By W.Bro. Rev. J.N. Cleland, M.A., D.D., P.P.Gr.Ch. (Kent).
In his Prestonian Lecture (“Medieval Master Masons and their Secrets”) for the year 1933, V.Bro.Rev.W.Covey-Crump, M.A., Gr. Chaplin (England), brought to the notice of the Craft the very important influence which was exercised by the school of Kabbalistic thought at the time of the formation of the 1717 Grant Lodge. Bro. Covey-Crump subsequently expanded his thesis in a Paper delivered before the Masonic Study society in London. Apart from this preliminary treatment of the subjects the study of the Kabbal ah and its connection and parallels with Freemasonry has been neglected, with the result that little is known of it by members of our Order. I have therefore, in the present Paper, endeavored to repair the deficiency, and I trust that such light as I have been able to throw on the subject will be of assistance to other Brethren who are also students of the inner meaning of our Craft and its rituals.
At the outset, I would like to say that in my opinion it is doubtful whether any Kabbalistic doctrines or ideas were actually introduced into the Masonic system by such of our reformers (using that word according to its fundamental meaning) as Ashmole, Fludd, Montague, Desaguliers and the many others who were associated with the inauguration of the Premier Grand Lodge. Rather, would I suggest that the Grand Lodge era represents the coalescence of a number of parallel channels through which the basic principles of the Ancient Wisdom had been transmitted through the Middle Ages, and which it was than decided under reservations to reveal to a section of the thinking public. This view receives confirmation from the works of authors who have previously written concerning the same subject, for nearly all of them admit that Kabbalism had some influence on the decisions made during the period of transition from Operative to Speculative. Even Bro. Robert Frete Gould, over cautious as he is, concedes that Freemasonry might have received “no slight tinge” from those students of the Kabbalah who have been identified as being numbered among the leading minds of our Order. These students, he informs us, were possibly more numerous than is generally supposed and the larger the number the greater is the probability that some of the more influential among them did indoctrinate their brethren with their peculiar wisdom” (Gould’s History). To sum up, the available evidence warrants the conclusion that long before the emergence of Speculative Freemasonry as an organized Society, the root principles of t he Ancient Wisdom appear to have been grafted upon the decaying symbolism of the Guild and Fellowship of Operative Masonry in Kabbalistic guise. However, before proceeding to demonstrate this close connection which undoubtedly exists between the Kabbalah and Freemasonry, I must give some indication of what the Kabbalah really is because the average Masonic student has only a hazy idea for what purpose the doctrine was evolved.
According to the definition contained in the Oxford Dictionary the Kabbalah is, “Jewish oral tradition; mystic interpretation; esoteric doctrine; occult lore”. A better and more explicit definition perhaps, is: “the Kabbalah is the Judaic veil which hides from the vulgar gaze the wisdom of Israel”. The word Kabbalah (however spelt) is derived from the Hebrew QBLH, the literal interpretation of which is, “an unwritten or oral tradition”, from the Hebrew verb QBL - “to receive”. In other words, a Kabbalist may be described as a student of the hidden meaning of Scriptures, which he interprets by the aid of what is known as the symbolical Kabbalah. It will not be possible in this Paper to go into the history of the various schools of Hebrew mystics from whom the Kabbalistic tradition issued, but nevertheless it will be necessary to refer briefly to some of them. Among the best known are the Essenes who are described by Philo as “eminently worshippers of God”, by which he means to imply that they essayed to keep their minds in a priestly state of holiness. Plato, speaking of the Essenes, also states that “they study only that philosophy which pertains to the existence of God and the beginning of all things, otherwise they devote all their attention to ethics, using as their instructors the laws of their fathers, which, without the outpouring of the Divine Spirit, the human mind could not have devised...... for, following their ancient traditions, they attained their philosophy by means of allegorical interpretations .... of the love of God they exhibit myriads of examples, inasmuch as they strive for a continued uninterrupted life of purity and holiness; no one possesses a house absolutely as his own, one which at the same time does not belong to all; for, in addition to living together in companies, their houses are open also to their adhorants coming from other quarters. They have one storehouse for all, and the same diet; their garments belong to all in common, and their meals are taken in common.” From this description, we may be pardoned if we commend them as excellent examples of the true practice of Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth. The following characteristics of the Essenes are important in regard to our modern Freemasonry, and should be carefully noted:-
1..The great stress which they laid upon Fellowship.
2..Their distinction from the general populace by their higher sanctity.
3..Their devotion to the study of the knowledge of God, and of the beginning of all things.
4..Their love of allegorical interpretation.
These characteristics surely present a fair picture of Freemasonry as it ought to be. Another significant mystical group were known as the HASHAIM (“the secret ones”). The members of this group reserved a room in their houses for the reception of a charity box, where money could be deposited or withdrawn in the utmost privacy; the contents of these charity boxes were collected and distributed by Almoners appointed for the purpose. A third group were the VATIKIN (“men of firm principles”), who are further described as “men who were meek and carried out the Commandment from pure love”; meekness here stands for something infinitely higher than the moral idea popularly associated with that term, and its attainment could only be realized after a long and strenuous training.
One of the most interesting phases of Hebrew mystical thought is that known as the MERKABAH (“Chariot”) Mysticism, which is peculiarly associated with the interpretation of the first chapter of the Book of Ezekiel. And here, I would call attention to a very curious prohibition existing in regard to the inner meaning of the first chapters of the Book of Genesis. It was absolutely forbidden to explain the secret doctrine to more than one person at a time, and in the case of the Morkabah lore it was also forbidden to divulge “even to one by himself unless he be a sage and of an original turn of mind.” This prohibition is referred to by Rabbi Zeera, who, writing in the third century A.D. declares, “we may not divulge even the first words of the chapters unless it be a chief of the Beth Din - “House of Judgment”, a technical term for the Jewish Court of Law - or, to one whose heart is tempered by age and responsibility.” Expressed Masonically the prohibition a pplied to all those who were not “of mature age, sound judgment and strict morals”. In the Merkabah lore ministering Angels figure prominently, especially one named Sandalphon (a corruption of the Greek Sunadelphon - meaning co-brother), and this is significant from the point of view of Freemasonry. The idea of the Word of God becoming transformed into an angel and performing tasks among men is also found in the Logos doctrine expounded by Philo, and forms the proem of the Gospel according to St. John. It is likewi se clearly linked with the conception of the Spiritual Marriage (human and divine) which figures largely in the Alchemic and Rosicrucian philosophies. We may also note that in the Old Testament, Israel is consistently alluded to as the “Bride”, while God is represented as the ideal “Bridegroom”, arrayed in garments displaying the dignity of manhood, and here, in the profoundest mystical sense, we have a direct link with our Masonic tradition of the quest for the Lost Word.
The later Rabbinical epoch (circa 700-1100 A.D. was productive of a large mystical literature, one branch of which, the HEKALOT (“Halls”) is reputed to have had for its origin and inspiration YOREDE MERKABAH (“Riders in the Chariot”). According to Dr. Louis Ginsberg these mystics were able “by various manipulations to enter into a state of auto-hypnosis in which they declared they saw heaven open before them and beheld its mysteries”. The same writer also affirms: “It was also believed that he only could u ndertake this Merkabah-ride who was in possession of all religious knowledge, observed all the commandments and precepts, and was almost superhuman in the purity of his life. This, however, was regarded usually as a matter of theory, and less perfect men also attempted, by fasting and prayer, to free their senses from the impressions of the outer world, and succeeded in entering into a state of ecstasy in which they recounted their heavenly visions”. Abelson (“Jewish Mysticism”), quoting this, points out t hat much of the belief still survives. Modern research assigns a much earlier date to the origin of Morkabah mysticism, and it may well be that it is a syncretism of Hebrew, Mithraic and Neo-Platonic elements.
The Kabbalah is the ancient Chaldean Sacred Doctrine, an occult tradition handed down by oral transmissions but which, although accepting tradition, is not in itself composed only of traditional teachings. It was once a fundamental science, not-withstanding the undoubted fact that it is now disfigured by the additions and accretions of centuries, and by the interpolation of western Occultists, more especially those of Christian mystics. Originally the Kabbalah was communicated only verbally, or “from mouth to ear”, and this became known as the Theoretic Kabbalah. There also came into being a Practical Kabbalah which concerned itself largely with the interpretation of the letters of the Hebrew Alphabet, as images or types of sounds, of numbers and of ideals. History bristles with the names of learned and intellectual men who were students of the Kabbalah, including Paracelsus, Henry Kunrath, Jacob Boehme, Robert Fludd, the two Van Helmonts and Cornel ius Agrippa. There are to be found Cardinals, Abbots and ev en Popes among the Churchmen, and exponents of almost every branch of science and learning have numbered in the ranks, ranging from Masters of the Art to the merest dabblers. The origin of the Kabbalah is lost in the mists of antiquity, but there is evidence, even documentary, as far back as the Rabbis of the Second Temple, 515 B.C. Before that date we have no proof of written records, and there is no hint of an author, nor any trace of its first tea chers. Nevertheless, we do know that the Kabbalah must ha ve existed for centuries in a very complete form before anything was committed to writing, or otherwise recorded. One curious point to note is the way in which the Kabbalistic tradition has run parallel to, and yet kept distant from, the exoteric Pentateuch (the first five books of the Old Testament), and also from the enormous mass of commentaries thereon, the Mishna and Gemara, which together form the Talmud. The phenomenon is to be observed in I ndia also, where the esoteric treatises, the Upanishds, gr ew alongside the purely exoteric Brahmans and Puranas. Indeed, it must be recognised that there has been, and always will be, a hidden side to Religion; even in the Church of Rome the name, if not the fact, still is retained in the term, “The Discipline of the Secret.” We now pass to a consideration of some of the main Kabbalistic works. First and foremost must be placed the SEPHER YETZIRAH (the “Book of Formation”), which is by far the oldest work extant in the Hebrew language. This Book outlines a philosophical scheme of Creation, bringing out parallels between the origin of the world, the Sun, the Planets, the chemical elements, and man; it also deals with the senses and other parts of the make-up of man. Herein the twenty-t wo letters of the Hebrew Alphabet are divided into a Triad, a Heptad and a Dodecad; three Mother letters, the foundation of the Alphabet, and representing Air, Fire and Water, from which three basic elements all Nature took form; seven Double letters, each expressing a double significance, and representing the seven Planets and other septenaries; twelve Single or Simple letters corresponding to the months of the year, the Zodiacal Signs, and human organs. The Sepher Yetzirah is mentioned in both the Jerusa lem and Babylonian Talmuds, and is written in that peculiar Neo-Hebraic language used in the Mishna commentaries on the Pentateuch. Next in importance is the ZOHAR (the “Book of Splendour” or “of Light”), its very name recalling at once the emphasis which is laid upon the search for “Light” in our modern Freemasonry, as well as the association with “Light” as the central fact and object of quest and worship in ancient Egypt. The Zohar is a collection of separate treatises relating to souls, angels, cosmogon y and to God. There are many other Kabbalistic treatises, but the two books I have mentioned are the most important.
A study of the Kabbalah reveals a two-fold division; one part devoted to dogmatic and doctrinal research and known as the “Dogmatic Kabbalah”, the other concerning itself with the practical or magical aspect and described as the “Practical Kabbalah”. Both of these branches have produced many outstanding figures, and both of them have their representatives living today. The Dogmatic Kabbalah deals largely with philosophical conceptions of God, of Angels, and of other Beings presumably more spiritual than Man ; it considers the human soul and its aspects and parts, and is devoted also to a study of pre-existence, reincarnation and the division of the various planes of existence. The Practical Kabbalah is concerned with the mystical and allegorical interpretation of the Old Testament, dealing exhaustively with each phrase, word and letter, and the connection between the letters and numbers and the different modes of their inter-relation. It also lays down the main principles of the three great sections of the Science of NOTARICON and TEMURA. Further, the Practical Kabbalah contains instructions for the making and use of amulets, magic squares, the use of the Divine Names and those of the various Orders of angels. One of the principal concepts found in the Kabbalah is the idea of spiritual wisdom being reached by thirty-two paths, comprising ten numbers and twenty-two letters; the ten SEPHIROTH (“Holy Voices”) chanting by the Crystal Sea, and the twenty-two Occu lt Forces of the Universe.
No exposition of Hebrew mysticism would be complete without a reference to the SHECHINAH mysticism. The Hebrew Scriptures contain two basic elements of Theological teaching: God conceived of as Father, and conceived of as King. Being anxious to exclude oppressors of their people, the Rabbis at first limited the conception of the Fatherhood of God to Jews, but as the course of Hebrew history advanced and the mystical tradition widened, a more spiritualized conception gradually emerged, and the idea of Divin e Parenthood became linked with that of a Kingdom comprising the Elect of God called out from all the nations. None the less, in the Rabbinical Schools the two conceptions, the Fatherhood and the Kingdom of God, found expression in the strict fellowship within the communal life, and this was the basis of the Shechinah mysticism. The word Shechinah is derived from the Hebrew root SHACHAN (to dwell), and it symbolises that “Divine-human fellow ship which only fails when the human partner is in sin.” It involv es what, in the words of Brother Lawrence, is described as “the Practice of the Presence of God”. A famous Hebrew exponent declares that, “the Shechinah only resides with him who is at once wise, strong and wealthy; where wise indicates the perfection of spirituality; strong shows out the perfection of physical qualities, and wealthy - or, as we are accustomed to call it - beautiful, denotes the perfection of the moral qualities.” In the o ld Testament (Numbers, chapter 5. verses 24-26), the blessing prono unced by the priest is given in the terms of Shechinah mysticism;
“the Lord bless thee, and keep thee; the Lord make his face to shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee; the Lord lift up His countenance - upon thee and give thee peace”. One of the best illustrations of underlying meaning of the Shechinah is contained in the passage which occurs in the Book of Exodus (chapter 20, verse 18); “All the people saw”. the voice of God in vario us forms, for this links up the Hebrew conception with the Greek Log os or Word. This idea of visible speech appears quite often in Scripture and mystical literature, and the implication is that the phenomenon was not a vocal vibration, but was, as it were, a ray of virtue so exceedingly brilliant as to be beyond the capacity of the rational faculty. The same idea is also sometimes expressed in terms of smell, as Aaron’s Rod is said to have smelt the Shechinah.
Kabbalisticly the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet are used to illustrate - or veil - the Theosophic or doctrinal element.
The three letters which play the principal part in this are, ALEPH,
MEM and SHIN, and these are called Mother letters because they
signify the three divisions into which the alphabet naturally
(1)..MUTES, possessing of themselves no sound except in combination with a vowel. “M” will be found to be merely a compression of the lips.
(2)..SIBILANTS, or hissing sounds, denoted by SH.
(3)..ASPIRATES, which the ancient Theosophists hold to be intermediate between the other two groups. “A” was taken to represent this group.
All other letters were held to be born from the three Mothers, and these were associated with the three primordial elements; Mem with WATER, because the chief product of water is fish, and fish are the mute creation; Shin with FIRE, from the hissing of the flames; and Aleph with AIR, as having an airy, vacant pronunciation, holding the balance between mute and sibilant, as air holds the balance between fire and water. Speaking of the Mother letters, the Sepher Yetzirah says of them: “The heavens were produc ed from Fire; the earth from Water; and the air from the Spirit is as a reconciler between the Fire and the Water ... from the Fire was made heat, from the Water was made cold, and from the Air was produced the temperate state, again a mediator between them.” From the three Mother letters come forth seven Double letters: BETH, GIMEL, DALETH, KAPH, PE, RESH and TAU, each embodying the characteristics of the sacred Planets, and just as each have a double aspect and influence, so the seven double letters have two aspects, or their hard and soft sounds, which modify the meaning of the words in which they are used. There are finally twelve simple letters which are associated with the twelve signs of the Zodiac: HEH, VAU, ZAIN, CHETH, TETH, YOD, LAMED, NUN, SAMECH, OIN, TZADDI and QOPH, These Simple letters give special force to the words in which they are used, modified by the varying power of the Double letters in the word, just as the twelve Houses give significance t o a Horoscope, but are modified by the posit ion of the Planets in each House. Hence, the twelve simple letters represent the twelve properties or potencies which make up the earth’s aura, while the seven double letters, like the seven Planets, represent the seven ELOHIM oppressed through the seven Nature notes, and the seven colors into which the One Light (or Yod) is broken up. It is significant to note that the division of the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet into groups of three, seven and twelve letters respectively, corresponds to the number of units shown on the three parts of the traditional form of the “True Cross”, viz. three units the upper arm, seven the cross-bar, and twelve the upright below the cross-bar.
We may now consider the Kabbalah in the light of the two main divisions, the Dogmatic and the Practical, but must not lose sight of the fact that the whole teaching is based upon the assumption that every sentence, phrase, word and letter of the Hebrew Pentateuch is Divinely inspired, and that no “Jod nor tittle” may be changed or neglected. One of the most famous of the 17th. century Rabbins, Rabbi Menassek ben Israel, compares the Mosaic books to the body of man, the Mishna (commentaries) to his soul; and the Kabbalah to the spirit inhabiting the soul. Simon ben Yochai says: “Woe unto the man who sees in the Torah nothing but simple narratives and ordinary words, for if, in truth, it contained only that, we should have been able, even today, also to compose a Torah which would be, in very much another way, worthy of regard. In order to find simple statements we should only have to betake ourselves to the ordinary legislators, among whom we could find valuable words in even greater quantity. It would suffice us to imitate them and to make a law after their words and example.
But it is not thus. Every word of the Torah contains an elevated sense and a sublime mystery”. He also affirms: “The narratives of the law are but the garments of the Law. Woe unto him who takes this garment for the Law itself! It is in this sense, that David spoke saying, “Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy Law” (Psalm 119, verse 18). There are fools who, seeing a man covered with a beautiful garment, look no further than that; and yet that which gives a worth to the garment is his body, and what is more precious than that, his soul. The Law, too, has its body. There are precepts which one might call the body of the law. The ordinary narratives which are intermingled are the garments with which the body is covered. Simpletons have regard only to the garments or narratives of the Law.... the better instructed pay no regard to the garment, but to the body which it encloses.
Finally, the wise, the servants of the Supreme King, they who inhabit the heights of Sinai, are concerned only with the soul which is the foundation of all else, which is the real Law.” I have already mentioned that there are three methods of interpretation applicable to the Practical Kabbalah, and as much in Freemasonry is undoubtedly concealed under Kabbalistic veils, it is desirable that students should know something about them. The following is therefore a brief explanation suitable as an introduction for beginners:-
(1)..GEMATRIA: is the method of interpretation by means of which a name or word of a certain numerical value is related to others of the same value. In this manner numbers become associated with ideas. An example commonly given is MShICh (Messiah) which numerically is 358, which is also the numerical value of IBA ShILH (“Shiloh shall come” - Genesis, chapter 49, verse 10). The letter value of Shin is 300, and this became an emblem of Divinity because Ruach Elohim (RUCh ALHIM), “The spirit of the Living Go d,” is also 300 when interpreted numerically.
(2)..NOTARICON: or Abbreviation, takes two forms: (a) .. A word is formed from the initials or finals of a sentence. For example in the Book of Deuteronomy (chapter 30, verse 12), Moses asks, “Who shall go up for us to Heaven?” - MI IOLH LNV HShMILH - the initials spelling MILH, meaning Circumcision, and the finals IHVH, the Holy Name or Tetregrammaton. For this reason it is claimed that Circumcision is a feature of the way to God in heaven.
(b)..Is the reverse of this process.
(3)..TEMURA: is more complicated and it has led to a great variety of modes of interpretation. Many commonly used ciphers are based upon its permutations, and one example is that of writing half of the alphabet, and under it, the other half reversed, then substituting the English A for Z. The Hebrew A for T, and so on. Each such permutation has a name, the complete series being known as the combinations of “Tziruph.” Again, a square of 22 by 22 is frequently used, the letters of the Hebrew alphabet being pl aced in each square in order up and down, and then read across or diagonally. The well known Playfair Cypher is based upon this principle, is based upon this principle, as also is the so-called Mark Degree Cypher (the Kabbalah of Nine Chambers), which is incidentally, used in the M.M.T.B. Other developments involve numerical expansions and contractions, and of these the best known is probably the Tetrogrammaton (JHVH) expressed numerically as 26, or reduced to a digit - 8 (JHVH in numbers is 10,5,6,5 i.e. 2 6, which reduced is 2 plus 6, 3). According to this method the Holy One, blessed be His Name, is recognised as a Trinity, because God Almighty - AL ShDI - is 3, 4, 5, which totals 12, and reduces to 3, a triad. Masonic students will not fail to note the connection here with the Pythagorean 3 - 4 - 5 triangle as a symbol of three-fold Deity. By repeating the Tetragrammaton four times the 3 - 4 - 5 triangle becomes an important glyph; one complet e name is placed in the centre, and the other three are mixed and divided into words of 3, 4 and 5, corresponding to the sides of the triangle, and reading HIH, HVVH, VIHIH) the whole reading JEHOVAH - that was, is, and is to be.
It will not be possible, within the limits of the present Paper, to describe the Dogmatic Kabbalah in detail, and I must therefore confine myself to quoting from the seven ideals of Kabbalism as these are summarized by Dr. Wynn Westcott:-
(1)..God, the Holy One, the Supreme Incomprehensible One, AIN SUPH, is not the direct Creator of the world. Everything proceeded from the primordial source by successive emanations, each reaching a lower level than the preceding one. Hence, the Universe is, in fact, God manifested, the last and farthest removed production being matter, which is therefore seen as that which is deprived of perfection.
(2)..All that is known or perceived is formed upon the type-model of the Sephiroth.
(3)..Human souls have pre-existence in the higher worlds even before the origination of our world.
(4)..Before incarnation they now dwell in the Upper hall or Treasury, wherein it is decided what body each shall enter.
(5)..Each soul, after spending its life or lives on earth, must undergo purification before it is ready to be re-absorbed into the Infinite God.
(6)..One life on earth is seldom sufficient. Two are necessary for almost all, and, if the second is a failure, a third is required, but the weak soul is linked to a stronger soul which acts as helper.
(7)..When all pro-existent souls which have incarnated on earth have reached perfection, the Evil Angels will also be raised to perfection, and all lives merged in the One Life of Deity by the “Kiss of Love” from the mouth of the Holy One, and the manifested Universe will be no more until it pleases the Deity to re-vivify it by His Divine fiat.
There is, as I have previously stated, much more in the Dogmatic Kabbalah than is evident from the foregoing, but we cannot in this place enlarge upon it as this would necessitate a careful study of the divisions and appurtenances of the Four World and many other technicalities. The doctrine of Emanations alone, which involves a complete review of the Sephiroth and their links and offices, requires a detailed treatment quite outside the scope of a Paper of this nature.
To return to Freemasonry and the formation of the premier Grand Lodge in the year 1717, although much is obscure, one thing at least is certain, namely that at this period the inner Christian tradition was given peculiar emphasis, being expressed under numerical and Kabbalistic veils. It is, for instance, significant to find that the number 888, which in the Greek Kabbalah is the number of the Christ manifest as Jesus, has some very curious connections with Speculative Freemasonry. The title ENTERED APPREN TICE MASON is made up of three words, each of which adds up to 8, so that when a Candidate becomes an E.A,, he appears, “ipso facto”, as a potential Anointed One, a possible Salvator. In order to become a Mason at all he has, unknown to himself, to be in possession of a pass-word leading to the E.A., Degree, and each of the two forms in which this pass appears add up to 8, giving, with the newly-made Mason himself, again 888. But we can go further, to something still more obvious; the very first W.T. with which he is presented, a tool which summarizes his whole life on earth and hereafter, is the 21 inch gauge, divided, in a thoroughly unpractical manner, if you come to think of it, into three portions expressing the same mystic number - 888. The number 8 is, of course, definitely a number signifying Matter, in contrast to 9, as the number of Spirit. We may also note that the term “twenty-four inch gauge” spelt out fully adds up to 98, a combination of the numbers of Spirit and Matter, and reduces to 17, which again is 8. The Apron with which the Candidate is invested is 10, and thus a symbol of the Tetractys, but, as the lamb-skin it appears as 27, the number of the perfect man, 72, reversed, or reflected, or brought into manifestation, yet still reducing to the spiritual number 9. A curious point arises in connection with the Candidate’s affirmation that the “predominant wish of his heart” is for “Light”. Light is 29, reducing to 11. The word “three” spelt out is also 29, or 11, and the phrase “Three Less er Lights” gives 29, 24, and 30, reducing to 2, 6 and 3, which total 11. “Great” is also 24 and “Emblematical” is 42, so that “Three Great Lights” and “Three Emblematical Lights” are each 11. Bible, Square and Compasses, commuted separately give 21, 27 and 29. a total of 77, or 7 multiplied by 11. “White” is associated with perfection of light, and also with the stones and the Apron, and “white” is 11. With regard to 9 and 8 as types of Spirit and Matter, w e may note that the two Great Pillars, which are emblematical of these two states (B signifying Matter, and J Spirit) add up to respectively, even in our English spelling, to 3 and 9, as 17 and 27. In Hebrew they are BO-AZ and IK-IN, the syllables being 72-8 and 30-60, and 30 multiplied by 60 is 1800, while 72 multiplied by 8 is 576, and 1800 multiplied by 576 equals 1,036,800, or 10 Kali Yugas, the Great Cycles of the Hindus calculated in solar years. The digits of the syllables 3,6,7,2,8 add to 26, the number of t he Tetragrammaton (JHVH), and this is th e “Centre” which is 14, a variant of the same name. Another hint of Christian doctrine appears in the spelling of Solomon, under the type of the division of 1800, as SIMN, or 60, 30, 40, 50, compared with LOVE as 3645.
Those digits represent the Pythagorean triangle, 3 and 4 being perpendicular and base, 6 the area contained in these two joined at right angles, and 5 the resultant hypotenuse. The material investiture of the Candidate is accentuated by the fact that Hiram King of Tyre reduces to 89, Solomon King of Israel is 94 (reducing to the mystic 13), and Hiram Abiff is linked with the Tetractys in the perfect balance 55 equals 10. It is worth mentioning here, that if the vibrations of the musical scale (or any other scale for that matter) are reduced to proportionate whole numbers, the least possible, we get 24, 27, 30, 32, 36, 40, 45, 48. These give us two Pythagorean triangles based on 6 and 9; viz. 24, 32, 40 and 27, 36, 47 linked by a balancing number involving t he trinity of the Tetractys, 3 multi plied by 10, or 30. The intervals in the scale are 1/8, 1/9, 1/15, 1/9, 1/8, 1/15, and if the denominators are added again we find the number of perfect man, 72.
We cannot possibly deal with the whole of the numerology of the Craft on this occasion, but I can recommend the application of Kabbalistic principles to Freemasonry as a most fascinating study, and even more so if you can go into Greek and Hebrew equivalents as well. V.W.Bro. Covey-Crump pointed out some of these in his Prestonian Lecture, noting that while number of men joined Freemasonry in the early days of the 1717 revival in order to obtain knowledge of interest to Rosicrucians and Kabbalists, others i ntroduced such secrets. He also suggested that the ladder and other symbols were introduced at that period, and that there was a transition from two pillars only (J and B) to the three of today, associated with Wisdom, Strength and Beauty; at any rate these, together with the All-Seeing Eye, became more prominent about that time. The latter is interesting, by the way. All Seeing is 38 equals 11 and Eye is 17 equals 8, giving the idea of Light manifest; the total is 55 (38 plus 17), the same balance as in H. Abiff, and reducing to the Tetractys - 10. So we find a very strong accent on Gematric, and are reminded of the saying attributed to Pythagoras, “Omnia in numeris sita sint”, (all things exist in number). I will now quote some of the examples given by V.W. Bro. Covey-Crump, expanding these where necessary.
The Middle Chamber of K.S.T. is assumed to be a perfect square. The Greek is MESON TAMEION which is 481 (29 ^2 ), and AKE which is 29, and means a Point. The Hebrew is TZELA TIKUNAH which equals 676 (26 ^ 2 ) and JHVH equals 25. Curiously enough the English equivalent “The Middle Chamber of King Solomon’s Temple works out at 169, which is 13 ^ 2 ) a point which he did not reach.
The Altar of Incense, which used to stand in the middle of the Lodge - and still does in some Lodges is a double cube. The Greek TO THUSIASTERION which equals 1728 12 ^ 3 or 6 ^ 3 multiplied by 2 ^ 3.
Jacob’s ladder furnishes another example; the three named rungs are Faith, Hope and Charity, and Faith and Hope are 26 each, while Charity is 39 i.e. 3 multiplied by 13. The Greek PISTIS is 800, ELPIS is 325, and AGAPE is 93; added together they total 1,218 which divided into two equal parts viz. 609 gives the Greek ASTER ORTHRINOS, meaning Blazing Star (609 plus 609). If, from 1,218 we take our cube of 6, which has always been associated with the Perpend Ashlar, and 6 being the area of the 345 triangle, w e get 1,218 minus 216 which equals 1,002, the value of the Greek HE KLIMAX IAKOB, the Ladder of Jacob, itself, in English, a curious balance of 6, as 66. The Perfect Ashlar is enclosed in 6 squares, and 1,002 is one half of 2,004, the sum of the four elements, fire, air, earth and water. Our three Pillars are, in Greek, KALLOS (Beauty), 351; ISCHUS (Strength), 1,410, and SOPHIA (Wisdom), 781. Added together, these give 2,542, which joins the vis ible and invisible worlds, because 2,542 is 1,271 multiplied by 2, and 1271 is the value of KOSMOS (600), plus, PARADEISOS (671). In English the Pillars are 29, 39 and 20, which when added gives 88 (balanced 8), the equivalent to the balance of Faith and Hope, each of which being 26 reduces to 8. Wisdom (29), as the summit reduces to 11, the equivalent, as we have seen, to Light.
The Three Grand Principles of our Order are, in Greek,
PHILADELPHIA, 1,091; EPARKIA, 222; and ALETHEIA, 64, giving a total of 1,377, which is 3 X 459. ARETAI AGLEI (Bright Virtues) also gives 159, and it should be noted that 459 is 3 X 153, an important Gospel (N.T.) number, as for instance, in the story of the fishes caught in the unbroken net by the Apostles after the Resurrection.
The Sacred symbol, usually represented by the letter “G”, is equivalent, from one point of view, to JHVH, which is depicted on the F.C.T.B., over the top of the stair. It is probable that the 17th. and 18th. Century worthies responsible for the modern Craft had in mind the Pythagorean Tetractys, with ten Yods, Commas or Dots; as a Disciple says, “Sea! What you thought to be four, was really ten”, This is the great Distributed Name, referred to by the Hebrews, and already mentioned in this paper, as SHEMHA MPHORESH. By the distribution of JHVH in place of the Yods, the unpronounceable 10 becomes 72, denoting the absolute of perfection, as the perfect man was of 72 inches stature. In gradual revelation it becomes a single Yod, as seen over the G.M.’s Chair in the Grand Temple of the U.G.L. of England. It is constantly found as a Yod within an equilateral triangle, as in Cornelius Agrippa and Athanasius Kircher. 72 is Perfect God and Perfect Man, and, redu ced to 9, Perfect Spirit in both; here 9 is Deity and 8 is Man, and 8 X 9 equals 72. To Companions of the H.R.A. this should have a special appeal, and I might also add, that the names of the Three Principals in the Chapter added together give 648, which is 72 X 9, as well as 81 X 8; the Greek TELETE (perfection) is 648.
There is a true maxim that, “All things are made by measure, weight and number”. Suffice it to say, that at the beginning of the Grand Lodge era there was a group of mystics and students of arcane wisdom who styled themselves “The Acception”. a title which reduces to 11 numerically, and is equivalent to the Kabbalah, as the received or accepted doctrine, which may account for the fact that the organization perpetuating these truths and building them into a regular system adopted the name, “Free and Accepted Mason”; KABAL is literally “man who is perfect”, in the sister languages Hebrew and Arabic. However, I am of the opinion that; not only were the Founders of Speculative Freemasonry deeply versed in Kabbalistic lore, but they also had much more than an inkling of that great body of teaching known variously as the Ancient Wisdom, the Secret Doctrine and Theou Sophia. It is, perhaps, unnecessary to add that the Ancient Wisdom is the foundation upon which h as been built every Religious or Philosophical system the world has known.
As a fitting conclusion to my Paper; I would like to close this study of one particular facet of the diamond of Truth with the Benediction known as that of the First Ray. It calls down a blessing from those of our Brethren who have gone before us and have attained to that perfection which is the aim of every enlightened and earnest Freemason, and, above all from Him, who is the Master of the Great White Lodge, whence comes all Truth and all Power to Initiate, to membership of which we should all most humbly aspire. He is the One Initiator, though He uses many Brethren of lesser rank to be His Messengers and Channels of His Power:-
“May the Holy Ones, whose pupils you aspire to become, show you the Light you seek, give you the strong aid of their Compassion and their Wisdom.
There is a Peace that passeth understanding. It abides in the hearts of those who live in the eternal. There is a Power that makes all things now. It lives and moves in those who know the Self as One. May that Peace brood over you, that Power uplift you, till you stand where the ONE INITIATOR is invoked, till you see His STAR shine forth”.
Peace be to all Beings.