As Above So Below Symbology Symbolical Masonry

Symbolical Masonry

Symbolical Masonry
Catalog # SKU3586
Publisher TGS Publishing
Weight 1.00 lbs
Author Name H. L. Haywood
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Symbolical Masonry

An Interpretation
of the
Three Degrees

H. L. Haywood

The question is often asked, How old is Masonry and where did it begin? The answer must depend entirely on one's definition of the word. If by that term one means a Freemason in the modern sense, who is a member of a subordinate lodge operating under the authority of a Grand Lodge and practising the rites of Symbolical Masonry, then Freemasonry came into existence in London in 1717.

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But this present day Craft is in historical continuity with lodges or guilds of Masons who in earlier days engaged in the tasks of actual building: if the word Freemason is to be extended to those brethren then we may say that Freemasonry came into existence in the twelfth century along with Gothic architecture and that its cradle was very probably the northwestern corner of France. But if the word Freemason is to be applied to any secret society that makes use, or has made use, of some of our symbols or signs, then Freemasonry goes a long way back into history, because there were organisations among the Græco-Roman peoples, two or three thousand years ago, that had much in common with ours: and it is certain that the ancient Egyptians made use of several of the symbols or emblems that we are accustomed to because we find them in "The Book of the Dead," and in other Egyptian memorials. If Freemasonry is given the widest possible sense of being merely a secret fraternity then it has existed in many parts of the world for thousands and thousands of years, because primitive tribes have made use of such organisations through an untold period of time.

All over the world at present, and throughout the world in the past, there have been existing all manner of secret societies which in many of their characteristics are so much like our own that writers at various and sundry times have been led to attribute to almost every one of the more important of them some connection with Freemasonry; and in many cases have sought to derive Freemasonry from them. This makes for a great deal of confusion of thought and leads men into very absurd positions as to what Freemasonry really is and what Freemasonry ought to do. A student can easily avoid this confusion if he begins his studies with the known facts of the now existing Fraternity and works his way back, step by step, and with scholarly care and accuracy, as far as ascertainable facts can carry him. The student who pursues this method will soon find that our Craft in its earlier days borrowed from, or derived many things from, or was otherwise connected in many ways with, other organisations: having an historical connection with Freemasonry these organisations properly come within the scope of Masonic history and research, whereas all other secret societies that have no such historical connection are of merely curious interest.

If we can judge by the practices of primitive tribes that now exist, and by the evidences of archæology, we are safe in assuming that long before the dawn of history men organised themselves into secret societies each of which had its headquarters or lodge building, produced ceremonies of initiation, carried on a religious cult, maintained law and order, made war, and so forth. A great deal of speculation is now rife concerning such primitive societies, and many very strange theories are being erected upon the basis of what little we know concerning this subject: a beginner in this field will be wisely advised if he is very cautious about accepting these speculations, because as a matter of fact we yet have learned very little, comparatively speaking at least, concerning primitive secret societies.

The first great secret organisations in history of which very much is known were the religious cults in the Græco-Roman world,-Egypt, Rome, Greece, etc., etc.,-which were known as the Ancient Mysteries. These powerful fraternities had very many things in common with our own Craft. Except in few instances men only were eligible to membership; they met in tiled lodge-rooms; employed ceremonies of initiation; collected fees and dues; divided their memberships into grades; etc.

One of the most typical of these Ancient Mysteries was Mithraism. It is believed that Mithra was originally an Aryan sun-god who, after passing through many transformations of form and attribute, was at last introduced into the Roman Empire. By that time he had become a saviour-god who had left his home in heaven to become a human being for a time in order to effect the salvation of the world: it was believed that after his death he ascended to his former place in heaven, there to judge the dead and to keep watch over his followers on earth. These followers were supposed to constitute a great army of militant worshippers who, after the fashion of Mohammedan devotees of present-day Islam, were to conquer the world for Mithra, who was heralded as the god of light making everlasting war on the god of darkness. The meeting place of the cult was known as a Mithræum. Men only were admitted to this membership, and they were obliged to undergo a severe ceremonial of initiation, in some respects strikingly like the drama of our Third Degree. The other Ancient Mysteries were in essentials similar to Mithraism and all of them anticipated in many ways, sometimes startlingly, the rites and customs of modern Freemasonry. The analogies are in many instances so close that some careful students believe that our own Fraternity is lineally descended from the Ancient Mysteries. This hypothesis is intelligible and one that commends itself in many ways, but as yet it has been impossible to establish all the links in the long chain of evolution.

450 pages - 8½ x 7 softcover

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