyptians, OSIRIS; the Assyrians and Chaldæans, BEL; the Scythians and Etruscans and the ancient Pelasgi, ARKALEUS or HERCULES; the Phœnicians, ADONAI or ADON; and the Scandinavians, ODIN.
From the name SURYA, given by the Hindu_s to the Sun, the Sect who paid him particular adoration were called Souras. Their painters describe his car as drawn by seven green horses. In the Temple of Visweswara, at Benares, there is an ancient piece of sculpture, well executed in stone, representing him sitting in a car drawn by a horse with twelve heads. His charioteer, by whom he is preceded, is ARUN [from ו ?A?W?R, AUR the Crepusculum?], or the Dawn; and among his many titles are twelve that denote his distinct powers in each of the twelve months. Those powers are called Adityas, each of whom has a particular name. Surya is supposed frequently to have descended upon earth, in a human shape, and to have left a race on earth, equally renowned in Indian story with the Heliades of Greece. He is often styled King of the Stars and Planets, and thus reminds us of the Adon-Tsbauth (Lord of the Starry Hosts) of the Hebrew writings.
MITHRAS was the Sun-God of the Persians; and was fabled to have been born in a grotto or cave, at the Winter Solstice. His feasts were celebrated at that period, at the moment when the sun commenced to return Northward, and to increase the length of the days. This was the great Feast of the Magian religion. The Roman Calendar, published in the time of Constantine, at which period his worship began to gain ground in the Occident, fixed his feast-day on the 25th of December. His statues and images were inscribed, Deo-Soli invicto Mithræ–to the invincible Sun-God Mithras. Nomen invictum Sol Mithra. . . . Soli Omnipotenti Mithræ. To him, gold, incense, and myrrh were consecrated. “Thee,” says Martianus Capella, in his hymn to the Sun, “the dwellers on the Nile adore as Serapis, and Memphis worships as Osiris; in the sacred rites of Persia thou art Mithras, in Phrygia, Atys, and Libya bows down to thee as Ammon, and Phœnician Byblos as Adonis; and thus the whole world adores thee under different names.”
OSIRIS was the son of Helios (Phra), the “divine offspring con-generate with the dawn,” and at the same time an incarnation of Kneph or Agathodæmon, the Good Spirit, including all his possible manifestations, either physical or moral. He represented in a familiar form the beneficent aspect of all higher emanations and
in him was developed the conception of a Being purely good, so that it became necessary to set up another power as his adversary, called Seth, Babys or Typhon, to account for the injurious influences of Nature.
With the phenomena of agriculture, supposed to be the invention of Osiris, the Egyptians connected the highest truths of their religion. The soul of man was as the seed hidden in the ground, and the mortal framework, similarly consigned to its dark resting-place, awaited its restoration to life’s unfailing source. Osiris was not only benefactor of the living; he was also Hades, Serapis, and Rhadamanthus, the monarch of the dead. Death, therefore, in Egyptian opinion, was only another name for renovation, since its God is the same power who incessantly renews vitality in Nature. Every corpse duly embalmed was called “Osiris,” and in the grave was supposed to be united, or at least brought into approximation, to the Divinity. For when God became incarnate for man’s benefit, it was implied that, in analogy with His assumed character, He should submit to all the conditions of visible existence. In death, as in life, Isis and Osiris were patterns and precursors of mankind; their sepulchres stood within the temples of the Superior Gods; yet though their remains might be entombed at Memphis or Abydus, their divinity was unimpeached, and they either shone as luminaries in the heavens, or in the unseen world presided over the futurity of the disembodied spirits whom death had brought nearer to them.
The notion of a dying God, so frequent in Oriental legend, and of which we have already said much in former Degrees, was the natural inference from a literal interpretation of nature-worship; since nature, which in the vicissitudes of the seasons seems to undergo a dissolution, was to the earliest religionists the express image of the Deity, and at a remote period one and the same with the “varied God,” whose attributes were seen not only in its vitality, but in its changes. The unseen Mover of the Universe was rashly identified with its obvious fluctuations. The speculative Deity suggested by the drama of nature, was worshipped with imitative and sympathetic rites. A period of mourning about the Autumnal Equinox, and of joy at the return of Spring, was almost universal. Phrygians and Paphlagonians, Bœotians, and even Athenians, were all more or less attached to such observances; the Syrian damsels sat weeping for Thammuz or Adoni, mortally
wounded by the tooth of Winter, symbolized by the boar, its very general emblem: and these rites, and those of Atys and Osiris, were evidently suggested by the arrest of vegetation, when the Sun, descending from his altitude, seems deprived of his generating power.
Osiris is a being analogous to the Syrian ADONI; and the fable of his history, which we need not here repeat, is a narrative form of the popular religion of Egypt, of which the Sun is the Hero, and the agricultural calendar the moral. The moist valley of the Nile, owing its fertility to the annual inundation, appeared, in contrast with the surrounding desert, like life in the midst of death. The inundation was in evident dependence on the Sun, and Egypt, environed with arid deserts, like a heart within a burning censer, was the female power, dependent on the influences personified in its God. Typhon his brother, the type of darkness, drought, and sterility, threw his body into the Nile; and thus Osiris, the “good,” the “Saviour,” perished, in the 28th year of his life or reign, and on the 17th day of the month Athor, or the 13th of November. He is also made to die during the heats of the early Summer, when, from March to July, the earth was parched with intolerable heat, vegetation was scorched, and the languid Nile exhausted. From that death he rises when the Solstitial Sun brings the inundation, and Egypt is filled with mirth and acclamation anticipatory of the second harvest. From his Wintry death he rises with the early flowers of Spring, and then the joyful festival of Osiris found was celebrated.
So the pride of Jemsheed, one of the Persian Sun-heroes, or the solar year personified, was abruptly cut off by Zohak, the tyrant of the West. He was sawn asunder by a fish-bone, and immediately the brightness of Iran changed to gloom. Ganymede and Adonis, like Osiris, were hurried off in all their strength and beauty; the premature death of Linus, the burthen of the ancient lament of Greece, was like that of the Persian Siamek, the Bithynian Hylas, and the Egyptian Maneros, Son of Menes or the Eternal. The elegy called Maneros was sung at Egyptian banquets, and an effigy enclosed within a diminutive Sarcophagus was handed round to remind the guests of their brief tenure of existence. The beautiful Memnon, also, perished in his prime; and Enoch, whose early death was lamented at Iconium, lived 365 years, the number of
days of the solar year; a brief space when compared with the longevity of his patriarchal kindred.
The story of Osiris is reflected in those of Orpheus and Dionusos Zagreus, and perhaps in the legends of Absyrtus and Pelias, of Æson, Thyestes, Melicertes, Itys, and Pelops. Io is the disconsolate Isis or Niobe: and Rhea mourns her dismembered Lord, Hyperion, and the death of her son Helios, drowned in the Eridanus; and if Apollo and Dionusos are immortal, they had died under other names, as Orpheus, Linus, or Hyacinthus. The sepulchre of Zeus was shown in Crete. Hippolytus was associated in divine honors with Apollo, and after he had been torn to pieces like Osiris, was restored to life by the Pæonian herbs of Diana, and kept darkling in the secret grove of Egeria. Zeus deserted Olympus to visit the Ethiopians; Apollo underwent servitude to Admetus; Theseus, Peirithous, Hercules, and other heroes, descended for a time to Hades; a dying Nature-God was exhibited in the Mysteries, the Attic women fasted, sitting on the ground, during the Thesmophoria, and the Bœotians lamented the descent of Cora-Proserpine to the Shades.
But the death of the Deity, as understood by the Orientals, was not inconsistent with His immortality. The temporary decline of the Sons of Light is but an episode in their endless continuity; and as the day and year are more convenient subdivisions of the Infinite, so the fiery deaths of Phaëthon or Hercules are but breaks in the same Phœnix process of perpetual regeneration, by which the spirit of Osiris lives forever in the succession of the Memphian Apis. Every year witnesses the revival of Adonis; and the amber tears shed by the Heliades for the premature death of their brother, are the golden shower full of prolific hope, in which Zeus descends from the brazen vault of Heaven into the bosom of the parched ground.
BAL, representative or personification of the sun, was one of the Great Gods of Syria, Assyria, and Chaldea, and his name is found upon the monuments of Nimroud, and frequently occurs in the Hebrew writings. He was the Great Nature-God of Babylonia, the Power of heat, life, and generation. His symbol was the Sun, and he was figured seated on a bull. All the accessories of his great temple at Babylon, described by Herodotus, are repeated with singular fidelity, but on a smaller scale, in the Hebrew tabernacle and temple. The golden statue alone is wanted to complete
the resemblance. The word Bal or Baal, like the word Adon, signifies Lord and Master. He was also the Supreme Deity of the Moabites, Amonites, and Carthaginians, and of the Sabeans in general; the Gauls worshipped the Sun under the name of Belin or Belinus: and Bela is found among the Celtic Deities upon the ancient monuments.
The Northern ancestors of the Greeks maintained with hardier habits a more manly style of religious symbolism than the effeminate enthusiasts of the South, and had embodied in their Perseus, HERCULES and MITHRAS, the consummation of the qualities they esteemed and exercised.
Almost every nation will be found to have had a mythical being, whose strength or weakness, virtues or defects, more or less nearly describe the Sun’s career through the seasons. There was a Celtic, a Teutonic, a Scythian, an Etruscan, a Lydian Hercules, all whose legends became tributary to those of the Greek hero. The name of Hercules was found by Herodotus to have been long familiar in Egypt and the East, and to have originally belonged to a much higher personage than the comparatively modern hero known in Greece as the Son of Alcmena. The temple of the Hercules of Tyre was reported to have been built 2300 years before the time of Herodotus; and Hercules, whose Greek name has been sometimes supposed to be of Phœnician origin, in the sense of Circuitor, i.e. “rover” and “perambulator” of earth, as well as “Hyperion” of the sky, was the patron and model of those famous navigators who spread his altars from coast to coast through the Mediterranean, to the extremities of the West, where “ARKALEUS” built the City of Gades, and where a perpetual fire burned in his service. He was the lineal descendant of Perseus, the luminous child of darkness, conceived within a subterranean vault of brass; and he a representation of the Persian Mithras, rearing his emblematic lions above the gates of Mycenæ, and bringing the sword of Jemsheed to battle against the Gorgons of the West. Mithras is similarly described in the Zend-Avesta as the “mighty hero, the rapid runner, whose piercing eye embraces all, whose arm bears the club for the destruction of the Darood.”
Hercules Ingeniculus, who, bending on one knee, uplifts his club and tramples on the Serpent’s head, was, like Prometheus and Tantalus, one of the varying aspects of the struggling and declining Sun. The victories of Hercules are but exhibitions of
[paragraph continues] Solar power which have ever to be repeated. It was in the far North, among the Hyperboreans, that, divested of his Lion’s skin, he lay down to sleep, and for a time lost the horses of his chariot. Henceforth that Northern region of gloom, called the “place of the death and revival of Adonis,” that Caucasus whose summit was so lofty, that, like the Indian Meru, it seemed to be both the goal and commencement of the Sun’s career, became to Greek imaginations the final bourne of all things, the abode of Winter and desolation, the pinnacle of the arch connecting the upper and lower world, and consequently the appropriate place for the banishment .of Prometheus. The daughters of Israel, weeping for Thammuz, mentioned by Ezekiel, sat looking to the North, and waiting for his return from that region. It was while Cybele with the Sun-God was absent among the Hyperboreans, that Phrygia, abandoned by her, suffered the horrors of famine. Delos and Delphi awaited the return of Apollo from the Hyperboreans, and Hercules brought thence to Olympia the olive. To all Masons, the North has immemorially been the place of darkness; and of the great lights of the Lodge, none is in the North.
Mithras, the rock-born hero (Πετρογενης), heralded the Sun’s return in Spring, as Prometheus, chained in his cavern, betokened the continuance of Winter. The Persian beacon on the mountain-top represented the Rock-born Divinity enshrined in his worthiest temple; and the funeral conflagration of Hercules was the sun dying in glory behind the Western hills. But though the transitory manifestation suffers or dies, the abiding and eternal power liberates and saves. It was an essential attribute of a Titan, that he should arise again after his fall; for the revival of Nature is as certain as its decline, and its alternations are subject to the appointment of a power which controls them both.
“God,” says Maximus Tyrius, “did not spare His own Son [Hercules], or exempt Him from the calamities incidental to humanity. The Theban progeny of Jove had his share of pain and trial. By vanquishing earthly difficulties he proved his affinity with Heaven. His life was a continuous struggle. He fainted before Typhon in the desert; and in the commencement of the Autumnal season (cum longæ redit hora noctis), descended under the guidance of Minerva to Hades. He died; but first applied for initiation to Eumolpus, in order to foreshadow that state of religious preparation which should precede the momentous change. Even in Hades he
rescued Theseus and removed the stone of Ascalaphus, reanimated the bloodless spirits, and dragged into the light of day the monster Cerberus, justly reputed invincible because an emblem of Time itself; he burst the chains of the grave (for Busiris is the grave personified), and triumphant at the close as in the dawn of his career, was received after his labors into the repose of the heavenly mansions, living forever with Zeus in the arms of Eternal Youth.
ODIN is said to have borne twelve names among the old Germans, and to have had 114 names besides. He was the Apollo of the Scandinavians, and is represented in the Voluspa as destined to slay the monstrous snake. Then the Sun will be extinguished, the earth be dissolved in the ocean, the stars lose their brightness, and all Nature be destroyed in order that it may be renewed again. From the bosom of the waters a new world will emerge clad in verdure; harvests will be seen to ripen where no seed was sown, and evil will disappear.
The free fancy of the ancients, which wove the web of their myths and legends, was consecrated by faith. It had not, like the modern mind, set apart a petty sanctuary of borrowed beliefs, beyond which all the rest was common and unclean. Imagination, reason, and religion circled round the same symbol; and in all their symbols there was serious meaning, if we could but find it out. They did not devise fictions in the same vapid spirit in which we, cramped by conventionalities, read them. In endeavoring to interpret creations of fancy, fancy as well as reason must guide: and much of modern controversy arises out of heavy misapprehensions off ancient symbolism.
To those ancient peoples, this earth was the centre of the Universe. To them there were no other worlds, peopled with living beings, to divide the care and attention of the Deity. To them the world was a great plain, of unknown, perhaps inconceivable limits, and the Sun, the Moon, and the Stars journeyed above it, to give them light. The worship of the Sun became the basis of all the religions of antiquity. To them light and heat were mysteries; as indeed they still are to us. As the Sun caused the day, and his absence the night; as, when he journeyed Northward, Spring and Summer followed him; and when he again turned to the South, Autumn and inclement Winter, and cold and long dark nights ruled the earth; . . . as his influence produced the leaves and flowers, and ripened the harvests, and brought regular inundation,
he necessarily became to them the most interesting object of the material Universe. To them he was the innate fire of bodies, the fire of nature. Author of Life, heat, and ignition, he was to them the efficient cause of all generation, for without him there was no movement, no existence, no form. He was to them immense, indivisible, imperishable, and everywhere present. It was their need of light, and of his creative energy, that was felt by all men; and nothing was more fearful to them than his absence. His beneficent influences caused his identification with the Principle of Good; and the BRAHMA of the Hindu_s, the MITHRAS of the Persians, and ATHOM, AMUN, PHTHA, and OSIRIS, of the Egyptians, the BEL of the Chaldæans, the ADONAI of the Phœnicians, the ADONIS and APOLLO of the Greeks became but personifications of the Sun, the regenerating Principle, image of that fecundity which perpetuates and rejuvenates the world’s existence.
So too the struggle between the Good and Evil Principles was personified, as was that between life and death, destruction and re-creation; in allegories and fables which poetically represented the apparent course of the Sun; who, descending toward the Southern Hemisphere, was figuratively said to be conquered and put to death by darkness, or the genius of Evil; but, returning again toward the Northern Hemisphere, he seemed to be victorious, and to arise from the tomb. This death and resurrection were also figurative of the succession of day and night, of death, which is a necessity of life, and of life which is born of death; and everywhere the ancients still saw the combat between the two Principles that ruled the world. Everywhere this contest was embodied in allegories and fictitious histories: into which were ingeniously woven all the astronomical phenomena that accompanied, preceded, or followed the different movements of the Sun, and the changes of Seasons, the approach or withdrawal of inundation. And thus grew into stature and strange proportions the histories of the contests between Typhon and Osiris, Hercules and Juno, the Titans and Jupiter, Ormuzd and Ahriman, the rebellious Angels and the Deity, the Evil Genii and the Good; and the other like fables, found not only in Asia, but in the North of Europe, and even among the Mexicans and Peruvians of the New World; carried thither, in all probability, by those Phœnician voyagers who bore thither civilization and the arts. The Scythians lamented the death of Acmon, the Persians that of Zohak conquered
by Pheridoun, the Hindus that of Soura-Parama slain by Soupra-Muni, as the Scandinavians did that of Balder, torn to pieces by the blind Hother.
The primitive idea of infinite space existed in the first men, as it exists in us. It and the idea of infinite time are the first two innate ideas. Man cannot conceive how thing can be added to thing, or event follow event, forever. The idea will ever return, that no matter how long bulk is added to bulk, there must be, still beyond, an empty void without limit; in which is nothing. In the same way the idea of time without beginning or end forces itself on him. Time, without events, is also a void, and nothing.
In that empty void space the primitive men knew there was no light nor warmth. They felt, what we know scientifically, that there must be a thick darkness there, and an intensity of cold of which we have no conception. Into that void they thought the Sun, the Planets, and the Stars went down when they set under the Western Horizon. Darkness was to them an enemy, a harm, a vague dread and terror. It was the very embodiment of the evil principle; and out of it they said that he was formed. As the Sun bent Southward toward that void, they shuddered with dread: and when, at the Winter Solstice, he again commenced his Northward march, they rejoiced and feasted; as they did at the Summer Solstice, when most he appeared to smile upon them in his pride of place. These days have been celebrated by all civilized nations ever since. The Christian has made them feast-days of the church, and appropriated them to the two Saints John; and Masonry has done the same.
We, to whom the vast Universe has become but a great machine, not instinct with a great SOUL, but a clockwork of proportions unimaginable, but still infinitely less than infinite; and part at least of which we with our orreries can imitate; we, who have measured the distances and dimensions, and learned the specific gravity and determined the orbits of the moon and the planets; we, who know the distance to the sun, and his size; have measured the orbits of the flashing comets, and the distances of the fixed stars; and know the latter to be suns like our sun, each with his retinue of worlds, and all governed by the same unerring, mechanical laws and outwardly imposed forces, centripetal and centrifugal; we, who with our telescopes have separated the galaxy and the nebula into other stars and groups of stars; discovered
new planets, by first discovering their disturbing forces upon those already known; and learned that they all, Jupiter, Venus, and the fiery Mars, and Saturn and the others, as well as the bright, mild, and ever-changing Moon, are mere dark, dull, opaque clods like our earth, and not living orbs of brilliant fire and heavenly light; we, who have counted the mountains and chasms in the moon, with glasses that could distinctly reveal to us the temple of Solomon, if it stood there in its old original glory; we, who no longer imagine that the stars control our destinies, and who can calculate the eclipses of the sun and moon, backward and forward, for ten thousand years; we, with our vastly increased conceptions of the powers of the Grand Architect of the Universe, but our wholly material and mechanical view of that Universe itself; we cannot, even in the remotest degree, feel, though we may partially and imperfectly imagine, how those great, primitive, simple-hearted children of Nature felt in regard to the Starry Hosts, there upon the slopes of the Himalayas, on the Chaldæan plains, in the Persian and Median deserts, and upon the banks of that great, strange River, the Nile. To them the Universe was alive–instinct with forces and powers, mysterious and beyond their comprehension. To them it was no machine, no great system of clockwork; but a great live creature, an army of creatures, in sympathy with or inimical to man. To them, all was a mystery and a miracle, and the stars flashing overhead spoke to their hearts almost in an audible language. Jupiter, with his kingly splendors, was the Emperor of the starry legions. Venus looked lovingly on the earth and blessed it; Mars, with his crimson fires, threatened war and misfortune; and Saturn, cold and grave, chilled and repelled them. The ever-changing Moon, faithful companion of the Sun, was a constant miracle and wander; the Sun himself the visible emblem of the creative and generative power. To them the earth was a great plain, over which the sun, the moon, and the planets revolved, its servants, framed to give it light. Of the stars, some were beneficent existences that brought with them Spring-time and fruits and flowers,–some, faithful sentinels, advising them of coming inundation, of the season of storm and of deadly winds; some heralds of evil, which, steadily foretelling, they seemed to cause. To them the eclipses were portents of evil, and their causes hidden in mystery, and supernatural. The regular returns of the stars, the comings of Arcturus, Orion,
[paragraph continues] Sirius, the Pleiades, and Aldebarán, and the journeyings of the Sun, were voluntary and not mechanical to them. What wonder that astronomy became to them the most important of sciences; that those who learned it became rulers; and that vast edifices, the Pyramids, the tower or temple of Bel, and other like erections everywhere in the East, were builded for astronomical purposes?–and what wonder that, in their great child-like simplicity, they worshipped Light, the Sun, the Planets, and the Stars, and personified them, and eagerly believed in the histories invented for them; in that age when the capacity for belief was infinite; as indeed, if we but reflect, it still is and ever will be?
If we adhered to the literally historic sense, antiquity would be a mere inexplicable, hideous chaos, and all the Sages deranged: and so it would be with Masonry and those who instituted it. But when these allegories are explained, they cease to be absurd fables, or facts purely local; and become lessons of wisdom for entire humanity. No one can doubt, who studies them, that they all came from a common source.
And he greatly errs who imagines that, because the mythological legends and fables of antiquity are referable to and have their foundation in the phenomena of the Heavens, and all the Heathen Gods are but mere names given to the Sun, the Stars, the Planets, the Zodiacal Signs, the Elements, the Powers of Nature, and Universal Nature herself, therefore the first men worshipped the Stars, and whatever things, animate and inanimate, seemed to them to possess and exercise a power or influence, evident or imagined, over human, fortunes and human destiny.
For ever, in all the nations, ascending to the remotest antiquity to which the light of History or the glimmerings of tradition reach, we find, seated above all the gods which represent the luminaries and the elements, and those which personify the innate Powers of universal nature, a still higher Deity, silent, undefined, incomprehensible, the Supreme, one God, from Whom all the rest flow or emanate, or by Him are created. Above the Time-God Horus, the Moon-Goddess or Earth-Goddess Isis, and the Sun-God Osiris, of the Egyptians, was Amun, the Nature-God; and above him, again, the Infinite, Incomprehensible Deity, ATHOM. BREHM, the silent, self-contemplative, one original God, was the Source, to the Hindu_s, of Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva. Above Zeus, or before him, were Kronos and Ouranos. Over the Alohayim was the great
[paragraph continues] Nature-God AL, and still beyond him, Abstract Existence, IHUH–He that IS, WAS, and SHALL BE. Above all the Persian Deities was the Unlimited Time, ZERUANE-AKHERENE; and over Odin and Thor was the Great Scandinavian Deity ALFADIR.
The worship of Universal Nature as a God was too near akin to the worship of a Universal Soul, to have been the instinctive creed of any savage people or rude race of men. To imagine all nature, with all its apparently independent parts, as forming one consistent whole, and as itself a unit, required an amount of experience and a faculty of generalization not possessed by the rude uncivilized mind, and is but a step below the idea of a universal Soul.
In the beginning man had the WORD; and that WORD was from God; and out of the living POWER communicated to man in and by that WORD, came THE LIGHT of His Existence.
God made man in His own likeness. When, by a long succession of geological changes, He had prepared the earth to be his habitation, He created him, and placed him in that part of Asia which all the old nations agreed in calling the cradle of the human race, and whence afterward the stream of human life flowed forth to India, China, Egypt, Persia, Arabia, and Phœnicia. HE communicated to him a knowledge of the nature of his Creator, and of the pure, primitive, undefiled religion. The peculiar and distinctive excellence and real essence of the primitive man, and his true nature and destiny, consisted in his likeness to God. HE stamped His own image upon man’s soul. That image has been, in the breast of every individual man and of mankind in general, greatly altered, impaired, and defaced; but its old, half-obliterated characters are still to be found on all the pages of primitive history; and the impress, not entirely effaced, every reflecting mind may discover in its own interior.
Of the original revelation to mankind, of the primitive WORD of Divine TRUTH, we find clear indications and scattered traces in the sacred traditions of all the primitive Nations; traces which, when separately examined, appear like the broken remnants, the mysterious and hieroglyphic characters, of a mighty edifice that has been destroyed; and its fragments, like those of the old Temples and Palaces of Nimroud, wrought incongruously into edifices many centuries younger. And, although amid the ever-growing degeneracy of mankind, this primeval word of revelation was
falsified by the admixture of various errors, and overlaid and obscured by numberless and manifold fictions, inextricably confused, and disfigured almost beyond the power of recognition, still a profound inquiry will discover in heathenism many luminous vestiges of primitive Truth.
For the old Heathenism had everywhere a foundation in Truth; and if we could separate that pure intuition into nature and into the simple symbols of nature, that constituted the basis of all Heathenism, from the alloy of error and the additions of fiction, those first hieroglyphic traits of the instinctive science of the first men, would be found to agree with truth and a true knowledge of nature, and to afford an image of a free, pure, comprehensive, and finished philosophy of life.
The struggle, thenceforward to be eternal, between the Divine will and the natural will in the souls of men, commenced immediately after the creation. Cain slew his brother Abel, and went forth to people parts of the earth with an impious race, forgetters and defiers of the true God. The other Descendants of the Common Father of the race intermarried with the daughters of Cain’s Descendants: and all nations preserved the remembrance of that division of the human family into the righteous and impious, in their distorted legends of the wars between the Gods, and the Giants and Titans. When, afterward, another similar division occurred, the Descendants of Seth alone preserved the true primitive religion and science, and transmitted them to posterity in the ancient symbolical character, on monuments of stone: and many nations preserved in their legendary traditions the memory of the columns of Enoch and Seth.
Then the world declined from its original happy condition and fortunate estate, into idolatry and barbarism: but all nations retained the memory of that old estate; and the poets, in those early days the only historians, commemorated the succession of the ages of gold, silver, brass, and iron.
In the lapse of those ages, the sacred tradition followed various courses among each of the most ancient nations; and from its original source, as from a common centre, its various streams flowed downward; some diffusing through favored regions of the world fertility and life; but others soon losing themselves, and being dried up in the sterile sands of human error.
After the internal and Divine WORD originally communicated