"There is in Italy a power which we seldom mention in this
House . . . I mean the secret societies. . . . It is useless to deny, because it
is impossible to conceal, that a great. part of Europe--the whole of Italy and
France and a great portion of Germany, to say nothing of other countries--is
covered with a network of those secret societies, just as the superficies of the
earth is now being covered with railroads. And what are their objects ? They do
not attempt to conceal them. They do not want constitutional government : they
do not want ameliorated institutions . . . they want to change the tenure of
land, to drive out the present owners of the soil and to put an end to
ecclesiastical establishments. Some of them may go further. . ."
(DISRAELI in the House of Commons, July 14, 1856.)
P R E F A C E
It is a matter of some regret to me that I have been so far unable to
continue the series of studies on the French Revolution of which The
Chevalier de Boufflers and The French Revolution, a Study in Democracy
formed the first two volumes. But the state of the world at the end of the Great
War seemed to demand an enquiry into the present phase of the revolutionary
movement, hence my attempt to follow its course up to modern times in World
Revolution. And now before returning to that first cataclysm I have felt
impelled to devote one more book to the Revolution as a whole by going this time
further back into the past and attempting to trace its origins from the first
century of the Christian era. For it is only by taking a general survey of the
movement that it is possible to understand the causes of any particular phase of
its existence. The French Revolution did not arise merely out of conditions or
ideas peculiar to the eighteenth century, nor the Bolshevist Revolution out of
political and social conditions in Russia or the teaching of Karl Marx. Both
these explosions were produced by forces which, making use of popular suffering
and discontent, had long been gathering strength for an onslaught not only on
Christianity, but on all social and moral order.
It is of immense significance to notice with what resentment this point of
view is met in certain quarters. When I first began to write on revolution a
well-known London publisher said to me, "Remember that if you take an
anti-revolutionary line you will have the whole literary world against you."
This appeared to me extraordinary. Why would the literary world sympathize with
a movement which from the French Revolution onwards has always been directed
against literature, art, and science, and has openly proclaimed its aim to exalt
the manual workers over the intelligentsia ? " Writers must be proscribed as the
most dangerous enemies of the people," said Robespierre; his colleague Dumas
said all clever men should be guillotined. "The system of persecution against
man of talents was organized. . . . They cried out in the sections [of Paris],
'Beware of that man for he has written a book ! ' "(1)
Precisely the same policy has been followed in Russia. Under Moderate Socialism
in Germany the professors, not the "people," are starving in garrets. Yet the
whole press of our country is permeated with subversive influences. Not merely
in partisan works, but in manuals of history or literature for use in schools!
Burke is reproached for warning us against the French Revolution and Carlyle's
panegyric is applauded. And whilst every slip on the part of an
anti-revolutionary writer is seized on by the critics and held up as an example
of the whole, the most glaring errors not only of conclusions but of facts pass
unchallenged if they happen to be committed by a partisan of the movement. The
principle laid down by Collot d'Herbois still holds good: " Tout est permis pour
quiconque agit dans sens de la révolution."
All this was unknown to me when I first embarked on my work. I knew that
French writers of the past had distorted facts to suit their own political
views, that a conspiracy of history is still directed by certain influences in
the masonic lodges and the Sorbonne; I did not know that this conspiracy was
being carried on in this country. Therefore the publisher's warning did not
daunt me. If I was wrong either in my conclusions or facts I was prepared to be
challenged. Should not years of laborious historical research meet either with
recognition or with reasoned and scholarly refutation ? But although my book
received a great many generous and appreciative reviews in the press, criticisms
which were hostile took a form which I had never anticipated. Not a single
honest attempt was made to refute either my French Revolution or World
Revolution by the usual methods of controversy; statements founded on
documentary evidence were met with flat contradiction unsupported by a shred of
counter evidence. In general the plan adopted was not to disprove, but to
discredit by means of flagrant misquotations, by attributing me views I had
never expressed, or even by means of offensive personalities. It will surely be
admitted that this method of attack is unparalleled in any other sphere of
It is interesting to notice that precisely the same line was adopted a
hundred years ago with regard to Professor Robison and the Abbé Barruel, whose
works on the secret causes of the French Revolution created an immense sensation
in their day. The legitimate criticism that might have been made on their work
find no place in the diatribes levelled against them; their enemies content
themselves merely with calumnies and abuse, A contemporary American writer, Seth
Payson, thus describes the methods employed to discredit them:
The testimony of Professor Robison and Abbé Barruel would doubtless have been
considered as ample in any case which did not interest the prejudices and
passions of men against them. The scurrility and odium with which they have been
loaded is perfectly natural and what the nature of their testimony would have
led one to expect. Men will endeavour to invalidate that evidence which tends to
unveil their dark designs : and it cannot be expected that those who believe
that " the end sanctifies the means " will be very scrupulous as to their
measures. Certainly he was not who invented the following character and
arbitrarily applied it to Dr. Robison, which might have been applied with as
much propriety to any other person in Europe or America. The character here
referred to, is taken from the American Mercury, printed at Hartford,
September 26, 1799, by E. Babcock. In this paper, on the pretended authority of
professor Ebeling, we are told "that Robison had lived to fast for his income,
and to supply deficiencies had undertaken to alter a bank bill, that he was
detected and fled to France ; that having been expelled the Lodge in Edinburgh,
he applied in France for a second grade, but was refused; that he made the same
attempt in Germany and afterwards in Russia, but never succeeded ; and from this
entertained the bitterest hatred to masonry ; that after wandering about Europe
for two years, by writing to Secretary Dundas, and presenting a copy of his book
which, it was judged, would answer certain purposes of the ministry, the
prosecution against him was stopped, the Professor returned in triumph to his
country, and now lives upon a handsome pension, instead of suffering the fate of
his predecessor Dodd.(2)
Payson goes on to quote a writer in The National Intelligencer of
January 1801, who styles himself a " friend to truth " and speaks of Professor
Robison as " a man distinguished by abject dependence on a party, by the base
crimes of forgery and adultery, and by frequent paroxysms of insanity." Mounier
goes further still, and in his pamphlet De l'influence attribuée aux
Philosophes, . . . Francs-maçons et . . . Illuminés, etc., inspired by the
Illuminatus Bode, quotes a story that Robison suffered from a form of insanity
which consisted in his believing that the posterior portion of his body was made
of glass !(3)
In support of all this farrago of nonsense there is of course no foundation
of truth; Robison was a well-known savant who lived sane and respected to the
end of his days. On his death Watt wrote of him: " He was a man of the clearest
head and the most science of anybody I have ever known." (4) John
Playfair, in a paper read before the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1815, whilst
criticizing his Proofs of a Conspiracy --though at the same time
admitting he had himself never had access to the documents Robison had
consulted--paid the following tribute to his character and erudition:
His range in science was most extensive; he was familiar with the whole
circle of the accurate sciences. . . . Nothing can add to the esteem which they
[i.e. " those who were personally acquainted with him "] felt for his talents
and worth or to the respect in which they now hold his memory.(5)
Nevertheless, the lies circulated against both Robison and Barruel were not
without effect. Thirteen years later we find another American, this time a
Freemason, confessing " with shame and grief and indignation " that he had been
carried away by " the flood of vituperation poured upon Barruel and Robison
during the past thirty years," that the title pages of their works " were
fearful to him," and that although " wishing calmly and candidly to investigate
the character of Freemasonry he refused for months to open their books." Yet
when in 1827 he read them for the first time he was astonished to find that they
showed " a manifest tendency towards Freemasonry." Both Barruel and Robison, he
now realized, were " learned men, candid men, lovers of their country, who had a
reverence for truth and religion. They give the reasons for their opinions, they
quote their authorities, naming the author and page, like honest people; they
both had a wish to rescue British Masonry from the condemnation and fellowship
of continental Masonry and appear to be sincerely actuated by the desire of
doing good by giving their labours to the public."(6)
That the author was right in his description of Barruel's attitude to
Freemasonry is shown by Barruel's own words on the subject:
England above all is full of those upright men, excellent citizens, men of
every kind and in every condition of life, who count it an honour to be masons,
and who are distinguished from other men only by ties which seem to strengthen
those of benevolence and fraternal charity. It is not the fear of offending a
nation amongst which I have found a refuge which prompts me to make this
exception. Gratitude would prevail with me over all such terrors and I should
say in the midst of London "England is lost, she will not escape the French
Revolution if the masonic lodges resemble those I have to unveil. I would even
say more: government and all Christianity would long ago have been lost in
England if one could suppose its Freemasons to be initiated into the last
mysteries of the sect."(7)
In another passage Barruel observes that Masonry in England is " a society
composed of good citizens in general whose chief object is to help each other by
principles of equality which for them is nothing else but universal fraternity."(8)
And again: " Let us admire it [the wisdom of England] for having known how to
make a real source of benefit to the State out of those same mysteries which
elsewhere conceal a profound conspiracy against the State and religion."(9)
The only criticism British Freemasons may make on this verdict is that
Barruel regards Masonry as a system which originally contained an element of
danger that has been eliminated in England whilst they regard it as a system
originally innocuous into which a dangerous element was inserted on the
Continent. Thus according to the former conception Freemasonry might be compared
to one of the brass shell-cases brought back from the battle-fields of France
and converted into a flower-pot holder, whilst according to the latter it
resembles an innocent brass flowerpot holder which has been used as a receptacle
for explosives. The fact is that, as I shall endeavour to show in the course of
this book, Freemasonry being a composite system there is some justification for
both these theories. In either case it will be seen that Continental Masonry
alone stands condemned.
The plan of representing Robison and Barruel as the enemies of British
Masonry can therefore only be regarded as a method for discrediting them in the
eyes of British Freemasons, and consequently for bringing the latter over to the
side of their antagonists. Exactly the same method of attack has been directed
against those of us who during the last few years have attempted to warn the
world of the secret forces working to destroy civilization; in my own case even
the plan of accusing me of having attacked British Masonry has been adopted
without the shadow of a foundation. From the beginning I have always
differentiated between British and Grand Orient Masonry, and have numbered high
British Masons amongst my friends.
But what is the main charge brought against us ? Like Robison and Barruel, we
are accused of raising a false alarm of creating a bogey, or of being the
victims of an obsession. Up to a point this is comprehensible. Whilst on the
Continent the importance of secret societies is taken as a matter of course and
the libraries of foreign capitals teem with books on the question, people in
this country really imagine that secret societies are things of the
past--articles to this effect appeared quite recently in two leading London
newspapers--whilst practically nothing of any value has been written about them
in our language during the last hundred years. Hence ideas that are commonplaces
on the Continent here appear sensational and extravagant. The mind of the
Englishman does not readily accept anything he cannot see or even sometimes
anything he can see which is unprecedented in his experience, that like the West
American farmer, confronted for the first time by the sight of a giraffe, his
impulse is to cry out angrily: " I don't believe it ! "
But whilst making all allowance for honest ignorance and incredulity, it is
impossible not to recognize a certain method in the manner in which the cry of "
obsession " or " bogey " is raised. For it will be noticed that people who
specialize on other subjects are not described as " obsessed." We do not hear,
for example, that Professor Einstein has Relativity " on the brain" because he
writes and lectures exclusively an this question, nor do we hear it suggested
that Mr. Howard Carter is obsessed with the idea of Tutankhamen and that it
would be well if he were to set out for the South Pole by way of a change.
Again, all those who warn the world concerning eventualities they conceive to be
a danger are not accused of creating bogeys. Thus although Lord Roberts was
denounced as a scaremonger for urging the country to prepare for defence against
a design openly avowed by Germany both in speech and print, and the Duke of
Northumberland was declared to be the victim of a delusion for believing in the
existence of a plot against the British Empire which had been proclaimed in a
thousand revolutionary harangues and pamphlets, people who, without bothering to
produce a shred of documentary evidence, have recently sounded the alarm on the
menace of " French Imperialism " and asserted that our late Allies are now
engaged in building a vast fleet of aeroplanes in order to attack our coasts,
are not held to be either scaremongers or insane. On the contrary, although some
of these same people were proved by events to have been completely wrong in
their prognostications at the beginning of the Great War, they are still
regarded as oracles and sometimes even described as " thinking for half Europe."
Another instance of this kind may be cited in the case of Mr. John Spargo,
author of a small book entitled The Jew and American Ideals. On page 37
of this work Mr. Spargo in refuting the accusations brought against the Jews
Belief in widespread conspiracies directed at individuals or the state is
probably the commonest form assumed by the human mind when it loses its balance
and its sense of proportion.
Yet on page 6 Mr. Spargo declares that when visiting this country in
September and October 1920:
I found in England great nation-wide organizations, obviously well financed,
devoted to the sinister purpose of creating anti-Jewish feeling and sentiment. I
found special articles in influential newspapers devoted to the same evil
purpose. I found at least one journal, obviously well financed again,
exclusively devoted to the fostering of suspicion, fear, and hatred against the
Jew . . . and in the bookstores I discovered a whole library of books devoted to
the same end.
It will be seen then that a belief in widespread conspiracies is not always
to be regarded as a sign of loss of mental balance, even when these conspiracies
remain completely invisible to the general public. For those of us who were in
London during the period of Mr. Spargo's visit saw nothing of the things he here
describes. Where, we ask, were these " great nation-wide organizations "
striving to create anti-Jewish sentiments ? What were their names ? By whom were
they led ? It is true, however, that there were nation-wide organizations in
existence here at this date instituted for the purpose of combating Bolshevism.
Is anti-Bolshevism then synonymous with " anti-Semitism " ?(10)
This is the conclusion to which one is inevitably led. For it will be noticed
that anyone who attempts to expose the secret forces behind the revolutionary
movement, whether he mentions Jews in this connexion or even if he goes out of
his way to exonerate them, will incur the hostility of the Jews and their
friends and will still be described as " anti-Semite." The realization of this
fact has led me particularly to include the Jews in the study of secret
The object of the present book is therefore to carry further the enquiry I
began in World Revolution, by tracing the course of revolutionary ideas
through secret societies from the earliest times, indicating the rôle of the
Jews only where it is to be clearly detected, but not seeking to implicate them
where good evidence is not forthcoming. For this reason I shall not base
assertions on merely " anti-Semite " works, but principally on the writings of
the Jews themselves. In the same way with regard to secret societies I shall
rely as far as possible on the documents and admissions of their members, on
which point I have been able to collect a great deal of fresh data entirely
corroborating my former thesis. It should be understood that I do not propose to
give a complete history of secret societies, but only of secret societies in
their relation to the revolutionary movement. I shall therefore not attempt to
describe the theories of occultism nor to enquire into the secrets of
Freemasonry, but simply to relate the history of these systems in order to show
the manner in which they have been utilized for a subversive purpose. If I then
fail to convince the incredulous that secret forces of revolution exist, it will
not be for want of evidence.
NESTA H. WEBSTER.
1. Moniteur for the 14th Fructidor, An II.
2. Seth Payson, Proofs of the Real Existence and Dangerous
Tendency of Illuminism (Charleston, 1802), pp. 5-7.
3. Ibid., p. 5 note.
4. Quoted in the Life of John Robison (1739-1805) by George
Stronach in the Dictionary of National Biography, Vol. XLIX. p. 58.
5. Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh,
Vol. VII, pp. 538, 539 (1815).
6. Freemasonry, its Pretensions Exposed . . . by a
Master Mason, p. 275 (New York, 1828).
7. Mémoires sur la Jacobinisme, II. 195 (1818
8. Barruel, op. cit., II. 208.
9. Ibid., II. 311.
10. I use the word " anti-Semitism " here in the sense in
which it has come be used--that is to say, anti-Jewry, but place it in inverted
commas cause it is in reality a misnomer coined by the Jews in order to create a
false impression. The word anti-Semite literally signifies a person who adopts a
hostile attitude towards all the descendants of Shem--the Arabs, and the entire
twelve tribes of Israel. To apply the term to a person who is merely
antagonistic to that fraction of the Semitic race known as the Jews is therefore
absurd, and leads to the ridiculous situation that one may be described as "
anti-Semitic and pro-Arabian." This expression actually occurred in The New
Palestine (New York), March 23, 1923. One might as well speak of being "
anti-British and pro-English."
THE ANCIENT SECRET TRADITION
The East is the cradle of secret societies. For whatever end they may have
been employed, the inspiration and methods of most of those mysterious
associations which have played so important a part behind the scenes of the
world's history will be found to have emanated from the lands where the first
recorded acts of the great human drama were played out--Egypt, Babylon, Syria,
and Persia. On the one hand Eastern mysticism, on the other Oriental love of
intrigue, framed the systems later on to be transported to the West with results
so tremendous and far-reaching.
In the study of secret societies we have then a double line to follow--the
course of associations enveloping themselves in secrecy for the pursuit of
esoteric knowledge, and those using mystery and secrecy for an ulterior and,
usually, a political purpose.
But esotericism again presents a dual aspect. Here, as in every phase of
earthly life, there is the revers de la médaille-- white and black, light
and darkness, the Heaven and Hell of the human mind. The quest for hidden
knowledge may end with initiation into divine truths or into dark and abominable
cults. Who knows with what forces he may be brought in contact beyond the veil ?
Initiation which leads to making use of spiritual forces, whether good or evil,
is therefore capable of raising man to greater heights or of degrading him to
lower depths than he could ever have reached by remaining on the purely physical
plane. And when men thus unite themselves in associations, a collective force is
generated which may exercise immense influence over the world around. Hence the
importance of secret societies.
Let it be said once and for all, secret societies have not always been formed
for evil purposes. On the contrary, many have arisen from the highest
aspirations of the human mind--the desire for a knowledge of eternal verities.
The evil arising from such systems has usually consisted in the perversion of
principles that once were pure and holy. If I do not insist further on this
point, it is because a vast literature has already been devoted to the subject,
so that it need only be touched on briefly here.
Now, from the earliest times groups of Initiates or " Wise Men" have existed,
claiming to be in possession of esoteric doctrines known as the " Mysteries,"
incapable of apprehension by the vulgar, and relating to the origin and end of
man, the life of the soul after death, and the nature of God or the gods. It is
this exclusive attitude which constitutes the essential difference between the
Initiates of the ancient world and the great Teachers of religion with whom
modern occultists seek to confound them. For whilst religious leaders such as
Buddha and Mohammed sought for divine knowledge in order that they might impart
it to the world, the Initiates believed that sacred mysteries should not be
revealed to the profane but should remain exclusively in their own keeping. So
although the desire for initiation might spring from the highest aspiration, the
gratification, whether real or imaginary, of this desire often led to spiritual
arrogance and abominable tyranny, resulting in the fearful trials, the tortures
physical and mental, ending even at times in death, to which the neophyte was
subjected by his superiors.
According to a theory current in occult and masonic circles, certain ideas
were common to all the more important "Mysteries," thus forming a continuous
tradition handed down through succeeding groups of Initiates of different ages
and countries. Amongst these ideas is said to have been the conception of the
unity of God. Whilst to the multitude it was deemed advisable to preach
polytheism, since only in this manner could the plural aspects of the Divine be
apprehended by the multitude, the Initiates themselves believed in the existence
of one Supreme Being, the Creator of the Universe, pervading and governing all
things. Le Plongeon, whose object is to show an affinity between the sacred
mysteries of the Mayas and of the Egyptians, Chaldeans, and Greeks, asserts that
" The idea of a sole and omnipotent Deity, who created all things, seems to have
been the universal belief in early ages, amongst all the nations that had
reached a high degree of civilization. This was the doctrine of the Egyptian
The same writer goes on to say that the " doctrine of a Supreme Deity composed
of three parts distinct from each other yet forming one, was universally
prevalent among the civilized nations of America, Asia, and the Egyptians," and
that the priests and learned men of Egypt, Chaldea, India, or China ". . . kept
it a profound secret and imparted it only to a few select among those initiated
in the sacred mysteries."(2)
This view has been expressed by many other writers, yet lacks historical proof.
That monotheism existed in Egypt before the days of Moses is, however,
certain. Adolf Erman asserts that " even in early times the educated class "
believed all the deities of the Egyptian religion to be identical and that " the
priests did not shut their eyes to this doctrine, but strove to grasp the idea
of the one God, divided into different persons by poesy and myth. . . . The
priesthood, however, had not the courage to take the final step, to do away with
those distinctions which they declared to be immaterial, and to adore the one
God under the one name."(3)
It was left to Amenhotep IV, later known as Ikhnaton, to proclaim this doctrine
openly to the people. Professor Breasted has described the hymns of praise to
the Sun God which Ikhnaton himself wrote on the walls of the Amarna tomb-chapels
They show us the simplicity and beauty of the young king's faith in the sole
God. He had gained the belief that one God created not only all the lower
creatures but also all races of men, both Egyptians and foreigners. Moreover,
the king saw in his God a kindly Father, who maintained all his creatures by his
goodness. . . . In all the progress of men which we have followed through
thousands of years, no one had ever before caught such a vision of the great
Father of all.(4)
May not the reason why Ikhnaton was later described as a " heretic " be that
he violated the code of the priestly hierarchy revealing this secret doctrine to
the profane ? Hence, too, perhaps the necessity in which the King found himself
of suppressing the priesthood, which by persisting in its exclusive attitude
kept what he perceived to be the truth from the minds of the people.
The earliest European centre of the Mysteries appears to have been Greece,
where the Eleusinian Mysteries existed at a very early date. Pythagoras, who was
born in Samos about 582 B.C. spent some years in Egypt, where he was initiated
into the Mysteries of Isis. After his return to Greece, Pythagoras is said to
have been initiated into the Eleusinian Mysteries and attempted to found a
secret society in Samos ; but this proving unsuccessful, he journeyed to Crotona
in Italy, where he collected around him a great number of disciples and finally
established his sect. This was divided into two classes of Initiates--the first
admitted only into the exoteric doctrines of the master, with whom they were not
allowed to speak until after a period of five years' probation ; the second
consisting of the real Initiates, whom all the mysteries of the esoteric
doctrines of Pythagoras were unfolded. This course of instruction, given after
the manner of the Egyptians, by means of images and symbols, began with
geometrical science, in which Pythagoras during his stay in Egypt had become an
adept, and led up finally to abstruse speculations concerning the transmigration
of the soul and the nature of God, who was represented under the conception of a
Universal Mind diffused through all things. It is however, as the precursor of
secret societies formed later in the West of Europe that the sect of Pythagoras
enters into the scope of this book. Early masonic tradition traces Freemasonry
partly to Pythagoras, who is said to have travelled in England, and there
certainly some reason to believe that his geometrical ideas entered into the
system of the operative guilds of masons.
According to Fabre d'Olivet, Moses, who " was learned in all the wisdom of
the Egyptians," drew from the Egyptian Mysteries a part of the oral tradition
which was handed down through the leaders of the Israelites.(6)
That such an oral tradition, distinct from the written word embodied in the
Pentateuch, did descend from Moses and that it was later committed to writing in
the Talmud and the Cabala is the opinion of many Jewish writers.(7)
The first form of the Talmud, called the Mischna, appeared in about the
second or third century A.D.; a little later a commentary was added under the
name of the Gemara. These two works compose the Jerusalem Talmud, which was
revised in the third to the fifth century. This later edition was named the
Babylonian Talmud and is the one now in use.
The Talmud relates mainly to the affairs of everyday life -- the laws of
buying and selling, of making contracts--also to external religious observances,
on all of which the most meticulous details are given. As a Jewish writer has
expressed it :
. . . the oddest rabbinical conceits are elaborated through many volumes with
the finest dialectic, and the most absurd questions are discussed with the
highest efforts of intellectual power ; for example, how many white hairs may a
red cow have, and yet remain a red cow ; what sort of scabs require this
or that purification ; whether a louse or a flea may be killed on the
Sabbath--the first being allowed, while the second is a deadly sin ; whether the
slaughter of an animal ought to be executed at the neck or the tail ; whether
the high priest put on his shirt or his hose first ; whether the Jabam,
that is, the brother of a man who died childless, being required by law to marry
the widow, is relieved from his obligation if he falls off a roof and sticks in
But it is in the Cabala, a Hebrew word signifying " reception," that is to
say " a doctrine orally received," that the speculative and philosophical or
rather the theosophical doctrines of Israel are to be found. These are contained
in two books, the Sepher Yetzirah and the Zohar.
The Sepher Yetzirah, or Book of the Creation, is described by
Edersheim as a monologue on the part of Abraham, in which, by the contemplation
of all that is around him, he ultimately arrives at the conclusion of the unity
; but since this process is accomplished by an arrangement of the Divine
Emanations under the name of the Ten Sephiroths, and in the permutation of
numerals and of the letters of the Hebrew alphabet, it would certainly convey no
such idea--nor probably indeed any idea at all--to the mind uninitiated into
Cabalistic systems. The Sepher Yetzirah is in fact admittedly a work of
and almost certainly of extreme antiquity. Monsieur Paul Vulliaud, in his
exhaustive work on the Cabala recently published,(11)
says that its date has been placed as early as the sixth century before Christ
and as late as the tenth century A.D., but that it is at any rate older than the
Talmud is shown by the fact that in the Talmud the Rabbis are described as
studying it for magical purposes.(12)
The Sepher Yetzirah is also said to be the work referred to in the Koran under
the name of the " Book of Abraham."(13)
The immense compilation known as the Sepher-Ha-Zohar, or Book of
Light, is, however, of greater importance to the study of Cabalistic philosophy.
According to the Zohar itself the " Mysteries of Wisdom " were imparted to Adam
by God whilst he was still in the Garden of Eden, in the form of a book
delivered by the angel Razael. From Adam the book passed on to Seth, then to
Enoch, to Noah, to Abraham, and later to Moses, one of its principal exponents.(14)
Other Jewish writers declare, however, that Moses received it for the first time
on Mount Sinai and communicated it to the Seventy Elders, by whom it was handed
down to David and Solomon, then to Ezra and Nehemiah, and finally to the Rabbis
of the early Christian era.(15)
Until this date the Zohar had remained a purely oral tradition, but now for
the first time it is said to have been written down by the disciples of Simon
ben Jochai. The Talmud relates that for twelve years the Rabbi Simon and his son
Eliezer concealed themselves in a cavern, where, sitting in the sand up to their
necks, they meditated on the sacred law and were frequently visited by the
In this way, Jewish legend adds, the great book of the Zohar was composed and
committed to writing by the Rabbi's son Eliezer and his secretary the Rabbi
The first date at which the Zohar is definitely known to have appeared is the
end of the thirteenth century, when it was committed to writing by a Spanish
Jew, Moses de Leon, who, according to Dr. Ginsburg, said he had discovered and
reproduced the original document of Simon ben Jochai ; his wife and daughter,
however, declared that he had composed it all himself.(18)
Which is the truth ? Jewish opinion is strongly divided on this question, one
body maintaining that the Zohar is the comparatively modern work of Moses de
Leon, the other declaring it to be of extreme antiquity. M. Vulliaud, who has
collated all these views in the course of some fifty pages, shows that although
the name Zohar might have originated with Moses de Leon, the ideas it embodied
were far older than the thirteenth century. How, he asks pertinently, would it
have been possible for the Rabbis of the Middle Ages to have been deceived into
accepting as an ancient document a work that was of completely modern origin ?
Obviously the Zohar was not the composition of Moses de Leon, but a compilation
made by him from various documents dating from very early times. Moreover, as
Vulliaud goes on to explain, those who deny its antiquity are the
anti-Cabalists, headed by Graetz, whose object is to prove the Cabala to be at
variance with orthodox Judaism. Theodore Reinach goes so far as to declare the
Cabala to be " a subtle poison which enters into the veins of Judaism and wholly
infests it " ; Salomon Reinach calls it " one of the worst aberrations of the
This view, many a student of the Cabala will hardly dispute, but to say that it
is foreign to Judaism is another matter. The fact is that the main ideas of the
Zohar find confirmation in the Talmud. As the Jewish Encyclopædia
observes, " the Cabala is not really in opposition to the Talmud," and " many
Talmudic Jews have supported and contributed to it."(21)
Adolphe Franck does not hesitate to describe it as " the heart and life of
" The greater number of the most eminent Rabbis of the seventeenth and
eighteenth centuries believed firmly sacredness of the Zohar and the
infallibility of its teaching."(23)
The question of the antiquity of the Cabala is therefore in reality largely a
matter of names. That a mystical tradition existed amongst the Jews from remote
antiquity will hardly be denied by anyone (24) ; it
is therefore, as M Vulliaud observes, "only a matter of knowing at what moment
Jewish mysticism took the name of Cabala."(25)
Edersheim asserts that--
It is undeniable that, already at the time of Jesus Christ, there existed an
assemblage of doctrines and speculations that were carefully concealed from the
multitude. They were not even revealed to ordinary scholars, for fear of leading
them towards heretical ideas. This kind bore the name of Kabbalah, and as the
term (of Kabbalah, to receive, transmit) indicates, it represented the spiritual
traditions transmitted from the earliest ages, although mingled in the course of
time with impure or foreign elements.(26)
Is the Cabala, then, as Gougenot des Mousseaux asserts, older than the Jewish
race, a legacy handed down from the first patriarchs of the world ? (27) We
must admit this hypothesis to be incapable of proof, yet it is one that has
found so much favour with students of occult traditions that it cannot be
ignored. The Jewish Cabala itself supports it by tracing its descent from the
patriarchs--Adam, Noah, Enoch, and Abraham--who lived before the Jews as a
separate race came into existence. Eliphas Lévi accepts this genealogy, and
relates that " the Holy Cabala" was the tradition of the children of Seth
carried out of Chaldea by Abraham, who was " the inheritor of the secrets of
Enoch and the father of initiation in Israel."(28)
According to this theory, which we find again propounded by the American
Freemason, Dr. Mackey,(29)
there was, besides the divine Cabala of the children of Seth, the magical Cabala
of the children of Cain, which descended to the Sabeists. or star-worshippers,
of Chaldea, adepts in astrology and necromancy. Sorcery, as we know, had been
practised by the Canaanites before the occupation of Palestine by the Israelites
; Egypt, India, and Greece also had their soothsayers and diviners. In spite of
the imprecations against sorcery contained in the law of Moses, the Jews,
disregarding these warnings, caught the contagion and mingled the sacred
tradition they had inherited with magical ideas partly borrowed from other races
partly of their own devising. At the same time the speculative side of the
Jewish Cabala borrowed from the philosophy of the Persian Magi, of the
and of the Neo-Pythagoreans. There is, then, some justification for the
anti-Cabalists' contention that what we know to-day as the Cabala is not of
purely Jewish origin.
Gougenot des Mousseaux, who had made a profound study of occultism, asserts
that there were therefore two Cabalas : the ancient sacred tradition handed down
from the first patriarchs of the human race ; and the evil Cabala, wherein the
sacred tradition was mingled by the Rabbis with barbaric superstitions, combined
with their own imaginings and henceforth marked with their seal.(31)
This view also finds expression in the remarkable work of the converted Jew
Drach, who refers to--
The ancient and true Cabala, which . . . we distinguish from the modern
Cabala, false, condemnable, and condemned by the Holy See, the work of the
Rabbis, who have falsified and perverted the Talmudic tradition. The doctors of
the Synagogue trace if back to Moses, whilst at the same time admitting that the
principal truths it contains were those known by revelation to the first
patriarchs of the world.(32)
Further on Drach quotes the statement of Sixtus of Sienna, another converted
Jew and a Dominican, protected by Pius V :
Since by the decree of the Holy Roman Inquisition all books appertaining to
the Cabala have lately been condemned, one must know that the Cabala is double ;
that one is true, the other false. The true and pious one is that which . . .
elucidates the secret mysteries of the holy law according to the principle of
anagogy (i.e. figurative interpretation). This Cabala therefore the Church has
never condemned. The false and impious Cabala is a certain mendacious kind of
Jewish tradition, full of innumerable vanities and falsehoods, differing but
little from necromancy. This kind of superstition therefore, improperly called
Cabala, the Church within the last few years has deservedly condemned.(33)
The modern Jewish Cabala presents a dual aspect-- theoretical and practical ;
the former concerned with theosophical speculations, the latter with magical
practices. It would be impossible here to give an idea of Cabalistic theosophy
with its extraordinary imaginings on the Sephiroths, the attributes and
functions of good and bad angels, dissertations on the nature of demons, and
minute details on the appearance of God under the name of the Ancient of
Ancients, from whose head 400,000 worlds receive the light. " The length of this
face from the top of the head is three hundred and seventy times ten thousand
worlds. It is called the ' Long Face,' for such is the name of the Ancient of
The description of the hair and beard alone belonging to this gigantic
countenance occupies a large place in the Zoharic treatise, Idra Raba.(35)
According to the Cabala, every letter in the Scriptures contains a mystery
only to be solved by the initiated.(36)
By means of this system of interpretation passages of the Old Testament are
shown to bear meanings totally unapparent to the ordinary reader. Thus the Zohar
explains that Noah was lamed for life by the bite of a lion whilst he was in the
the adventures of Jonah inside the whale are related with an extraordinary
wealth of imagination,(38)
whilst the beautiful story of Elisha and the Shunnamite woman is travestied in
the most grotesque manner.(39)
In the practical Cabala this method of " decoding " is reduced to a theurgic
or magical system in which the healing of diseases plays an important part and
is effected by means of the mystical arrangement of numbers and letters, by the
pronunciation of the Ineffable Name, by the use of amulets and talismans, or by
compounds supposed to contain certain occult properties.
All these ideas derive from very ancient cults ; even the art of working
miracles by the use of the Divine Name, which after the appropriation of the
Cabala by the Jews became the particular practice of Jewish miracle-workers,
appears to have originated in Chaldea.(40)
Nor can the insistence on the Chosen People theory, which forms the basis of all
Talmudic and Cabalistic writings, be regarded as of purely Jewish origin ; the
ancient Egyptians likewise believed themselves to be " the peculiar people
specially loved by the gods."(41)
But in the hands of the Jews this belief became a pretension to the exclusive
enjoyment of divine favour. According to the Zohar, " all Israelites will have a
part in the future world," (42) and
on arrival there will not be handed over like the goyim (or non-Jewish
races) to the hands of the angel Douma and sent down to Hell.(43)
Indeed the goyim are even denied human attributes. The Zohar again
explains that the words of the Scripture " Jehovah Elohim made man " mean that
He made Israel.(44)
The seventeenth-century Rabbinical treatise Emek ha Melek observes : " Our
Rabbis of blessed memory have said : ' Ye Jews are mea because of the soul ye
have from the Supreme Man (i.e. God). But the nations of the world are not
styled men because they have not, from the Holy and Supreme Man, the Neschama
(or glorious soul), but they have the Nephesch (soul) from Adam Belial, that is
the malicious and unnecessary man, called Sammael, the Supreme Devil.' " (45)
In conformity with this exclusive attitude towards the rest of the human
race, the Messianic idea which forms the dominating theme of the Cabala is made
to serve purely Jewish interests. Yet in its origins this idea was possibly not
Jewish. It is said by believers in an ancient secret tradition common to other
races besides the Jews, that a part of this tradition related to a past Golden
Age when man was free from care and evil non-existent, to the subsequent fall of
Man and the loss of this primitive felicity, and finally to a revelation
received from Heaven foretelling the reparation of this loss and the coming of a
Redeemer who should save the world and restore the Golden Age. According to
The tradition of a Man-God who should present Himself as the teacher and
liberator of the fallen human race was constantly taught amongst all the
enlightened nations of the globe. Vetus et constans opinio, as Suetonius
says. It is of all times and of all places.(46)
And Drach goes on to quote the evidence of Volney, who had travelled in the
East and declared that--
The sacred and mythological traditions of earlier times had spread throughout
all Asia the belief in a great Mediator who was to come, of a future Saviour,
King, God, Conqueror, and Legislator who would bring back the Golden Age to
earth and deliver men from the empire of evil.(47)
All that can be said with any degree of certainty with regard to this belief
is that it did exist amongst the Zoroastrians of Persia as well as amongst the
Jews. D'Herbelot, quoting Abulfaraj, shows that five hundred years before
Christ, Zerdascht, the leader of the Zoroastrians, predicted the coming of the
Messiah, at whose birth a star would appear. He also told his disciples that the
Messiah would be born of a virgin, that they would be the first to hear of Him,
and that they should bring Him gifts.(48)
Drach believes that this tradition was taught in the ancient synagogue,(49)
thus explaining the words of St. Paul that unto the Jews " were committed the
oracles of God " (50) :
This oral doctrine, which is the Cabala, had for its object the most sublime
truths of the Faith which it brought back incessantly to the promised Redeemer,
the foundation of the whole system of the ancient tradition.(51)
Drach further asserts that the doctrine of the Trinity formed a part of this
Whoever has familiarized himself with that which was taught by the ancient
doctors of the Synagogue, particularly those who lived before the coming of the
Saviour, knows that the Trinity in one God was a truth admitted amongst them
from the earliest times.(52)
M. Vulliaud points out that Graetz admits the existence of this idea in the
Zohar : " It even taught certain doctrines which appeared favourable to the
Christian dogma of the Trinity ! " And again : " It is incontestable that the
Zohar makes allusions to the beliefs in the Trinity and the Incarnation." (53) M.
Vulliaud adds : " The idea of the Trinity must therefore play an important part
in the Cabala, since it has been possible to affirm that ' the characteristic of
the Zohar and its particular conception is its attachment to the principle of
the Trinity,' " (54) and
further quotes Edersheim as saying that " a great part of the explanation given
in the writings of the Cabalists resembles in a surprising manner the highest
truths of Christianity." (55) It
would appear, then, that certain remnants of the ancient secret tradition
lingered on in the Cabala. The Jewish Encyclopodia, perhaps
unintentionally, endorses this opinion, since in deriding the sixteenth-century
Christian Cabalists for asserting that the Cabala contained traces of
Christianity, it goes on to say that what appears to be Christian in the Cabala
is only ancient esoteric doctrine.(56)
Here, then, we have it on the authority of modern Jewish scholars that the
ancient secret tradition was in harmony with Christian teaching. But in the
teaching of the later synagogue the philosophy of the earlier sages was narrowed
down to suit the exclusive system of the Jewish hierarchy and the ancient hope
of a Redeemer who should restore Man to the state of felicity he had lost at the
Fall was transformed into the idea of salvation for the Jews alone (57)
under the ægis of a triumphant and even an avenging Messiah.(58)
It is this Messianic dream perpetuated in the modern Cabala which nineteen
hundred years ago the advent of Christ on earth came to disturb.
THE COMING OF THE REDEEMER
The fact that many Christian doctrines, such as the conception of a Trinity,
the miraculous birth and murder of a Deity, had found a place in earlier
religions has frequently been used as an argument to show that the story of
Christ was merely a new version of various ancient legends, those of Attis,
Adonis, or of Osiris, and that consequently the Christian religion is founded on
a myth. The answer to this is that the existence of Christ on earth is an
historical fact which no serious authority has ever denied. The attempts of such
writers as Drews and J. M. Robertson to establish the theory of the "
Christ-Myth " which find an echo in the utterances of Socialist orators,(59)
have been met with so much able criticism as to need no further refutation. Sir
John Frazer, who will certainly not be accused of bigoted orthodoxy, observes in
this connexion :
The doubts which have been cast on the historical reality of Jesus are, in my
judgement, unworthy of serious attention. . . . To dissolve the founder of
Christianity into a myth, as some would do is hardly less absurd than it would
be to do the same for Mohammed, Luther, and Calvin.(60)
May not the fact that certain circumstances in the life of Christ were
foreshadowed by earlier religions indicate, as Eliphas Lévi observes, that the
ancients had an intuition of Christian mysteries ? (61)
To those therefore who had adhered to the ancient tradition, Christ appeared
as the fulfilment of a prophecy as old as the World. Thus the Wise Men came from
afar to worship the babe of Bethlehem, and when they saw His star in the East
they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. In Christ they hailed not only Him who
was born King of the Jews, but the Saviour of the whole human race.(62)
In the light of this great hope, that wondrous night in Bethlehem is seen in
all its sublimity. Throughout the ages the seers had looked for the coming of
the Redeemer, and lo ! He was here ; but it was not to the mighty in Israel, to
the High Priests and the Scribes, that His birth was announced, but to humble
shepherds watching their flocks by night. And these men of simple faith, hearing
from the angels " the good tidings of great joy " that a Saviour, " Christ the
Lord," was born went with haste to see the babe lying in the manger, and
returned " glorifying and praising God." So also to the devout in Israel, to
Simeon and to Anna the prophetess, the great event appeared in its universal
significance, and Simeon, departing in peace, knew that his eyes had seen the
salvation that was to be " a light to lighten the Gentiles " as well as the
glory of the people of Israel.
But to the Jews, in whose hands the ancient tradition had been turned to the
exclusive advantage of the Jewish race, the Rabbis, who had, moreover,
constituted themselves the sole guardians within this nation of the said
tradition, the manner of its fulfilment was necessarily abhorrent. Instead a
resplendent Messiah who should be presented by them to the people, a Saviour was
born amongst the people themselves and brought to Jerusalem to be presented to
the Lord ; a Saviour moreover who, as time went on, imparted His divine message
to the poor and humble and declared that His Kingdom was not of this world. This
was clearly what Mary meant when she said that God had " scattered the proud in
the imagination of their hearts," that He had " put down the mighty from their
seats, and exalted them of low degree." Christ was therefore doubly hateful to
the Jewish hierarchy in that He attacked the privilege of the race to which they
belonged by throwing open the door to all mankind, and the privilege of the
caste to which they belonged by revealing sacred doctrines to the profane and
destroying their claim to exclusive knowledge.
Unless viewed from this aspect, neither the antagonism displayed by the
Scribes and Pharisees towards our Lord nor the denunciations He uttered against
them can be properly understood. " Woe unto you, Lawyers ! for ye have taken
away the key of knowledge : ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were
entering in ye hindered. . . . Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites !
for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men : for ye neither go in your
selves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in." What did Christ mean
by the key of knowledge ? Clearly the sacred tradition which, as Drach explains,
foreshadowed the doctrines of Christianity.(63)
It was the Rabbis who perverted that tradition, and thus " the guilt of these
perfidious Doctors consisted in their concealing from the people the traditional
explanation of the sacred books by means of which they would have been able to
recognize the Messiah in the person of Jesus Christ." (64) Many
of the people, however, did recognize Him ; indeed, the multitude acclaimed Him,
spreading their garments before Him and crying, "Hosanna to the Son of David !
Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord ! " Writers who have cited the
choice of Barabbas in the place of Christ as an instance of misguided popular
judgement, overlook the fact that this choice was not spontaneous ; it was the
Chief Priests who delivered Christ "from envy" and who " moved the people that
Pilate should rather release unto them Barabbas." Then the people
obediently cried out, " Crucify Him ! "
So also it was the Rabbis who, after hiding from the people the meaning of
the sacred tradition at the moment of its fulfilment, afterwards poisoned that
same stream for future generations. Abominable calumnies on Christ and
Christianity occur not only in the Cabala but in the earlier editions of the
Talmud. In these, says Barclay--
Our Lord and Saviour is " that one," " such a one," " a fool," "the leper," "
the deceiver of Israel," etc. Efforts are made to prove that He is the son of
Joseph Pandira before his marriage with Mary. His miracles are attributed to
sorcery, the secret of which He brought in a slit in His flesh out of Egypt. He
is said to have been first stoned and then hanged on the eve of the Passover.
His disciples are called heretics and opprobrious names. They are accused of
immoral practices, and the New Testament is called a sinful book. The references
to these subjects manifest the most bitter aversion and hatred.(65)
One might look in vain for passages such as these in English or French
translations of the Talmud, for the reason that no complete translation exists
in these languages. This fact is of great significance. Whilst the sacred books
of every other important religion have been rendered into our own tongue and are
open to everyone to study, the book that forms the foundation of modern Judaism
is closed to the general public. We can read English translations of the Koran,
of the Dhammapada, of the Sutta Nipata, of the Zend Avesta, of the Shu King, of
the Laws of Manu, of the Bhagavadgita, but we cannot read the Talmud. In the
long series of Sacred Books of the East the Talmud finds no place. All that is
accessible to the ordinary reader consists, on one hand, in expurgated versions
or judicious selections by Jewish and pro-Jewish compilers, and, on the other
hand, in " anti-semitic " publications on which it would be dangerous to place
reliance. The principal English translation by Rodkinson is very incomplete, and
the folios are nowhere indicated, so that it is impossible to look up a passage.(66)
The French translation by Jean de Pavly professes to present the entire text of
the Venetian Talmud of 1520, but it does nothing of the kind.(67)
The translator, in the Preface, in fact admits that he has left out " sterile
discussions " and has throughout attempted to tone down " the brutality of
certain expressions which offend our ears." This of course affords him infinite
latitude, so that all passages likely to prove displeasing to the "
Hébraïsants," to whom his work is particularly dedicated, are discreetly
expunged. Jean de Pauly's translation of the Cabala appears, however, to be
But a fair and honest rendering of the whole Talmud into English or French still
remains to be made.
Moreover, even the Hebrew scholar is obliged to exercise some discrimination
if he desires to consult the Talmud in its original form. For by the sixteenth
century, when the study of Hebrew became general amongst Christians, the
anti-social and anti-Christian tendencies of the Talmud attracted the attention
of the Censor, and in the Bâle Talmud of 1581 the most obnoxious passages and
the entire treatise Abodah Zara were suppressed.(69)
In the Cracow edition of 1604 that followed, these passages were restored by
the Jews, a proceeding which aroused so much indignation amongst Christian
students of Hebrew that the Jews became alarmed. Accordingly a Jewish synod,
assembled in Poland in 1631, ordered the offending passages be expunged again,
but--according to Drach--to be replaced by circles which the Rabbis were to fill
in orally when giving instruction to young Jews.(70)
After that date the Talmud was for a time carefully bowdlerized, so that in
order to discover its original form it is advisable to go back to the Venetian
Talmud of 1520 before any omissions were made, or to consult a modern edition.
For now that the Jews no longer fear the Christians, these passages are all said
to have been replaced and no attempt is made, as in the Middle Ages, to prove
that they do not refer to the Founder of Christianity.(71)
Thus the Jewish Encyclopodia admits that Jewish legends concerning
Jesus are found in the Talmud and Midrash and " the life of Jesus (Toledot
Yeshu) that originated in the Middle Ages. It is the tendency of all these
sources to belittle the person of Jesus by ascribing to Him illegitimate birth,
magic, and a shameful death."(72)
The last work mentioned, the Toledot Yeshu, or the Sepher Toldos
Jeschu, described here as originating in the Middle Ages, probably belongs
in reality to a much earlier period. Eliphas Lévi asserts that " the Sepher
Toldos, to which the Jews attribute a great antiquity and which they hid from
the Christians with such precautions that this book was for a long while
unfindable, is quoted for the first time by Raymond Martin of the Order of the
Preaching Brothers towards the end of the thirteenth century. . . . This book
was evidently written by a Rabbi initiated into the mysteries of the Cabala."(73)
Whether then the Toledot Yeshu had existed for many centuries before it was
first brought to light or whether it was a collection of Jewish traditions woven
into a coherent narrative by a thirteenth-century Rabbi, the ideas it contains
can be traced back at least as far as the second century of the Christian era.
Origen, who in the middle of the third century wrote his reply to the attack of
Celsus on Christianity, refers to a scandalous story closely resembling the
Toledot Yeshu, which Celsus, who lived towards the end of the second century,
had quoted on the authority of a Jew.(74)
It is evident, therefore, that the legend it contains had long been current in
Jewish circles, but the book itself did not come into the hands of Christians
until it was translated into Latin by Raymond Martin. Later on Luther summarized
it in German under the name of Schem Hamphorasch ; Wagenseil in 1681 and
Huldrich in 1705 published Latin translations.(75)
It is also to, be found in French in Gustave Brunet's Evangiles Apocryphes.
However repugnant it is to transcribe any portion of this blasphemous work,
its main outline must be given here in order to trace the subsequent course of
the anti-Christian secret tradition in which, as we shall see, it has been
perpetuated up to our own day. Briefly, then, the Toledot Yeshu relates with the
most indecent details that Miriam, a hairdresser of Bethlehem,(76)
affianced to a young man named Jochanan, was seduced by a libertine, Joseph
Panther or Pandira, and gave birth to a son whom she named Jehosuah or Jeschu.
According to the Talmudic authors of the Sota and the Sanhedrim, Jeschu was
taken during his boyhood to Egypt, where he was initiated into the secret
doctrines of the priests, and on his return to Palestine gave himself up to the
practice of magic.(77)
The Toledot Yeshu, however, goes on to say that on reaching manhood Jeschu
learnt the secret of illegitimacy, on account of which he was driven out of the
Synagogue and took refuge for a time in Galilee. Now, there vas in the Temple a
stone on which was engraved the Tetragrammaton or Schem Hamphorasch, that is to
say, the Ineffable Name of God ; this stone had been found by King David when
the foundations of the Temple were being prepared and was deposited by him in
the Holy of Holies. Jeschu, knowing this, came from Galilee and, penetrating
into the Holy of Holies, read the Ineffable Name, which he transcribed on to a
piece of parchment and concealed in an incision under his skin. By this means he
was able to work miracles and to persuade the people that he was the son of God
foretold by Isaiah. With the aid of Judas, the Sages of the Synagogue succeeded
in capturing Jeschu, who was then led before the Great and Little Sanhedrim, by
which he was condemned to be stoned to death and finally hanged.
Such is the story of Christ according to the Jewish Cabalists, which should
be compared not only with the Christian tradition but with that of the Moslems.
It is perhaps not sufficiently known that the Koran, whilst denying the divinity
of Christ and also the fact of His crucifixion,(78)
nevertheless indignantly denounces the infamous legends concerning Him
perpetuated by the Jews, and confirms in beautiful language the story of the
Annunciation and the doctrine of the Miraculous Conception.(79)
" Remember when the angels said, ' O Mary ! verily hath God chosen thee and
purified thee, and chosen thee above the women of the worlds.'. . . Remember
when the angels said : ' O Mary ! verily God announceth to thee the Word from
Him : His name shall be Messiah, Jesus the son of Mary, illustrious in this
world, and in the next, and one of those who have near access to God.' "
The Mother of Jesus is shown to have been pure and to have " kept her
(80) ; it was the Jews who spoke against Mary "a grievous calumny."
Jesus Himself is described as " strengthened with the Holy Spirit," and the Jews
are reproached for rejecting "the Apostle of God, " (82) to
whom was given " the Evangel with its guidance and light confirmatory of the
Thus during the centuries that saw the birth of Christianity, although other
non-Christian forces arrayed themselves against the new faith, it was left to
the Jews to inaugurate a campaign of vilification against the person of its
Founder, whom Moslems this day revere as one of the great teachers of the world.(84)
A subtler device for discrediting Christianity and undermining belief in the
divine character of our Lord has been adopted by modern writers, principally
Jewish, who set out to prove that He belonged to the sect of the Essenes, a
community of ascetics holding all goods in common, which had existed in
Palestine before the birth of Christ. Thus the Jewish historian Graetz declares
that Jesus simply appropriated to himself the essential features of Essenism,
and that primitive Christianity was " nothing but an offshoot of Essenism."(85)
The Christian Jew Dr. Ginsburg partially endorses this view in a small pamphlet
containing most of the evidence that has been brought forward on the subject,
and himself expresses the opinion that " it will hardly be doubted that our
Saviour Himself belonged to this holy brotherhood." (87) So
after representing Christ as a magician in the Toledot Yeshu and the Talmud,
Jewish tradition seeks to explain His miraculous works as those of a mere
healer--an idea that we shall find descending right through the secret societies
to this day. Of course if this were true, if the miracles of Christ were simply
due to a knowledge of natural law and His doctrines were the outcome of a sect,
the whole theory of His divine power and mission falls to the ground. This is
why it is essential to expose the fallacies and even the bad faith on which the
attempt to identify Him with the Essenes is based.
Now, we have only to study the Gospels carefully in order to realize that the
teachings of Christ were totally different from those peculiar to the Essenes.(88)
Christ did not live in a fraternity, but, as Dr. Ginsburg himself points out,
associated with publicans and sinners. The Essenes did not frequent the Temple
and Christ was there frequently. The Essenes disapproved of wine and marriage,
whilst Christ sanctioned marriage by His presence at the wedding of Cana in
Galilee and there turned water into wine. A further point, the most conclusive
of all, Dr. Ginsburg ignores, namely, that one of the principal traits of the
Essenes which distinguished them from the other Jewish sects of their day was
their disapproval of ointment, which they regarded as defiling, whilst Christ
not only commended the woman who brought the precious jar of ointment, but
reproached Simon for the omission : " My head with oil thou didst not anoint :
but this woman hath anointed My feet with ointment." It is obvious that if
Christ had been an Essene but had departed from His usual custom on this
occasion out of deference to the woman's feelings, He would have understood why
Simon had not offered Him the same attention, and at any rate Simon would have
excused himself on these grounds. Further if His disciples had been Essenes,
would they not have protested against this violation of their principles,
instead of merely objecting that the ointment was of too costly a kind ?
But it is in attributing to Christ the Communistic doctrines of the Essenes
that Dr. Ginsburg's conclusions are the most misleading--a point of particular
importance in view of the fact that it is on this false hypothesis that
so-called "Christian Socialism" has been built up. " The Essenes," he writes,
had all things in common, and appointed one of the brethren as steward to manage
the common bag ; so the primitive Christians (Acts ii. 44, 45, iv. 32-4; John
xii. 6, xiii. 29)." It is perfectly true that, as the first reference to the
Acts testifies, some of the primitive Christians after the death of Christ
formed themselves into a body having all things in common, but there is not the
slightest evidence that Christ and His disciples followed this principle. The
solitary passage in the Gospel of St. John, which are all that Dr. Ginsburg can
quote in support of this contention, may have referred to an alms-bag or a fund
for certain expenses, not to a common pool of all monetary wealth. Still less is
there any evidence that Christ advocated Communism to the world in general. When
the young man having great possessions asked what he should do to inherit
eternal life, Christ told him to follow the commandments, but on the young man
asking what more he could do, answered: " If thou wilt be perfect go and sell
that thou hast and give to the poor." Renunciation but not the pooling of al
wealth was thus a counsel of perfection for the few who desired to devote their
lives to God, as monks and nuns have always done, and bore no relation to the
Communistic system of the Essenes.
Dr. Ginsburg goes on to say : " Essenism put all its members on the same
level, forbidding the exercise of authority of one over the other and enjoining
mutual service ; so Christ (Matt. xx. 25-8 ; Mark ix. 35-7, x. 42-5). Essenism
commanded its disciples to call no man master upon the earth, so Christ (Matt.
xxiii. 8-10)." As a matter of fact, Christ strongly upheld the exercise of
authority, not only in the oft-quoted passage, "Render to Cæsar the things that
are Cæsar's," but His approval of the Centurion's speech. " I am a man under
authority, having soldiers under me : and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth;
and the another, Come, and he cometh ; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth
it." Everywhere Christ commends the faithful servant and enjoins obedience to
masters. If we look up the reference to the Gospel of St. Matthew where Dr.
Ginsburg says that Christ commanded His disciples to call no man master on
earth, we shall find that he has not only perverted the sense of the passage but
reversed the order of the words, which, following a denunciation of the Jewish
Rabbis, runs thus : " But not ye called Rabbi : for one is your master, even
Christ, and all ye are brethren. . . . Neither be ye called masters : one is
your master, even Christ. But he that is greatest among you shall be your
servant." The apostles were, therefore, never ordered to call no man master, but
not to be called master themselves. Moreover, if we refer to the Greek text we
shall see that this was meant in a spiritual and not a social sense. The word
for " master " here given is in the first verse i.e. teacher, in the
second, literally guide, and the word for servant is . When masters
and servants in the social sense are referred to in the Gospels, the word
employed for master is and for servant . Dr. Ginsburg should have
been aware of this distinction and that the passage in question had therefore no
bearing on his argument. As a matter of fact it would appear that some of the
apostles kept servants, since Christ commends them for exacting strict attention
to duty :
Which of you, having a servant ploughing or feeding cattle, will say unto him
by and by, when he is come from the field, Go and sit down to meat ? And will
not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and
serve me, till I have eaten and drunken ; and afterwards thou shalt eat and
drink ? Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded
to him ? I trow not.(89)
This passage would alone suffice to show that Christ and His apostles did not
inhabit communities where all were equal, but followed the usual practices of
the social system under which they lived, though adopting certain rules, such as
taking only one garment and carrying no money when they went on journeys. Those
resemblances between the teaching of the Essenes and the Sermon on the Mount
which Dr. Ginsburg indicates refer not to the customs of a sect, but to general
precepts for human conduct--humility meekness, charity, and so forth.
At the same time it is clear that if the Essenes in general conformed to some
of the principles laid down by Christ, certain of their doctrines were
completely at variance with those of Christ and of primitive Christians, in
particular their custom of praying to the rising sun and their disbelief in the
resurrection of the body.(90)
St. Paul denounces asceticism, warning the brethren that " in the latter times
some shall depart from the faith, giving heed seducing spirits, and doctrines of
devils, . . . forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats which
God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know
the truth. For every creature of God is good and nothing to be refused, if it be
received with thanksgiving . . . If thou put the brethren in remembrance of
these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ."
This would suggest that certain Essenean ideas had crept into Christian
communities and were regarded by those who remembered Christ's true teaching as
a dangerous perversion.
The Essenes were therefore not Christians, but a secret society, practising
four degrees of initiation, and bound by a terrible oaths not to divulge the
sacred mysteries confided to them. And what were those mysteries but those of
the Jewish secret tradition which we now know as the Cabala ? Dr. Ginsburg
throws an important light on Essenism when, in one passage alone, he refers to
the obligation of the Essenes " not to divulge the secret doctrines to anyone, .
. . carefully to preserve the books belonging to their sect and names of the
angels or the mysteries connected with the Tetragrammaton and the other names of
God and angels, comprised in the theosophy as well as with the cosmonogy which
also played so important a part among the Jewish mystics and the Kabbalists."
The truth is clearly that the Essenes were Cabalists, though doubtless Cabalists
of a superior kind. The Cabala they possessed very possibly descended from
pre-Christian times and had remained uncontaminated by the anti-Christian strain
introduced into it by the Rabbis after the death of Christ.(92)
The Essenes are of importance to the subject of this book as the first of the
secret societies from which a direct line of tradition can be traced up to the
present day. But if in this peaceful community no actually anti-Christian
influence is to be discerned, the same cannot be said of the succeeding
pseudo-Christian sects which, whilst professing Christianity, mingled with
Christian doctrines the poison of the perverted Cabala, main source of the
errors which henceforth rent the Christian Church in twain.
The first school of thought to create a schism in Christianity was the
collection of sects known under the generic name of Gnosticism. In its purer
forms Gnosticism aimed at supplementing faith by knowledge of eternal verities
and at giving a wider meaning to Christianity by linking it up with earlier
faiths. " The belief that the divinity had been manifested in the religious
institutions of all nations " (93) thus
led to the conception of a sort of universal religion containing the divine
elements of all.
Gnosticism, however, as the Jewish Encyclopædia points out, " was
Jewish in character long before it became Christian."(94)
M. Matter indicates Syria and Palestine as its cradle and Alexandria as the
centre by which it was influenced at the time of its alliance with Christianity.
This influence again was predominantly Jewish. Philo and Aristobulus, the
leading Jewish philosophers of Alexandria, " wholly attached to the ancient
religion of their fathers, both resolved to adorn it with the spoils of other
systems and to open to Judaism the way to immense conquests." (95) This
method of borrowing from other races and religions those ideas useful for their
purpose has always been the custom of the Jews. The Cabala, as we have seen, was
made up of these heterogeneous elements. And it is here we find the principal
progenitor of Gnosticism. The Freemason Ragon gives the clue in the words : The
Cabala is the key of the occult sciences. The Gnostics were born of the
For the Cabala was much older than the Gnostics. Modern historians who date
it merely from the publication of the Zohar by Moses de Leon in the thirteenth
century or from the school of Luria in the sixteenth century obscure this most
important fact which Jewish savants have always clearly recognized.(97)
The Jewish Encyclopædia, whilst denying the certainty of connexion
between Gnosticism and the Cabala, nevertheless admits that the investigations
of the anti-Cabalist Graetz " must be resumed on a new basis," and it goes on to
show that " it was Alexandria of the first century, or earlier, with her strange
commingling of Egyptian, Chaldean, Judean, and Greek culture which furnished
soil and seeds for that mystic philosophy," (98) But
since Alexandria was at the same period the home of Gnosticism, which was formed
from the same elements enumerated here, the connexion between the two systems is
clearly evident. M. Matter is therefore right in saying that Gnosticism was not
a defection from Christianity but a combination of systems into which a few
Christian elements were introduced. The result of Gnosticism was thus not to
Christianize the Cabala, but to cabalize Christianity by mingling its pure and
simple teaching with theosophy and even magic. The Jewish Encyclopædia quotes
the opinion that " the central doctrine of Gnosticism--a movement closely
connected with Jewish mysticism--was nothing else than the attempt to liberate
the soul and unite it with God "; but as this was apparently to be effected "
through the employment of mysteries, incantations, names of angels," etc., it
will be seen how widely even this phase of Gnosticism differ from Christianity
and identifies itself with the magical Cabala of the Jews.
Indeed, the man generally recognized as the founder of Gnosticism, a Jew
commonly known as Simon Magus, was not only a Cabalist mystic but avowedly a
magician, who with a band of Jews, including his master Dositheus and his
disciples Menander and Cerinthus, instituted a priesthood of the Mysteries and
practised occult arts and exorcisms.(99)
It was this Simon of whom we read in the Acts of the Apostles that he "
bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one : to
whom they all gave heed from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the
great power of God," and who sought to purchase the power of the laying on of
hands with money. Simon, indeed, crazed by his incantations and ecstasies,
developed megalomania in an acute form, arrogating to himself divine honours and
aspiring to the adoration of the whole world. According to a contemporary
legend, he eventually became sorcerer to Nero and ended his life in Rome.(100)
The prevalence of sorcery amongst the Jews during the first century of the
Christian era is shown by other passages in the Acts of the Apostles ; in Paphos
the " false prophet," a Jew, whose surname was Bar-Jesus, otherwise known as "
Elymas the sorcerer," opposed the teaching of St. Paul and brought on himself
the imprecation : " O full of all subtlety and all mischief, thou child of the
devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right
ways of the Lord ? "
Perversion is the keynote of all the debased forms of Gnosticism. According
to Eliphas Lévi, certain of the Gnostics introduced into their rites that
profanation of Christian mysteries which was to form the basis of black magic in
the Middle Ages.(101)
The glorification of evil, which plays so important a part in the modern
revolutionary movement, constituted the creed of the Ophites, who worshipped the
Serpent () because he had revolted against Jehovah, to whom they referred
under the Cabalistic term of the " demiurgus," (102)
and still more of the Cainites, so-called from their cult of Cain, whom, with
Dathan and Abiram, the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah, and finally Judas
Iscariot, they regarded as noble victims of the demiurgus.(103)
Animated by hatred of all social and moral order, the Cainites " called upon all
men to destroy the works of God and to commit every kind of infamy."(104)
These men were therefore not only the enemies of Christianity but of orthodox
Judaism, since it was against the Jehovah of the Jews that their hatred was
particularly directed. Another Gnostic sect the Carpocratians, followers of
Carpocrates of Alexandria and his son Epiphamus--who died from his debaucheries
and was venerated as a god(105)--likewise
regarded all written laws, Christian or Mosaic, with contempt and recognised
only the or knowledge given to the great men of every nation--Plato and
Pythagoras, Moses and Christ--which " frees one from all that the vulgar call
religion" and " makes man equal to God."(106)
So in the Carpocratians of the second century we find already the tendency
towards that deification of humanity which forms the supreme doctrine of
the secret societies and of the visionary Socialists of our day. The war now
begins between the two contending principles : the Christian conception of man
reaching up to God and the secret society conception of man as God, needing no
revelation from on high and no guidance but the law of his own nature. And since
that nature is in itself divine, all that springs from it is praiseworthy, and
those acts usually regarded as sins are not to be condemned. By this line of
reasoning the Carpocratians arrived at much the same conclusions as modern
Communists with regard to the ideal social system. Thus Epiphanus held that
since Nature herself reveals the principle of the community and the unity of all
things, human laws which are contrary to this law of Nature are so many culpable
infractions of the legitimate order of things. Before these laws were imposed on
humanity everything was in common--land, goods, and women. According to certain
contemporaries, the Carpocratians returned to this primitive system by
instituting the community of women and indulging in every kind of licence.
The further Gnostic sect of Antitacts, following this same cult of human
nature, taught revolt against all positive religion and laws and the necessity
for gratifying the flesh ; the Adamites of North Africa, going a step further in
the return to Nature, cast off all clothing at their religious service so as to
represent the primitive innocence of the garden of Eden--a precedent followed by
the Adamites of Germany in the fifteenth century.(107)
These Gnostics, says Eliphas Lévi, under the pretext of " spiritualizing
matter, materialized the spirit in the most revolting ways. . . . Rebels to the
hierarchic order, . . . they wished to substitute the mystical licence of
sensual passions to wise Christian sobriety and obedience to laws. . . . Enemies
of the family, they wished to produce sterility by increasing debauchery."(108)
By way of systematically perverting the doctrines of the Christian faith the
Gnostics claimed to possess the true versions of the Gospels, and professed
belief in these to the exclusion of all the others.(109)
Thus the Ebionites had their own corrupted version of the Gospel of St. Matthew
founded on the " Gospel of the Hebrews," known earlier to the Jewish Christians
; the Marcosians had their version of St. Luke, the Cainites their own " Gospel
of Judas," and the Valentinians their " Gospel of St. John." As we shall see
later, the Gospel of St. John is the one that throughout the war on Christianity
has been specially chosen for the purpose of perversion.
Of course this spirit of perversion was nothing new ; many centuries earlier
the prophet Isaiah had denounced it in the words : " Woe unto them that call
evil good, and good evil ; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness !
" But the rôle of the Gnostics was to reduce perversion to a system by binding
men together into sects working under the guise of enlightenment in order to
obscure all recognized ideas of morality and religion. It is this which
constitutes their importance in the history of secret societies.
Whether the Gnostics themselves can be described as a secret society, or
rather as a ramification of secret societies, is open to question. M. Matter,
quoting a number of third century writers, shows the possibility that they had
mysteries and initiations ; the Church Fathers definitely asserted this to be
(110) According to Tertullian, the Valentinians continued, or rather
perverted, the mysteries of Eleusis, out of which they made a " sanctuary of
The Valentinians are known to have divided their members into three
classes--the Pneumatics, the Psychics, and the Hylics (i.e. materialists) ; the
Basilideans are also said to have possessed secret doctrines known to hardly one
in a thousand of the sect. From all this M. Matter concludes that :
1. The Gnostics professed to hold by means of tradition a secret doctrine
superior to that contained in the public writings of the apostles.
2. That they did not communicate this doctrine to everyone. . . .
3. That they communicated it by means of emblems and symbols, as the Diagram of
the Ophites proves.
4. That in these communications they imitated the rites and trials of the
mysteries of Eleusis.(112)
This claim to the possession of a secret oral tradition, whether known under
the name of or of Cabala, confirms the conception of the Gnostics as
Cabalists and shows how far they had departed from Christian teaching. For if
only in this idea of " one doctrine for the ignorant and another for a
initiated," the Gnostics had restored the very system which Christianity had
come to destroy.(113)
Whilst we have seen the Gnostic sects working for more or less subversive
purposes under the guise of esoteric doctrines, we find in the Manicheans of
Persia, who followed a century later, a sect embodying the same tendencies and
approaching still nearer to secret society organization.
Cubricus or Corbicius, the founder of Manicheism, was born in Babylonia about
the year A.D. 216. Whilst still a child he is said to have been bought as a
slave by a rich widow of Ctesiphon, who liberated him and on her death left him
great wealth. According to another story--for the whole history of Manes rests
on legends--he inherited from a rich old woman the books of a Saracen named
Scythianus on the wisdom of the Egyptians. Combining the doctrines these books
contained with ideas borrowed from Zoroastrianism, Gnosticism, and Christianity,
and also with certain additions of his own, he elaborated a philosophic system
which he proceeded to teach. Cubricus then changed his name to Mani or Manes and
proclaimed himself the Paraclete promised by Jesus Christ. His followers were
divided into two classes--the outer circle of hearers or combatants, and the
inner circle of teachers or ascetics described as the Elect. As evidence of
their resemblance with Freemasons, it has been said that the Manicheans made use
of secret signs, grips, and passwords, that owing to the circumstances of their
master's adoption they called Manes " the son of the widow " and themselves "
the children of the widow," but this is not clearly proved. One of their customs
is, however, interesting in this connexion. According to legend, Manes undertook
to cure the son of the King of Persia who had fallen ill, but the prince died,
whereupon Manes was flayed alive by order of the king and his corpse hanged up
at the city gate. Every year after this, on Good Friday, the Manicheans carried
out a mourning ceremony known as the Bema around the catafalque of Manes, whose
real sufferings they were wont to contrast with the unreal sufferings of Christ.
The fundamental doctrine of Manicheism is Dualism-- that is to say, the
existence of two opposing principles in the world, light and darkness, good and
evil--founded, however, not on the Christian conception of this idea, but on the
Zoroastrian conception of Ormuzd and Ahriman, and so perverted and mingled with
Cabalistic superstitions that it met with as vehement denunciation by Persian
priests as by Christian Fathers. Thus, according to the doctrine of Manes, all
matter is absolute, the principle of evil is eternal, humanity itself of Satanic
origin, and the first human beings, Adam and Eve, are represented as the
offspring of devils.(114)
Much the same idea may be found in the Jewish Cabala, where it is said that
Adam, after other abominable practices, cohabited with female devils whilst Eve
consoled herself with male devils, so that whole races of demons were born into
the world. Eve is also accused of cohabiting with the Serpent.(115)
In the Yalkut Shimoni it is also related that during the 130 years that Adam
lived apart from Eve, " he begat a generation of devils, spirits, and hobgoblins
Manichean demonology thus paved the way for the placation of the powers of
darkness practised by the Euchites at the end of the fourth century and later by
the Paulicians, the Bogomils and the Luciferians.
So it is in Gnosticism and Manicheism that we find evidence of the first
attempts to pervert Christianity. The very fact that all such have been
condemned by the Church as "heresies" has tended to enlist sympathy in their
favour, yet even Eliphas Lévi recognizes that here the action of the Church was
right, for the " monstrous gnosis of Manes " was a desecration not only of
Christian doctrines but of pre-Christian sacred traditions.
1. August le Plongeon, Sacred mysteries among the Mayas
and the Quiches, p. 53 (1909).
2. Ibid., pp. 56, 58.
3. Adolf Erman, Life in Ancient Egypt, p. 45 (1894).
4. J.H. Breasted, Ancient Times : a History of the Early
World, p. 92 (1916).
5. This word is spelt variously by different writers thus :
Cabala, Cabbala, Kabbala, Kabbalah, Kabalah. I adopt the first spelling as being
the one employed in the Jewish Encyclopædia.
6. Fabre d'Olivet, La Langue Hébraïque, p. 28 (1815).
7. According to the Jewish view God had given Moses on Mount
Sinai alike the oral and the written Law, that is, the Law with all its
interpretations and applications."--Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of
Jesus the Messiah, I. 99 (1883), quoting other Jewish authorities.
8. Solomon Maimon : an Autobiography, translated from the
German by J. Clark Murray, p. 28 (1888). The original appeared in 1792.
9. Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the
Messiah, II. 689 (1883).
10. " There exists in Jewish literature no book more
difficult to understand than the Sepher Yetzirah."--Phineas Mordell in the
Jewish Quarterly Review, New Series, Vol. II. p. 557.
11. Paul Vulliaud, La Kabbale Juive : histoire et doctrine,
2 vols. (Émile Nourry, 62 Rue des Écoles, Paris, 1923). This book, neither the
work of a Jew nor of an " anti-Semite," but of a perfectly impartial student, is
invaluable for a study of the Cabala rather as a vast compendium of opinions
than as an expression of original thought.
12. " Rab Hanina and Rab Oschaya were seated on the eve of
every Sabbath studying the Sepher Ietsirah ; they created a three-year-old
heifer and ate it "--Talmud treatise Sanhedrim, folio 65.
13. Koran, Sura LXXXVII. 10.
14. Zohar, section Bereschith, folio 55, and section
Lekh-Lekha, folio 76 (De Pauly's translation, Vol. I. pp. 431, 446).
15. Adolphe Franck, La Kabbale, p. 39 ; J.P. Stehelin,
The Traditions of the Jews, I. 145 (1748).
16. Adolphe Franck, op. cit., p. 68, quoting Talmud treatise
Sabbath, folio 34 ; Dr. Christian Ginsburg, The Kabbalah, p. 85 ; Drach,
De l'Harmonie entre l'Église et la Synagogue, I. 457.
17. Adolphe Franck, op. cit., p. 69.
18. Dr. Christian Ginsburg (1920), The Kabbalah, pp.
19. Vulliaud, op. cit., I. 253.
20. Ibid., p. 21, quoting Theodore Reinach, Histoire des
Israélites, p. 221, and Salomon Reinach, Orpheus, p. 299.
21. Jewish Encyclopædia, article on Cabala.
22. Adolphe Franck, op. cit., p. 288.
23. Vulliaud, op. cit., I. 256, quoting Greenstone, The
Messiah Idea, p. 229.
24. H. Loewe, in an article on the Kabbala in Hastings'
Encyclopædia of Religion and Ethics, says : " This secret mysticism was no
late growth. Difficult though it is to prove the date and origin of this system
of philosophy and the influences and causes which produced it, we can be fairly
certain that its roots stretch back very far and that the mediæval and Geonic
Kabbala was the culmination and not the inception of Jewish esoteric mysticism.
From the time of Graetz it has been the fashion to decry the Kabbala and to
regard it as a later incrustation, as something of which Judaism had reason to
be ashamed." The writer goes on to express the opinion that " the recent
tendency requires adjustment. The Kabbala, though later in form than is claimed
by its adherents, is far older in material than is allowed by its detractors."
25. Vulliaud, op. cit., I. 22.
26. Ibid., I. 13, 14, quoting Edersheim, La Société Juive
au temps de Jésus-Christ (French translation), pp. 363-4.
27. See chapters on this question by Gougenot des Mousseaux
in Le Juif, Judaïsme et la Judaïsation des Peuples Chrétiens, pp. 499 and
following (2nd edition, 1886). The first edition of this book, published in
1869, is said to have been bought up and destroyed by the Jews, and the author
died sudden death before the second edition could be published.
28. Eliphas Levi, Histoire de la Magie, pp. 46, 105.
(Eliphas Lévi was the pseudonym of the celebrated nineteenth-century occultist
the Abbé Constant.)
29. Lexicon of Freemasonry, p. 323.
30. Ginsburg, op. cit., p. 105; Jewish Encyclopædia,
article on Cabala.
31. Gougenot des Mousseaux, Le Juif, le judaïsme et la
Judaïsation des Peuples Chrétiens, p. 503 (1886).
32. P.L.B. Drach, De l'Harmonie entre l'Église et la
Synagogue, Vol. I. p. xiii (1844). M. Vulliaud (op. cit., II. 245) points out
that, as far as he can discover, Drach's work has never met with any refutation
from the Jews, by whom it was received in complete silence. The Jewish
Encyclopædia has an article on Drach in which it says he was brought up in a
Talmudic school and afterwards became converted to Christianity, but makes no
attempt to challenge his statements.
33. Drach, op. cit., Vol. II. p. xix.
34. Franck, op. cit., p. 127.
35. De Pauly's translation, Vol. V. pp. 336-8, 343-6.
36. Zohar, treatise Beschala, folio 59b (De Pauly,
37. Zohar, Toldoth Noah, folio 69a (De Pauly, I. 408).
38. Zohar, treatise Beschala, folio 48a (De Pauly,
39. Ibid., folio 44a (De Pauly, III. 200).
40. Jewish Encyclopædia, article on Cabala.
41. Adolf Erman, Life in Ancient Egypt, p. 32.
42. Zohar, treatise Toldoth Noah, folio 59b (De Pauly,
43. Zohar treatise Lekh-Lekha, folio 94a (De Pauly, I.
44. Zohar treatise Bereschith, folio 26a (De Pauly, I
45. The Emek ha Melek is the work of the Cabalist
Naphtali, a disciple of Luria.
46. Drach, De l'Harmonie entre l'Église et la Synagogue,
47. Ibid., p. 273.
48. D'Herbelot, Bibliothèque Orientale (1778), article
49. Ibid., I. 18.
50. Rom. iii. 2.
51. Drach, De l'Harmonie entre l'Église et la Synagogue,
52. Ibid., I. 280.
53. Vulliaud, op. cit., II. 255, 256.
54. Ibid., p. 257, quoting Karppe, Études sur les Origines
du Zohar, p. 494.
55. Ibid., I. 13, 14. In Vol. 11. p. 411, M. Vulliaud quotes
Isaac Meyer's assertion that "the triad of the ancient Cabala is Kether, the
Father ; Binah, the Holy Spirit or the Mother ; and Hochmah, the Word or the
Son." But in order to avoid the sequence of the Christian Trinity this
arrangement has been altered in the modern Cabala of Luria and Moses of
56. Jewish Encyclopædia, article on Cabala, p. 478.
57. ". . . All that Israel hoped for, was national
restoration and glory. Everything else was but means to these ends ; the Messiah
Himself only the grand instrument in attaining them. Thus viewed, the picture
presented would be of Israel's exaltation, rather than of the salvation of the
world. . . . The Rabbinical ideal of the Messiah was not that of ' a light to
lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of His people Israel '--the satisfaction of
the wants of humanity, and the completion of Israel's mission--but quite
different even to contrariety."-- Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the
Messiah, 164 (1883).
58. Zohar, section Schemoth, folio 8; cf. ibid., folio 9b
: " The period when the King Messiah will declare war on the whole world "
(De Pauly, III. 32, 36)
59. A blasphemous address entitled The God Man, given
by Tom Anderson, the founder of the Socialist Sunday Schools, on Glasgow Green
to an audience of over 1,000 workers in 1922 and printed in pamphlet form, was
founded entirely on this theory.
60. J.G. Frazer, The Golden Bough, Part VI. "
Scapegoat," p. 412 (1914 edition) ; E.R. Bevan endorses this view.
61. Histoire de la Magie, p. 69.
62. The Magi or Wise Men are generally believed to have come
from Persia this would accord with the Zoroastrian prophecy quoted above.
63. Drach, op. cit., II. p. 32.
64. Ibid., II. p xxiii.
65. Joseph Barclay, The Talmud, pp. 38, 39; cf. Drach,
op. cit., I. 167.
66. The Talmud, by Michael Rodkinson (alias Michael
67. Le Talmud de Babylone, (1900).
68. Le Zohar, translation in 8 vols. by Jean de Pauly,
published in 1909 by Emile Lafuma-Giraud. Wherever possible in quoting the
Talmud or the Cabala I shall give a reference to one of the translations here
69. Jewish Encyclopædia, article Talmud.
70. Drach, op. cit., I. 168, 169. The text of this encyclical
is given by Drach in Hebrew and also in translation, thus : " This is why we
enjoin you, under pain of excommunication major, to print nothing in future
editions, whether of the Mischna or of the Gemara, which relates whether for
good or evil to the acts of Jesus the Nazarene, and to substitute instead a
circle like this O, which will warn the Rabbis and schoolmasters to teach the
young these passages only viva voce. By means of this precaution the savants
amongst the Nazarenes will have no further pretext to attack us on this
subject." Cf. Abbé Chiarini, Le Talmud de Babylone, p. 45 (1831).
71. On this point see Appendix I.
72. Jewish Encyclopædia, article on " Jesus."
73. Eliphas Lévi, La Science des Esprits, p. 40.
74. Origen, Contra Celsum.
75. S. Baring-Gould, The Counter-Gospels, p. 69
77. Ibid., p. 55, quoting Talmud, treatise Sanhedrim, folio
107, and Sota, folio 47 ; Eliphas Lévi, La Science des Esprits, pp. 32,
78. According to the Koran, it was the Jews who said, " '
Verily we have slain the Messiah, Jesus the son of Mary, an apostle of God.' Yet
they slew him not, and they crucified him not, but they had only his likeness. .
. . No sure knowledge had they about him, but followed an opinion, and they did
not really slay him, but God took him up to Himself."--Sura iv. 150. See also
Sura iii. 40. The Rev. J. M. Rodwell, in his translation of the Koran observes
in a footnote to the latter passage : " Muhammad probably believed that God took
the dead body of Jesus to Heaven--for three hours, according to some,--while the
Jews crucified a man who resembled him."
79. Sura iii. 30, 40.
80. Sura xxi. 90.
81. Sura iv. 150.
82. Sura ii. 89, 250 ; v. 100
83. Sura v. 50.
84. In the masonic periodical Ars Quatuor Coronatorum,
Vol. XXIV, a Freemason (Bro. Sydney T. Klein) observes : " It is not generally
known that one of the reasons why the Mohammedans removed their Kiblah from
Jerusalem to Mecca was that they quarrelled with the Jews over Jesus Christ, and
the proof of this may still be seen in the Golden Gate leading into the sacred
area of the Temple, which was bricked up by the Mohammedans and is bricked up to
this day, because they declared that nobody should enter through that portal
until Jesus Christ comes to judge the world, and this is stated in the Koran." I
cannot trace this passage in the Koran, but much the same idea is conveyed by
the Rev. J. M. Rodwell, who in the note above quoted adds : " The Muhammadans
believe that Jesus on His return to earth at the end of the world will slay the
Antichrist, die, and be raised again. A vacant place is reserved for His body in
the Prophet's tomb at Medina."
85. Graetz, Geschichte der Juden, III. 216-52.
86. The Essenes : their History and Doctrines, an
essay by Christian D. Ginsburg, LL.D. (Longmans, Green & Co., 1864).
87. Ibid., p. 24.
88. Edersheim (op. cit., I. 325) ably refutes both Graetz and
Ginsburg on this point and shows that " the teaching of Christianity was in a
direction opposite from that of Essenism." M. Vulliaud (op. cit., I. 71)
dismisses the Essene origin of Christianity as unworthy of serious attention. "
To maintain the Essenism of Jesus is a proof of frivolity or of invincible
89. Luke xvii. 7-9.
90. Ginsburg, op. cit., pp. 15, 22, 55.
91. Ginsburg, op. cit., p. 12.
92. Fabre d'Olivet thinks this tradition had descended to the
Essenes from Moses : " If it is true, as everything attests, that Moses left an
oral law, it is amongst the Essenes that it was preserved. The Pharisees, who
flattered themselves so highly on possessing it, only had its outward forms (apparences),
as Jesus reproaches them at every moment. It is from these latter that the
modern Jews descend, with the exception of a few real savants whose
secret tradition goes back to the Essens."--La Langue Hébraïque, p. 27
93. Matter, Histoire du Gnosticisme, I. 44 (1844).
94. Jewish Encyclopædia, article on Cabala.
95. Matter, op. cit., II. 58.
96. Ragon, Maçonnerie Occulte, p. 78.
97. " The Cabala is anterior to the Gnosis, an opinion which
Christian writers little understand, but which the erudites of Judaism profess
with a legitimate assurance."--Matter, op. cit., Vol. I. p. 12.
98. Jewish Encyclopædia, article on Cabala.
99. John Yarker, The Arcane Schools, p. 167; Matter,
op. cit., II. 365, quoting Irenæus.
100. Eliphas Lévi, Histoire de la Magie, p. 189.
101. Eliphas Lévi, op. cit., p. 218.
102. Dean Milman, History of the Jews (Everyman's
Library edition), II. 491.
103. Matter, II. 171; E. de Faye, Gnostiques et
Gnosticisme, p. 349 (1913).
104. De Luchet, Essai sur la Secte des Illuminés, p.
105. Manuel d'Histoire Ecclésiastique, par R.P.
Albers, S.J., adapté par René Hedde, O.P., p. 125 (1908); Matter, op. cit., II.
106. Matter, op. cit., II. 188.
107. Matter, op. cit., II. 199, 215.
108. Eliphas Lévi, Histoire de la Magie, pp. 217, 218.
109. Matter, op. cit., II. 115, III. 14; S. Baring-Gould,
The Lost and Hostile Gospels (1874).
110. Matter, op. cit., II. 364.
111. Ibid., p. 365.
112. Ibid., p. 369.
113. Some Notes on Various Gnostic Sects and their Possible
Influence on Freemasonry, by D.F. Ranking, republished from Ars Quatour
Coronatorum (Vol. XXIV, p. 202, 1911) in pamphlet form, p. 7.
114. Hastings, Encyclopædia of Religion and Ethics,
article on Manicheism.
115. Zohar, treatise Bereschith, folio 54 (De Pauly's
translation, I. 315).
116. The Yalkut Shimoni is a sixteenth-century compilation of
WE have followed the efforts of subversive sects hitherto
directed against Christianity and orthodox Judaism ; we shall now see this
attempt, reduced by gradual stages to a working system of extraordinary
efficiency, organized for the purpose of undermining all moral and religious
beliefs in the minds of Moslems. In the middle of the seventh century an immense
schism was created in Islam by the rival advocates of successors to the Prophet,
the orthodox Islamites known by the name of Sunnis adhering to the elected
Khalifas Abu Bakr, Omar, and Othman, whilst the party of revolt, known as the
Shiahs, claimed the Khalifate for the descendants of Mohammed through Ali, son
of Abu-Talib and husband of Fatima, the Prophet's daughter. This division ended
in open warfare ; Ali was finally assassinated, his elder son Hasan was poisoned
in Medina, his younger son Husain fell at the battle of Kerbela fighting against
the supporters of Othman. The deaths of Hasan and Husain are still mourned
yearly by the Shiahs at the Moharram.
The Shiahs themselves split again over the question of Ali's successors into
four factions, the fourth of which
divided again into two further sects. Both of these retained their allegiance to
the descendants of Ali as far as Jafar-as-Sadik but whilst one party, known as
the Imamias or Isna-Asharias i.e. the Twelvers), supported the succession
through his younger son Musa to the twelfth Imam Mohammed, son of Askeri, the
Ismailis (or Seveners) adhered to Ismail, the elder son of Jafar-as-Sadik.
So far, however, in spite of divisions, no body of Shiahs had ever deviated
from the fundamental doctrines of Islamism but merely claimed that these had
been handed down through a different line from that recognized by the Sunnis.
The earliest Ismailis, who formed themselves into a party at about the time of
the death of Mohammed, son of Ismail (i.e.circ. A.D. 770) still remained
believers, declaring only that the true teaching of the Prophet had descended to
Mohammed, who was not dead but would return in the fullness of time and that he
was the Mahdi whom Moslems must await. But in about A.D. 87, an intriguer of
extraordinary subtlety succeeded in capturing the movement, which, hitherto
merely schismatic, now became definitely subversive, not only of Islamism, but
of all religious belief.
This man, Abdullah ibn Maymn, the son of a learned and free-thinking doctor
in Southern Persia, brought up in the doctrines of Gnostic Dualism and
profoundly versed in all religions, was in reality, like his father, a pure
materialist. By professing adherence to the creed of orthodox Shi-ism, and
proclaiming a knowledge of the mystic doctrines which the Ismailis believed to
have descended through Ismail to his son Mohammed, Abdullah succeeded in placing
himself at the head of the Ismailis.
His advocacy of Ismail was thus merely a mask, his real aim being
materialism, which he now proceeded to make into a system by founding a sect
known as the Batinis with seven degrees of initiation. Dozy has given the
following description of this amazing project :
To link together into one body the vanquished and the conquerors ; to unite
in the form of a vast secret society with many degrees of initiation
free-thinkers--who regarded religion only as curb for the people--and bigots
of all sects ; to make tools of believers in order to give power to sceptics
; to induce conquerors to overturn the empires they had founded ; to build
up a party, numerous, compact, and disciplined, which in due time would give
the throne, if not to himself, at least to his descendants, such was
Abdullah ibn Maymn's general aim--an extraordinary conception which he
worked out with marvellous tact, incomparable skill, and profound knowledge
of the human heart. The means which he adopted were devised with diabolical
cunning. . . .
It was . . . not among the Shi-ites that he sought his true supporters, but
among the Ghebers, the Manicheans, the pagans of Harran, and the students of
Greek philosophy ; on the last alone could he rely, to them alone could he
gradually unfold the final mystery, and reveal that Imams, religions, and
morality were nothing but an imposture and an absurdity. The rest of
mankind--the " asses," as Abdullah called them--were incapable of understanding
such doctrines. But to gain his end he by no means disdained their aid ; on the
contrary, he solicited it, but he took care to initiate devout and lowly souls
only in the first grades of the sect. His missionaries, who were inculcated with
the idea that their first duty was to conceal their true sentiments and adapt
themselves to the views of their auditors, appeared in many guises, and spoke,
as it were, in a different language to each class. They won over the ignorant
vulgar by feats of legerdemain which passed for miracles or excited their
curiosity by enigmatical discourse. In the presence of the devout they assumed
the mask of virtue and piety. With mystics they were mystical, and unfolded the
inner meanings of phenomena, or explained allegories and the figurative sense of
the allegories themselves. . . .
By means such as these the extraordinary result was brought about that a
multitude of men of diverse beliefs were all working together for an object
known only to a few of them. . . .(2)
I quote this passage at length because it is of immense importance in
throwing a light on the organization of modern secret societies. It does not
matter what the end may be, whether political, social, or religious, the
system remains the same--the setting in motion of a vast number of people
and making them work in a cause unknown to them. That this was the method
adopted by Weishaupt in organizing the Illuminati and that it came to him
from the East will be shown later on. We shall now see how the system of the
philosopher Abdullah paved the way for bloodshed by the most terrible sect
the world had ever seen.
The first open acts of violence resulting from the doctrines of Abdullah were
carried out by the Karmathites, a new development of the Ismailis. Amongst the
many Dais sent out by the leader--which included his son Ahmed and Ahmed's
son--was the Dai Hosein Ahwazi, Abdullah's envoy to Irak in Persia, who
initiated a certain Hamdan surnamed Karmath into the secrets of the sect.
Karmath, who was a born intriguer and believed in nothing, became the leader of
the Karmathites in Arabia, where a number of Arabs were soon enlisted in the
society. With extraordinary skill he succeeded in persuading these dupes to make
over all their money to him, first by means of small contributions, later by
larger sums, until at last he convinced them of the advantages of abolishing all
private property and establishing the system of the community of goods and
wives. This principle was enforced by the passage of the Koran : " Remember the
grace of God in that whilst you were enemies, He has united your hearts, so that
by His grace you have become brothers. . . ." De Sacy thus transcribes the
methods employed as given by the historian Nowairi :
When Karmath had succeeded in establishing all this, and everyone had agreed
to conform to it, he ordered the Dais to assemble all the women on a certain
night so that they should mingle promiscuously with all the men. This, he
said, was perfection and the last degree of friendship and fraternal union.
Often a husband led his wife and presented her himself to one of his
brothers when that gave him pleasure. When he (Karmath) saw that he had
become absolute master of their minds, had assured himself of their
obedience, and found out the degree of their intelligence and discernment,
he began to lead them quite astray. He put before them arguments borrowed
from the doctrines of the Dualists. They fell in easily with all that he
proposed, and then he took away from them all religion and released them
from all those duties of piety, devotion, and the fear of God that he
prescribed for them in the beginning. He permitted them pillage, and every
sort of immoral licence, and taught them to throw off the yoke of prayer,
fasting, and other precepts. He taught them that they were held by no
obligations, and that they could pillage the goods and shed the blood of
their adversaries with impunity, that the knowledge of the master of truth
to whom he had called them took the place of everything else, and that with
this knowledge they need no longer fear sin or punishment.
As the result of these teachings the Karmathites rapidly became a band of
brigands, pillaging and massacring all those who opposed them and spreading
terror throughout all the surrounding districts.
Peaceful fraternity was thus turned into a wild lust for conquest ; the
Karmathites succeeded in dominating a great part of Arabia and the mouth of the
Euphrates, and in A.D. 920 extended their ravages westwards. They took
possession of the holy city of Mecca, in the defence of which 30,000 Moslems
fell. " For a whole century," says von Hammer, " the pernicious doctrines of
Karmath raged with fire and sword in the very bosom of Islamism, until the
widespread conflagration was extinguished in blood."
But in proclaiming themselves revolutionaries the Karmathites had departed
from the plan laid down by the originator of their creed, Abdullah ibn Maymn,
which had consisted not in acts of open violence but in a secret doctrine which
should lead to the gradual undermining of all religious faith and a condition of
mental anarchy rather than of material chaos. For violence, as always, had
produced counter violence, and it was thus that while the Karmathites were
rushing to their own destruction through a series of bloody conflicts, another
branch of the Ismailis were quietly reorganizing their forces more in conformity
with the original method of their founder. These were the Fatimites, so-called
from their professed belief that the doctrine of the Prophet had descended from
Ali, husband of Fatima, Mohammed's daughter. Whilst less extreme than the
Karmathites, or than their predecessor Abdullah ibn Maymn, the Fatimites,
according to the historian Makrizi, adopted the method of instilling doubts into
the minds of believers and aimed at the substitution of a natural for a revealed
religion. Indeed, after the establishment of their power in Egypt, it is
difficult to distinguish any appreciable degree of difference in the character
of their teaching from the anarchic code of Abdullah and his more violent
The founder of the Fatimite dynasty of the Khalifas was one Ubeidallah, known
as the Mahdi, accused of Jewish ancestry by his adversaries the Abbasides, who
declared -- apparently without truth--that he was the son or grandson of Ahmed,
son of Abdullah ibn Maymn, by a Jewess. Under the fourth Fatimite Khalifa Egypt
fell into the power of the dynasty and, before long, bi-weekly assemblages of
both men and women known as " societies of wisdom " were instituted in Cairo. In
1004 these acquired a greater importance by the establishment of the Dar ul
Hikmat, or the House of Knowledge, by the sixth Khalifa Hakim, who was raised to
a deity after his death and is worshipped to this day by the Druses. Under the
direction of the Dar ul Hikmat or Grand Lodge of Cairo, the Fatimites continued
the plan of Abdullah ibn Maymn's secret society with the addition of two more
degrees making nine in all. Their method of enlisting proselytes and stem of
initiation --which, as Claudio Jannet points out, " are absolutely those which
Weishaupt, the founder of the Illuminati, prescribed to the ' Insinuating
Brothers ' "
(3)--were transcribed by the fourteenth-century historian Nowairi in a
description that may be briefly summarized thus (4) :
The proselytes were broadly divided into two classes, the learned and the
ignorant. The Dai was to agree with the former, applauding his wisdom, and to
impress the latter with his own knowledge by asking him perplexing questions on
the Koran. Thus in initiating him into the first degree the Dai assumed an air
of profundity and explained that religious doctrines were too abstruse for the
ordinary mind, but must be interpreted by men who, like the Dais, had a special
knowledge of this science. The initiate was bound to absolute secrecy concerning
the truths to be revealed to him and obliged to pay in advance for these
revelations. In order to pique his curiosity, the Dai would suddenly stop short
in the middle of a discourse, and should the novice finally decline to pay the
required sum, he was left in a state of bewilderment which inspired him with the
desire to know more.
In the second degree the initiate was persuaded that all his ormer teachers
were wrong and that he must place his confidence solely in those Imams endowed
with authority from God ; in the third he learnt that these Imams were those of
the Ismailis, seven in number ending with Mohammed, son of Ismail, in
contradistinction to the twelve Imams of the Imamias who supported the claims of
Ismail's brother Musa ; in the fourth he was told that the prophets preceding
the Imams descending from Ali were also seven in number--namely Adam, Noah,
Abraham, Moses, Jesus, the first Mohammed, and finally Mohammed son of Ismail.
So far, then, nothing was said to the initiate in contradiction to the broad
tenets of orthodox Islamism. But with the fifth degree the process of
undermining his religion began, he was now told to reject tradition and to
disregard the precepts of Mohammed ; in the sixth he was taught that all
religious observances--prayer, fasting, etc.--were only emblematic that in fact
all these things were devices to keep the common herd of men in subordination ;
in the seventh the doctrines of Dualism, of a greater and a lesser deity, were
introduced and the unity of God--fundamental doctrine of Islamism was destroyed
; in the eighth a great vagueness was expressed on the attributes of the first
and greatest of these deities, and it was pointed out that real prophets were
those who concerned themselves with practical matters--political institutions
and good forms of government ; finally, in the ninth, the adept was shown that
all religious teaching was allegorical and the religious precepts need only be
observed in so far as it is necessary to maintain order, but the man who
understands the truth may disregard all such doctrines. Abraham, Moses, Jesus,
and the other prophets were therefore only teachers who had profited by the
lessons of philosophy. All belief in revealed religion was thus destroyed. It
will be seen then that in the last degrees the whole teaching of the first five
was reversed and therefore shown to be a fraud. Fraud in fact constituted the
system of the society ; in the instructions to the Dais every artifice is
described for enlisting proselytes by misrepresentation : Jews were to be won by
speaking ill of Christians, Christians by speaking ill of Jews and Moslems
alike, Sunnis by referring with respect to the orthodox Khalifas Abu Bakr and
Omar and criticizing Ali and his descendants. Above all, care was to be taken
not to put before proselytes doctrines that might revolt them, but to make them
advance step by step. By these means they would be ready to obey any commands.
As the instructions express it :
If you were to give the order to whoever it might be to take from him all
that he holds most precious, above all his money, he would oppose none of
your orders, and if death surprised him he would leave you all that he
possesses in his will and make you his heir. He will think that in the whole
world he cannot find a man more worthy than you.
Such was the great secret society which was to form the model for the
Illuminati of the eighteenth century, to whom the summary of von Hammer might
with equal truth apply:
To believe nothing and to dare all was, in two words, the sum of this
system, which annihilated every principle of religion and morality, and had
no other object than to execute ambitious designs with suitable ministers
who, daring all and knowing nothing, since they consider everything a cheat
and nothing forbidden, are the best tools of an infernal policy. A system
which, with no other aim than the gratification of an insatiable lust for
domination, instead of seeking the highest of human objects, precipitates
itself into the abyss, and mangling itself, is buried amidst the ruins of
thrones and altars, the wreck of national happiness, and the universal
execration of mankind.(5)
The terrible Grand Lodge of Cairo before long became the centre of a new and
extraordinary cult. Hakim sixth Fatimite Khalifa and founder of the Dar ul
Hikmat--a monster of tyranny and crime whose reign can only be compared to that
of Caligula or Nero--was now raised to the place of a divinity by one Ismail
Darazi, a Turk who in 1016 announced in a mosque in Cairo that the Khalifa
should be made an object of worship. Hakim, who " believed that divine reason
was incarnate in him," four years later proclaimed itself a deity, and the cult
was finally established by one of his viziers, the Persian mystic Hamza ibn Ali.
Hakim's cruelties, however, had so outraged the people of Egypt that a year
later he was murdered by a band of malcontents, led, it is said, by his sister,
who afterwards concealed his body--circumstance which gave his followers the
opportunity to declare that the divinity had merely vanished in order to test
the faith of believers, but would reappear in time and punish apostates. This
belief became the doctrine of the Druses of Lebanon, whom Darazi had won over to
the worship of Hakim.
It is unnecessary to enter into the details of this strange religion, which
still persists to-day in the range of Lebanon ; suffice it to say that, although
the outcome of the Ismailis, the Druses do not appear to have embraced the
materialism of Abdullah ibn Maymn, but to have grafted on a primitive form of
Nature-worship and of Sabeism the avowed belief of the Ismailis in the dynasty
of Ali and his successors, and beyond this an abstruse, esoteric creed
concerning the nature of the Supreme Deity. God they declare to be " Universal
Reason," who manifests Himself by a series of " avatars." Hakim was the last of
the divine embodiments, and " when evil and misery have increased to the
predestined height he will again appear, to conquer the world and to make his
It is, however, as a secret society that the Druses enter into the scope of
this book, for their organization presents several analogies with that which we
now know as " masonic." Instead of the nine degrees instituted by the Lodge of
Cairo, the Druses are divided into only three--Profanes, Aspirants, and Wise--to
whom their doctrines are gradually unfolded under seal of the strictest secrecy,
to ensure which signs and pass words are employed after the manner of
Freemasonry. A certain degree of duplicity appears to enter into their scheme
much resembling that enjoined to the Ismaili Dais when enlisting proselytes
belonging to other religions : thus in talking to Mohammedans, the Druses
profess to be followers of the Prophet ; with Christians, they pretend to hold
the doctrines of Christianity, an attitude they defend on the score that it is
unlawful to reveal the secret dogmas of their creed to a "Black," or unbeliever.
The Druses are in the habit of holding meetings where, as in the Dar ul
Hikmat, both men and women assemble and religious and political questions are
discussed ; the uninitiated, however, are allowed to exercise no influence on
decisions, which are reached by the inner circle, to which only the "Wise" are
admitted. The resemblance between this organization and that of Grand Orient
Freemasonry is clearly apparent. The Druses also have modes of recognition which
are common to Freemasonry, and M. Achille Laurent has observed : " The formula
or catechism of the Druses resembles that of the Freemasons ; one can learn it
only from the Akals (or Akels = Intelligent, a small group of higher
initiates), who only reveal its mysteries after having subjected one to tests
and made one take terrible oaths."
I shall refer again later in this book to the affinity between the Druses and
Freemasons of the Grand Orient.
It will be seen that the Druses, distinguishing themselves from other Ismaili
sects by their worship of Hakim, yet retaining genuine religious beliefs, had
not carried on the atheistical tradition of Abdullah ibn Maymn and of the Grand
Lodge of Cairo. But this tradition was to find in 1090 an exponent in the
Persian Hasan Saba, a native of Khorasan, the son of Ali, a strict Shiah, who,
finding himself suspected heretical ideas, ended by declaring himself a Sunni.
Hasan brought up in this atmosphere of duplicity, was therefore well fitted to
play the Machiavellian rôle of an Ismaili Dai.
Von Hammer regards Hasan as a mighty genius, one of a splendid triad, of
which the two others were his schoolfellows the poet Omar Khayyám and Nizam ul
Mulk, Grand Vizier under the Seljuk Sultan, Malik Shah. Hasan, having through
the protection of Nizam ul Mulk secured titles and revenues and finally risen to
office at the Court of the Sultan attempted to supplant his benefactor and
eventually retired in disgrace, vowing vengeance against the Sultan and vizier.
At this juncture he encountered several Ismailis, one of whom, a Dai named
Mumin, finally converted him to the principles of his sect, and Hasan, declaring
himself now to be a convinced adherent of the Fatimite Khalifas, journeyed to
Cairo, where he was received with honour by the Dar ul Hikmat and also by the
Khalifa Mustansir, to whom he became counsellor. But his intrigues once more
involving him in disgrace, he fled to Aleppo and laid the foundations of his new
sect. After enlisting proselytes in Bagdad, Ispahan, Khusistan, and Damaghan, he
succeeded in obtaining by strategy the fortress of Alamut in Persia on the
Caspian Sea, where he completed the plans for his great secret society which was
to become for ever infamous under the name of the Hashishiyn, or Assassins.
Under the pretence of belief in the doctrines of Islam and also of adherence
to the Ismaili line of succession from the Prophet, Hasan Saba now set out to
pave his way to power and in order to achieve this and adopted the same method
as Abdullah ibn Maymn. But the terrible efficiency of Hasan's society consisted
in the fact that a system of physical force was now organized in a manner
undreamt of by his predecessor. As von Hammer has observed in an admirable
Opinions are powerless, so long as they only confuse the brain, without
arming the hand. Scepticism and free-thinking, as long as they occupied only
the minds of the indolent and philosophical, have caused the ruin of no
throne, for which purpose religious and political fanaticism are the
strongest levers in the hands of nations. It is nothing to the ambitious man
what people believe, but it is everything to know how he may turn them for
the execution of his projects.(6)
Thus, as in the case of the French Revolution, " whose first movers," von
Hammer also observes, " were the tools or leaders of secret societies," it was
not mere theory but the method of enlisting numerous dupes and placing weapons
in their hands that brought about the " Terror " of the Assassins six centuries
before that of their spiritual descendants, the Jacobins of 1793.
Taking as his groundwork the organization of the Grand Lodge of Cairo, Hasan
reduced the nine degrees to their original number of seven, but these now
received a definite nomenclature, and included not only real initiates but
Descending downwards, the degrees of the Assassins were thus as follows :
first, the Grand Master, known as the Shaikh-al-Jabal or " Old Man of the
Mountain "--owing to the fact that the Order always possessed itself of castles
in mountainous regions ; second, the Dail Kebir or Grand Priors; third, the
fully initiated Dais, religious nuncios and political emissaries ; fourth, the
Rafiqs or associates, in training for the higher degrees ; fifth, the Fadais or
" devoted," who undertook to deliver the secret blow on which their superiors
had decided; sixth, the Lasiqus, or lay brothers ; and lastly the " common
people," who were to be simply blind instruments. If the equivalents to the
words " Dai," " Rafiqs," and " Fadais " given by von Hammer and Dr. Bussell as "
Master Masons," " Fellow Crafts," and " Entered Apprentices " are accepted, an
interesting analogy with the degrees Freemasonry is provided.
Designs against religion were, of course, not admitted by the Order ; "
strict uniformity to Islam was demanded from all the lower rank of uninitiated,
but the adept was taught to see through the deception of ' faith and
works.' He believed in nothing and recognized that all acts or means were
indifferent and the (secular) end alone to be considered."(7)
Thus the final object was domination by a few men consumed with the lust of
power " under the cloak of religion and piety," and the method by which this was
to be established was the wholesale assassination of those who opposed them.
In order to stimulate the energy of the Fadais, who were required to carry
out these crimes, the superiors of the Order had recourse to an ingenious system
of delusion. Throughout the territory occupied by the Assassins were exquisite
gardens with fruit trees, bowers of roses, and sparkling streams. Here are
arranged luxurious resting-places with Persian carpets and soft divans, around
which hovered black-eyed " houris " bearing wine in gold and silver
drinking-vessels, whilst soft music mingled with the murmuring water and the
song of birds. The young man whom the Assassins desired to train for a career of
crime was introduced to the Grand Master of he Order and intoxicated with
haschisch--hence the name " Hashishiyn " applied to the sect, from which the
word assassin is derived. Under the brief spell of unconsciousness induced by
this seductive drug the prospective Fadai was then carried into the garden,
where on awaking he believed himself to be in Paradise. After enjoying all its
delights he was given a fresh dose of the opiate, and, once more unconscious,
was transported back to the presence of the Grand Master, who assured him that
he had never left his side but had merely experienced a foretaste of the
Paradise that awaited him if he obeyed the orders of his chiefs. The neophyte,
thus spurred on by the belief that he was carrying out the commands of the
Prophet, who would reward him with eternal bliss, eagerly entered into the
schemes laid down for him and devoted his life to murder. Thus by the lure of
Paradise the Assassins enlisted instruments for their criminal work and
established a system of organized murder on a basis of religious fervour. " '
Nothing is true and all is allowed ' was the ground of their secret doctrine,
which, however, being imparted but to few and concealed under the veil of the
most austere religionism and piety, restrained the mind under the yoke of blind
To the outside world all this remained a profound mystery ; fidelity to Islam
was proclaimed as the fundamental doctrine of the sect, and when the envoy of
Sultan Sajar was sent to collect information on the religious beliefs of the
Order he was met with the assurance : " We believe in the unity of God, and
consider that only as true wisdom which accords with His word and the commands
of the prophet."
Von Hammer, answering the possible contention that, as in the case of the
Templars and the Bavarian Illuminati these methods of deception might be
declared a calumny on the Order, points out that in the case of the Assassins no
possible doubt existed, for their secret doctrines were eventually revealed by
the leaders themselves, first by Hasan II, the third successor of Hasan Saba,
and later by Jalal-ud-din Hasan, who publicly anathematized the founders of the
sect and ordered the burning of the books that contained their designs against
religion--a proceeding which, however, appears to have been a strategical
manouvre for restoring confidence in the Order and enabling him to continue the
work of subversion and crime. A veritable Reign of Terror was thus established
throughout the East ; the Rafiqs and Fadais " spread themselves in troops over
the whole of Asia and darkened the face of the earth "; and " in the annals of
the Assassins is found the chronological enumeration of celebrated men of all
nations who have fallen the victims of the Ismailis to the joy of their
murderers and the sorrow of the world."(9)
Inevitably this long and systematic indulgence in blood lust recoiled on the
heads of the leaders, and the Assassins like the Terrorists of France, ended by
turning on each other. The Old Man of the Mountain himself was murdered by his
brother-in-law and his son Mohammed ; Mohammed, in his turn, whilst " aiming at
the life of his son Jalal-ud-din, was anticipated by him with poison, which
murder was again avenged by poison " so that from " Hasan the Illuminator " down
to the last of his line the Grand Masters fell by the hands of their
next-of-kin, and " poison and the dagger prepared the grave which the Order had
opened for so many."(10)
Finally in 1256 the conquering hordes of the Mongol Mangu Khan swept away the
dynasty of the Assassins.
But, although as reigning powers the Assassins and Fatimites ceased to exist,
the sects from which they derived have continued up to the present day ; still
every year at the celebration of the Moharram the Shiahs beat their breasts and
besprinkle themselves with blood, calling aloud on the martyred heroes Hasan and
Husain ; the Druses of the Lebanon still await the return of Hakim, and in that
inscrutable East, the cradle of all the mysteries, the profoundest European
adept of secret society intrigue may find himself outdistanced by pastmasters in
the art in which he believed himself proficient.
The sect of Hasan Saba was the supreme model on which all systems of
organized murder working through fanaticism, such as the Carbonari and the Irish
Republican Brotherhood were based, and the signs, the symbols, the initiations,
of the Grand Lodge of Cairo formed the groundwork for the great secret societies
How came this system to be transported to the West ? By what channel did the
ideas of these succeeding Eastern sects penetrate to the Christian world ? In
order to answer this question we must turn to the history of the Crusades.
1. Principal authorities consulted for this chapter : Joseph
von Hammer, The History of the Assassins (Eng. trans., 1835); Silvestre
de Sacy, Exposé de la Religion des Druses (1838) and Mémoires sur la
Dynastie des Assassins in Mémoires de l'Institut Royal de France,
Vol. IV. (1818) Hastings' Encyclopædia of Religion and Ethics ; Syed
Ameer Ali, The Spirit of Islam (1922) ; Dr.W. Bussell, Religious
Thought and Heresy in the Middle Ages (1918).
2. Reinhart Dozy, Spanish Islam (Eng. trans.), pp.
3. Claudio Jannet, Les Précurseurs de la Franc-Maçonnerie,
p. 58 (1887).
4. The following account is given by de Sacy in connexion
with Abdullah ibn Maymn (op. cit., I. lxxiv), and Dr. Bussell (Religious
Thought and Heresy in the Middle Ages, p. 353) includes it in his chapter on
the Karmathites. Von Hammer, however, gives it as the programme of the Dar ul
Hikmat, and this seems more probable since the initiation consists of nine
degrees and Abdullah's society of Batinis, into which Karmath had been
initiated, included only seven. Yarker (The Arcane Schools, p. 185) says
two additional degrees were added by the Dar ul Hikmat. It would appear then
that de Sacy, in placing this account before his description of the Karmathites,
was anticipating. The point is immaterial, the fact being that the same system
was common to all these ramifications of Ismailis, and that of the Dar ul Hikmat
varied but little from that of Abdullah and Karmath.
5. Von Hammer, op. cit. (Eng. trans.), pp. 36, 37.
6. Von Hammer, The History of the Assassins, pp. 45,
7. Dr. F.W. Bussell, Religious Thought and Heresy in the
Middle Ages, p. 368.
8. Von Hammer, op. cit., p. 55.
9. Von Hammer, op. cit., pp. 83, 89.
10. Ibid., p. 164.
IN the year 1118--nineteen years after the first crusade had
ended with the defeat of the Moslems, the capture of Antioch and Jerusalem, and
the instalment of Godefroi de Bouillon as king of the latter city--a band of
nine French gentilshommes, led by Hugues de Payens and Godefroi de
Saint-Omer, formed themselves into an Order for the protection of pilgrims to
the Holy Sepulchre. Baldwin II, who at this moment succeeded the throne of
Jerusalem, presented them with a house near the site of the Temple of
Solomon--hence the name of Knights Templar under which they were to become
famous. In 1128 the Order was sanctioned by the Council of Troyes and by the
Pope, and a rule was drawn up by St. Bernard under which the Knights Templar
were bound by the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience.
But although the Templars distinguished themselves by many deeds of valour,
the regulation that they were to live solely on alms led to donations so
enormous that, abandoning their vow of poverty, they spread themselves over
Europe, and by the end of the twelfth century had become a rich and powerful
body. The motto that the Order had inscribed upon its banner, "Non nobis,
Domine, sed nomini tuo da gloriam," was likewise forgotten, for, their faith
waxing gold, they gave themselves up to pride and ostentation. Thus, as an
eighteenth-century masonic writer has expressed it:
The war, which for the greater number of warriors of good faith proved the
source of weariness, of losses and misfortunes, became for them (the Templars)
only the opportunity for booty and aggrandizement, and if they distinguished
themselves by a few brilliant actions, their motive soon ceased to be a matter
of doubt when they were seen to enrich themselves even with the spoils of the
confederates, to increase their credit by the extent of the new possessions they
had acquired, to carry arrogance to the point of rivalling crowned princes in
pomp and grandeur, to refuse their aid against the enemies of the faith, as the
history of Saladin testifies, and finally to ally themselves with that horrible
and sanguinary prince named the Old Man of the Mountain Prince of the Assassins.(1)
The truth of the last accusation is, however, open to question. For a time,
at any rate, the Templars had been at war with the Assassins. When in 1152 the
Assassins murdered Raymond, Comte de Tripoli, the Templars entered their
territory and forced them to sign a treaty by which they were to pay a yearly
tribute of 12,000 gold pieces in expiation of the crime. Some years later the
Old Man of the Mountain sent an ambassador to Amaury, King of Jerusalem, to tell
him privately that if the Templars would forgo the payment of this tribute he
and his followers would embrace the Christian faith. Amaury accepted, offering
at the same time to compensate the Templars, but some of the Knights
assassinated the ambassador before he could return to his master. When asked for
reparations the Grand Master threw the blame on an evil one-eyed Knight named
Gautier de Maisnil.(2)
It is evident, therefore, that the relations between the Templars and the
Assassins were at first far from amicable ; nevertheless, it appears probable
that later on an understanding was brought about between them. Both on this
charge and on that of treachery towards the Christian armies, Dr. Bussell's
impartial view of the question may be quoted:
When in 1149 the Emperor Conrad III failed before Damascus, the Templars were
believed to have a secret understanding with e garrison of that city ; . . . in
1154 they were said to have sold, for 60,000 gold pieces, a prince of Egypt who
had wished to become a Christian ; he was taken home to suffer certain death at
the hands his fanatical family. In 1166 Amaury, King of Jerusalem, hanged twelve
members of the Order for betraying a fortress to Nureddin.
And Dr. Bussell goes on to say that it cannot be disputed hat they had " long
and important dealings " with the Assassin " and were therefore suspected (not
unfairly) of imbibing their precepts and following their principles."(3)
By the end of the thirteenth century the Templars had become suspect, not
only in the eyes of the clergy, but of the general public. " Amongst the common
people," one of their latest apologists admits, " vague rumours circulated. They
talked of the covetousness and want of scruple of the Knights, of their passion
for aggrandizement and their rapacity. Their haughty insolence was proverbial.
Drinking habits were attributed to them ; the saying was already in use ' to
drink like a Templar.' The old German word Tempelhaus indicated house of
The same rumours had reached Clement V even before his accession to the papal
throne in 1305,(5)
and in this same year he summoned the Grand Master of the Order, Jacques du
Molay, to return to France from the island of Cyprus, where he was assembling
fresh forces to avenge the recent reverses of the Christian armies.
Du Molay arrived in France with sixty other Knights Templar and 150,000 gold
florins, as well as a large quantity of silver that the Order had amassed in the
The Pope now set himself to make enquiries concerning the charges of "
unspeakable apostasy against God, detestable idolatry, execrable vice, and many
heresies " that had been " secretly intimated " to him. But, to quote his own
Because it did not seem likely nor credible that men of such religion who
were believed often to shed their blood and frequently expose their persons to
the peril of death for Christ's name and who showed such great and many signs of
devotion both in divine offices as well as in facts, as in other devotional
observances, should be so forgetful of their salvation as to do these things, we
were unwilling . . . to give ear to this kind of insinuation . . . (hujusmodi
insinuacioni ac delacioni ipsorum . . . aurem noluimus inclinare).(7)
The King of France, Philippe le Bel, who had hitherto been the friend of the
Templars, now became alarmed and urged the Pope to take action against them ;
but before the Pope was able to find out more about the matter, the King took
the law into his own hands and had all the Templars in France arrested on
October 13, 1307. The following charges were then brought against them by the
Inquisitor for France before whom they were examined:
1. The ceremony of imitation into their Order was accompanied by insults to
the Cross, the denial of Christ, and gross obscenities.
2. The adoration of an idol which was said to be the image of the true God.
3. The omission of the words of consecration at Mass.
4. The right that the lay chiefs arrogated to themselves of giving absolution.
5. The authorization of unnatural vice.
To all these infamies a great number of the Knights, including Jacques du
Molay, confessed in almost precisely the same terms ; at their admission into
the Order, they said, they had been shown the cross on which was the figure of
Christ, and had been asked whether they believed in Him, when they answered yes,
they were told in some cases that this was wrong (dixit sibi quod male
because He was not God, He was a false prophet (quia falsus propheta erat,
nec erat Deus).(9)
Some added that they were then shown an idol or a bearded head which they were
told to worship(10);
one added that this was of such " a terrible aspect that it seemed to him to be
the face of some devil, called in French un maufé, and that whenever he
saw it he was so overcome with fear that he could hardly look at it without fear
All who confessed declared that they had been ordered to spit on the crucifix,
and very many that they had received the injunction to commit obscenities and to
practise unnatural vice. Some said that on their refusal to carry out these
orders they had been threatened with imprisonment, even perpetual imprisonment ;
a few said they had actually been incarcerated(12);
one declared that he had been terrorized, seized by the throat, and threatened
Since, however, a number of these confessions were made under torture, it is
more important to consider the evidence provided by the trial of the Knights at
the hands of the Pope, where this method was not employed.
Now, at the time the Templars were arrested, Clement V, deeply resenting the
King's interference with an Order which existed entirely under papal
jurisdiction, wrote in the strongest terms of remonstrance to Philippe le Bel
urging their release and even after their trial, neither the confessions of the
Knights nor the angry expostulations of the King could persuade him to believe
in their guilt.(14)
But as the scandal concerning the Templars was increasing, he consented to
receive in private audience " a certain Knight of the Order, of great nobility
and held by the said Order in no slight esteem," who testified to the
abominations that took place on the reception of the Brethren, the spitting on
the cross, and other things which were not lawful nor, humanly speaking, decent.(15)
The Pope then decided to hold an examination of seventy-two French Knights at
Poictiers in order to discover whether the confessions made by them before the
Inquisitor at Paris could be substantiated, and at this examination, conducted
without torture or pressure of any kind in the presence of the Pope himself, the
witnesses declared on oath that they would tell " the full and pure truth." They
then made confession which were committed to writing in their presence, and
these being afterwards read aloud to them, they expressly and willingly approved
them (perseverantes in illis eas expresse et sponte, prout recitate fuerunt
Besides this, an examination of the Grand Master, Jacques du Molay, and the
Preceptors of the Order was held in the presence of " three Cardinals and four
public notaries and .many other good men." These witnesses, says the official
report, " having sworn with their hands on the Gospel of God " (ad sancta dei
evangelia ab iis corporaliter tacta) that--
they would on all the aforesaid things speak the pure and full truth, they,
separately, freely, and spontaneously, without any coercion and fear, deposed
and confessed among other things, the a denial of Christ and spitting upon the
cross when they were received into the Order of the Temple. And some of them
(deposed and confessed) that under the same form, namely, with denial of Christ
and spitting on the cross, they had received many Brothers into the Order. Some
of them too confessed certain other horrible and disgusting things on which we
are silent. . . . Besides this, they said and confessed that those things which
are contained in the confessions and depositions of heretical depravity which
they made lately before the Inquisitor (of Paris) were true.
Their confessions, being again committed to writing, were approved by the
witnesses, who then with bended knees and many tears asked for and obtained
The Pope, however, still refused to take action against the whole Order
merely because the Master and Brethren around him had " gravely sinned," and it
was decided to hold a papal commission in Paris. The first sitting took place in
November 1309, when the Grand Master and 231 Knights were summoned before the
pontifical commissioners. " This enquiry," says Michelet, " was conducted
slowly, with much consideration and gentleness (avec beaucoup de ménagement
et de douceur) by high ecclesiastical dignitaries, an archbishop, several
But although a number of the Knights, including the Grand Master, now retracted
their admissions, some damning confessions were again forthcoming. It is
impossible within the scope of this book to follow the many trials of the
Templars that took place in different countries--in Italy, at Ravenna, Pisa,
Bologna, and Florence, where torture was not employed and blasphemies were
or in Germany, where torture was employed but no confessions were made and a
verdict was given in favour of the Order. A few details concerning the trial in
England may, however, be of interest.
It has generally been held that torture was not applied in England owing to
the humanity of Edward II, who at first, absolutely refused to listen to any
accusations against the Order.(20)
On December 10, 1307, he had written to the Pope in these terms :
And because the said Master or Brethren constant in the purity of he Catholic
faith have been frequently commended by us, and by all our kingdom, both in
their life and morals, we are unable to believe in suspicious stories of this
kind until we know with greater certainty about these things.
We, therefore, pity from our souls the suffering and losses of the Sd. Master
and brethren, which they suffer in consequence of such infamy, and we supplicate
most affectionately your Sanctity if it please you, that considering with favour
suited to the good character of the Master and brethren, you may deem fit to
meet with more indulgence the detractions, calumnies and charges by certain
envious and evil disposed persons, who endeavour to turn their good deeds into
works of perverseness opposed to divine teaching ; until the said charges
attributed to them shall have been brought legally before you or your
representatives here and more fully proved.(21)
Edward II also wrote in the same terms to the Kings of Portugal, Castile,
Aragon, and Sicily. But two years later, after Clement V had himself heard the
confessions of the Order and a Papal Bull had been issued declaring that " the
unspeakable wickednesses and abominable crimes of notorious heresy " had now "
come to the knowledge of almost everyone," Edward II was persuaded to arrest the
Templars and order their examination. According to Mr. Castle, whose interesting
treatise we quote here, the King would not allow torture to be employed, with
the result that the Knights denied all charges ; but later, it is said, he
allowed himself to be overpersuaded, and torture appears to have been applied on
one or two occasions "(22)
with the result that three Knights confessed to all and were given absolution.(23)
At Southwark, however, " a considerable number of brethren " admitted that "
they had been strongly accused of the crimes of negation and spitting, they did
not say they were guilty but that they could not purge themselves . . . and
therefore they abjured these and all other heresies."(24)
Evidence was also given against the Order by outside witnesses, and the same
stories of intimidation at the ceremony of reception were told.(25)
At any rate, the result of the investigation was not altogether satisfactory,
and the Templars were finally suppressed in England as elsewhere by the Council
of Vienne in 1312.
In France more rigorous measures were adopted and fifty-four Knights who had
retracted their confessions were burnt at the stake as " relapsed heretics " on
May 12, 1310. Four years later, on March 14, 1314, the Grand Master, Jacques du
Molay, suffered the same fate.
Now, however much we must execrate the barbarity of this sentence--as also
the cruelties that had preceded it--this is no reason why we should admit the
claim of the Order to noble martyrdom put forward by the historians who have
espoused their cause. The character of the Templars is not rehabilitated by
condemning the conduct of the King and Pope. Yet this the line of argument
usually adopted by the defenders of the Order. Thus the two main contentions on
which they base their defence are, firstly, that the confessions of the Knights
were made under torture, therefore they must be regarded as null and void ; and,
secondly, that the whole affair was a plot concerted between the King and Pope
in order to obtain possession of the Templars' riches. Let us examine these
contentions in turn.
In the first place, as we have seen, all confessions were not made under
torture. No one, as far as I am aware, disputes Michelet's assertion that the
enquiry before the Papal Commission in Paris, at which a number of Knights
adhered to the statements they had made to the Pope, was conducted without
pressure of any kind. But further, the fact that confessions are made under
torture does not necessarily invalidate them as evidence. Guy Fawkes also
confessed under torture, yet it is never suggested that the whole story of the
Gunpowder Plot was a myth. Torture, however much we may condemn it, has
frequently proved the only method for overcoming the intimidation exercised over
the mind of a conspirator ; a man bound by the terrible obligations of a
confederacy and fearing the vengeance of his fellow-conspirators will not
readily yield to persuasion, but only to force. If, then, some of the Templars
were terrorized by torture, or even by the fear of torture, it must not be
forgotten that terrorism was exercised by both sides. Few will deny that the
Knights were bound by oaths of secrecy, so that on one hand they were threatened
with the vengeance of the Order if they betrayed its secrets, and on the other
faced with torture if they refused to confess. Thus they found themselves
between the devil and the deep sea. It was therefore not a case of a mild and
unoffending Order meeting with brutal treatment at the hands of authority, but
of the victims of a terrible autocracy being delivered into the hands of another
Moreover, do the confessions of the Knights appear to be the outcome of pure
imagination such as men under the influence of torture might devise ? It is
certainly difficult to believe that the accounts of the ceremony of initiation
given in detail by men in different countries, all closely resembling each
other, yet related in different phraseology, could be pure inventions. Had the
victims been driven to invent they would surely have contradicted each other,
have cried out in their agony that all kinds of wild and fantastic rites had
taken place in order to satisfy the demands of their interlocutors. But no, each
appears to be describing the same ceremony more or less completely, with
characteristic touches that indicate the personality of the speaker, and in the
main all the stories tally.
The further contention that the case against the Templars was manufactured by
the King and Pope with a view to obtaining their wealth is entirely disproved by
facts. The latest French historian of mediæval France, whilst expressing
disbelief in the guilt of the Templars, characterizes this counter-accusation as
" puerile." " Philippe the Bel," writes M. Funck-Brentano, " has never been
understood ; from the beginning people have not been just to him. This young
prince was one of the greatest kings and the noblest characters that have
appeared in history."(26)
Without carrying appreciation so far, one must nevertheless accord to M.
Funck-Brentano's statement of facts the attention it merits. Philippe has been
blamed for debasing the coin of the realm ; in reality he merely ordered it to
be mixed with alloy ; as a necessary measure after the war with England,(27)
precisely as our own coinage was debased in consequence of the recent war. This
was done quite openly and the coinage was restored at the earliest opportunity.
Intensely national, his policy of attacking the Lombards, exiling the Jews, and
suppressing the Templars, however regrettable the methods by which it was
carried out, resulted in immense benefits to France ; M. Funck-Brentano has
graphically described the prosperity of the whole country during the early
fourteenth century--the increase of population, flourishing agriculture and
industry. " In Provence and Languedoc one meets swineherds who have vineyards,
simple cowherds who have town houses."(28)
The attitude of Philippe le Bel towards the Templars must be viewed in this
light--ruthless suppression of any body of people who interfered with the
prosperity of France. His action was not that of arbitrary authority ; he "
proceeded," says M. Funck-Brentano, " by means of an appeal to the people. In
his name Nogaret (the Chancellor) spoke to the Parisians in the garden of the
Palace (October 13, 1307). Popular assemblies were convoked all over France " ;(29)
" the Parliament of Tours, with hardly a dissentient vote, declared the Templars
worthy of death. The University of Paris gave the weight of their judgement as
to the fullness and authenticity of the confessions."(30)
Even assuming that these bodies were actuated by the same servility as that
which has been attributed to the Pope, how are we to explain the fact that the
trial of the Order aroused no opposition among the far from docile people of
Paris ? If the Templars had indeed, as they professed, been leading noble and
upright lives, devoting themselves to the care of the poor, one might surely
expect their arrest to be followed by popular risings. But there appears to have
been no sign of this.
As to the Pope, we have already seen that from the outset he had shown
himself extremely reluctant to condemn the Order, and no satisfactory
explanation is given of his change of attitude except that he wished to please
the King. As far a his own interests are concerned, it is obvious that he could
have nothing to gain by publishing to the world a scandal that must inevitably
bring opprobrium on the Church. His lamentations to this effect in the famous
clearly show that he recognized this danger and therefore desired at all cost to
clear the accused Knights, if evidence could be obtained in their favour. It was
only when the Templars made damning admissions in his presence that he was
obliged to abandon their defence.(32)
Yet we are told that he did this out of base compliance with the wishes of
Philippe le Bel.
Philippe le Bel is thus represented as the arch-villain of the whole piece,
through seven long years hounding down a blameless Order--from whom up to the
very moment of their arrest he had repeatedly received loans of money--solely
with the object of appropriating their wealth. Yet after all we find that the
property of the Templars was not appropriated by the King, but was given by him
to the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem !
What was the fate of the Templars' goods ? Philippe le Bel decided that they
should be handed over to the Hospitallers. Clement V states that the Orders
given by the King on this subject were executed. Even the domain of the Temple
in Paris . . . up to the eve of the Revolution was the property of the Knights
of St. John of Jerusalem. The royal treasury kept for itself certain sums for
the costs of the trial. These had been immense.(33)
These facts in no way daunt the antagonists of Philippe, who, we are now
assured--again without any proof whatever--was overruled by the Pope in this
matter. But setting all morality aside, as a mere question of policy, is it
likely that the King would have deprived himself of his most valuable financial
supporters and gone to the immense trouble of bringing them to trial without
first assuring himself that he would benefit by the affair ? Would he, in other
words, have killed the goose that laid the golden eggs without any guarantee
that the body of the goose would remain in his possession ? Again, if, as we are
told, the Pope suppressed the Order so as to please the King, why should he have
thwarted him over the whole purpose the King had in view ? Might we not expect
indignant remonstrances from Philippe at thus being baulked of the booty he had
toiled so long to gain ? But on the contrary, we find him completely in
agreement with the Pope on this subject. In November 1309 Clement V distinctly
stated that " Philippe the Illustrious, King of France," to whom the facts
concerning the Templars had been told, was " not prompted by avarice since he
desired to keep or appropriate for himself no part of the property of the
Templars, but liberally and devotedly left them to us and the Church to be
Thus the whole theory concerning the object for which the Templars were
suppressed falls to the ground--a theory which on examination is seen to be
built up entirely on the plan of imputing motives without any justification in
facts. The King acted from cupidity, the Pope from servility, and the Templars
confessed from fear of torture--on these pure hypotheses defenders of the Order
base their arguments.
The truth is, far more probably, that if the King had any additional reason
for suppressing the Templars it was not envy of their wealth but fear of the
immense power their wealth conferred ; the Order dared even to defy the King and
to refuse to pay taxes. The Temple in fact constituted an imperium in imperio
that threatened not only the royal authority but the whole social system.(35)
An important light is thrown on the situation by M. Funck-Brentano in this
As the Templars had houses in all countries, they practised the financial
operations of the international banks of our times ; they were acquainted with
letters of change, orders payable at sight, they instituted dividends and
annuities on deposited capital, advanced funds, lent on credit, controlled
private accounts, undertook to raise taxes for the lay and ecclesiastical
Through their proficiency in these matters--acquired very possibly from the
Jews of Alexandria whom they must have met in the East--the Templars had become
the " international financiers " and " international capitalists " of their day
; had they not been suppressed, all the evils now denounced by Socialists as
peculiar to the system they describe as " Capitalism "--trusts, monopolies, and
" corners "--would in all probability have been inaugurated during the course of
the fourteenth century in a far worse form than at the present day, since no
legislation existed to protect the community at large. The feudal system, as
Marx and Engels perceived, was the principal obstacle to exploitation by a
Moreover, it is by no means improbable that this order of things would have
been brought about by the violent overthrow of the French monarchy--indeed, of
all monarchies ; the Templars, " those terrible conspirators," says Eliphas
Lévi, threatened the whole world with an immense revolution."(38)
Here perhaps we may find the reason why this band of dissolute and rapacious
nobles has enlisted the passionate sympathy of democratic writers. For it will
be noticed that these same writers who attribute the King's condemnation of the
Order to envy of their wealth never apply this argument to the demagogues of the
eighteenth century and suggest that their accusations against the nobles of
France were inspired by cupidity, nor would they ever admit that any such motive
may enter into the diatribes against private owners of wealth to-day. The
Templars thus remain the only body of capitalists, with the exception of the
Jews, to be not only pardoned for their riches but exalted as noble victims of
prejudice and envy. Is it merely because the Templars were the enemies of
monarchy ? Or is it that the world revolution, whilst attacking private owners
of property, has never been opposed to International finance, particularly when
combined with anti-Christian tendencies ?
It is the continued defence of the Templars which, to the present writer,
appears the most convincing evidence against them. For even if one believes them
innocent of the crimes laid to their charge, how is it possible to admire them
in their later stages ? The fact that cannot be denied is that they were false
to their obligations, that they took the vow of poverty and then grew not only
rich but arrogant ; that they took the vow of chastity and became notoriously
Are all these things then condoned because the Templars formed a link in the
chain of world revolution ?
At this distance of time the guilt or innocence of the Templars will probably
never be conclusively established either way ; on the mass of conflicting
evidence bequeathed to us by history no one can pronounce a final judgement.
Without attempting to dogmatize on the question, I would suggest that the
real truth may be that the Knights were both innocent and guilty, that is to
say, that a certain number were initiated into the secret doctrine of the Order
whilst the majority remained throughout in ignorance. Thus according to the
evidence of Stephen de Stapelbrugge, an English Knight, " there were two modes
of reception, one lawful and good and the other contrary to the Faith."(40)
This would account for the fact that some of the accused declined to confess
even under the greatest pressure. These may really have known nothing of the
real doctrines of the Order, which were confided orally only to those whom the
superiors regarded as unlikely to be revolted by them. Such have always been the
methods of secret societies, from the Ismailis onward.
This theory of a double doctrine is put forward by Loiseleur, who observes :
If we consult the statutes of the Order of the Temple as they have come down
to us, we shall certainly discover there is nothing that justifies the strange
and abominable practices revealed at the Inquiry. But . . . besides the public
rule, had not the Order another one, whether traditional or written, authorizing
or even prescribing these practices--a secret rule, revealed only to the
Eliphas Lévi also exonerates the majority of the Templars from complicity in
either anti-monarchical or anti-religious designs :
These tendencies were enveloped in profound mystery and the Order made an
outward profession of the most perfect orthodoxy. The Chiefs alone knew whither
they were going ; the rest followed unsuspectingly.(42)
What, then, was the Templar heresy ? On this point we find a variety of
opinions. According to Wilcke, Ranke, and Weber it was " the unitarian deism of
Lecouteulx de Canteleu thinks, however, it was derived from heretical Islamic
sources, and relates that whilst in Palestine, one of the Knights, Guillaume de
Montbard, was initiated by the Old Man of the Mountain in a cave of Mount
That a certain resemblance existed between the Templars and the Assassins has
been indicated by von Hammer,(45)
and further emphasized by the Freemason Clavel :
Oriental historians show us, at different periods, the Order of the Templars
maintaining intimate relations with that of the Assassins, and they insist on
the affinity that existed between the two associations. They remark that they
had adopted the same colours, white and red ; that they had the same
organization, the same hierarchy of degrees, those of fedavi, refik, and dai in
one corresponding to those of novice, professed, and knight in the other ; that
both conspired for the ruin of the religions they professed in public, and that
finally both possessed numerous castles, the former in Asia, the latter in
But in spite of these outward resemblances it does not appear from the
confessions of the Knights that the secret doctrine of the Templars was that of
the Assassins or of any Ismaili sect by which, in accordance with orthodox
Islamism, Jesus was openly held up as a prophet, although, secretly,
indifference to all religion was inculcated. The Templars, as far as can be
discovered, were anti-Christian deists ; Loiseleur considers that their ideas
were derived from Gnostic or Manichean dualists--Cathari, Paulicians, or more
particularly Bogomils, of which a brief account must be given here.
The Paulicians who flourished about the seventh century A.D., bore a
resemblance to the Cainites and Ophites in their detestation of the Demiurgus
and in the corruption of their morals. Later, in the ninth century, the
Bogomils, whose name signifies in Slavonic " friends of God," and who had
migrated from Northern Syria and Mesopotamia to the Balkan Peninsula,
particularly Thrace, appeared as a further development of Manichean dualism.
Their doctrine may be summarized thus :
God, the Supreme Father, has two sons, the elder Satanael, the younger Jesus.
To Satanael, who sat on the right hand of God, belonged the right of governing
the celestial world, but, filled with pride, he rebelled against his Father and
fell from Heaven. Then, aided by the companions of his fall, he created the
visible world, image of the celestial, having like the other its sun, moon, and
stars, and last he created man and the serpent which became his minister. Later
Christ came to earth in order to show men the way to Heaven, but His death was
ineffectual, for even by descending into Hell He could not wrest the power from
Satanael, i.e. Satan.
This belief in the impotence of Christ and the necessity therefore for
placating Satan, not only " the Prince of this world," but its creator, led to
the further doctrine that Satan, being all-powerful, should be adored. Nicetas
Choniates, a Byzantine historian of the twelfth century, described the followers
of this cult as " Satanists," because "considering Satan all-powerful they
worshipped him lest he might do them harm"; subsequently they were known as
Luciferians, their doctrine (as stated by Neuss and Vitoduranus) being that
Lucifer was unjustly driven out of Heaven, that one day he will ascend there
again and be restored to his former glory and power in the celestial world.
The Bogomils and Luciferians were thus closely akin, but whilst the former
divided their worship between God and His two sons, the latter worshipped
Lucifer only, regarding the material world as his work and holding that by
indulging the flesh they were propitiating their Demon-Creator. It was said that
a black cat, the symbol of Satan, figured in their ceremonies as an object of
worship, also that at their horrible nocturnal orgies sacrifices of children
were made and their blood used for making the Eucharistic bread of the sect.(47)
Loiseleur arrives at the conclusion that the secret doctrine of the Templars
was derived from the Bogomils :
Thus the Templars recognize at the same time a good god, incommunicable to
man and consequently without symbolic representation, and a bad god, to whom
they give the features of an idol of fearful aspect.(48)
Their most fervent worship was addressed to this god of evil, who alone could
enrich them. " They said with the Luciferians : ' The elder son of God, Satanael
or Lucifer alone has a right to the homage of mortals ; Jesus his younger
brother does not deserve this honour.' "(49)
Although we shall not find these ideas so clearly defined in the confessions
of the Knights, some colour is lent to this theory by those who related that the
reason given to them for not believing in Christ was " that He was nothing, He
was a false prophet and of no value, and that they should believe in the Higher
God of Heaven who could save them."(50)
According to Loiseleur, the idol they were taught to worship, the bearded head
known to history as Baphomet, represented " the inferior god, organizer and
dominator of the material world, author of good and evil here below, him by whom
evil was introduced into creation."(51)
The etymology of the word Baphomet is difficult to discover ; Raynouard says
it originated with two witnesses heard at Carcassonne who spoke of " Figura
Baffometi," and suggests hat it was a corruption of " Mohammed," whom the
Inquisitors wished to make the Knights confess they were taught to adore.(52)
But this surmise with regard to the intentions of he Inquisitors seems highly
improbable, since they must have been well aware that, as Wilcke points out, the
Moslems forbid all idols.(53)
For this reason Wilcke concludes that the Mohammedanism of the Templars was
combined with Cabalism and that their idol was in reality the macroprosopos,
or head of the Ancient of Ancients, represented as an old man with a long beard,
or sometimes as three heads in one, which has already been referred to under the
name of the Long Face in the first chapter of this book--a theory which would
agree with Eliphas Lévi's assertion that the Templars were initiated into the
mysterious doctrines of the Cabala."(54)
But Lévi goes on to define this teaching under the name of Johannism. It is here
that we reach a further theory with regard to the secret doctrine of the
Templars--the most important of all, since it emanates from masonic and
neo-Templar sources, thus effectually disposing of the contention that the
charge brought against the Order of apostasy from the Catholic faith is solely
the invention of Catholic writers.
In 1842 the Freemason Ragon related that the Templars learnt from the "
initiates of the East " a certain Judaic doctrine which was attributed to St.
John the Apostle ; therefore " they renounced the religion of St. Peter and
Eliphas Lévi expresses the same opinion.
Now, these statements are apparently founded on a legend which was first
published early in the nineteenth century, when an association calling itself
the Ordre du Temple and claiming direct descent from the original Templar
Order published two works, the Manuel des Chevaliers de l'Ordre du Temple
in 1811, and the Lévitikon, in 1831, together with a version of the
Gospel of St. John differing from the Vulgate. These books, which appear to have
been printed only for private circulation amongst the members and are now
extremely rare, relate that the Order of the Temple had never ceased to exist
since the days of Jacques du Molay, who appointed Jacques de Larménie his
successor in office, and from that time onwards a line of Grand Masters had
succeeded each other without a break up to the end of the eighteenth century,
when it ceased for a brief period but was reinstituted under a new Grand Master,
Fabré Palaprat, in 1804. Besides publishing the list of all Grand Masters, known
as the " Charter of Larmenius," said to have been preserved in the secret
archives of the Temple, these works also reproduce another document drawn from
the same repository describing the origins of the Order. This manuscript,
written in Greek on parchment, dated 1154, purports to be partly taken from a
fifth-century MS. and relates that Hugues de Payens, first Grand Master of the
Templars, was initiated in 1118--that is to say, in the year the Order was
founded--into the religious doctrine of " the Primitive Christian Church" by its
Sovereign Pontiff and Patriarch, Theoclet, sixtieth in direct succession from
St. John the Apostle. The history of the Primitive Church is then given as
Moses was initiated in Egypt. Profoundly versed in the physical, theological,
and metaphysical mysteries of the priests, he knew how to profit by these so as
to surmount the power of the Mages and deliver his companions. Aaron, his
brother, and the chiefs of the Hebrews became the depositaries of his doctrine.
. . .
The Son of God afterwards appeared on the scene of the world. . . . He was
brought up at the school of Alexandria. . . . Imbued with a spirit wholly
divine, endowed with the most astounding qualities (dispositions), he was
able to reach all the degrees of Egyptian initiation. On his return to
Jerusalem, he presented himself before the chiefs of the Synagogue. . . . Jesus
Christ, directing the fruit of his lofty meditations towards universal
civilization and the happiness of the world, rent the veil which concealed the
truth from the peoples. He preached the love of God, the love of one's
neighbour, and equality before the common Father of all men. . . .
Jesus conferred evangelical initiation on his apostles and disciples. He
transmitted his spirit to them, divided them into several order after the
practice of John, the beloved disciple the apostle of fraternal love, whom he
had instituted Sovereign Pontiff and Patriarch. . . .
Here we have the whole Cabalistic legend of a secret doctrine descending from
Moses, of Christ as an Egyptian initiate and founder of a secret order--a
theory, of course, absolutely destructive of belief in His divinity. The legend
of the Ordre du Temple goes on to say :
Up to about the year 1118 (i.e. the year the Order of the Temple was founded)
the mysteries and the hierarchic Order of the initiation of Egypt, transmitted
to the Jews by Moses, then to the Christians by J.C., were religiously preserved
by the successors of St. John the Apostle. These mysteries and initiations,
regenerated by the evangelical initiation (or baptism), were a sacred trust
which the simplicity of the primitive and unchanging morality of the Brothers
of the East had preserved from all adulteration. . . .
The Christians, persecuted by the infidels, appreciating the courage and
piety of these brave crusaders, who, with the sword in one hand and the cross in
the other, flew to the defence of the holy places, and, above all, doing
striking justice to the virtues and the ardent charity of Hugues de Payens, held
it their duty to confide to hands so pure the treasures of knowledge acquired
throughout so many centuries, sanctified by the cross, the dogma and the
morality of the Man-God. Hugues was invested with the Apostolic Patriarchal
power and placed in the legitimate order of the successors of St. John the
apostle or the evangelist.
Such is the origin of the foundation of the Order of the Temple and of the
fusion in this Order of the different kinds of initiation of the Christians of
the East designated under the title of Primitive Christians or Johannites.
It will be seen at once that all this story is subtly subversive of true
Christianity, and that the appellation of Christians applied to the Johannites
is an imposture. Indeed Fabré Palaprat, Grand Master of the Ordre du Temple
in 1804, who in his book on the Templars repeats the story contained in the
Lévitikon and the Manuel des Chevaliers du Temple, whilst making the
same profession of " primitive Christian " doctrines descending from St. John
through Theoclet and Hugues de Payens to the Order over which he presides, goes
on to say that the secret doctrine of the Templars " was essentially contrary to
the canons of the Church of Rome and that it is principally to this fact that
one must attribute the persecution of which history has preserved the memory."(56)
The belief of the Primitive Christians, and consequently that of the Templars,
with regard to the miracles of Christ is that He " did or may have done
extraordinary or miraculous things," and that since " God can do things
incomprehensible to human intelligence," the Primitive Church venerates " all
the acts of Christ as they are described in the Gospel, whether it considers
them as acts human science or whether as acts of divine power."(57)
Belief in the divinity of Christ is thus left an open question, and the same
attitude is maintained towards the Resurrection, of which the story is omitted
in the Gospel of St. John possessed by the Order. Fabré Palaprat further admits
that the gravest accusations brought against the Templars were founded on facts
which he attempts to explain away in the following manner :
The Templars having in 1307 carefully abstracted all the manuscripts
composing the secret archives of the Order from the search made by authority,
and these authentic manuscripts having been preciously preserved since that
period, we have to-day the certainty that the Knights endured a great number of
religious and moral trials before reaching the different degrees of initiation :
thus, for example, the recipient might receive the injunction under pain of
death to trample on the crucifix or to worship an idol, but if he yielded to the
terror which they sought to inspire in him he was declared unworthy of being
admitted to the higher grades of the Order. One can imagine in this way how
beings, too feeble or too immoral to endure the trials of initiation, may have
accused the Templars of giving themselves up to infamous practices and of having
It is certainly not surprising that an Order which gave such injunctions as
these, for whatever purpose, should have become the object of suspicion.
Eliphas Lévi, who, like Ragon, accepts the statements of the Ordre du
Temple concerning the " Johannite " origin of the Templars' secret doctrine,
is, however, not deceived by these professions of Christianity, and boldly
asserts that the Sovereign Pontiff Theoclet initiated Hugues de Payens " into
the mysteries and hopes of his pretended Church, he lured him by the ideas of
sacerdotal sovereignty and supreme royalty, he indicated him finally as his
successor. So the Order of the Knights of the Temple was stained from its origin
with schism and conspiracy against Kings."(58)
Further, Lévi relates that the real story told to initiates concerning Christ
was no other than the infamous Toledot Yeshu described in the first
chapter of this book, and which the Johannites dared to attribute to St. John.(59)
This would accord with the confession of the Catalonian Knight Templar,
Galcerandus de Teus, who stated that the form of absolution in the Order was : "
I pray God that He may pardon your sins as He pardoned St. Mary Magdalene and
the thief on the cross " ; but the witness went on to explain :
By the thief of which the head of the Chapter speaks, is meant, according to
our statutes, that Jesus or Christ who was crucified by the Jews because he was
not God, and yet he said he was God and the King of the Jews, which was an
outrage to the true God who is in Heaven. When Jesus, a few moments before his
death, had his side pieced by the lance of Longinus, he repented of having
called himself God and King of the Jews and he asked pardon of the true God ;
then the true God pardoned him. It is thus that we apply to the crucified Christ
these words : " as God pardoned the thief on the cross."(60)
Raynouard, who quotes this deposition, stigmatizes it as " singular and
extravagant " ; M. Matter agrees that it is doubtless extravagant, but that " it
merits attention. There was a whole system there, which was not the invention of
Eliphas Lévi provides the clue to that system and to the reason why Christ was
described as a thief, by indicating the Cabalistic legend wherein He was
described as having stolen the sacred Name from the Holy of Holies.
Elsewhere he explains that the Johannites " made themselves out to be the only
people initiated into the true mysteries of the religion of the Saviour. They
professed to know the real history of Jesus Christ, and by adopting part of
Jewish traditions and the stories of the Talmud, they made out that the facts
related in the Gospels "--that is to say, the Gospels accepted by the orthodox
Church-- " were only allegories of which St. John gives the key."(62)
But it is time to pass from legend to facts. For the whole story of the
initiation of the Templars by the " Johannites " rests principally on the
documents produced by the Ordre du Temple in 1811. According to the Abbés
Grégoire and Münter the authenticity and antiquity of these documents are beyond
dispute. Grégoire, referring to the parchment manuscript of the Lévitikon
and Gospel of St. John, says that " Hellenists versed in palaeography believe
this manuscript to be of the thirteenth century, others declare it to be earlier
and to go back to the eleventh century."(63)
Matter, on the other hand, quoting Münter's opinion that the manuscripts in the
archives of the modern Templars date from the thirteenth century, observes that
this is all a tissue of errors and that the critics, including the learned
Professor Thilo of Halle, have recognized that the manuscript in question, far
from belonging to the thirteenth century, dates from the beginning of the
eighteenth. From the arrangement of the chapters of the Gospel, M. Matter
arrives at the conclusion that it was intended to accompany the ceremonies of
some masonic or secret society.(64)
We shall return to this possibility in a later chapter.
The antiquity of the manuscript containing the history of the Templars thus
remains an open question on which no one can pronounce an opinion without having
seen the original. In order, then, to judge of the probability of the story that
this manuscript contained it is necessary to consult the facts of history and to
discover what proof can be found that any such sect as the Johannites existed at
the time of the Crusades or earlier. Certainly none is known to have been called
by this name or by one resembling it before 1622, when some Portuguese monks
reported the existence of a sect whom they described as " Christians of St. John
" inhabiting the banks of the Euphrates. The appellation appears, however, to
have been wrongly applied by the monks, for the sectarians in question,
variously known as the Mandæans, Mandaites, Sabians, Nazoreans, etc. called
themselves Mandaï Iyahi, that is to say, the disciples, or rather the wise men,
of John, the word mandaï being derived from the Chaldean word manda,
corresponding to the Greek word , or wisdom.(65)
The multiplicity of names given to the Mandæans arises apparently from the fact
that in their dealings with other communities they took the name of Sabians,
whilst they called the wise and learned amongst themselves Nazoreans.(66)
The sect formerly inhabited the banks of the Jordan, but was driven out by the
Moslems, who forced them to retire to Mesopotamia and Babylonia, where they
particularly affected the neighbourhood of rivers in order to be able to carry
out their peculiar baptismal rites.(67)
There can be no doubt that the doctrines of the Mandæans do resemble the
description of the Johannite heresy as given by Eliphas Lévi, though not by the
Ordre du Temple, in that, the Mandæans professed to be the disciples of
St. John--the Baptist, however, not the Apostle--but were at the same time, the
enemies of Jesus Christ. According to the Mandæans' Book of John (Sidra
d'Yahya), Yahya, that is to say, St. John, baptized myriads of men during forty
years in the Jordan. By a mistake--or in response to a written mandate from
heaven saying, " Yahya, baptize the liar in the Jordan "--he baptized the false
prophet Yishu Meshiha (the Messiah Jesus), son of the devil Ruha Kadishta.(68)
The same idea is found in another book of the sect called the " Book of Adam,"
which represents Jesus as the perverter of St. John's doctrine and the
disseminator of iniquity and perfidy throughout the world.(69)
The resemblance between all this and the legends of the Talmud, the Cabala, and
the Toledot Yeshu is at once apparent ; moreover, the Mandæans claim for the "
Book of Adam " the same origin as the Jews claimed for the Cabala, namely, that
it was delivered to Adam by God through the hands of the angel Razael.(70)
This book, known to scholars as the Codex Nasarous, is described by
Münter as " a sort of mosaic without order, without method, where one finds
mentioned Noah, Abraham, Moses, Solomon, the Temple of Jerusalem, St. John the
Baptist, Jesus Christ, the Christians, and Mohammed." M. Matter, whilst denying
any proof of the Templar succession from the Mandæans, nevertheless gives good
reason for believing that the sect itself existed from the first centuries of
the Christian era and that its books dated from the eighth century(71)
; further that these Mandæans or Nazoreans--not to be confounded with the
pre-Christian Nazarenes or Christian Nazarenes--were Jews who revered St. John
the Baptist as the prophet of ancient Mosaism, but regarded Jesus Christ as a
false Messiah sent by the powers of darkness.(72)
Modern Jewish opinion confirms this affirmation of Judaic inspiration and agrees
with Matter in describing the Mandæans as Gnostics : " Their sacred books are in
an Aramaic dialect, which has close affinities with that of the Talmud of
Babylon. " The Jewish influence is distinctly visible in the Mandæan religion.
It is essentially of the type of ancient Gnosticism, traces of which are found
in the Talmud, the Midrash, and in a modified form the later Cabala."(73)
It may then be regarded as certain that a sect existed long before the time
of the Crusades corresponding to the description of the Johannites given by
Eliphas Lévi in that it was Cabalistic, anti-Christian, yet professedly founded
on the doctrines of one of the St. Johns. Whether it was by this sect that the
Templars were indoctrinated must remain an open question. M. Matter objects that
the evidence lacking to such a conclusion lies in the fact that the Templars
expressed no particular reverence for St. John ; but Loiseleur asserts that the
Templars did prefer the Gospel of St. John to that of the other evangelists, and
that modern masonic lodges claiming descent from the Templars possess a special
version of this Gospel said to have been copied from the original on Mount
It is also said that " Baphomets " were preserved in the masonic lodges of
Hungary, where a debased form of Masonry, known as Johannite Masonry, survives
to this day. If the Templar heresy was that of the Johannites, the head in
question might possibly represent that of John the Baptist, which would accord
with the theory that the word Baphomet was derived from Greek words signifying
baptism of wisdom. This would, moreover, not be incompatible with Loiseleur's
theory of an affinity between the Templars and the Bogomils, for the Bogomils
also possessed their own version of the Gospel of St. John, which they placed on
the heads of their neophytes during the ceremony of initiation, giving as the
reason for the peculiar veneration they professed for its author that they
regarded St. John as the servant of the Jewish God Satanael.(75)
Eliphas Lévi even goes so far as to accuse the Templars of following the occult
practices of the Luciferians, who carried the doctrines of the Bogomils to the
point of paying homage to the powers of darkness :
Let us declare for the edification of the vulgar . . . and for the greater
glory of the Church which has persecuted the Templars, burned the magicians and
excommunicated the Free-Masons, etc., let us say boldly and loudly, that all the
initiates of the occult sciences . . . have adored, do and will always adore
that which is signified by this frightful symbol [the Sabbatic goat].(76)
Yes, in our profound conviction, the Grand Masters of the Order of the Templars
adored Baphomet and caused him to be adored by their initiates.(77)
It will be seen, then, that the accusation of heresy brought against the
Templars does not emanate solely from the Catholic Church, but also from the
secret societies. Even our Freemasons, who, for reasons I shall show later, have
generally defended the Order, are now willing to admit that there was a very
real case against them. Thus Dr. Ranking, who has devoted many years of study to
the question, has arrived at the conclusion that Johannism is the real clue to
the Templar heresy. In a very interesting paper published in the masonic Journal
Ars Qautuor Coronatorum, he observes that " the record of the Templars in
Palestine is one long tale of intrigue and treachery on the part of the Order,"
and finally :
That from the very commencement of Christianity there has been transmitted
through the centuries a body of doctrine incompatible with Christianity in the
various official Churches. . .
That the bodies teaching these doctrines professed to do so on the authority
of St. John, to whom, as they claimed, the true secrets had been committed by
the Founder of Christianity.
That during the Middle Ages the main support of the Gnostic bodies and the
main repository of this knowledge was the Society of the Templars.(78)
What is the explanation of this choice of St. John for the propagation of
anti-Christian doctrines which we shall find continuing up to the present day ?
What else than the method of perversion which in its extreme form becomes
Satanism, and consists in always selecting the most sacred things for the
purpose of desecration ? Precisely then because the Gospel of St. John is the
one of all the four which most insists on the divinity of Christ, the occult
anti-Christian sects have habitually made it the basis of their rites.
1. Développement des abus introduits dans la Franc-maçonnerie,
2. Jules Loiseleur, La doctrine secrète des Templiers,
3. Dr. F.W. Bussell, D.D., Religious Thought And Heresy in
the Middle Ages, pp. 796, 797 note.
4. G. Mollat, Les Papes d'Avignon, p. 233 (1912).
5. Michelet, Procès des Templiers, I.2 (1841). This
work largely consists of the publication in Latin of the Papal bulls and
trials of the Templars before the Papal Commission in Paris contained in the
original document once reserved at Notre Dame. Michelet says that another
copy was sent to the Pope and kept under the triple key of the Vatican. Mr. E.J.
Castle, K.C, however, says that he has enquired about the whereabouts of this
copy and it is no longer in the Vatican (Proceedings against the Templars in
France and in England for Heresy, republished from Ars Quatuor
Coronatorum, Vol. XX. Part III. p. 1).
6. M. Raynouard, Monuments historiques relatifs à la
condamnation des Chevaliers du Temple et de l'abolition de leur Ordre, p, 17
7. Michelet, op. cit. I. 2 (1841).
8. Michelet, Procès des Templiers, II. 333.
9. Ibid., 295, 333.
10. Ibid., 290, 299, 300.
11. " Dixit per juramentum suum quod ita est terribilis
figure et aspectus quod videbatur sibi quod esset figura cujusdam demonis,
dicendo gallice d'un maufé, et quod quocienscumque videbat ipsum tantus
timor eum invadebat, quod vix poterat illud respicere nisi cum maximo timore et
tremore."--Ibid., p. 364.
12. Ibid, pp. 284, 338. " Ipse minabatur sibi quod nisi
faceret, ipse ponereteum in carcere perpetuo."--Ibid., p. 307.
13. " Et fuit territus plus quam unquam fuit in vita sua : et
statim unus rum accepit eum per gutur, dicens quod oportebat quod hoc faceret,
vel moreretur."--Ibid., p. 296.
14. Mollat, op. cit., p. 241.
15. Procès des Templiers, I. 3 : Mr. E.J. Castle, op.
cit. Part III. p. 3. (It should be noted that Mr. Castle's paper is strongly in
favour of the Templars.)
16. Ibid., I. 4.
17. Procès des Templiers, I. 5.
18. Michelet in Preface to Vol. I. of Procès des
19. Jules Loiseleur, La Doctrine Secrète des Templiers,
p. 40 (1872).
20. Ibid., p. 16.
21. Proceedings against the Templars in France and England
for Heresy, by E.J. Castle Part I. p. 16, quoting Rymer, Vol. III. p. 37.
22. Ibid., Part II. p.1.
23. Ibid., Part II. pp. 25-7.
24. Ibid., Part II. p. 30.
25. " Another witness of the Minor Friars told the
Commissioners he had heard from Brother Robert of Tukenham that a Templar had a
son who saw through a partition that they asked one professing if he believed in
the Crucified, showing him the figure, whom they killed upon his refusing to
deny Him, but the boy, some time after, being asked if he wished to be a Templar
said no, because he had seen this thing done. Saying this, he was killed by his
father. . . . The twenty-third witness, a Knight, said that his uncle entered
the Order healthy and joyfully, with his birds and dogs, and the third day
following he was dead, and he suspected it was on account of the crimes he had
heard of them ; and that the cause of his death was he would not consent to the
evil deeds perpetrated by other brethren."--Ibid, Part II. p. 13.
26. F. Funck-Brentano, Le Moyen Age, p. 396 (1922).
27. Ibid., p. 384.
28. F. Funck-Brentano, op. cit., p. 396.
29. Ibid., p. 387.
30. Dean Milman, History of Latin Christianity, VII.
31. E.J. Castle, op. cit., Part I. p. 22.
32. Thus even M. Mollat admits : " En tout cas leurs
dépositions, défavorables à l'Ordre, l'impressionnèrent si vivement que, par une
série de graves mesures, il abandonna une à une toutes ses oppositions."--Les
Papes d'Avignon, p. 242.
33. F. Funck-Brentano, op. cit., p. 392.
34. E.J. Castle, Proceedings against the Templars, A.Q.C.,
Vol. XX. Part III. p. 3.
35. Even Raynouard, the apologist of the Templars (op. cit.,
p. 19), admits that, if less unjust and violent measures had been adopted, the
interest of the State and the safety of the throne might have justified the
abolition of the Order.
36. Funck-Brentano, op. cit., p. 386.
37. " The bourgeoisie, whenever it has conquered power, has
destroyed all feudal, patriarchal, and idyllic relations. It has pitilessly torn
asunder all the many-coloured feudal bonds which united men to their ' natural
superiors,' and has left no tie twixt man and man but naked self-interest and
callous cash payment."--The Communis Manifesto.
38. Eliphas Lévi, Histoire de la Magie, p. 273.
39. E.J. Castle, op. cit., A.Q.C., Vol. XX. Part I. p.
40. Ibid., Part II. p. 24.
41. Loiseleur, op. cit., pp. 20, 21.
42. Histoire de la Magie, p. 277.
43. Dr. F.W. Bussell, Religious Thought and Heresy in the
Middle Ages, p. 803.
44. Les Sectes et Sociétés Secrètes, p. 85.
45. History of the Assassins, p. 80.
46. F.T.B. Clavel, Histoire Pittoresque de la
Franc-Maçonnerie, p. 356 (1843).
47. Loiseleur, op. cit., p. 66.
48. Ibid., p. 143.
49. Ibid., p. 141.
50. " Dixit sibi quod non crederet in eum, quia nichil erat,
et quod erat quidam falsus propheta, et nichil valebat ; immo crederet in Deum
Celi superiorem qui poterat salvare."--Michelet, Procès des Templiers,
II. 404. Cf. ibid., p. 384 : " Quidem falsus propheta est ; credas solummodo in
Deum Celi, et non in istum."
51. Loiseleur, op. cit. p. 37.
52. Raynouard, op. cit., p. 301.
53. Wilhelm Ferdinand Wilcke, Geschichte des
Tempelherrenordens, II. 302-12 (1827).
54. Eliphas Lévi, Histoire de la Magie, p. 273.
55. J. M. Ragon, Cours Philosophique et Interprétatif des
Initiations anciennes et modernes, édition sacrée à l'usage des Loges et des
Maçons SEULEMENT (5,842), p. 37. In a footnote on the same page Ragon, however,
refers to John the Baptist in this connexion.
56. J.B. Fabré Palaprat, Recherches historiques sur les
Templiers, p. 31 (1835).
57. Ibid., p. 37.
58. Eliphas Lévi, Histoire de la Magie, p. 277.
59. Eliphas Lévi, La Science des Esprits, pp. 26-9,
60. Raynouard, op. cit., p. 281.
61. Matter, Histoire du Gnosticisme, III. 330.
62. Eliphas Lévi, Histoire de la Magie, p. 275.
63. M. Grégoire, Histoire des Sectes religieuses, II.
64. Matter, Histoire du Gnosticisme, III. 323.
65. Ibid., III. p. 120.
66. Jewish Encyclopodia, article on Mandæans.
67. Grégoire, op. cit., IV. 241.
68. Jewish Encyclopodia, and Hastings' Encyclopodia
of Religion and Ethics, articles on Mandæans.
69. Codex Nasarous, Liber Adam appellatus, trans. from
the Syriac into Latin by Matth. Norberg (1815), Vol. I. 109 : " Sed, Johanne hac
ætate Hierosolymæ nato, Jordanumque deinceps legente, et baptismum peragente,
veniet Jeschu Messias, summisse se gerens, ut baptismo Johannis baptizetur, et
Johannis per sapientiam sapiat. Pervertet vero doctrinam Johannis et mutato
Jordani baptismo, perversisque justitiæ dictis, iniquitatem et perfidiam per
70. Article on the Codex Nasarous by Silvestre de Sacy
in the Journal des Savants for November 1819, p. 651 ; cf. passage in the
Zohar, section Bereschith, folio 55.
71. Matter, op. cit., III. 119, 120. De Sacy (op. cit., p.
654) also attributes the Codex Nasarous to the eighth century.
72. Matter, op. cit., III. 118.
73. Jewish Encyclopodia, article on Mandæans.
74. Loiseleur, op. cit., p. 52.
75. Ibid., p. 51 ; Matter, op. cit., III. 305.
76. The Sabbatic goat is clearly of Jewish origin. Thus the
Zohar relates that " Tradition teaches us that when the Israelites evoked evil
spirits, these appeared to them under the form of he-goats and made known to
them all that they wished to learn."--Section Ahre Moth, folio 70a (de Pauly, V.
77. Eliphas Lévi, Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magie,
78. Some Notes on various Gnostic Sects and their Possible
Influence on Free-masonry, by D.F. Ranking, reprinted from A.Q.C.,
Vol. XXIV. pp. 27, 28 (1911).
THREE CENTURIES OF OCCULTISM
IT has been shown in the foregoing chapters that from very
early times occult sects had existed for two purposes--esoteric and political.
Whilst the Manicheans, the early Ismailis, the Bogomils, and the Luciferians had
concerned themselves mainly with religious or esoteric doctrines, the later
Ismailis, the Fatimites, the Karmathites, and Templars had combined secrecy and
occult rites with the political aim of domination. We shall find this double
tradition running through all the secret society movement up to the present day.
The Dualist doctrines attributed to the Templars were not, however, confined
to this Order in Europe, but had been, as we have seen, those professed by the
Bogomils and also by the Cathari, who spread westwards from Bulgaria and Bosnia
to France. It was owing to their sojourn in Bulgaria that the Cathari gained the
popular nickname of " Bulgars " or " Bougres," signifying those addicted to
unnatural vice. One section of the Cathari in the South of France became known
after 1180 as the Albigenses, thus called from the town of Albi, although their
headquarters were really in Toulouse. Christians only in name, they adhered in
secret to the Gnostic and Manichean doctrines of the earlier Cathari, which they
would appear to have combined with Johannism, since, like this Eastern sect,
they claimed to possess their own Gospel of St. John.(1)
Although not strictly a secret society, the Albigenses were divided after the
secret society system into initiates and semi-initiates. The former, few in
number, known as the Perfecti, led in appearance an austere life,
refraining from meat and professing abhorrence of oaths or of lying. The mystery
in which they enveloped themselves won for them the adoring reverence of the
Credentes, who formed the great majority of the sect and gave themselves up
to every vice, to usury, brigandage, and perjury, and whilst describing marriage
as prostitution, condoning incest and all forms of licence.(2)
The Credentes, who were probably not fully initiated into the Dualist
doctrines of their superiors, looked to them for salvation through the laying-on
of hands according to the system of the Manicheans.
It was amongst the nobles of Languedoc that the Albigenses found their
principal support. This " Juda of France," as it has been called, was peopled by
a medley of mixed races, Iberian, Gallic, Roman, and Semitic.(3)
The nobles, very different from the " ignorant and pious chivalry of the North,"
had lost all respect for their traditions. " There were few who in going back
did not encounter some Saracen or Jewish grandmother in their genealogy."(4)
Moreover, many had brought back to Europe the laxity of morals they had
contracted during the Crusades. The Comte de Comminges practised polygamy, and,
according to ecclesiastical chronicles, Raymond VI, Comte de Toulouse, one of
the most ardent of the Albigense Credentes, had his harem.(5)
The Albigensian movement has been falsely represented as a protest merely
against the tyranny of the Church of Rome ; in reality it was a rising against
the fundamental doctrines of Christianity--more than this, against all
principles of religion and morality. For whilst some of the sect openly declared
that the Jewish law was preferable to that of the Christians,(6)
to others the God of the Old Testament was as abhorrent as the " false Christ "
who suffered at Golgotha ; the old hatred of the Gnostics and Manicheans for the
demiurgus lived again in these rebels against the social order. Forerunners of
the seventeenth century Libertines and eighteenth-century Illuminati, the
Albigense nobles, under the pretext of fighting the priesthood, strove to throw
off all the restraints the Church imposed.
Inevitably the disorders that took place throughout the South of France led
to reprisals, and the Albigenses were suppressed with all the cruelty of the
age--a fact which has afforded historians the opportunity to exalt them as noble
martyrs, victims of ecclesiastical despotism. But again, as in the case of the
Templars, the fact that they were persecuted does not prove them innocent of the
crimes laid to their charge.
At the beginning of the fourteenth century another development of Dualism,
far more horrible than the Manichean heresy of the Albigenses, began to make
itself felt. This was the cult of Satanism, or black magic. The subject is one
that must be approached with extreme caution, owing to the fact that on one hand
much that has been written about it is the result of medival superstition, which
sees in every departure from the Roman Catholic Faith the direct intervention of
the Evil One, whilst on the other hand the conspiracy of history, which denies
in toto the existence of the Occult Power, discredits all revelations on
this question, from whatever source they emanate, as the outcome of hysterical
This is rendered all the easier since the subject by its amazing extravagance
lends itself to ridicule.
It is, however, idle to deny that the cult of evil has alway existed ; the
invocation of the powers of darkness was practised in the earliest days of the
human race and, after the Christian era, found its expression, as we have seen,
in the Cainites the Euchites, and the Luciferians. These are not surmises, but
actual facts of history. Towards the end of the twelfth century Luciferianism
spread eastwards through Styria, the Tyrol, and Bohemia, even as far as
Brandenburg ; by the beginning of the thirteenth century it had invaded western
Germany, and in the fourteenth century reached its zenith in that country as
also in Italy and France. The cult had now reached a further stage in its
development, and it was not the mere propitiation of Satanael as the prince of
this world practised by the Luciferians, but actual Satanism--the love of evil
for the sake of evil--which formed the doctrine of the sect known in Italy as
la vecchia religione or the " old religion." Sorcery was adopted as a
profession, and witches, not, as is popularly supposed, sporadic growths, were
trained in schools of magic to practise their art. These facts should be
remembered when the Church is blamed for the violence it displayed against
witchcraft--it was not individuals, but a system which it set out to destroy.
The essence of Satanism is desecration. In the ceremonies for infernal
evocation described by Eliphas Lévi we read : " It is requisite to profane the
ceremonies of the religion one belongs to and to trample its holiest symbols
This practice found a climax in desecrating the Holy Sacrament. The consecrated
wafer was given as food to mice, toads, an pigs, or defiled in unspeakable ways.
A revolting description of the Black Mass may be found in Huysmans's book
Lá-bas. It is unnecessary to transcribe the loathsome details here. Suffice
it, then, to show that this cult had a very real existence and if any further
doubt remains on the matter, the life of Gilles de Rais supplies documentary
evidence of the visible results of black magic in the Middle Ages.
Gilles de Rais was born at Machecoul in Brittany about the year 1404. The
first period of his life was glorious ; the companion and guide of Jeanne d'Arc,
he became Maréchal of France and distinguished himself by many deeds of valour.
But after dissipating his immense fortune, largely on Church ceremonies carried
out with the wildest extravagance, he was led to study alchemy, partly by
curiosity and partly as a means for restoring his shattered fortunes. Hearing
that Germany and Italy were the countries where alchemy flourished, he enlisted
Italians in his service and was gradually drawn into the further region of
magic. According to Huysmans, Gilles de Rais had remained until this moment a
Christian mystic under the influence of Jeanne d'Arc, but after her
death--possibly in despair--he offered himself to the powers of darkness.
Evokers of Satan now flocked to him from every side, amongst them Prelati, an
Italian, by no means the old and wrinkled sorcerer of tradition, but a young and
attractive man of charming manners. For it was from Italy that came the most
skilful adepts in the art of alchemy, astrology, magic, and infernal evocation,
who spread themselves over Europe, particularly France. Under the influence of
these initiators Gilles de Rais signed a letter to the devil in a meadow near
Machecoul asking him for " knowledge, power, and riches," and offering in
exchange anything that might be asked of him with the exception of his life or
his soul. But in spite of this appeal and of a pact signed with the blood of the
writer, no Satanic apparitions were forthcoming.
It was then that, becoming still more desperate, Gilles de Rais had recourse
to the abominations for which his name has remained infamous--still more
frightful invocations, loathsome debaucheries, perverted vice in every form,
Sadic cruelties, horrible sacrifices, and, finally, holocausts of little boys
and girls collected by his agents in the surrounding country and put to death
with the most inhuman tortures. During the years 1432-40 literally hundreds of
children disappeared. Many of the names of the unhappy little victims were
preserved in the records of the period. Gilles de Rais met with a well deserved
end : in 1440 he was hanged and burnt. So far he does not appear to have found a
panegyrist to place him in the ranks of noble martyrs.
It will, of course, be urged that the crimes here described were those of a
criminal lunatic and not to be attributed to any occult cause ; the answer to
this is that Gilles was not a isolated unit, but one of a group of occultists
who cannot all have been mad. Moreover, it was only after his invocation of the
Evil One that he developed these monstrous proclivities. So also his
eighteenth-century replica, the Marquis de Sade, combined with his abominations
and impassioned hatred of the Christian religion.
What is the explanation of this craze for magic in Western Europe ? Deschamps
points to the Cabala, " that science of demoniacal arts, of which the Jews were
the initiators," and undoubtedly in any comprehensive review of the question the
influence of the Jewish Cabalists cannot be ignored. In Spain, Portugal,
Provence, and Italy the Jews by the fifteenth century had become a power ; as
early as 1450 they had penetrated into the intellectual circles of Florence, and
it was also in Italy that, a century later, the modern Cabalistic school was
inaugurated by Isaac Luria (1533-72), whose doctrines were organized into a
practical system by the Hasidim of Eastern Europe for the writing of amulets,
the conjuration of devils, mystical jugglery with numbers and letters, etc.(9)
Italy in the fifteenth century was thus a centre from which Cabalistic
influences radiated, and it may be that the Italians who indoctrinated Gilles de
Rais had drawn their inspiration from this source. Indeed Eliphas Lévi, who
certainly cannot be accused of " Anti-Semitism," declares that " the Jews, the
most faithful trustees of the secrets of the Cabala, were almost always the
great masters of magic in the Middle Ages,"(10)
and suggests that Gilles de Rais took his monstrous recipes for using the blood
of murdered children " from some of those old Hebrew grimoires (books on magic))
which, if they had been known, would have sufficed to hold up the Jews to the
execration of the whole earth."(11)
Voltaire, in his Henriade, likewise attributes the magical blood-rites
practised in the sixteenth century to Jewish inspiration :
Dans l'ombre de la nuit, sous une vote obscure,
Le silence conduit leur assemblée impure.
A la pâle lueur d'un magique flambeau
S'élève un vil autel dressé sur un tombeau.
C'est la que des deux rois on plaça les images,
Objets de leur terreur, objets de leurs outrages.
Leur sacrilèges mains ont mêlé sur l'autel
A des noms infernaux le non de l'Éternel.
Sur ces murs ténébreux des lances sont rangées,
Dans des vases de sang leurs pointes sont plongées ;
Appareil menaçant de leur mystère affreux.
Le prêtre de ce temple est un de ces Hébreux
Qui, proscrits sur la terre et citoyens du monde,
Portent de mers en mers leur misère profonde,
Et, d'un antique ramas de superstitions,
Ont rempli dès longtemps toutes les nations, etc.
Voltaire adds in a footnote : " It was ordinarily Jews that
were made use of for magical operations. This ancient superstition comes from
the secrets of the Cabala, of which the Jews called themselves the sole
depositaries. Catherine de Medicis, the Maréchal d'Ancre, and many others
employed Jews for these spells."
This charge of black magic recurs all through the history of Europe from the
earliest times. The Jews are accused of poisoning wells, of practising ritual
murder, of using stolen church property for purposes of desecration, etc. No
doubt there enters into all this a great amount of exaggeration, inspired by
popular prejudice and medival superstition. Yet, whilst condemning the
persecution to which the Jews were subjected on this account, it must be
admitted that they laid themselves open to suspicion by their real addiction to
magical arts. If ignorant superstition is found on the side of the persecutors,
still more amazing superstition is found on the side of the persecuted.
Demonology in Europe was in fact essentially a Jewish science, for although a
belief in the spirits existed from the earliest times and has always continued
to exist amongst primitive races, and also amongst the ignorant classes in
civilized countries, it was mainly through the Jews that these dark
superstitions were imported to the West, where they persisted not merely amongst
the lower strata of the Jewish population, but formed an essential part of
Jewish tradition. Thus the Talmud says :
If the eye could perceive the demons that people the universe, existence
would be impossible. The demons are more numerous than we are : they surround us
on all sides like trenches dug round vineyards. Every one of us has a thousand
on his left hand and ten thousand on his right. The discomfort endured by those
who attend rabbinical conferences . . . comes from the demons mingling with men
in these circumstances. Besides, the fatigue one feels in one's knees in walking
comes from the demons that one knocks up against at every step. If the clothing
of the Rabbis wears out so quickly, it is again because the demons rub up
against them. Whoever wants to convince himself of their presence has only to
surround his bed with sifted cinders and the next morning he will see the
imprints of cocks' feet.(12)
The same treatise goes on to give directions for seeing demon by burning
portions of a black cat and placing the ashes in one's eye : " then at once one
perceives the demons." The Talmud also explains that devils particularly inhabit
the water spouts on houses and are fond of drinking out of water-jugs, therefore
it is advisable to pour a little water out of a jug before drinking, so as to
get rid of the unclean part.(13)
These ideas received a fresh impetus from the publication of the Zohar,
which, a Jewish writer tells us, " from the fourteenth century held almost
unbroken sway over the minds of the majority of the Jews. In it the Talmudic
legends concerning the existence and activity of the shedhim (demons) are
repeated and amplified, and a hierarchy of demons was established corresponding
to the heavenly hierarchy. . . . Manasseh [ben Israel]'s Nishmat Hayim is
full of information concerning belief in demons. . . . Even the scholarly and
learned Rabbis of the seventeenth century clung to the belief."(14)
Here, then, it is not a case of ignorant peasants evolving fantastic visions
from their own scared imaginations, but of the Rabbis, the acknowledged leaders
of a race claiming civilized traditions and a high order of intelligence,
deliberately inculcating in their disciples the perpetual fear of demoniacal
influences. How much of this fear communicated itself to the Gentile population
? It is at any rate a curious coincidence to notice the resemblances between
so-called popular superstitions and the writings of the Rabbis. For example, the
vile confessions made both by Scotch and French peasant women accused of
witchcraft concerning the nocturnal visits paid hem by male devils(15)
find an exact counterpart in passages of the Cabala, where it is said that " the
demons are both male and female, and they also endeavour to consort with human
beings--a conception from which arises the belief in incubi and
Thus, on Jewish authority, we learn the Judaic origin of this strange delusion.
It is clearly to the same source that we may trace the magical formul for the
healing of diseases current at the same period. From the earliest times the Jews
had specialized in medicine, and many royal personages insisted on employing
some of whom may have acquired medical knowledge of a high order. The Jewish
writer Margoliouth dwells on this fact with some complacency, and goes on to
contrast the scientific methods of the Hebrew doctors with the quackeries of the
In spite of the reports circulated by the monks, that the Jews were sorcerers
(in consequence of their superior medical skill), Christian patients would
frequent the houses of the Jewish physicians in preference to the monasteries,
where cures were pretended to have been effected by some extraordinary relics,
such as the nails of St. Augustine, the extremity of St. Peter's second toe, . .
. etc. It need hardly be added that the cures effected by the Jewish physicians
were more numerous than those by the monkish impostors.(18)
Yet in reality the grotesque remedies which Margoliouth attributes to
Christian superstition appear to have been part derived from Jewish sources. The
author of a further article on Magic in Hastings' Encyclopodia goes on to
say that the magical formul handed down in Latin in ancient medical writings and
used by the monks were mainly of Eastern origin, derived from Babylonish,
Egyptian, and Jewish magic. The monks therefore " played merely an intermediate
Indeed, if we turn to the Talmud we shall find cures recommended no less absurd
than those which Margoliouth derides. For example :
The eggs of a grasshopper as a remedy for toothache, the tooth of a fox
remedy for sleep, viz. the tooth of a live fox to prevent sleep and of a
dead one to cause sleep, the nail from the gallows where a man was hanged,
as a remedy for swelling.(20)
A strongly " pro-Semite " writer quotes a number of Jewish medical writings
of the eighteenth century, republished as late as the end of the nineteenth,
which show the persistence of these magical formul amongst the Jews. Most of
these are too loathsome to transcribe ; but some of the more innocuous are as
follows : " For epilepsy kill a cock and let it putrefy." " In order to protect
yourself from all evils, gird yourself with the rope with which a criminal has
been hung." Blood of different kinds also plays an important part : " Fox's
blood and wolf's blood are good for stone in the bladder, ram's blood for colic,
weasel blood for scrofula," etc.--these to be externally applied.(21)
But to return to Satanism. Whoever were the secret inspirers of magical and
diabolical practices during the fourteenth to the eighteenth centuries, the
evidence of the existence of Satanism during this long period is overwhelming
and rests on the actual facts of history. Details quite as extravagant and
revolting as those contained in the works of Eliphas Lévi(22)
or in Huysmans's Là-bas are given in documentary form by Margaret Alice
Murray in her singularly passionless work relating principally to the witches of
The cult of evil is a reality--by whatever means we may seek to explain it.
Eliphas Lévi, whilst denying the existence of Satan " as a superior personality
and power," admits this fundamental truth : " Evil exists ; it is impossible to
doubt it. We can do good or evil. There are beings who knowingly and voluntarily
There are also beings who love evil. Lévi has admirably described the spirit
that animates such beings in his definition of black magic :
Black magic is really but a combination of sacrileges and murders graduated
with a view to the permanent perversion of the human will and the realization in
a living man of the monstrous phantom of the fiend. It is, therefore, properly
speaking, the religion of the devil, the worship of darkness, the hatred of
goodness exaggerated to the point of paroxysm ; it is the incarnation of death
and the permanent creation of hell.(25)
The Middle Ages, which depicted the devil fleeing from holy water, were not
perhaps quite so benighted as our superior modern culture has led us to suppose.
For that " hatred of goodness exaggerated to the point of paroxysm," that
impulse to desecrate and defile which forms the basis of black magic and has
manifested itself in successive phases of the world revolution, springs from
fear. So by their very hatred the powers of darkness proclaim the existence of
the powers of light and their own impotence. In the cry of the demoniac : " What
have we to do with Thee, Jesus of Nazareth ? art Thou come to destroy us ? I
know Thee who Thou art, the Holy One of God," do we not hear the unwilling
tribute of the vanquished to the victor in the mighty conflict between good and
In dealing with the question of Magic it is necessary to realize that
although to the world in general the word is synonymous with necromancy, it does
not bear this significance in the language of occultism, particularly the
occultism of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Magic at this date was a
term employed to cover many branches of investigation which Robert Fludd, the
English Rosicrucian, classified under various headings, of which the first three
are as follows : (1) " Natural Magic, . . . that most occult and secret
department of physics by which the mystical properties of natural substances are
extracted "; (2) Mathematical Magic, which enables adepts in the art to "
construct marvellous machines by means of their geometrical knowledge " ; whilst
(3) Venefic Magic " is familiar with potions, philtres, and with various
preparations of poisons."(26)
It is obvious that all these have now passed into the realms of science and
are no longer regarded as magical arts ; but the further categories enumerated
by Fludd and comprised under the general heading of Necromantic Magic
retain the popular sense of the term. These are described as (1) Goetic,
which consists in " diabolical commerce with unclean spirits, in rites of
criminal curiosity, in illicit songs and invocations, and in the evocation of
the souls of the dead " ; (2) Maleficent, which is the adjuration of the
devils by the virtue of Divine Names ; and (3) Theurgic, purporting " to
be governed by good angels and the Divine Will, but its wonders are most
frequently performed by evil spirits, who assume the names of God and of the
angels." (4) " The last species of magic is the Thaumaturgic, begetting
illusory phenomena ; by this art the Magi produced their phantoms and other
marvels." To this list might be added Celestial Magic, or knowledge
dealing with the influence of the heavenly bodies, on which astrology is based.
The forms of magic dealt with in the preceding part of this chapter belong
therefore to the second half of these categories, that is to say, to
Necromantic Magic. But at the same period another movement was gradually
taking shape which concerned itself with the first category enumerated above,
that is to say the secret properties of natural substances.
A man whose methods appear to have approached to the modern conception of
scientific research was Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim, commonly known as
Paracelsus, the son of a German doctor, born about 1493, who during his travels
in the East is said to have acquired a knowledge of some secret doctrine which
he afterwards elaborated into a system for the healing of diseases. Although his
ideas were thus doubtless drawn from some of the same sources as those from
which the Jewish Cabala descended, Paracelsus does not appear to have been a
Cabalist, but a scientist of no mean order, and, as an isolated thinker,
apparently connected with no secret association, does not enter further into the
scope of this work.
Paracelsus must therefore not be identified with the school of so-called "
Christian Cabalists," who, from Raymond Lulli, the " doctor illuminatus" of the
thirteenth century, onward, drew their inspiration from the Cabala of the Jews.
This is not to say that the influence under which they fell was wholly
pernicious, for, just as certain Jews appear to have acquired some real medical
skill, so also they appear to have possessed some real knowledge of natural
science, inherited perhaps from the ancient traditions of the East or derived
from the writings of Hippocrates, Galen, and other of the great Greek physicians
and as yet unknown to Europe. Thus Eliphas Lévi relates that the Rabbi Jechiel,
a Cabalistic Jew protected by St Louis, possessed the secret of ever-burning
claimed later by the Rosicrucians, which suggests the possibility that some kind
of luminous gas or electric light may have been know to the Jews. In alchemy
they were the acknowledged leaders ; the most noted alchemist of the fourteenth
century, Nicholas Flamel, discovered the secret of the art from the book of "
Abraham the Jew, Prince, Priest, Levite, Astrologer, an Philosopher," and this
actual book is said to have passed later into the possession of Cardinal
It was likewise from a Florentine Jew, Alemanus or Datylus that Pico della
Mirandola, the fifteenth-century mystic, received instructions in the Cabala(29)
and imagined that he had discovered in it the doctrines of Christianity. This
delighted Pope Sixtus IV, who thereupon ordered Cabalistic writings to be
translated into Latin for the use of divinity students. At the same time the
Cabala was introduced into Germany by Reuchlin, who had learnt Hebrew from the
Rabbi Jacob b. Jechiel Loans, court physician to Frederic III, and in 1494
published a Cabalistic treatise De Verbo Mirifico, showing that all
wisdom and true philosophy are derived from the Hebrews. Considerable alarm
appears, however, to have been created by the spread of Rabbinical literature,
and in 1509 a Jew converted to Christianity, named Pfefferkorn, persuaded the
Emperor Maximilian I to burn all Jewish books except the Old Testament.
Reuchlin, consulted on this matter, advised only the destruction of the Toledot
Yeshu and of the Sepher Nizzachon by the Rabbi Lipmann, because these works "
were full of blasphemies against Christ and against the Christian religion," but
urged the preservation of the rest. In this defence of Jewish literature he was
supported by the Duke of Bavaria, who appointed him professor at Ingoldstadt,
but was strongly condemned by the Dominicans of Cologne. In reply to their
attacks Reuchlin launched his defence De Arte Cabalistica, glorifying the
Cabala, of which the " central doctrine for him was the Messianology around
which all its other doctrines grouped themselves."(30)
His whole philosophical system, as he himself admitted, was in fact entirely
Cabalistic, and his views were shared by his contemporary Cornelius Agrippa of
Nettesheim. As a result of these teachings a craze for Cabalism spread amongst
Christian prelates, statesmen, and warriors, and a number of Christian thinkers
took up the doctrines of the Cabala and " essayed to work them over in their own
way." Athanasius Kircher and Knorr, Baron von Rosenroth, author of the
Kabbala Denudata, in the course of the seventeenth century " endeavoured to
spread the Cabala among the Christians by translating Cabalistic works which
they regarded as most ancient wisdom." " Most of them," the Jewish
Encyclopodia goes on to observe derisively, " held the absurd idea that the
Cabala contained proofs of the truth of Christianity. . . . Much that appears
Christian [in the Cabala] is, in fact, nothing but the logical development of
certain ancient esoteric doctrines."(31)
The Rosicrucians appear to have been the outcome both of this Cabalistic
movement and of the teachings of Paracelsus. The earliest intimation of their
existence was given in a series of pamphlets which appeared at the beginning of
the seventeenth century. The first of these, entitled the Fama Fraternitatis
; or a Discovery of the Fraternity of the most Laudable Order of the Rosy Cross,
was published at Cassel in 1614 and the Confessio Fraternitatis early in
the following year. These contain what may be described as the " Grand Legend"
of Rosicrucianism, which has been repeated with slight variation up to the
present day. Briefly, this story is as follows (32) :
" The most godly and highly-illuminated Father, our brother C.R.," that is
to say, Christian Rosenkreutz, " a German, the chief and original of our
Fraternity," was born in 1378, and some sixteen years later travelled to the
East with a Brother P.A.L., who had determined to go to the Holy Land. On
reaching Cyprus, Brother P.A.L. died and " so never came to Jerusalem."
Brother C.R., however, having become acquainted with certain Wise Men of "
Damasco in Arabia," and beheld what great wonders they wrought, went on
alone to Damasco. Here the Wise Men received him, and he then set himself to
study Physick and Mathematics and to translate the Book M into Latin. After
three years he went to Egypt, whence he Journeyed on to Fez, where " he did
get acquaintance with those who are called the Elementary inhabitants, who
revealed to him many of their secrets. . . . Of those of Fez he often did
confess that their Magia was not altogether pure and also that their Cabala
was defiled with their religion, but notwithstanding he knew how to make
good use of the same." After two years Brother C.R. departed the city Fez
and sailed away with many costly things into Spain, where he conferred with
the learned men and being " ready bountifully to impart all his arts and
secrets" showed them amongst other things how there might be a society in
Europe which might have gold, silver, and precious stones sufficient for
them to bestow on kings for their necessary uses and lawful purposes. . . ."
Christian Rosenkreutz then returned to Germany, where " there is nowadays no
want of learned men, Magicians, Cabalists, Physicians, and Philosophers." Here
he " builded himself a fitting and neat habitation in the which he ruminated his
voyage and philosophy and reduced them together in a true memorial." At the end
of five years' meditation there " came again into his mind the wished-for
Reformation : accordingly, he chose " some few adjoyned with him," the Brethren
G.V., I.A., and I.O.--the last of whom " was very expert and well learned in
Cabala as his book H witnesseth "--to form a circle of initiates. " After this
manner began the Fraternity of the Rosy Cross." Five other Brethren were
afterwards added, all Germans except I.A., and these eight constituted his new
building called Sancti Spiritus. The following agreement was then drawn up :
First, that none of them should profess any other thing than to cure the
sick, and that gratis.
Second, none of the posterity should be constrained to wear one certain
kind of habit, but therein to follow the custom of the country.
Third, that every year, upon the day C., they should meet together at
the house Sancti Spiritus, or write the cause of his absence.
Fourth, every Brother should look about for a worthy person who after
his decease, might succeed him.
Fifth, the word C.R. should be their seal, mark, and character.
Sixth, the Fraternity should remain secret one hundred years.
Finally Brother C.R. died, but where and when, or in what
country he was buried, remained a secret. The date, however, is generally given
as 1484. In 1604 the Brethren who then constituted the inner circle of the Order
discovered a door on which was written in large letters
Post 120 Annos Patebo.
On opening the door a vault was disclosed to view, where beneath a brass
tablet the body of Christian Rosenkreutz was found, " whole and unconsumed,"
with all his " ornaments and attires," and holding in his hand the parchment " I
" which " next unto the Bible is our greatest treasure," whilst beside him lay a
number of books, amongst others the Vocabulario of Paracelsus, who,
however, the Fama observes, earlier " was one of our Fraternity."(33)
The Brethren now knew that after a time there would be " a general
reformation both of divine and human things." While declaring their belief in
the Christian faith, the Fama goes on to explain that :
Our Philosophy is not a new invention, but as Adam after his fall hath
received it and as Moses and Solomon used it, . . . wherein Plato,
Aristotle, Pythagoras, and others did hit the mark and wherein Enoch,
Abraham, Moses, Solomon, did excel, but especially wherewith that wonderful
Book the Bible agreeth.
It will be seen that, according to this Manifesto, Rosicrucianism was a
combination of the ancient secret tradition handed down from the patriarchs
through the philosophers of Greece and of the first Cabala of the Jews.
The " Grand Legend " of Rosicrucianism rests, however, on no historical
evidence ; there is, in fact, not the least reason to suppose that any such
person as Christian Rosenkreutz ever existed. The Illuminatus von Knigge in the
eighteenth century asserted that :
It is now recognized amongst enlightened men that no real Rosicrucians have
existed, but that the whole of what is contained in the Fama and the
Universal Reformation of the World [another Rosicrucian pamphlet
which appeared in the same year] was only subtle allegory of Valentine
Andrea, of which afterwards partly deceivers (such as the Jesuits) and
partly visionaries made use in order to realize this dream.(34)
What, then, was the origin of the name Rose-Cross ? According to one
Rosicrucian tradition, the word " Rose " does not derive from the flower
depicted on the Rosicrucian cross, but from the Latin word ros,
signifying " dew," which was supposed to be the most powerful solvent of gold,
whilst crux, the cross, was the chemical hieroglyphic for " light."(35)
It is said that the Rosicrucians interpreted the initials of the cross INRI by
the sentence " Igne Nitrum Roris Invenitur."(36)
Supposing this derivation to be correct, it would be interesting to know whether
any connexion could be traced between the first appearance of the word Rosie
Cross in the Fama Fraternitatis at the date of 1614 and the cabalistic
treatise of the celebrated Rabbi of Prague, Shabbethai Sheftel Horowitz,
entitled Shefa Tal, that is to say, " The Effusion of Dew," which
appeared in 1612.(37)
Although this book has often been reprinted, no copy is to be found in the
British Museum, so I am unable to pursue this line of enquiry further. A simpler
explanation may be that the Rosy Cross derived from the Red Cross of the
Templars. Mirabeau, who as a Freemason and an Illuminatus was in a position to
discover many facts about the secret societies of Germany during his stay in the
country, definitely asserts that " the Rose Croix Masons of the seventeenth
century were only the ancient Order of the Templars secretly perpetuated."(38)
Lecouteulx de Canteleu is more explicit :
In France the Knights (Templar) who left the Order, henceforth hidden, and
so to speak unknown, formed the Order of the Flaming Star and of the
Rose-Croix, which in the fifteenth century spread itself in Bohemia and
Silesia. Every Grand officer of these Orders had all his life to wear the
Red Cross and to repeat every day the prayer of St. Bernard.(39)
Eckert states that the ritual, symbols, and names of the Rose-Croix were
borrowed from the Templars, and that the Order was divided into seven degrees,
according to the seven days of creation, at the same time signifying that their
" principal aim was that of the mysterious, the investigation of Being and of
the forces of nature."(40)
The Rosicrucian Kenneth Mackenzie, in his Masonic Cyclopodia, appears
to suggest the same possibility of Templar origin. Under the heading of
Rosicrucians he refers enigmatically to an invisible fraternity that has existed
from very ancient times, as early as the days of the Crusades, " bound by solemn
obligations of impenetrable secrecy," and joining together in work for humanity
and to " glorify the good." " At various periods of history this body has
emerged into a sort of temporary light ; but its true name has never transpired
and is only known to the innermost adepts and rulers of the society." " The
Rosicrucians of the sixteenth century finally disappeared and re-entered this
invisible fraternity "--from which they had presumably emerged. Whether any such
body really existed or whether the above account is simply an attempt at
mystification devised to excite curiosity, the incredulous may question The
writer here observes that it would be indiscreet to say more, but elsewhere he
throws out a hint that may have some bearing on the matter, for in his article
on the Templars he says that after the suppression of the Order it was revived
in a more secret form and subsists to the present day. This would exactly accord
with Mirabeau's statement that the Rosicrucian were only the Order of the
Templars secretly perpetuated. Moreover, as we shall see later, according to a
legend preserved by the Royal Order of Scotland, the degree of the Rosy Cross
had been instituted by that Order in conjunction with the Templars in 1314, and
it would certainly be a remarkable coincidence that a man bearing the name of
Rosenkreutz should happen to have inaugurated a society, founded, like the
Templars, on Eastern secret doctrines during the course of the same century,
without any connexion existing between the two.
I would suggest, then, that Christian Rosenkreutz was a purely mythical
personage, and that the whole legend concerning his travels was invented to
disguise the real sources whence the Rosicrucians derived their system, which
would appear to have been a compound of ancient esoteric doctrines of Arabian
and Syrian magic, and of Jewish Cabalism, partly inherited from the Templars but
reinforced by direct contact with Cabalistic Jews in Germany. The Rose-Croix,
says Mirabeau " were a mystical, Cabalistic, theological, and magical sect," and
Rosicrucianism thus became in the seventeenth century the generic title by which
everything of the nature of Cabalism, Theosophy, Alchemy, Astrology, and
Mysticism was designated. For this reason it has been said that they cannot be
regarded as the descendants of the Templars. Mr. Waite, in referring to " the
alleged connexion between the Templars and the Brethren of the Rosy Cross,"
The Templars were not alchemists, they had no scientific pretensions, and
their secret, so far as it can be ascertained, was a religious secret of an
anti-Christian kind. The Rosicrucians, on the other hand, were pre-eminently
a learned society and they were also a Christian sect.(41)
The fact that the Templars do not appear to have practised alchemy is beside
the point ; it is not pretended that the Rosicrucians followed the Templars in
every particular, but that they were the inheritors of a secret tradition passed
on to them by the earlier Order. Moreover, that they were a learned society, or
even a society at all, is not at all certain fir they would appear to have
possessed no organization like the Templars or the Freemasons, but to have
consisted rather of isolated occultists bound together by some tie of secret
knowledge concerning natural phenomena. This secrecy was no doubt necessary at a
period when scientific research was able to be regarded as sorcery, but whether
the Rosicrucians really accomplished anything is extremely doubtful. They are
said to have been alchemists ; but did they ever succeed in transmuting metals ?
They are described as learned, yet do the pamphlets emanating from the
Fraternity betray any proof of superior knowledge ? " The Chymical Marriage of
Christian Rosenkreutz," which appeared in 1616, certainly appears to be the
purest nonsense--magical imaginings the most puerile kind ; and Mr. Waite
himself observes that the publication of the Fama and the Confessio
Fraternitatis will not add new lustre to the Rosicrucian reputations :
We are accustomed to regard the adepts of the Rosy Cross as beings of
sublime elevation and preternatural physical powers, masters of Nature,
monarchs of the intellectual world. . . . But here in their own acknowledged
manifestos they avow themselves a mere theosophical offshoot of the Lutheran
heresy, acknowledging the spiritual supremacy of a temporal prince, and
calling the Pope anti-Christ. . . . We find them intemperate in their
language, rabid in their religious prejudices, and instead of towering
giant-like above the intellectual average of their age, we see them buffeted
by the same passions and identified with all opinions of the men by whom
they were environed. The voice which addresses us behind the mystical mask
of the Rose-Croix does not come from an intellectual throne. . . .
So much for the Rosicrucians as a " learned society."
What, then, of their claim to be a Christian body ? The Rosicrucian student
of the Cabala, Julius Sperber, in his Echo of the Divinely Illuminated
Fraternity of the Admirable Order of the R.C. (1615), has indicated the
place assigned to Christ by the Rosicrucians. In De Quincey's words :
Having maintained the probability of the Rosicrucian pretension on the
ground that such magnalia Dei had from the creation downwards been
confided to the keeping of a few individuals--agreeably to which he affirms
that Adam was the first Rosicrucian of the Old Testament and Simeon the
last--he goes on to ask whether the Gospel put an end to the secret
tradition ? By no means, he answers : Christ established a new " college of
magic " among His disciples and the greater mysteries were revealed to St.
John and St. Paul.
John Yarker, quoting this passage, adds : " This, Brother Findel points out,
was a claim of the Carpocratian Gnostics " ; it was also, as we have seen, a
part of the Johannite tradition which is said to have been imparted to the
Templars. We shall find the same idea of Christ as an " initiate " running all
through the secret societies up to the present day.
These doctrines not unnaturally brought on the Rosicrucians the suspicion of
being an anti-Christian body. The writ of a contemporary pamphlet published in
1624, declares that " this fraternity is a stratagem of the Jews and Cabalistic
Hebrews, in whose philosophy, says Pic de la Mirandole, all things are . . . as
if hidden in the majesty of truth or as . . . in very sacred Mysteries."(42)
Another work, Examination of the Unknown and Novel Cabala of the Brethren
of the Rose-Cross, agrees with the assertion that the chief of this "
execrable college is Satan, that its first rule is denial of God, blasphemy
against the most simple and undivided Trinity, trampling on the mysteries of the
redemption, spitting in the face of the mother of God and of all the saints."
The sect is further accused of compact with the devil, sacrifices of children,
of cherishing toads, making poisonous powders, dancing with fiends, etc.
Now, although all this would appear to be quite incompatible with the
character of the Rosicrucians as far as it is known, we have already seen that
the practices here described were by no means imaginary ; in this same
seventeenth century, when the fame of the Rosicrucians was first noised abroad,
black magic was still, as in the days of Gilles de Rais, a horrible reality not
only in France but in England, Scotland, and Germany, where sorcerers of both
sexes were continually put to death.(43)
However much we may deplore the methods employed against these people or
question the supernatural origin of their cult, it would be idle to deny that
the cult itself existed.
Moreover, towards the end of the century it assumed in France a very tangible
form in the series of mysterious dramas known as the " Affaire des Poisons," of
which the first act took place in 1666, when the celebrated Marquis de
Brinvillier embarked on her amazing career of crime in collaboration with her
lover Sainte-Croix. This extraordinary women, who for ten years made a hobby of
trying the effects of various slow poisons on her nearest relations, thereby
causing the death of her father and brothers, might appear to have been merely
an isolated criminal of the abnormal type but for the sequel to her exploits in
the epidemic of poisoning which followed and during twenty years kept Paris in a
state of terror. The investigation of the police finally led to the discovery of
a whole band of magicians and alchemists--" a vast ramification of malefactors
covering all France "--who specialized in the art of poisoning without fear of
Concerning all these sorcerers, alchemists, compounders of magical powders
and philtres, frightful rumours circulated, " pacts with the devil were talked
of, sacrifices of new-born babies, incantations, sacrilegious Masses and other
practices as disquieting as they were lugubrious."(44)
Even the King's mistress, Madame de Montespan, is said to have had recourse to
black Masses in order to retain the royal favour through the agency of the
celebrated sorceress La Voisin, with whom she was later implicated in an
accusation of having attempted the life of the King.
All the extraordinary details of these events have recently been described in
the book of Madame Latour, where the intimate connexion between the poisoners
and the magicians is shown. In the opinion of contemporaries, these were not
Their methods were too certain, their execution of crime too skilful and too
easy for them not to have belonged, either directly or indirectly, to a
whole organization of criminals who prepared the way, and studied the method
of giving to crime the appearance of illness, of forming, in a word, a
The author of the work here quoted draws an interesting parallel between this
organization and the modern traffic in cocaine, and goes on to describe the
three degrees into which it was divided : firstly, the Heads, cultivated and
intelligent men, who understood chemistry, physics, and nearly all useful
sciences, " invisible counsellors but supreme, without whom the sorcerers would
have been powerless " ; secondly, the visible magicians employing mysterious
processes, complicated rites and terrifying ceremonies ; and thirdly, the crowd
of nobles and plebeians who flocked to the doors of the sorcerers and filled
their pockets in return for magic potions, philtres, and, in certain cases,
insidious poisons. Thus La Voisin must be placed in the second category ; " in
spite of her luxury, her profits, and her fame," she " is only a subaltern agent
in this vast organization of criminals. She depends entirely for her great
enterprises on the intellectual chiefs of the corporation. . . ."(46)
Who were these intellectual chiefs ? The man who first initiated Madame de
Brinvilliers' lover Sainte-Croix into the art of poisoning was an Italian named
Exili or Eggidi ; but the real initiate from whom Eggidi and another Italian
poisoner had learnt their secrets is said to have been Glaser, variously
described as a German or a Swiss chemist, who followed the principles of
Paracelsus and occupied the post of physician to the King and the Duc d'Orléans.(47)
This man, about whose history little is known, might thus have been a kind of
Rosicrucian. For since, as has been said, the intellectual chiefs from whom the
poisoners derived their inspiration were men versed in chemistry, in science, in
physics, and the treatment of diseases, and since, further, they included
alchemists and people professing to be in possession of the Philosopher's Stone,
their resemblance with the Rosicrucians is at once apparent. Indeed, in turning
back to the branches of magic enumerated by the Rosicrucian Robert Fludd, we
find not only Natural Magic, " that most occult and secret department of physics
by which the mystical properties of natural substances are extracted," but also
Venefic Magic, which " is familiar with potions, philtres, and with various
preparations of poisons."
The art of poisoning was therefore known to the Rosicrucians and, although
there is no reason to suppose it was ever practised by the heads of the
Fraternity, it is possible that the inspirers of the poisoners may have been
perverted Rosicrucians, that is to say, students of those portions of the Cabala
relating to magic both of the necromantic and venefic varieties, who turned the
scientific knowledge which the Fraternity of the Rosy Cross used for healing to
a precisely opposite and deadly purpose. This would explain the fact that
contemporaries like the author of the Examination of the Unknown and Novel
Cabala of the Brethren of the Rose-Cross should identify these brethren with
the magicians and believe them to be guilty of practices deriving from the same
sources as Rosicrucian knowledge--the Cabala of the Jews. Their modern admirers
would, of course, declare that they were the poles asunder, the difference being
between white and black magic. Huysmans, however, scoffs at this distinction and
says the use of the term " white magic " was a ruse of the Rose-Croix.
But of the real doctrines of the Rosicrucians no one can speak with
certainty. The whole story of the Fraternity is wrapped in mystery. Mystery was
avowedly the essence of their system ; their identity, their aims, their
doctrines, are said to have been kept a profound secret from the world. Indeed
it is said that no real Rosicrucian ever allowed himself to be known as such. As
a result of this systematic method of concealment, sceptics on the one hand have
declared the Rosicrucians to have been charlatans and impostors or have denied
their very existence, whilst on the other hand romancers have exalted them as
depositaries of supernatural wisdom. The question is further obscured by the
fact that most accounts of the Fraternity--as, for example, those of Eliphas
Lévi, Hargrave Jennings, Kenneth Mackenzie, Mr. A.E. Waite Dr. Wynn Westcott,
and Mr. Cadbury Jones--are the work of men claiming or believing themselves to
be initiated into Rosicrucianism or other occult systems of a kindred nature and
as such in possession of peculiar and exclusive knowledge. This pretension may
at once be dismissed as an absurdity ; nothing is easier than for anyone to make
a compound out of Jewish Cabalism and Eastern theosophy and to label it
Rosicrucianism, but no proof whatever exists of any affiliation between the
self-styled Rosicrucians of to-day and the seventeenth-century " Brothers of the
In spite of Mr. Waite's claim, " The Real History of the Rosicrucians " still
remains to be written, at any rate in the English language. The book he has
published under this name is merely a superficial study of the question largely
composed of reprints of Rosicrucian pamphlets accessible to any student. Mr.
Wigston and Mrs. Pott merely echo Mr. Waite. Thus everything that has been
published hitherto consists in the repetition of Rosicrucian legends or in
unsubstantiated theorizings on their doctrines. What we need are facts. We want
to know who were the early Rosicrucians, when the Fraternity originated, and
what were its real aims. These researches must be made, not by an occultist
weaving his own theories into the subject, but by a historian free from any
prejudices for or against the Order, capable of weighing evidence and of
bringing a judicial mind to bear on the material to be found in the libraries of
the Continent--notably the Bibliothque de l'Arsenal in Paris. Such a work wold
be a valuable contribution to the history of secret societies in our country.
But if the Continental Brethren of the Rose-Croix form but a shadowy group of
" Invisibles" whose identity yet remains a mystery, the English adepts of the
Order stand forth in the light of day as philosophers well known to their age
and country. That Francis Bacon was initiated into Rosicrucianism is now
recognized by Freemasons, but a more definite link with the Rosicrucians of the
Continent was Robert Fludd, who after travelling for six years in France,
Germany, Italy, and Spain--where he formed connexions with Jewish Cabalists(49)--was
visited by the German Jew Rosicrucian Michel Maier--doctor to the Emperor
Rudolf--by whom he appears to have been initiated into further mysteries.
In 1616 Fludd published his Tractatus Apologeticus, defending the
Rosicrucians against the charges of " detestable magic and diabolical
superstition " brought against them by Libavius. Twelve years later Fludd was
attacked by Father Mersenne, to whom a reply was made " by Fludd or a friend of
Fludd's " containing a further defence of the Order. " The Book," says Mr.
Waite, " treats of the noble art of magic, the foundation and nature of the
Cabala, the essence of veritable alchemy, and of the Causa Fratrum Rosae Crucis.
It identifies the palace or home of the Rosicrucians with the Scriptural House
In further works by English writers the Eastern origin of the Fraternity is
insisted on. Thus Thomas Vaughan, known as Eugenius Philalethes, writing in
praise of the Rosicrucians in 1652, says that " their knowledge at first was not
purchased by their own disquisitions, for they received it from the Arabians,
amongst whom it remained as the monument and legacy of the Children of the East.
Nor is this at all improbable, for the Eastern countries have been always famous
for magical and secret societies."
Another apologist of the Rosicrucians, John Heydon, who travelled in Egypt,
Persia, and Arabia, is described by a contemporary as having been in " many
strange places among the Rosie Crucians and at their castles, holy hoses,
temples, sepulchres, sacrifices." Heydon himself, whilst declaring that he is
not a Rosicrucian, says that he knows members of the Fraternity and its secrets,
that they are sons of Moses, and that " this Rosie Crucian Physick or Medicine,
I happily and unexpectedly alight upon in Arabia." These references to castles,
temples, sacrifices, encountered in Egypt, Persia, and Arabia inevitably recall
memories of both Templars and Ismailis. Is there no connexion between " the
Invisible Mountains of the Brethren " referred to elsewhere by Heydon and the
Mountains of the Assassins and the Freemasons ? between the Scriptural " House
of Wisdom" and the Dar-ul-Hikmat or Grand Lodge of Cairo, the model for Western
masonic lodges ?
It is as the precursors of the crisis that arose in 1717 that the English
Rosicrucians of the seventeenth century are of supreme importance. No longer
need we concern ourselves with shadowy Brethren laying dubious claim to
supernatural wisdom, but with a concrete association of professed Initiates
proclaiming their existence to the world under the name of Freemasonry.
1. " Their meetings were held in the most convenient spot,
often on mountains or in valleys ; the only essentials were a table, a white
cloth, and a copy of the Gospel of St. John, that is, their own version of
it."--Dr. Ranking, op. cit., p. 15 (A.Q.C., Vol. XXIV.). Cf. Gabriele
Rossetti, The Anti-Papal Spirit, I. 230, where it is said " the sacred
books, and especially that of St. John, were wrested by this sect into strange
and perverted meanings."
2. Michelet, Histoire de France, III. 18, 19 (1879
3. Michelet, op. cit., p. 10. " L'élément sémitique, juif et
arabe, était fort en Languedoc." Cf. A.E. Waite, The Secret Tradition in
Freemasonry, I. 118 : " The South of France was a centre from which went
forth much of the base occultism of Jewry as well as its theosophical dreams."
4. Michelet, op. cit., p. 12.
5. Ibid., p. 15.
6. Graetz, History of the Jews, III. 517.
7. Thus Hastings' Encyclopodia of Religion and Ethics
omits all reference to Satanism before 1880 and observes : " The evidence of the
existence of either Satanists or Palladist consists entirely of the writings of
a group of men in Paris." It then proceeds to devote five columns out of the six
and a half which compose the article to describing the works of two notorious
romancers, Léo Taxil and Bataille. There is not a word of real information to be
8. Précis of Eliphas Lévi's writings by Arthur E. Waite,
The Mysteries of Magic, p. 215.
9. Jewish Encyclopodia, article on Cabala.
10. Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magie, II. 220 (1861).
It is curious to notice that Sir James Frazer, in his vast compendium on magic
The Golden Bough, never once refers to any of the higher adepts--Jews,
Rosicrucians, Satanists, etc., or to the Cabala as a source of inspiration. The
whole subject is treated as if the cult of magic were the spontaneous outcome of
primitive or peasant mentality.
11. Histoire de la Magie, p. 289.
12. Talmud, treatise Berakhoth, folio 6. The Talmud also
gives direction on the manner of guarding against occult powers and the
onslaught of disease. The tract Pesachim declares that he who stands naked
before a candle is liable to be seized with epilepsy. The same tract also states
that " a man should not go out alone on the night following the fourth day or on
the night following the Sabbath, because an evil spirit, called Agrath, the
daughter of Ma'hlath, together with one hundred and eighty thousand other evil
spirits, go forth into the world and have the right to injure anyone they should
chance to meet."
13. Talmud, treatise Hullin, folios 143, 144.
14. Hastings' Encyclopodia of Religion and Ethics,
article on Jewish Magic by M. Gaster.
15. Margaret Alice Murray, The Witch Cult in Western
Europe, and Jules Garinet, Histoire de la Magie en France, p. 163
16. Hastings' Encyclopodia, article on Jewish Magic by
M. Gaster. See the Zohar, treatise Bereschith, folio 54b, where it is
said that all men are visited in their sleep by female devils. " These demons
never appear under an other form but that of human beings, but they have no hair
on their heads . . . In the same way as to men, male devils appear in dreams to
women, with whom they have intercourse."
17. The Rev. Moses Margoliouth, The History of the Jews in
Great Britain, I. 82. The same author relates further on (p. 304) that Queen
Elizabeth's Hebrew physician Rodrigo Lopez was accused of trying to poison her
an died a victim of persecution.
18. The Rev. Moses Margoliouth, The History of the Jews in
Great Britain, I. 83.
19. Hastings' Encyclopodia, article on Teutonic magic
by F. Hälsig.
20. Talmud, tract Sabbath.
21. Hermann L. Strack, The Jews and Human Sacrifice,
Eng. Trans., pp. 140, 141 (1900).
22. See pages 215 and 216 of The Mysteries of Magic,
by A.E. Waite.
23. See also A.S. Turberville, Medioval Heresy and the
Inquisition, 111-12 (1920), ending with the words : " The voluminous records
of the holy tribunal, the learned treatises of its members, are the great
repositories the true and indisputable facts concerning the abominable heresies
of sorcery and witchcraft."
24. Histoire de la Magie, p. 15.
25. Mysteries of Magic, p. 221.
26. A.E. Waite, The Real History of the Rosicrucians,
27. Histoire de la Magie, p. 266.
28. John Yarker, The Arcane Schools, p. 205.
29. Drach (De 1'Harmonie entre l'Église et la Synagogue,
II. p. 30) says that Pico della Mirandola paid a Jew 7,000 ducats for the
Cabalistic MSS. fro which he drew his thesis.
30. Jewish Encyclopodia, articles on Cabala and
31. Ibid., article on Cabala.
32. The following résumé is taken from the recent reprint of
the Fama and Confessio brought out by the " Societas Rosicruciana
in Anglia," and printed by W.J. Parrett (Margate, 1923). The story, which, owing
to the extraordinary confusion of the text, is difficult to resume as a coherent
narrative is given in the Fama ; the dates are given in the Confessio.
33. Incidentally Paracelsus was not born until 1493, that is
to say nine years after Christian Rosenkreutz is supposed to have died.
34. Nachtrag von weitern Originalschriften des
Illuminatenordens, Part II. p. 148 (Munich, 1787).
35. Mackey, Lexicon of Freemasonry, p. 265.
36. Ibid., p. 150.
37. Jewish Encyclopodia, article on Shabbethai
38. Mirabeau, Histoire de la Monarchie Prussienne, V.
39. Lecouteulx, de Canteleu, Les Sectes et Sociétés
Secrètes, p. 97.
40. Eckert, La Franc-Maçonnerie dans sa véritable
signification, II. 48.
41. A.E. Waite, The Real History of the Rosicrucians,
42. " Tracté des Athéistes, Déistes, Illuminez d'Espagne
et Nouveaux Prétendus Invisibles, dits de la Confrairie de la Croix-Rosaire,
élevez depuis quelques années dans le Christianisme," forming the second
part of the " Histoire Générale de Progrès et Décadence de l'Hérésie
Moderne--A la suite du Premier " de M. Florimond de Raemond, Conseiller du
43. See G.M. Trevelyan, England under the Stuarts, pp.
32, 33, and James Howell, Familiar Letters (edition of 1753), pp. 49,
435. James Howell was clerk to the Privy Council of Charles I.
44. Th.-Louis Latour, Princesses, Dames et Aventurières du
Règne de Louis XIV, p. 278 (Eugne Figuire, Paris, 1923).
45. Ibid., p. 297.
46. Ibid., p. 306.
47. Ouvres complètes de Voltaire, Vol. XXI. p. 129
(1785 edition) ; Biographie Michaud, article on Glaser.
48. This assertion finds confirmation in the Encyclopodia
Britannica article on the Rosicrucians, which states : " In no sense are
modern Rosicrucians derived from the Fraternity of the seventeenth century."
49. Jewish Encyclopodia, article on the Cabala.
ORIGINS OF FREEMASONRY
" THE origin of Freemasonry," says a masonic writer of the
eighteenth century, " is known to Freemasons alone."(1)
If this was once the case, it is so no longer, for, although the question would
certainly appear to be one on which the initiated should be most qualified to
speak, the fact is that no official theory on the origin of Freemasonry exists ;
the great mass of the Freemasons do not know or care to know anything about the
history of their Order, whilst Masonic authorities are entirely disagreed on the
matter. Dr. Mackey admits that " the origin and source whence first sprang the
institution of Freemasonry has given rise to more difference of opinion and
discussion among masonic scholars than any other topic in the literature of the
Nor is this ignorance maintained merely in books for the general public, since
in those specially addressed to the Craft and at discussions in lodges the same
diversity of opinion prevails, and no decisive conclusions appear to be reached.
Thus Mr. Albert Churchward, a Freemason of the thirtieth degree, who deplores
the small amount of interest taken in his matter by Masons in general, observes
Hitherto there have been so many contradictory opinions and theories in the
attempt to supply the origin and the reason whence, where, and why the
Brotherhood of Freemasonry came into existence, and all the " different
parts " and various rituals of the " different degrees." All that has been
written on this has hitherto been theories, without any facts for their
In the absence, therefore, of any origin universally recognized by the Craft,
it is surely open to the lay mind to speculate on the matter and to draw
conclusions from history as to which of the many explanations put forward seems
to supply the key to the mystery.
According to the Royal Masonic Cyclopodia, no less than twelve
theories have been advanced as to the origins of the Order, namely, that Masonry
" (1) From the patriarchs. (2) From the mysteries of the pagans. (3) From
the construction of Solomon's Temple. (4) From the Crusades. (5) From the
Knights Templar. (6) From the Roman Collegia of Artificers. (7) From the
operative masons of the middle ages. (8) From the Rosicrucians of the
sixteenth century. (9) From Oliver Cromwell. (10) From Prince Charles Stuart
for political purposes. (11) From Sir Christopher Wren, at the building of
St. Paul's. (12) From Dr. Desaguliers and his friends in 1717."
This enumeration is, however, misleading, for it implies that in one of these
various theories the true origin of Freemasonry may be found. In reality modern
Freemasonry is a dual system, a blend of two distinct traditions--of operative
masonry, that is to say the actual art of building, and of speculative theory on
the great truths of life and death. As a well-known Freemason, the Count Goblet
d'Alviella, has expressed it : " Speculative Masonry" (that is to say, the dual
system we now know as Freemasonry) " is the legitimate offspring of a fruitful
union between the professional guild of medival Masons and of a secret group of
philosophical Adepts, the first having furnished the form and the second the
In studying the origins of the present system we have therefore (1) to examine
separately the history of each of these two traditions, and (2) to discover
their point of junction.
Beginning with the first of these two traditions, we find that guilds of
working masons existed in very ancient times. Without going back as far as
ancient Egypt or Greece, which would be beyond the scope of the present work,
the course of these associations may be traced throughout the history of Western
Europe from the beginning of the Christian era. According to certain masonic
writers, the Druids originally came from Egypt and brought with them traditions
relating to the art of building. The Culdees, who later on established
schools and colleges in this country for the teaching of arts, sciences, and
handicrafts, are said to have derived from the Druids.
But a more probable source of inspiration in the art of building are the
Romans, who established the famous Collegia of architects referred to in the
list of alternative theories given in the Masonic Cyclopodia. Advocates
of the Roman Collegia origin of Freemasonry may be right as far as operative
masonry is concerned, for it is to the period following on the Roman occupation
of Britain that our masonic guilds can with the greatest degree of certainty be
traced. Owing to the importance the art of building now acquired it is said that
many distinguished men, such as St. Alban, King Alfred, King Edwin, and King
Athelstan were numbered amongst its partons,(5)
so that in time the guilds came to occupy the position of privileged bodies and
were known as " free corporations"; further that York was the first masonic
centre in England, largely under the control of the Culdees, who at the same
period exercised much influence over the Masonic Collegia in Scotland, at
Kilwinning, Melrose, and Aberdeen.(6)
But it must be remembered that all this is speculation. No documentary
evidence has ever been produced to prove the existence of masonic guilds before
the famous York charter of A.D. 926, and even the date of this document is
doubtful. Only with the period of Gothic architecture do we reach firm ground.
That guilds of working masons known in France as " compagnonnages" and in
Germany as " Steinmetzen " did then form close corporations and possibly possess
secrets connected with their profession is more than probable. That in
consequence of their skill in building the magnificent cathedrals of this period
they now came to occupy a privileged position seems fairly certain.
The Abbé Grandidier, writing from Strasbourg in 1778, traces the whole system
of Freemasonry from these German guilds : " This much-vaunted Society of
Freemasons is nothing but a servile imitation of an ancient and useful
confrérie of real masons whose headquarters was formerly at Strasbourg and
of which the constitution was confirmed by the Emperor Maximilian in 1498.(7)
As far as it is possible to discover from the scanty documentary evidence the
fourteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth centuries provide, the same privileges
appear to have been accorded to the guilds of working masons in England and
Scotland, which, although presided over by powerful nobles an apparently on
occasion admitting members from outside the Craft, remained essentially
operative bodies. Nevertheless we find the assemblies of Masons suppressed by
Act of Parliament in the beginning of the reign of Henry VI, and later on an
armed force sent by Queen Elizabeth to break up the Annual Grand Lodge at York.
It is possible that the fraternity merely by the secrecy with which it was
surrounded excited the suspicions of authority, for nothing could be more
law-abiding than its published statutes. Masons were to be " true men to God and
the Holy Church," also to the masters that they served. They were to be honest
in their manner of life and " to do no villainy whereby the Craft or the Science
may be slandered."(8)
Yet the seventeenth-century writer Plot, in his Natural History of
Staffordshire, expresses some suspicion with regard to the secrets of
Freemasonry. That these could not be merely trade secrets relating to the art of
building, but that already some speculative element had been introduced to the
lodges, seems the more probable from the fact that by the middle of the
seventeenth century not only noble patrons headed the Craft, but ordinary
gentlemen entirely unconnected with building were received into the fraternity.
The well-known entry in the diary of Elias Ashmole under the date of October 16,
1646, clearly proves this fact : " I was made a Freemason at Warrington in
Lancashire with Col. Henry Mainwaring of Karticham [?] in Cheshire. The names of
those that were then of the Lodge, Mr. Rick. Penket, Warden, Mr. James Collier,
Mr. Rich. Sankey, Henry Littler, John Ellam Rich. Ellam and Hugh Brewer." (9) " It
is now ascertained," says Yarker, " that the majority of the members present
were not operative masons."(10)
Again, in 1682 Ashmole relates that he attended a meeting held at Mason Hall
in London, where with a number of other gentlemen he was admitted into " the
Fellowship of the Freemasons," that is to say, into the second degree. We have
then clear proof that already in the seventeenth century Freemasonry had ceased
to be an association composed exclusively of men concerned with building,
although eminent architects ranked high in the Order ; Inigo Jones is said to
have been Grand Master under James I, and Sir Christopher Wren to have occupied
the same position from about 1685 to 1702. But it was not until 1703 that the
Lodge of St. Paul in London officially announced " that the privileges of
Masonry should no longer be restricted to operative Masons, but extended to men
of various professions, provided they were regularly approved and initiated into
This was followed in 1717 by the great coup d'état when Grand Lodge
was founded, and Speculative Masonry, which we now know as Freemasonry, was
established on a settled basis with a ritual, rules, and constitution drawn up
in due form. It is at this important date that the official history of
But before pursuing the course of the Order through what is known as the "
Grand Lodge Era," it is necessary to go back and enquire into the origins of the
philosophy that was now combined with the system of operative masonry. This is
the point on which opinions are divided and to which the various theories
summarized in the Masonic Cyclopodia relate. Let us examine each of these
According to certain sceptics concerning the mysteries of Freemasonry, the
system inaugurated in 1717 had no existence before that date, but " was devised,
promulgated, and palmed upon the world by Dr. Desaguliers, Dr. Anderson, and
others, who then founded the Grand Lodge of England." Mr. Paton, in an admirable
has shown the futility of this contention and also the injustice of representing
the founders of Grand Lodge as perpetrating so gross a deception.
This 1717 theory ascribes to men of the highest character the invention of a
system of mere imposture. . . . It was brought forward with pretensions which
its framers knew to be false pretensions of high antiquity ; whereas . . . it
had newly been invented in their studies. Is this likely ? Or is it reasonable
to ascribe such conduct to honourable men, without even assigning a probable
motive for it ?
We have indeed only to study masonic ritual--which open to everyone to
read--in order to arrive at the same conclusion, that there could be no motive
for this imposture and further that these two clergymen cannot be supposed have
evolved the whole thing out of their heads. Obviously some movement of a kindred
nature must have led up to this crisis. And since Elias Ashmole's diary clearly
proves that a ceremony of masonic initiation had existed in the preceding
century, it is surely only reasonable to conclude that Dr. Anderson and
Desaguliers revised but did not originate the ritual and constitutions drawn up
Now, although the ritual of Freemasonry is couched in modern and by no means
classical English, the ideas running through it certainly bear traces of extreme
antiquity. The central idea of Freemasonry concerning a loss which has befallen
man and the hope of its ultimate recovery is in fact no other than the ancient
secret tradition described in the first chapter of this book. Certain masonic
writers indeed ascribe to Freemasonry precisely the same genealogy as that of
the early Cabala, declaring that it descended from Adam and the first patriarchs
of the human race, and thence through groups of Wise Men amongst the Egyptians,
Chaldeans, Persians, and Greeks.(13)
Mr. Albert Churchward insists particularly on the Egyptian origin of the
speculative element in Freemasonry : " Brother Gould and other Freemasons will
never understand the meaning and origin of our sacred tenets till they have
studied and unlocked the mysteries of the past." This study will then reveal the
fact that " the Druids, the Gymnosophists of India, the Magi of Persia, and the
Chaldeans of Assyria had all the same religious rites and ceremonies as
practised by their priests who were initiated to their Order, and that these
were solemnly sworn to keep the doctrines a profound secret from the rest of
mankind. All these flowed from one source--Egypt."(14)
Churchward further quotes the speech of the Rev. Dr. William Dodd at the
opening of a masonic temple in 1794, who traced Freemasonry from " the first
astronomers on the plains of Chaldea, the wise and mystic kings and priests of
Egypt, the sages of Greece and philosophers of Rome," etc.(15)
But how did these traditions descend to the masons of the West ? According to
a large body of masonic opinion in this country which recognizes only a single
source of inspiration to the system we now know as Freemasonry, the speculative
as well as the operative traditions of the Order descended from the building
guilds and were imported to England by means of the Roman Collegia. Mr.
Churchward, however, strongly dissents from this view :
In the new and revised edition of the Perfect Ceremonies according to our E.
working, a theory is given that Freemasonry originated from certain guilds
of workmen which are well known in history as the " Roman College of
Artificers." There is no foundation of fact for such a theory. Freemasonry
is now, and always was, an Eschatology, as may be proved by the whole of our
signs, symbols, and words, and our rituals.(16)
But what Mr. Churchward fails to explain is how this eschatology reached the
working masons, moreover why, if, as he asserts, it derived from Egypt, Assyria,
India, and Persia, Freemasonry no longer bears the stamp of these countries. For
although vestiges of Sabeism may be found in the decoration of the lodges, and
brief references to the mysteries of Egypt and Phoenicia, to the secret teaching
of Pythagoras, to Euclid, and to Plato in the Ritual and instructions of the
Craft degrees--nevertheless the form in which the ancient tradition is clothed,
the phraseology and pass-words employed, are neither Egyptian, Chaldean, Greek,
nor Persian, but Judaic. Thus although some portion of the ancient secret
tradition may have penetrated to Great Britain through the Druids or the
Romans--versed in the lore of Greece and Egypt--another channel for its
introduction was clearly the Cabala of the Jews. Certain masonic writers
recognize this double tradition, the one descending from Egypt, Chaldea, and
Greece, the other from the Israelites, and assert that it is from the latter
source their system is derived.(17)
For after tracing its origin from Adam, Noah, Enoch, and Abraham, they proceed
to show its line of descent through Moses, David, and Solomon (18)
--descent from Solomon is in fact officially recognized by the Craft and forms a
part of the instructions to candidates for initiation into the first degree.
But, as we have already seen, this is the precise genealogy attributed to the
Cabala by the Jews. Moreover, modern Freemasonry is entirely built up on the
Solomonic, or rather the Hiramic legend. For the sake of readers unfamiliar with
the ritual of Freemasonry a brief résumé of this " Grand Legend" must be given
Solomon, when building the Temple, employed the services of a certain
artificer in brass, named Hiram, the son of a widow of the tribe of
Naphthali, who was sent to him by Hiram, King of Tyre. So much we know from
the Book of Kings, but the masonic legend goes on to relate that Hiram the
widow's son, referred to as Hiram Abiff, and described as the master-builder
met with an untimely end. For the purpose of preserving order the masons
working on the Temple were divided into three classes, Entered Apprentices,
Fellow Crafts, and Master Masons, the first two distinguished by different
pass-words and grips and paid at different rates of wages, the last
consisting only of three persons--Solomon himself, Hiram King of Tyre, who
had provided him with wood and precious stones and Hiram Abiff. Now, before
the completion of the Temple fifteen of the Fellow Crafts conspired together
to find out the secrets of the Master Masons and resolved to waylay Hiram
Abiff at the door of the Temple.
At the last moment twelve of the fifteen drew back, but the remaining three
carried out the fell design, and after threatening Hiram in vain in order to
obtain the secrets, killed him with three blows on the head, delivered by
each in turn. They then conveyed the body away to some distance from
Jerusalem and buried it on Mount Moriah. Solomon, informed of the
disappearance of the master-builder, sent out fifteen Fellow Crafts to seek
for him ; five of these, having arrived at the mountain, noticed a place
where the earth had been disturbed and there discovered the body of Hiram.
Leaving a branch of acacia to mark the spot, they returned with their story
to Solomon, who ordered them to go and exhume the body--an order that was
immediately carried out.
The murder and exhumation, or " raising," of Hiram, accompanied by
extraordinary lamentations, form the climax of Craft Masonry ; and when it is
remembered that in all probability no such tragedy ever took place, that
possibly no one known as Hiram Abiff ever existed,(19)
the whole story can only be regarded as the survival of some ancient cult
relating not to an actual event, but to an esoteric doctrine. A legend and a
ceremony of this kind is indeed to be found in many earlier mythologies ; the
story of the murder of Hiram had been foreshadowed by the Egyptian legend of the
murder of Osiris and the quest for his body by Isis, whilst the lamentations
around the tomb of Hiram had a counterpart in the mourning ceremonies for Osiris
and Adonis--both, like Hiram, subsequently " raised "--and later on in that
which took place around the catafalque of Manes, who, like Hiram, was
barbarously put to death and is said to have been known to the Manicheans as "
the son of the widow." But in the form given to it by Freemasonry the legend is
purely Judaic, and would therefore appear to have derived from the Judaic
version of the ancient tradition. The pillars of the Temple, Jachin and Boaz,
which play so important a part in Craft Masonry, are symbols which occur in the
Jewish Cabala, where they are described as two of the ten Sephiroths.(20)
A writer of the eighteenth century, referring to " fyve curiosities " he has
discovered in Scotland, describes one as--
The Mason word, which tho' some make a Misterie of it, I will not conceal a
little of what I know. It is lyke a Rabbinical Tradition in way of Comment
on Jachin and Boaz, the Two Pillars erected in Solomon's Temple with ane
Addition delyvered from Hand to Hand, by which they know and become familiar
one with another.
This is precisely the system by which the Cabala was handed down amongst the
Jews. The Jewish Encyclopodia lends colour to the theory of Cabalistic
transmission by suggesting that the story of Hiram " may possibly trace back to
the Rabbinic legend concerning the Temple of Solomon," that " while all the
workmen were killed so that they should not build another temple devoted to
idolatry, Hiram himself was raised to Heaven like Enoch."(21)
How did this Rabbinic legend find its way into Freemasonry ? Advocates of the
Roman Collegia theory explain it in the following manner.
After the building of the Temple of Solomon the masons who had been engaged
in the work were dispersed and a number made their way to Europe, some to
Marseilles, some perhaps to Rome, where they may have introduced Judaic
legends to the Collegia, which then passed on to the Comacini Masters of the
seventh century and from these to the medival working guilds of England,
France, and Germany. It is said that during the Middle Ages a story
concerning the Temple of Solomon was current amongst the compagnonnages
of France. In one of these groups, known as " the children of Solomon," the
legend of Hiram appears to have existed much in its present form ; according
to another group the victim of the murder was not Hiram Abiff, but one of
his companions named Maître Jacques, who, whilst engaged with Hiram on the
construction of the Temple, met his death at the hands of five wicked Fellow
Crafts, instigated by a sixth, the Pre Soubise.(22)
But the date at which this legend originated is unknown. Clavel thinks that
the " Hebraic mysteries existed as early as the Roman Collegia, which he
describes as largely Judaised (23) ;
Yarker expresses precisely the opposite view : " It is not so difficult to
connect Freemasonry with the Collegia ; the difficulty lies in attributing
Jewish traditions to the Collegia, and we say on the evidence of the oldest
charges that such traditions had no existence in Saxon times." (24)
Again : " So far as this country is concerned, we know nothing from documents of
a Masonry dating from Solomon's Temple until after the Crusades, when the
constitution believed to have been sanctioned by King Athelstan gradually
underwent a change." (25) In a
discussion which took place recently at the Quatuor Coronati Lodge the Hiramic
legend could only be traced back--and then without absolute certainty--to the
fourteenth century, which would coincide with the date indicated by Yarker.(26)
Up to this period the lore of the masonic guilds appears to have contained
only the exoteric doctrines of Egypt and Greece--which may have reached them
through the Roman Collegia, whilst the traditions of Masonry are traced from
Adam, Jabal, Tubal Cain, from Nimrod and the Tower of Babel, with Hermes and
Pythagoras as their more immediate progenitors.(27)
These doctrines were evidently in the main geometrical or technical, and in no
sense Cabalistic. There is therefore some justification for Eckert's statement
that " the Judeo-Christian mysteries were not yet introduced into the masonic
corporations ; nowhere can we find the least trace of them. Nowhere do we find
any classification, not even that of masters, fellow crafts, and apprentices. We
observe no symbol of the Temple of Solomon ; all their symbolism relates to
masonic labours and to a few philosophical maxims of morality." (28) The
date at which Eckert, like Yarker, places the introduction of these Judaic
elements is the time of the Crusades.
But whilst recognizing that modern Craft Masonry is largely founded on the
Cabala, it is necessary to distinguish between the different Cabalas. For by
this date no less than three Cabalas appear to have existed : firstly, the
ancient secret tradition of the patriarchs handed down from the Egyptians
through the Greeks and Romans, and possibly through the Roman Collegia to the
Craft Masons of Britain ; secondly, the Jewish version of this tradition, the
first Cabal of the Jews, in no way incompatible with Christianity, descending
from Moses, David, and Solomon to the Essenes and the more enlightened Jews ;
and thirdly, the perverted Cabala, mingled by the Rabbis with magic, barbaric
superstitions, and--after the death of Christ--with anti-Christian legends.
Whatever Cabalistic elements were introduced into Craft Masonry at the time
of the Crusades appear to have belonged to the second of these traditions, the
unperverted Cabala of the Jews, known to the Essenes. There are, in fact,
striking resemblances between Freemasonry and Essenism--degrees of initiation,
oaths of secrecy, the wearing of the apron, and certain masonic sign ; whilst to
the Sabeist traditions of the Essenes may perhaps be traced the solar and
stellar symbolism of the lodges.(29)
The Hiramic legend may have belonged to the same tradition.
THE TEMPLAR TRADITION
If then no documentary evidence can be brought forward to show that either
the Solomonic legend or any traces of Judaic symbolism and traditions existed
either in the monuments of the period or in the ritual of the masons before the
fourteenth century, it is surely reasonable to recognize the plausibility of the
contention put forward by a great number of masonic writers--particularly on the
Continent--that the Judaic elements penetrated into Masonry by means of the
The Templars, as we have already seen, had taken their name from the Temple of
Solomon in Jerusalem. What then more likely than that during the time they had
lived there they had learnt the Rabbinical legends connected with the Temple ?
According to George Sand, who was deeply versed in the history of secret
societies, the Hiramic legend was adopted by the Templars as symbolic of the
destruction of their Order. " They wept over their impotence in the person of
Hiram. The word lost and recovered is their empire. . . ."(31)
The Freemason Ragon likewise declares that the catastrophe they lamented was the
catastrophe that destroyed their Order.(32)
Further, the Grand Master whose fate they deplored was Jacques du Molay. Here
then we have two bodies in France at the same period, the Templar and the
compagnonnages, both possessing a legend concerning the Temple of Solomon
and both mourning a Maître Jacques who had been barbarously put to death. If we
accept the possibility that the Hiramic legend existed amongst the masons before
the Crusades, how are we to explain this extraordinary coincidence ? It is
certainly easier to believe that the Judaic traditions were introduced to the
masons by the Templars and grafted on to the ancient lore that the masonic
guilds had inherited from the Roman Collegia.
That some connexion existed between the Templars and the working masons is
indicated by the new influence that entered into building at this period. A
modern Freemason comparing " the beautifully designed and deep-cut marks of the
true Gothic period, say circa 1150-1350," with " the careless and roughly
executed marks, many of them mere scratches, of later periods," points out that
" the Knights Templars rose and fell with that wonderful development of
architecture." The same writer goes on to show that some of the most important
masonic symbols, the equilateral triangle and the Mason's square surmounting two
pillars, came through from Gothic times.(33)
Yarker asserts that the level, the flaming star, and the Tau cross, which have
since passed into the symbolism of Freemasonry may be traced to the Knights
Templar, as also the five-pointed star in Salisbury Cathedral, the double
triangle in Westminster Abbey, Jachin and Boaz, the circle and the pentagon in
the masonry of the fourteen century. Yarker cites later, in 1556, the eye and
crescent moon, the three stars and the ladder of five steps, as further
evidences of Templar influence.(34)
" The Templars were large builders, and Jacques du Molay alleged the zeal of his
Order in decorating churches in the process against him in 1310 ; hence the
alleged connexion of Templary and Freemasonry is bund to have a substratum of
Moreover, according to a masonic tradition, an alliance definitely took place
between the Templars and the masonic guilds at this period. During the
proceedings taken against the Order of the Temple in France it is said that
Pierre d'Aumont and seven other Knights escaped to Scotland in the guise of
working masons and landed in the Island of Mull. On St. John's Day, 1307, they
held their first chapter. Robert Bruce then took them under his protection, and
seven years later they fought under his standard at Bannockburn against Edward
II, who had suppressed their Order in England. After this battle, which took
place on St. John the Baptist's Day in summer (June 24), Robert Bruce is said to
have instituted the Royal Order of H.R.M. (Heredom) and Knights of R.S.Y.C.S.
These two degrees now constitute the Royal Order of Scotland, and it seems not
improbable that in reality they were brought to Scotland by the Templars. Thus,
according to one of the early writers on Freemasonry, the degree of the
Rose-Croix originated with the Templars in Palestine as early as 1188 (37) ;
whilst the Eastern origin of the word Heredom, supposed to derive from a
mythical mount on an island south of the Hebrides(38)
where the Culdees practised their rites, is indicated by another
eighteenth-century writer, who traces it to a Jewish source.(39)
In this same year of 1314 Robert Bruce is said to have united the Templars and
the Royal Order of H.R.M. with the guilds of working masons, who had also fought
in his army, at the famous Lodge of Kilwinning, founded in 1286,(40)
which now added to its name that of Heredom and became the chief seat of the
Scotland was essentially a home of operative masonry and, in view of the
Templar's prowess in the art of building, what more natural than that the two
bodies should enter into an alliance ? Already in England the Temple is said
between 1155 and 1199 to have administered the Craft.(42)
It is thus at Heredom of Kilwinning, " the Holy House of Masonry "--" Mother
Kilwinning," as it is still known to Freemasons--that a speculative element of a
fresh kind may have found its way into the lodges. Is it not here, then, that we
may see that " fruitful union between the professional guild of medival masons
and a secret group of philosophical Adepts " alluded to by Count Goblet
d'Aviella and described by Mr. Waite in the following words :
The mystery of the building guilds--whatever it may be held to have
been--was that of a simple, unpolished, pious, and utilitarian device ; and
this daughter of Nature, in the absence of all intention on her own part,
underwent, or was coerced into one of the strangest marriages which has been
celebrated in occult history. It so happened that her particular form and
figure lent itself to such a union, etc.(43)
Mr. Waite with his usual vagueness does not explain when and where this
marriage took place, but the account would certainly apply to the alliance
between the Templars and Scottish guilds of working masons, which, as we have
seen, is admitted by masonic authorities, and presents exactly the conditions
described, the Templars being peculiarly fitted by their initiation into the
legend concerning the building of the Temple of Solomon to co-operate with the
masons, and the masons being prepared by their partial initiation into ancient
mysteries to receive the fresh influx of Eastern tradition from the Templars.
A further indication of the Templar influence in Craft Masonry is the system
of degrees and initiations. The names of Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft, and
Master Mason are said to have derived from Scotland,(44)
and the analogy between these and the degrees of the Assassins has already been
shown. Indeed, the resemblance between the outer organization of Freemasonry and
the system of the Ismailis is shown by many writers. Thus Dr. Bussell observes :
" No doubt together with some knowledge of geometry regarded as an esoteric
trade secret, many symbols to-day current did pass down from very primitive
times. But a more certain model was the Grand Lodge of the Ismailis in
Cairo"--that is to say the Dar-ul-Hikmat.(45)
Syed Ameer Ali also expresses the opinion that " Makrisi's account of the
different degrees of initiation adopted in this lodge forms an invaluable record
of Freemasonry. In fact, the lodge at Cairo became the model of all the Lodges
created afterwards in Christendom."(46)
Mr. Bernard Springett, a Freemason, quoting this passage, adds : " In this last
assertion I am myself greatly in agreement."(47)
It is surely therefore legitimate to surmise that this system penetrated to
Craft Masonry through the Templars, whose connexion with the Assassins--offshoot
of the Dar-ul-Hikmat--was a matter of common knowledge.
The question of the Templar succession in Freemasonry form perhaps the most
controversial point in the whole history of the Order, British Freemasons in the
main rejecting it in favour of the Roman Collegia theory, Continental Masons
more generally accepting it, and even glorying in it.(48)
Mackey, in his Lexicon of Freemasonry, thus sums up the matter :
The connexion between the Knights Templar and the Freemasons has been
repeatedly asserted by the enemies of both institution and has often been
admitted by their friends. Lawrie, on the subject, holds the following
language : " We know that the Knights Templar not only possessed the
mysteries but performed the ceremonies and inculcated the duties of
Freemasons," and he attributes the dissolution of the Order to the discovery
of their being Freemasons and their assembling in secret to practise the
rites of the Order.(49)
This explains why Freemasons have always shown indulgence to the Templars.
It was above all Freemasonry [says Findel], which--because it falsely held
itself to be a daughter of Templarism--took the greatest pains to represent
the Order of the Templars as innocent and therefore free from all mystery.
For this purpose not only legends and unhistorical facts were brought
forward, but manouvres were also resorted to in order to suppress the truth.
The masonic reverers of the Temple Order bought up the whole edition of the
Actes du Procès of Moldenhawer, because this showed the guilt of the
Order ; only a few copies reached the booksellers. . . . Already several
decades before . . . the Freemasons in their unhistorical efforts had been
guilty of real forgery. Dupuy had published his History of the Trial of
the Templars as early as 1654 in Paris, for which he had made use of the
original of the Actes du Procès, according to which the guilt of the
Order leaves no room for doubt. . . . But when in the middle of the
eighteenth century several branches of Freemasonry wished to recall the
Templar Order into being, the work of Dupuy was naturally very displeasing.
It had already been current amongst the public for a hundred years, so it
could no longer be bought ; therefore they falsified it.(50)
Accordingly in 1751 a reprint of Dupuy's work appeared with the addition of a
number of notes and remarks and mutilated in such a way as to prove not the
guilt but the innocence of the Templars.
Now, although British Masonry has played no part in these intrigues, the
question of the Templar succession has been very inadequately dealt with by the
masonic writers of our country. As a rule they have adopted one of two
courses--either they have persistently denied connexion with the Templars or
they have represented them as a blameless and cruelly maligned Order. But in
reality neither of these expedients is necessary to save the honour of British
Masonry, for not even the bitterest enemy of Masonry has ever suggested that
British masons have adopted any portion of the Templar heresy. The Knights who
fled to Scotland may have been perfectly innocent of the charges brought against
their Order ; indeed, there is good reason to believe this was the case. Thus
the Manuel des Chevaliers de l'Ordre du Temple relates the incident in
the following manner :
After the death of Jacques du Molay, some Scottish Templars having become
apostates, at the instigation of Robert Bruce ranged themselves under the
banners of a new Order (51)
instituted by this prince and in which the receptions were based on those of
the Order of the Temple. It is here that we must seek the origin of Scottish
Masonry and even that of the other masonic rites. The Scottish Templars were
excommunicated in 1324 by Larmenius, who declared them to be Templi
desertores and the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem, Domniorum
Militio spoliatores, placed for ever outside the pale of the Temple :
Extra girum Templi, nunc et in futurum, volo, dico et jubeo. A similar
anathema has since been launched by several Grand Masters against Templars
who were rebellious to legitimate authority. From the schism that was
introduced into Scotland a number of sects took birth.(52)
This account forms a complete exoneration of the Scottish Templars ; as
apostates from the bogus Christian Church and the doctrines of Johannism they
showed themselves loyal to the true Church and to the Christian faith as
formulated in the published statutes of their Order. What they appear, then to
have introduced to Masonry were their manner of reception, that is to say their
outer forms and organization, and possibly certain Eastern esoteric doctrines
and Judaic legends concerning the building of the Temple of Solomon in no way
incompatible with the teaching of Christianity.
It will be noticed, moreover, that in the ban passed by the Ordre du
Temple on the Scottish Templars the Knights of St John of Jerusalem are also
included. This is a further tribute to the orthodoxy of the Scottish Knights.
For to the Knight of St. John of Jerusalem--to whom the Templar property was
given--no suspicion of heresy had ever attached. After the suppression of the
Order of the Temple in 1312 a number of the Knights joined themselves to the
Knights of St. John of Jerusalem, by whom the Templar system appears to have
been purged of its heretical elements. As we shall see later, the same process
is said to have been carried out by the Royal Order of Scotland. All this
suggests that the Templars had imported a secret doctrine from the East which
was capable either of a Christian or an anti-Christian interpretation, that
through their connexion with the Royal Order of Scotland and the Knights of St.
John of Jerusalem this Christian interpretation was preserved, and finally that
it was this pure doctrine which passed into Freemasonry. According to early
masonic authorities, the adoption of the two St. Johns as the patron saints of
Masonry arose, not from Johannism, but from the alliance between the Templars
and the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem.(53)
It is important to remember that the theory of the Templar connexion with
Freemasonry was held by the Continental Freemasons of the eighteenth century,
who, living at the time the Order was reconstituted on its present basis, were
clearly in a better position to know its origins than we who are separated from
that date by a distance of two hundred years. But since their testimony first
comes to light at the period of the upper degrees, in which the Templar
influence is more clearly visible than in Craft Masonry, it must be reserved for
a later chapter. Before passing on to this further stage in the history of the
Craft, it is necessary to consider one more link in the chain of the masonic
tradition--the " Holy Vehm."
These dread tribunals, said to have been established by Charlemagne in 772(55)
in Westphalia, their avowed object the establishment of law and order amidst the
unsettled and even anarchic conditions that reigned in Germany. But by degrees
the power arrogated to itself by the " Holy Vehm " became so formidable that
succeeding emperors were unable to control its workings and found themselves
forced to become initiates from motives of self-protection. During the twelfth
century Vehmgerichts, by their continual executions, had created a veritable "
Red Terror " so that the East of Germany was known as the Red Land. In 1371,
says Lecouteulx de Canteleu, a fresh impetus was given to the " Holy Vehm " by a
number of the Knights Templar who, on the dissolution of their Order had found
their way to Germany and now sought admission to the Secret Tribunals.(56)
How much of Templar lore passed into the hand of the Vehmgerichts it is
impossible to know, but there is certainly a resemblance between the methods of
initiation and intimidation employed by the Vehms and those described by certain
of the Templars, still more between the ceremony of the Vehms and the ritual of
Thus the members of the Vehms, known as the Wissende (or Enlightened), were
divided into three degrees of initiation : the Free Judges, the veritable Free
Judges, and the Holy Judges of the Secret Tribunal. The candidate for initiation
was led blindfold before the dread Tribunal, presided over by a Stuhlherr
(or master of the chair) or his substitute, a Freigraf, with a sword and
branch of willow at his side. The initiate was then bound by a terrible oath not
to reveal the secrets of the " Holy Vehm," to warn no one of danger threatening
them by its decrees, to denounce anyone, whether father, mother brother, sister,
friend, or relation, if such a one had been condemned by the Tribunal. After
this he was given the password and grip by which the confederates recognized
each other. In the event of his turning traitor or revealing the secrets
confided to him his eyes were bandaged, his hands tied behind his back and his
tongue was torn out through the back of his neck after which he was hanged by
the feet till he was dead, with the solemn imprecation that his body should be
given as a prey to the birds of the air.
It is difficult to believe that the points of resemblance with modern masonic
which may here be discerned can be mere matter of coincidence, yet it would be
equally unreasonable to trace the origins of Freemasonry to the Vehmgerichts.
Clearly both derived from a common source either the old pagan traditions on
which the early Vehms were founded or the system of the Templars. The latter
seems the more probable for two reasons : firstly, on account of the resemblance
between the methods of the Vehmgerichts and the Assassins, which would be
explained if the Templars formed the connecting link ; and secondly, the fact
that in contemporary documents the members of the Secret Tribunals were
frequently referred to under the name of Rose-Croix.(58)
Now, since, as we have seen, the degree of the Rosy Cross is said to have been
brought to Europe by the Templars, this would account for the persistence of the
name in the Vehmgerichts as well as in the Rosicrucians of the seventeenth
century, who are said to have continued the Templar tradition. Thus Templarism
and Rosicrucianism appear to have been always closely connected, a fact which is
not surprising since both derive from a common source--the traditions of the
This brings us to an alternative theory concerning the channel through which
Eastern doctrines, and particularly Cabalism, found their way into Freemasonry.
For it must be admitted that one obstacle to the complete acceptance of the
theory of the Templar succession exists, namely, that although the Judaic
element cannot be traced further back than the Crusades, neither can it with
certainty be pronounced to have come into existence during the three centuries
that followed after. Indeed, before the publication of Anderson's "
Constitutions " in 1723 there is no definite evidence that the Solomonic legend
had been incorporated into the ritual of British Masonry. So although the
possession of the legend by the conpagnonnages of the Middle Ages would
tend to prove its antiquity, there is always the possibility that it was
introduced by some later body of adepts than the Templars. According to the
partisans of a further theory, these adepts were the Rosicrucians.
One of the earliest and most eminent precursors of Freemasonry is said to
have been Francis Bacon. As we have already seen, Bacon is recognized to have
been a Rosicrucian and that the secret philosophical doctrine he professes was
closely akin to Freemasonry is clearly apparent in his New Atlantis. The
reference, to the, " Wise Men of the Society of Solomon's House " cannot be a
mere coincidence. The choice of Atlantis--the legendary island supposed to have
been submerged by the Atlantic Ocean in the remote past--would suggest that
Bacon had some knowledge of a secret tradition descending from the earliest
patriarchs of the human race, whom, like the modern writer Le Plongeon, he
imagined to have inhabited the Western hemisphere and to have been the
predecessors of the Egyptian initiates. Le Plongeon, however, places this early
seat of the mysteries still further West than the Atlantic Ocean, in the region
of Mayax and Yucatan.(59)
Bacon further relates that this tradition was preserved in its pure form by
certain of the Jews, who whilst accepting the Cabala rejected its anti-Christian
tendencies. Thus in this island of Bensalem there are Jews " of a far differing
disposition from the Jews in other parts. For whereas they hate the name of
Christ, and have a secret inbred rancour against the people amongst whom they
live ; these contrariwise give unto our Savour many high attributes," but at the
same time they believe " that Moses by a secret Cabala ordained the laws of
Bensalem which they now use, and that when the Messiah should come and sit on
his throne at Jerusalem, the King of Bensalem should sit at His feet, whereas
other kings should keep at a great distance." This passage is of particular
interest as showing that Bacon recognized the divergence between the ancient
secret tradition descending from Moses and the perverted Jewish Cabala of the
Rabbis, and that he was perfectly aware of the tendency even among the best of
Jews to turn the former to the advantage of their Messianic dreams.
Mrs. Pott, who in her Francis Bacon and his Secret Society sets out to
prove that Bacon was the founder of Rosicrucianism and Freemasonry, ignores all
the previous history of the secret tradition. Bacon was not the originator but
the inheritor of the ideas on which both these societies were founded. And the
further contention that Bacon was at the same time the author of the greatest
dramas in the English language and of The Chymical Marriage of Christian
Rosenkreutz is manifestly absurd. Nevertheless, Bacon's influence amongst
the Rosicrucians is apparent ; Heydon's Voyage to the Land of the
Rosicrucians is in fact a mere plagiarism of Bacon's New Atlantis.
Mrs. Pott seems to imagine that by proclaiming Bacon to have been the founder
or even a member of the Order of Freemasonry she is revealing a great masonic
secret which Freemasons have conspired to keep dark. But why should the Craft
desire to disown so illustrious a progenitor or seek to conceal his connexion
with the Order if any such existed ? Findel, indeed, frankly admits that the
New Atlantis contained unmistakable allusions to Freemasonry and that Bacon
contributed to its final transformation.(60)
This was doubtless brought about largely by the English Rosicrucians who
followed after. To suggest then that Freemasonry originated with the
Rosicrucians is to ignore the previous history of the secret tradition.
Rosicrucianism was not the beginning but a link in the long chain connecting
Freemasonry with far earlier secret associations. The resemblance between the
two Orders admits of no denial. Thus Yarker writes : " The symbolic tracing of
the Rosicrucians was a Square Temple approached by seven steps . . . here also
we find the two pillars of Hermes, the five-pointed star, sun and moon,
compasses, square and triangle." Yarker further observes that " even Wren was
more or less a student of Hermeticism, and if we had a full list of Freemasons
and Rosicrucians we should probably be surprised at the number who belonged to
Professor Bühle emphatically states that " Freemasonry is neither more nor
less than Rosicrucianism as modified by those who transplanted it into England."
Chambers, who publish his famous Cyclopodia in 1728, observes : " Some
who are friends to Freemasonry, make the present flourishing society of
Freemasons a branch of Rosicrucians, or rather the Rosicrucians
themselves under a new name or relation, viz. as retainers to building. And it
is certain there are some Freemasons who have all the characters of
The connexion between Freemasonry and Rosicrucianism is, however, a question
hardly less controversial than that of the connexion between Freemasonry and
Dr. Mackey violently disputes the theory. " The Rosicrucians," he writes, "
as this brief history indicates, had no connexion whatever with the masonic
fraternity. Notwithstanding this fact, Barruel, the most malignant of our
revilers with a characteristic spirit of misrepresentation, attempted to
identify the two institutions."(62)
But the aforesaid " brief history " indicates nothing of the kind, and the
reference to Barruel as a malignant reviler for suggesting a connexion, which,
as we have seen, many Freemasons admit, shows on which side this " spirit of
misrepresentation " exists. It is interesting, however, to note that in the eyes
of certain masonic writers connexion with the Rosicrucians is regarded as highly
discreditable ; the fraternity would thus appear to have been less blameless
than we have been taught to believe. Mr. Waite is equally concerned with proving
that there " is no traceable connexion between Masonry and Rosicrucianism," and
he goes on to explain that Freemasonry was never a learned society, that it
never laid claim to " any transcendental secrets of alchemy and magic, or to any
skill in medicine," etc.(63)
The truth may lie between the opposing contentions of Prof. Bühle and his two
masonic antagonists. The Freemasons were clearly, for the reasons given by Mr.
Waite, not a mere continuation of the Rosicrucians, but more likely borrowed
from the Rosicrucians a part of their system and symbols which they adapted to
their own purpose. Moreover, the incontrovertible fact is that in the list of
English Freemasons and Rosicrucians we find men who belonged to both Orders and
a amongst these two who contributed largely to the constitutions of English
The first of these is Robert Fludd, whom Mr. Waite describes as " the central
figure of Rosicrucian literature, . . . an intellectual giant, . . . a man of
immense erudition, of exalted mind, and, to judge by his writings, of extreme
personal sanctity. Ennemoser describes him as one of the most distinguished
disciples of Paracelsus. . . ."(64)
Yarker adds this clue : " In 1630 we find Fludd, the chief of the Rosicrucians,
using architectural language, and there is proof that his Society was divided
into degrees, and from the fact that the Masons' Company of London had a copy of
the Masonic Charges ' presented by Mr. fflood ' we may suppose that he was a
Freemason before 1620."(65)
A still more important link is Elias Ashmole, the antiquary, astrologer, and
alchemist, founder of the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford, who was born in 1617. An
avowed Rosicrucian, and as we have seen, also a Freemason. Ashmole displayed
great energy in reconstituting the Craft ; he is said to have perfected its
organization, to have added to it further mystic symbols, and according to
Ragon, it was he who drew up the ritual of the existing three Craft
decrees--Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft, and Master Mason--which was adopted
by Grand Lodge in 1717. Whence did these fresh inspirations come but from the
Rosicrucians ? For, as Ragon also informs us, in the year that Ashmole was
received into Freemasonry the Rosicrucians held their meeting in the same room
at Mason Hall !(66)
How, then, can it be said that there was " no traceable connexion between
Freemasonry and Rosicrucianism " ? and why should it be the part of a "
malignant reviler " to connect them ? It is not suggested that Rosicrucians,
such as Fludd or Ashmole, imported any magical elements into Freemasonry, but
simply the system and symbols of the Rose-Croix with a certain degree of
esoteric learning. That Rosicrucianism form an important link in the chain of
the secret tradition is therefore undeniable.
THE SEVENTEENTH-CENTURY RABBIS
There is, however, a third channel through which the Judaic legends of
Freemasonry may have penetrated to the Craft, namely, the Rabbis of the
seventeenth century. The Jewish writer Bernard Lazare has declared that " there
were Jews around the cradle of Freemasonry,"(67)
and if this statement is applied to the period preceding the institution of
Grand Lodge in 1717 it certainly finds confirmation in fact. Thus it is said
that in the preceding century the coat-of-arms now used by Grand Lodge had been
designed by an Amsterdam Jew, Jacob Jehuda Leon Templo, colleague of Cromwell's
friend the Cabalist, Manasseh ben Israel.(68)
To quote Jewish authority on this question, Mr. Lucien Wolf writes that Templo
"had a monomania for . . . everything relating to the Temple of Solomon and the
Tabernacle of the Wilderness. He constructed gigantic models of both these
These he exhibited in London which he visited in 1675, and earlier, and it seems
not unreasonable to conclude that this may have provided a fresh source of
inspiration to the Freemasons who framed the masonic ritual some forty years
later. At any rate, the masonic coat-of-arms still used by Grand Lodge of
England is undoubtedly of Jewish design.
" This coat," says Mr. Lucien Wolf, " is entirely composed of Jewish
symbols," and is " an attempt to display heraldically the various forms of the
Cherubim pictured to us in the second vision of Ezekiel--an Ox, a Man, a Lion,
and an Eagle--and thus belongs to the highest and most mystical domain of Hebrew
In other words, this vision, known to the Jews as the " Mercaba,"(71)
belongs to the Cabala, where a particular interpretation is placed on each
figure so as to provide an esoteric meaning not perceptible to the uninitiated.(72)
The masonic coat-of-arms is thus entirely Cabalistic as is also the seal on the
diplomas of Craft Masonry, where another Cabalistic figure, that of a man and
woman combined, is reproduced.(73)
Of the Jewish influence in Masonry after 1717 I shall speak later.
To sum up, then, the origins of the system we now know as Freemasonry are not
to be found in one source alone. The twelve alternative sources enumerated in
the Masonic Cyclopodia and quoted at the beginning of this chapter may
all have contributed to its formation. Thus Operative Masonry may have descended
from the Roman Collegia and through the operative masons of the Middle Ages,
whilst Speculative Masonry may have derived from the patriarchs and the
mysteries of the pagans. But the source of inspiration which admits of no denial
is the Jewish Cabala. Whether this penetrated to our country through the Roman
Collegia, the compagnonnages, the Templars, the Rosicrucians, or through
the Jews of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, whose activities behind
the scenes of Freemasonry we shall see later, is a matter of speculation. The
fact remains that when the ritual and constitutions of Masonry were drawn up in
1717, although certain fragments of the ancient Egyptian and Pythagorean
doctrines were retained, the Judaic version of the secret tradition was the one
selected by the founders of Grand Lodge on which to build up their system.
1. A Free Mason's answer to the Suspected Author of a
Pamphlet entitled " Jachin and Boaz," or an authentic Key to Freemasonry, p.
2. Quoted by R.F. Gould, History of Freemasonry, I. 5,
3. Signs and Symbols of Primordial Man, p. 1 (1910).
4. Ars Quatuor Coronatorum, XXXII. Part I. p. 47.
5. Preston's Illustrations of Masonry. pp. 143, 147,
6. John Yarker, The Arcane Schools, pp. 269, 327, 329.
7. Published in the Essai sur la Secte des Illuminés
by the Marquis de Luchet p. 236 (1792 edition).
8. Brother Chalmers Paton, The Origin of Freemasonry : the
1717 Theory Exploded, quoting ancient charges preserved in a MS. in
possession of the Lodge of Antiquity in London, written in the reign of James
II, but " supposed to be really of much more ancient date."
9. Ars Quatuor Coronatorum, XXV. p. 240, paper by J.
E. S. Tuckett on Dr. Rawlinson and the Masonic Entries in Elias Ashmole's
Diary, with facsimile of entry in Diary which is preserved in the Bodleian
Library (Ashmole MS. 1136. fol. 19).
10. Yarker, The Arcane Schools, p. 383.
11. Preston's Illustration of Masonry, p. 208 (1804).
12. The Origins of Freemasonry : the 1717 Theory Exploded.
13. The Rev. G. Oliver, The Historical Landmarks of
Freemasonry, pp, 55, 57, 62, 318 (1845).
14. Signs and Symbols of Primordial Man, p. 185
15. Signs and Symbols of Primordial Man, p. 8 (1910).
16. Ibid., p. 7. The German Freemason Findel disagrees with
both the Roman Collegia and the Egypt theory, and, like the Abbé Grandidier,
indicates the Steinmetzen of the fifteenth century as the real progenitors of
the Order : " All attempts to trace the history of Freemasonry farther back than
the Middle Ages have been . . . failures, and plating the origin of the
Fraternity in the mysteries of Egypt . . . must be rejected as a wild and
untenable hypothesis."--History of Freemasonry (Eng. trans.), p. 25.
17. Dr. Oliver and Dr. Mackey thus refer to true and spurious
Masonry, the former descending from Noah, through Shem, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob,
and Moses to Solomon--hence the appellation of Noachites sometimes applied to
Freemasons--the latter from Cain and the Gymnosophists of India to Egypt and
Greece. They add that a union between the two took place at the time of the
building of the Temple of Solomon through Hiram Abiff, who was a member of both,
being by birth a Jew and artificer of Tyre, and from this union Freemasonry
descends. According to Mackey, therefore Jewish Masonry is the true form.--A
Lexicon of Freemasonry, pp. 323-5 ; Oliver's Historical Landmarks of
Freemasonry, I. 60.
18. Rev. G. Oliver, The Historical Landmarks of
Freemasonry, pp. 55, (1845)
19. The Jewish Encyclopodia (article on Freemasonry)
characterizes the name Hiram Abiff as a misunderstanding of 2 Chron. ii. 13.
20. Clavel, Histoire pittoresque de la Franc-Maçonnerie,
p. 340 ; Matter, Histoire du Gnosticisme, I. 145.
21. Article on Freemasonry, giving reference to Pesik, R.V.
25a (ed. Friedmann).
22. Clavel, op. cit., 364, 365 ; Lecouteulx de Canteleu,
Les Sectes et Sociétés Secrètes, p. 120.
23. Clavel, op. cit., p. 82.
24. Yarker, The Arcane Schools, p. 257.
25. Ibid., p. 242.
26. " According to Prof. Marks and Prof. Hayter Lewis, the
story of Hiram Abiff is at least as old as the fourteenth century."--J.E.S.
Tuckett in The Origin of Additional Degrees, A.Q.C. XXXII. Part I. p. 14.
It should be noted that no Mason who took part in the discussion brought
evidence to show that it dated from before this period. Cf. Freemasonry
Before the Existence of Grand Lodges (1923), by Wor. Bro. Lionel Vibert,
I.C.S., p. 135, where it is suggested that the Hiramic legend dates from an
incident in one of the French building guilds in 1401.
27. Yarker, op. cit., p. 348 ; Eckert, op. cit., II. 36.
28. Eckert, op. cit., II. 28.
29. " The Essenes, in common with other Syrian sects
possessed and adhered to the ' true principles ' of Freemasonry."--Bernard H.
Springett, Secret Sects of Syria and the Lebanon, p. 91.
30. " The esoteric doctrine of the Judeo-Christian mysteries
evidently penetrated into the masonic guilds (ateliers) only with the entry of
the Templars after the destruction of their Order."--Eckert, op. cit., II. 28.
31. La Comtesse de Rudolstadt, II. 185.
32. Ragon, Cours philosophique des Initiations, p. 34.
33. Mr. Sidney Klein in Ars Quatuor Coronatorum,
XXXII. Part I. pp. 42, 43.
34. John Yarker, The Arcane School, pp. 195, 318, 341,
35. Ibid., p. 196.
36. Official history of the Order of Scotland quoted by Bro.
Fred. H, Buckmaster in The Royal Order of Scotland, published at the
offices of The Freemason, pp. 3, 5, 7 ; A.E. Waite, Encyclopodia of
Freemasonry, II. 219 ; Yarker, The Arcane School, p. 330 ; Mackey,
Lexicon of Freemasonry, p. 267.
37. Baron Westerode in the Acta Latomorum (1784),
quoted by Mackey, op. cit. 265. Mr. Bernard H. Springett also asserts that this
degree " originated in the East (Secret Sects of Syria and the Lebanon,
38. Chevalier de Bérage, Les Plus Secret Mystères des
Hauts Grades de la Maçonnerie dévoilés, ou le vrai Rose Croix (1768) ;
Waite, The Secret Tradition in Freemasonry, I. 3.
39. In 1784 some French Freemasons wrote to their English
brethren saying : It concerns us to know if there really exists in the island of
Mull, formerly Melrose . . . in the North of Scotland, a Mount Heredom, or if it
does not exist." In reply a leading Freemason, General Rainsford, referred them
to the words (Har Adonai), i.e. Mount of God (Notes on the Rainsford papers
in A.Q.C., XXVI. 99). A more probable explanation appears, however, to be
that Heredom is a corruption of the Hebrew word " Harodim " signifying princes
40. F.H. Buckmaster, The Royal Order of Scotland, p.
5. Lecouteulx de Canteleu says, however, that Kilwinning had been the great
meeting-place of Masonry since 1150 (Les Sectes et Sociétés Secrètes, p.
104). Eckert, op cit., II, 33.
41. Mackey, Lexicon of Freemasonry, p. 267.
42. Clavel, op. cit., p. 90 ; Eckert, op. cit., II. 27.
43. A.E. Waite, The Secret Tradition in Freemasonry,
44. " Our names of E.A., F.C., and M.M. were derived from
Scotland."--A.Q.C., XXXII. Part I. p. 40. Clavel, however, says that
these existed in the Roman Collegia (Histoire pittoresque, p. 82).
45. Religious Thought and Heresy in the Middle Ages,
46. The Spirit of Islam, p. 337.
47. Secret Sects of Syria and the Lebanon, p. 181
48. See, for example, Bouillet's Dictionnaire Universel
d'Histoire et de Géographie (1860), article on Templars : " Les Franc-Maçons
prétendent se rattacher à cette secte."
49. Lexicon of Freemasonry, p. 185.
50. Findel, Geschichte der Freimaurerei, II. 156, 157
(1892 edition). Dr. Bussell (op. cit, p. 804), referring to Dupuy's work, also
observes : " An editor of a later edition (Brussels, 1751) undoubtedly was a
Freemason who tried to clear the indictment and affiliate to the condemned Order
the new and rapidly increasing brotherhood of speculative deism."
51. The Royal Order of Scotland.
52. Manuel des Chevaliers de l'Ordre du Temple, p. 10
53. Oration of Chevalier Ramsay (1737) ; Baron Tschoudy,
L'Étoile Flamboyante I. 20 (1766).
54. The description of the Vehmic Tribunals that follows here
is largely taken from Lombard de Langres, Les Sociétés Secrètes en Allemagne
(1819) quoting original documents preserved at Dortmund.
55. Clavel derides this early origin and says it was the
Francs-juges themselves who claimed Charlemagne as their founder (Histoire
pittoresque, p. 357).
56. Lecouteulx de Canteleu, Les Sectes et Sociétés
Secrètes, p. 100.
57. According to Walter Scott's account of the Vehmgerichts
in Anne of Geierstein, the initiate was warned that the secrets confided
to him were " neither to be spoken aloud nor whispered, to be told in words or
written in characters, to be carved or to be painted, or to be otherwise
communicated, either directly or by parable and emblem." This formula, if
accurate, would establish a further point of resemblance.
58. Lombard de Langres, Les Sociétés Secrètes en Allemagne,
p. 241 (1819) ; Lecouteulx de Canteleu, Les Sectes et Sociétés Secrètes,
59. A. le Plongeon, Sacred Mysteries among the Mayas and
the Quichas (1886).
60. Findel, History of Freemasonry (Eng. trans.,
1866), pp. 131, 132.
61. John Yarker, The Arcane Schools, p. 216, 431.
62. Lexicon of Freemasonry, p. 298.
63. Waite, The Real History of the Rosicrucians. p.
64. Ibid., p. 283.
65. Yarker, The Arcane Schools, p. 430.
66. " Yarker pronounces Elias Ashmole to have been circa 1686
' the leading spirit both in Craft Masonry and in Rosicrucianism,' and is of
opinion that his diary establishes the fact ' that both societies fell into
decay together in 1682.' He adds : ' It is evident therefore that the
Rosicrucians . . . found the operative Guild conveniently ready to their hand,
and grafted upon it their own mysteries . . . also, from this time
Rosicrucianism disappears and Freemasonry springs into life with all the
possessions of the former.' "--Speculative Freemasonry, an Historical Lecture,
delivered March 31, 1883, p. 9 ; quoted by Gould, History of Freemasonry,
67. L'Antisémitisme, p. 339.
68. Jewish Encyclopodia, articles on Leon and Manasseh
69. Article on " Anglo-Jewish Coats-of-arms " by Lucien Wolf
in Transactions of the Jewish Historical Society, Vol. II. p. 157.
70. Transactions of the Jewish Historical Society of
England, Vol. II. p. 156. A picture of Templo forms the frontispiece of this
volume, and a reproduction of the coat-of-arms of Grand Lodge is given opposite
to p. 156.
71. Zohar, section Jethro, folio 70b (de Pauly's
trans., Vol. III. 311).
72. The Cabalistic interpretation of the Mercaba will be
found in the Zohar, section Bereschith, folio 18b (de Pauly's trans.,
Vol. I. p. 115).
73. "By figure of a man is always meant that of the male and
female together."--Ibid., p. 116.
THE GRAND LODGE ERA
WHATEVER were the origins of the Order we now know as
Freemasonry, it is clear that during the century preceding its reorganization
under Grand Lodge of London the secret system of binding men together for a
common purpose, based on Eastern esoteric doctrines, had been anticipated by the
Rosicrucians. Was this secret system employed, however, by any other body of men
? It is certainly easy to imagine how in this momentous seventeenth century,
when men of all opinions were coalescing against opposing forces--Lutherans
combining against the Papacy, Catholics rallying their forces against invading
Protestantism, Republicans plotting in favour of Cromwell, Royalists in their
turn plotting to restore the Stuarts, finally Royalists plotting against each
other on behalf of rival dynasties--an organization of this kind, enabling one
to work secretly for a cause and to set invisibly vast numbers of human beings
in motion, might prove invaluable to any party.
Thus, according to certain masonic writers on the Continent, the system used
by the Rosicrucians in their fight against " Popery " was also employed by the
Jesuits for a directly opposite purpose. In the manuscripts of the Prince of
Hesse published by Lecouteulx de Canteleu it is declared that in 1714 the
Jesuits used the mysteries of the Rose-Croix. Mirabeau also relates that " the
Jesuits profited by the internal troubles of the reign of Charles I to possess
themselves of the symbols, the allegories, and the carpets (tapis) of the
Rose-Croix masons, who were only the ancient order of the Templars secretly
perpetuated. It may be seen by means of what imperceptible innovations they
succeeded in substituting their catechism to the instruction of the Templars."(1)
Other Continental writers again assert that Cromwell, the arch-opponent of
the Catholic Church, was " a higher initiate of masonic mysteries," and used the
system for his own elevation to power (2) ;
further, that he found himself outdistanced by the Levellers ; that this sect,
whose name certainly suggest masonic inspiration, adopted for its symbols the
square and compass,(3)
and in its claim of real equality threatened the supremacy of the usurper.
Finally, Elias Ashmole, the Rosicrucian Royalist, is said to have turned the
masonic system against Cromwell, so that towards the end of the seventeenth
century the Order rallied to the Stuart cause.(4)
But all this is pure speculation resting on no basis of known facts. The
accusation that the Jesuits used the system of the Rose-Croix as a cover to
political intrigues is referred to by the Rosicrucian Eliphas Lévi as the
outcome of ignorance which " refutes itself. " It is significant to notice that
it emanates mainly from Germany and from the Illuminati ; the Prince of Hesse
was a member of the Stricte Observance and Mirabeau an Illuminatus at the
time he wrote the passage quoted above. That in the seventeenth century certain
Jesuits played the part of political intriguers I suppose their warmest friends
will hardly deny, but that they employed any secret or masonic system seems to
me perfectly incapable of proof. I shall return to this point later, however, in
connexion with the Illuminati.
As to Cromwell, the only circumstance that lends any colour to the
possibility of his connexion with Freemasonry is his known friendship for
Manasseh ben Israel, the colleague of the Rabbi Templo who designed the
coat-of-arms later adopted by Grand Lodge. If, therefore, the Jews of Amsterdam
were a source of inspiration to the Freemasons of the seventeenth century, it is
not impossible that Cromwell may have been the channel through which this
influence first penetrated.
In the matter of the Stuarts we are, however, on firm ground with regard to
Freemasonry. That the lodges at the end of the seventeenth century were Royalist
is certain, and there seems good reason to believe that, when the revolution of
1688 divided the Royalist cause, the Jacobites who fled to France with James II
took Freemasonry with them.(5)
With the help of the French they established lodges in which, it is said,
masonic rites and symbols were used to promote the cause of the Stuarts. Thus
the land of promise signified Great Britain, Jerusalem stood for London, and the
murder of Hiram represented the execution of Charles I.(6)
Meanwhile Freemasonry in England did not continue to adhere to the Stuart
cause as it had done under the egis of Elias Ashmole, and by 1717 is said to
have become Hanoverian.
From this important date the official history of the present system may be
said to begin ; hitherto everything rests on stray documents, of which the
authenticity is frequently doubtful, and which provide no continuous history of
the Order. In 1717 for the first time Freemasonry was established on a settled
basis and in the process underwent a fundamental change. So far it would seem to
have retained an operative element, but in the transformation that now took
place this was entirely eliminated, and the whole Order was transformed into a
middle- and upper-class speculative body. This coup d'état, already
suggested in 1703, took place early in 1717, when four London lodges of
Freemasons met together at the Apple Tree Tavern in Charles Street, Covent
Garden, " and having put into the chair the oldest Master Mason (being the
Master of the lodge), they constituted themselves a Grand Lodge, pro tempore,
in due form." On St. John the Baptist's Day, June 24 of the same year, the
annual assembly and banquet were held at the Goose and Gridiron in St. Paul's
Churchyard, when Mr. Antony Sayer was elected Grand Master and invested with all
the badges of office.(7)
It is evident from the above account that already in 1717 the speculative
elements must have predominated in the lodges, otherwise we might expect to find
the operative masons taking some part in these proceedings and expressing their
opinion as to whether their association should pass under the control of men
entirely unconnected with the Craft. But no, the leaders of the new movement all
appear to have belonged to the middle class, nor from this moment do either
masons or architects seem to have played any prominent part in Freemasonry.
But the point that official history does not attempt to elucidate is the
reason for this decision. Why should Freemasons of London--whether they were at
this date speculative or only a semi-speculative association--have suddenly
recognized the necessity of establishing a Grand Lodge and drawing up a ritual
and " Constitution " ? It is evident, then, that some circumstances must have
arisen which led them to take this important step. I would suggest that the
following may be the solution to the problem.
Freemasonry, as we have seen, was a system that could be employed in any
cause and had now come to be used by intriguers of every kind--and not only by
intriguers, but by merely convivial bodies, " jolly Brotherhoods of the Bottle "
who modelled themselves on masonic associations.(8)
But the honest citizens of London who met and feasted at the Goose and Gridiron
were clearly not intriguers, they were neither Royalist nor Republican plotters,
neither Catholic nor Luther fanatics, neither alchemists nor magicians, nor can
it be supposed that they were simply revellers. If they were political, they
were certainly not supporters of the Stuarts ; on the contrary, they were
generally reported to have been Hanoverian in their sympathies, indeed Dr.
Bussell goes so far as to say that Grand Lodge was instituted to support the
It would be perhaps nearer the truth to conclude that if they were Hanoverian it
was because they were constitutional, and the Hanoverian dynasty having now been
established they wished to avoid further changes. In a word, then, they were
simply men of peace, anxious to put an end to dissensions, who, seeing that
system of Masonry utilized for the purpose of promoting discord, determined to
wrest it from the hands of political intriguers and restore it to its original
character of brotherhood, though not of brotherhood between working masons only,
but between men drawn from all classes and professions. By founding a Grand
Lodge in London and drawing up a ritual and " Constitutions," they hoped to
prevent the perversion of their signs and symbols and to establish the Order on
a settled basis.
According to Nicolai this pacific purpose had already animated English
Freemasons under the Grand Mastership of Sir Christopher Wren : " Its principal
object from this period was to moderate the religious hatreds so terrible in
England during the reign of James II and to try and establish some kind of
concord or fraternity, by weakening as far as possible the antagonisms arising
from the differences of religions, ranks, and interests." An eighteenth-century
manuscript of the Prince of Hesse quoted by Lacouteulx de Canteleu expresses the
view that in 1717 " the mysteries of Freemasonry were reformed and purified
in England of all political tendencies."
In the matter of religion, Craft Masonry adapted an equally non-sectarian
attitude. The first " Constitutions " of the Order, drawn up by Dr. Anderson in
1723, contain the following paragraph :
CONCERNING GOD AND RELIGION
A Mason is obliged, by his tenure, to obey the moral Law ; and if he rightly
understands the Art, he will never be a stupid Atheist, nor an irreligious
Libertine. But though in ancient Times Masons were charged in every Country
to be of the Religion of that Country or Nation, whatever it was, yet, 'tis
now thought more expedient only to oblige them to that Religion in which all
men agree, leaving their particular Opinions to themselves ; that is to be
good Men and true, or Men of Honour and Honesty, by whatever Denominations
or Persuasions they may be distinguish'd ; whereby Masonry becomes the
Centre of Union and the Means of Conciliating true Friendship among Persons
that must have remained at a perpetual Distance.
The phrase " that Religion in which all men agree " has been censured by
Catholic writers as advocating a universal religion in the place of
Christianity. But this by no means follows. The idea is surely that Masons
should be men adhering to that law of right and wrong common to all religious
faiths. Craft Masonry may thus be described as Deist in character, but not in
the accepted sense of the word which implies the rejection of Christian
doctrines. If Freemasonry had been Deist in this sense might we not expect to
find some connexion between the founders of Grand Lodge and the school of
Deists--Toland, Bolingbroke, Woolston, Hume, and others--which flourished
precisely at this period ? Might not some analogy be detected between the
organization of the Order and the Sodalities described in Toland's
Pantheisticon, published in 1720 ? But of this I can find no trace whatever.
The principal founders of Grand Lodge were, as we have seen, clergymen, both
engaged in preaching Christian doctrines at their respective churches.(10)
It is surely therefore reasonable to conclude that Freemasonry at the time of
its reorganization in 1717 was Deistic only in so far that it invited men to
meet together on the common ground of a belief in God. Moreover, some of the
early English rituals contain distinctly Christian elements. Thus both in
Jachin and Boaz (1762) and Hiram or the Grand Master Key to the Door of
both Antient and Modern Freemasonry by a Member of the Royal Arch (1766) we
find prayers in the lodges concluding with the name of Christ. These passages
were replaced much later by purely Deistic formulas under the Grand Mastership
of the free-thinking Duke of Sussex in 1813.
But in spite of its innocuous character, Freemasonry, merely by reason of its
secrecy, soon began to excite alarm in the public mind. As early as 1724 a work
entitled The Grand Mystery of the Freemasons Discovered had provoked an
angry remonstrance from the Craft (11) ;
and when the French edict against the Order was passed, a letter signed " Jachin
" appeared in The Gentleman's Magazine declaring the " Freemasons who
have lately been suppressed not only in France but in Holland to be " a
dangerous Race of Men " :
No Government ought to suffer such clandestine Assemblies where plots
against the State may be carried on, under the Pretence of Brotherly Love
and good Fellowship.
The writer evidently unaware of possible Templar traditions, goes on to
observe that the sentinel placed at the door of the lodge with a drawn sword in
his hand " is not the only mark of their being a military Order " ; and suggests
that the title of Grand Master is taken in imitation of the Knights of Malta. "
Jachin," moreover, scents a Popish plot :
They not only admit Turks, Jews, Infidels, but even Jacobites, non-jurors
and Papists themselves . . . how can we be sure that those Persons who are
known to be well affected, are let into all their Mysteries ? They make no
scruple to acknowledge that there is a Distinction between Prentices and
Master Masons and who knows whether they may not have an higher Order of
Cabalists, who keep the Grand Secret of all entirely to themselves ?(12)
Later on in France, the Abbé Pérau published his satires on Freemasonry,
Le Secret des Francs-Maçons (1742), L'Ordre des Francs-Maçons trahi et le
Secret des Mopses révélé (1746), and Les Francs-Maçons écrasés
and in about 1761 another English writer said to be a Mason brought down a
torrent of invective on his head by the publication of the ritual of the Craft
Degrees under the name of Jachin and Boaz.(14)
It must be admitted that from all this controversy no party emerges in a very
charitable light, Catholics and Protestants alike indulging in sarcasms and
reckless accusations against Freemasonry, the Freemasons retorting with far from
But, again, one must remember that all these men were of their age--an age which
seen through the eyes of Hogarth would certainly not appear to have been
distinguished for delicacy. It should be noted, however, when one reads in
masonic works of the " persecutions to which Freemasonry has been subjected,
that aggression was not confined only to the one side in the conflict ;
moreover, that the Freemasons at this period were divided amongst themselves and
expressed with regard to opposing groups much the same suspicions that
non-Masons expressed with regard to the Order as a whole. For the years
following after the suppression of Masonry in France were marked by the most
important development in the history of the modern Order--the inauguration of
the Additional Degrees.
THE ADDITIONAL DEGREES
The origin and inspiration of the additional degrees has provoked hardly less
controversy in masonic circles than the origin of Masonry itself. It should be
explained that Craft Masonry, or Blue Masonry--that is to say, the first three
degrees of Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft, and Master Mason of which I have
attempted to trace the history--were the only degrees recognized by Grand Lodge
at the time of its foundation in 1717 and still form the basis of all forms of
modern Masonry. On this foundation were erected, somewhere between 1740 and
1743, the degree of the Royal Arch and the first of the series of upper degrees
now known as the Scottish Rite or as the Ancient and Accepted Rite. The
acceptance or rejection of this superstructure has always formed a subject of
violent controversy between Masons, one body affirming that Craft Masonry is the
only true and genuine Masonry, the other declaring that the real object of
Masonry is only to be found in the higher degrees. It was this controversy,
centring round the Royal Arch degree, that about the middle of the eighteenth
century split Masonry into opposing camps of Ancients and Moderns, the Ancients
declaring that the R.A. was " the Root, Heart, and Marrow of Freemasonry,"(16)
the Moderns rejecting it. Although worked by the Ancients from 1756 onwards,
this degree was definitely repudiated by Grand Lodge in 1792,(17)
and only in 1813 was officially received into English Freemasonry.
The R.A. degree, which is said nevertheless to be contained in embryo in the
1723 Book of Constitutions,(18)
is purely Judaic--a glorification of Israel and commemorating the building of
the second Temple. That it was derived from the Jewish Cabala seems probable,
and Yarker, commenting on the phrase in the Gentleman's Magazine quoted
above--" Who knows whether they (the Freemasons) have not a higher order of
Cabalists, who keep the Grand Secret of all entirely to themselves " observes :
" It looks very like an intimation of the Royal Arch degree,"(19)
and elsewhere he states that " the Royal Arch degree, when it had the Three
Veils, must have been the work, even if by instruction, of a Cabalistic Jew
about 1740, and from this time we may expect to find a secret tradition grafted
upon Anderson's system."(20)
Precisely in this same year of 1740 Mr. Waite says that " an itinerant pedlar
of the Royal Arch degree is said to have propagated it in Ireland, claiming that
it was practised at York and London,"(21)
and in 1744 a certain Dr. Dassigny wrote that the minds of the Dublin brethren
had been lately disturbed about Royal Arch Masonry owing to the activities in
Dublin of " a number of traders or hucksters in pretended Masonry," whom the
writer connects with " Italians " or the " Italic Order."
A Freemason quoting this passage in a recent discussion on the upper degrees
expresses the opinion that these hucksters were " Jacobite emissaries disguised
under the form of a pretended Masonry," and that " by Italians and Italian Order
he intends a reference to the Court of King James III, i.e. the Old Pretender at
Rome, and to the Ecossais (Italic) Order of Masonry."(22)
It is much more likely that he had referred to another source of masonic
instruction in Italy which I shall indicate in a later chapter.
But precisely at the moment when it is suggested that the Jacobites were
intriguing to introduce the Royal Arch degree into Masonry they are also said to
have been engaged in elaborating the " Scottish Rite." Let us examine this
FREEMASONRY IN FRANCE
The foundation of Grand Lodge in London had been followed by the inauguration
of Masonic Lodges on the Continent--in 1721 at Mons, in 1725 in Paris, in 1728
at Madrid, in 1731 at The Hague, in 1733 at Hamburg, etc. Several of these
received their warrant from the Grand Lodge of England. But this was not the
case with the Grand Lodge of Paris, which did not receive a warrant till 1743.
The men who founded this lodge, far from being non-political, were Jacobite
leaders engaged in active schemes for the restoration of the Stuart dynasty. The
leader of the group, Charles Radcliffe, had been imprisoned with his brother,
the ill-fated Lord Derwentwater who was executed on Tower Hill in 1716. Charles
had succeeded in escaping from Newgate and made his way to France, where he
assumed the title of Lord Derwentwater, although the Earldom had ceased to exist
under the bill of attainder against his brother.(23)
It was this Lord Derwentwater--afterwards executed for taking part in the 1745
rebellion--who with several other Jacobites is said to have founded the Grand
Lodge of Paris in 1725, and himself to have become Grand Master.
The Jacobite character of the Paris lodge is not a matter of dispute. Mr.
Gould relates that " the colleagues of Lord Derwentwater are stated to have been
a Chevalier Maskeline, a Squire Heguerty, and others, all partisans of the
But he goes on to contest the theory that they used Freemasonry in the Stuart
cause, which he regards as amounting to a charge of bad faith. This is surely
unreasonable. The founders of Grand Lodge in Paris did not derive from Grand
Lodge in London, from which they held no warrant,(25)
but, as we have seen, took their Freemasonry with them to France before Grand
Lodge of London was instituted ; they were therefore in no way bound by its
regulations. And until the Constitutions of Anderson were published in 1723 no
rule had been laid down that the Lodges should be non-political. In the old days
Freemasonry had always been Royalist, as we see from the ancient charges that
members should be " true liegemen of the King " ; and if the adherents of James
Edward saw in him their rightful sovereign, they may have conceived that they
were using Freemasonry for a lawful purpose in adapting it to his cause. So
although we may applaud the decision of the London Freemasons to purge
Freemasonry of political tendencies and transform it into a harmonious system of
brotherhood, we cannot accuse the Jacobites in France of bad faith in not
conforming to a decision in which they had taken no part and in establishing
lodges on their own lines.
Unfortunately, however, as too frequently happens when men form secret
confederacies for a wholly honourable purpose, their ranks were penetrated by
confederates of another kind. It has been said in an earlier chapter that,
according to the documents produced by the Ordre du Temple in the early
part of the nineteenth century, the Templars had never ceased to exist in spite
of their official suppression in 1312, and that a line of Grand Masters had
succeeded each other in unbroken succession from Jacques du Molay to the Duc de
Cossé-Brissac, who was killed in 1792. The Grand Master appointed in 1705 is
stated to have been Philippe, Duc d'Orléans, later the Regent. Mr. Waite has
expressed the opinion that all this was an invention of the late eighteenth
century, and that the Charter of Larmenius was fabricated at this date though
not published until 1811 by the revived Ordre du Temple under the Grand
Master, Fabré Palaprat. But evidence points to a contrary conclusion. M. Matter,
who, as we have seen, disbelieves the story of the Ordre du Temple and
the authenticity of the Charter of Larmenius in so far as it professes to be a
genuine fourteenth-century document, nevertheless asserts that the savants
who have examined it declare it to date from the early part of the eighteenth
century, at which period Matter believes the Gospel of St. John used by the
Order to have been arranged so as " to accompany the ceremonies of some masonic
or secret society." Now, it was about 1740 that a revival of Templarism took
place in France and Germany ; we cannot therefore doubt that if Matter is right
in this hypothesis, the secret society in question was that of the Templars,
whether they existed as lineal descendants of the twelfth-century Order or
merely as a revival of that Order. The existence of the German Templars at this
date under the name of the Stricte Observance (which we shall deal with
in a further chapter) is indeed a fact disputed by no one ; but that there was
also an Ordre du Temple in France at the very beginning of the eighteenth
century must be regarded as highly probable. Dr. Mackey, John Yarker, and
Lecouteulx de Canteleu (who, owing to his possession of Templar documents, had
exclusive sources of information) all declare this to have been the case and
accept the Charter of Larmenius as authentic. " It is quite certain," says
Yarker " that there was at this period in France an Ordre du Temle, with
a charter from John Mark Larmenius, who claimed appointment from Jacques du
Molay. Philippe of Orléans accepted the Grand Mastership in 1705 and signed the
Without, however, necessarily accepting the Charter of Larmenius as authentic
let us examine the probability of this assertion with regard to the Duc
Amongst the Jacobites supporting Lord Derwentwater at the Grand Lodge of
Paris was a certain Andrew Michael Ramsay, known as Chevalier Ramsay, who was
born at Ayr near the famous Lodge of Kilwinning, where the Templars are said to
have formed their alliance with the masons in 1314. In 1710 Ramsay was converted
to the Roman Catholic faith by Fénelon and in 1724 became tutor to the sons of
the Pretender at Rome. Mr. Gould has related that during his stay in France
Ramsay had formed a friendship with the Regent, Philippe, Duc d'Orléans, who was
Grand Master of the Ordre de Saint-Lazare, instituted during the Crusades
as a body of Hospitallers devoting themselves to the care of the lepers and
which 1608 had been joined to the Ordre du Mont-Carmel. It seems probable
from all accounts that Ramsay was a Chevalier of the Order, but he cannot have
been admitted into it by the Duc d'Orléans, for the Grand Master of the Ordre de
Saint-Lazare was not the Duc d'Orléans but the Marquis de Dangeau, who on his
death in 1720, was succeeded by the son of the Regent, the Duc de Chartres.(27)
If, then, Ramsay was admitted to any Order by the Regent, it was surely the
Ordre du Temple, of which the Regent is said to have been the Grand Master
at this date.
Now, the infamous character of the Duc d'Orléans is a matter of common
knowledge ; moreover, during the Regency--that period of impiety and moral
dissolution hitherto unparalleled in the history of France--the chief of council
was the Duc de Bourbon, who later placed his mistress the Marquise de Prie and
the financier Paris Duverney at the head of affairs, thus creating a scandal of
such magnitude that he was exiled in 1726 through the influence of Cardinal
Fleury. This Duc de Bourbon in 1737 is said to have become Grand Master of the
Temple. " It was thus," observes de Canteleu, " that these two Grand Masters of
the Temple degraded the royal authority and ceaselessly increased hatred against
It would therefore seem strange that a man so upright as Ramsay appears to
have been, who had moreover but recently been converted to the Catholic Church,
should have formed a friendship with the dissolute Regent of France, unless
there had been some bond between them. But here we have a possible
explanation--Templarism. Doubtless during Ramsay's youth at Kilwinning many
Templar traditions had come to his knowledge, and if in France he found himself
befriended by the Grand Master himself, what wonder that he should have entered
into an alliance which resulted in his admission to an Order he had been
accustomed to revere and which, moreover, was represented to him as the fons
et origo of the masonic brotherhood to which he also belonged ? It is thus
that we find Ramsay in the very year that the Duc de Bourbon is said to have
been made Grand Master of the Temple artlessly writing to Cardinal Fleury asking
him to extend his protection to the society of Freemasons in Paris and enclosing
a copy of the speech which he was to deliver on the following day, March 21,
1737. It is in this famous oration that for the first time we find Freemasonry
traced to the Crusades :
At the time of the Crusades in Palestine many princes, lords, and citizens
associated themselves, and vowed to restore the Temple of the Christians in
the Holy Land, and to employ themselves in bringing back their architecture
to its first institution. They agreed upon several ancient signs and
symbolic words drawn from the well of religion in order to recognize
themselves amongst the heathens and Saracens. These signs and words were
only communicated to those who promised solemnly, and even sometimes at the
foot of the altar, never to reveal them. This sacred promise was therefore
not an execrable oath, as it has bean called, but a respectable bond to
unite Christians of all nationalities into one confraternity. Some time
afterwards our Order formed an intimate union with the Knights of St. John
of Jerusalem. From that time our Lodges took the name of Lodges of St John.(28)
This speech of Ramsay's has raised a storm of controversy amongst Freemasons
because it contains a very decided hint of a connexion between Templarism and
Freemasonry. Mr. Tuckett, in the paper referred to above, points out that only
the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem are here mentioned,(29)
but Ramsay distinctly speaks of " our Order " forming a union with the Knights
of St. John of Jerusalem, and we know that the Templars did eventually form such
a union. The fact that Ramsay does not mention the Templars by name admits of a
very plausible explanation. It must be remembered that, as Mr. Gould has shown,
a copy of the oration was enclosed by Ramsay in his letter to Cardinal Fleury
appealing for royal protection to be extended to Freemasonry ; it is therefore
hardly likely that he would have proclaimed a connexion between the Order he was
anxious to present in the most favourable light and one which had formerly been
suppressed by King and Pope. Moreover, if the Charter of Larmenius to be
believed, the newly elected Grand Master of the Temple was the Duc de Bourbon,
who had already incurred the Cardinal's displeasure. Obviously, therefore,
Templar influence was best kept in the background. This is not to imply bad
faith on the part of Ramsay, who doubtless held the Order of Templars to be
wholly praiseworthy ; but he could not expect the King or Cardinal to share his
view, and therefore held more prudent to refer to the progenitors of Freemason
under the vague description of a crusading body. Ramsay's well-meant effort met,
however, with no success. Whether on account of this unlucky reference by which
the Cardinal may have detected Templar influence or for some other reason, the
appeal for royal protection was not only refused, but the new Order, which
hitherto Catholics had been allowed to enter, was now prohibited by Royal edict.
In the following year, 1738, the Pope, Clement XII, issued a bull, In
Eminenti, banning Freemasonry and excommunicating Catholics who took part in
But this prohibition appears to have been without effect, for Freemasonry not
only prospered but soon began to manufacture new degrees. And in the masonic
literature of the following thirty years the Templar tradition becomes still
more clearly apparent. Thus the Chevalier de Bérage in a well-known pamphlet, of
which the first edition is said to have appeared in 1747,(30)
gives the following account of the origins of Freemasonry :
This Order was instituted by Godefroi de Bouillon in Palestine in 1330,(31)
after the decadence of the Christian armies, and was only communicated to
the French Masons some time after and to a very small number, as a reward
for the obliging services they rendered to several of our English and
Scottish Knights, from whom true Masonry is taken. Their Metropolitan Lodge
is situated on the Mountain of Heredom where the first Lodge was held in
Europe and which exists in all its splendour. The General Council is still
held there and it is the seal of the Sovereign Grand Master in office. This
mountain is situated between the West and North of Scotland at sixty miles
Apart from the historical confusion of the first sentence, this passage is of
interest as evidence that the theory of a connexion between certain crusading
Knights and the Lodge of Heredom of Kilwinning was current as early as 1747. The
Baron Tschoudy in his Etoile Flamboyante, which appeared in 1766, says
that the crusading origin of Freemasonry is the one officially taught in the
lodges, where candidates for initiation are told that several Knights who had
set forth to rescue the holy places of Palestine from the Saracens " formed an
association under the name of Free Masons, thus indicating that their principal
desire was the reconstruction of the Temple of Solomon," that, further, they
adopted certain signs, grips, and passwords as a defence against the Saracens,
and finally that " our Society . . . fraternized on the footing of an Order with
the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem, from which it is apparent that the
Freemasons borrowed the custom of regarding St. John as the patron of the whole
Order in general."(32)
After the crusades " the Masons kept their rites and methods and in this way
perpetuated the royal art by establishing lodges, first in England, then in
In this account, therefore, Freemasonry is represented as having been
instituted for the defence of Christian doctrines. De Bérage expresses the same
view and explains that the object of these Crusaders in thus binding themselves
together was to protect their lives against the Saracens by enveloping their
sacred doctrines in a veil of mystery. For this purpose they made use of Jewish
symbolism, which they invested with a Christian meaning. Thus the Temple of
Solomon was used to denote the Church of Christ, the bough of acacia signified
the Cross, the square and the compass the union between the Old and New
Testaments, etc. So " the mysteries of Masonry were in their principle, and are
still, nothing else than those of the Christian religion."(34)
Baron Tschoudy, however, declares that all this stops short of the truth,
that Freemasonry originated long before the Crusades in Palestine, and that the
real " ancestors, fathers, authors of the Masons, those illustrious men of whom
I will not say the date nor betray the secret," were a " disciplined body " whom
Tschoudy describes by the name of " the Knight of the Aurora and Palestine."
After " the almost total destruction of the Jewish people " these " Knights "
had always hoped to regain possession of the domains of their fathers and to
rebuild the Temple, and they carefully preserved their " regulations and
particular liturgy," together with a " sublime treatise " which was the object
of their continual study and of their philosophical speculations. Tschoudy
further relates that they were students of the " occult sciences," of which
alchemy formed a part, and that they had " abjured the principles of the Jewish
religion in order to follow the lights of the Christian faith." At the time of
the Crusades the Knights of Palestine came out from the desert of the Thebad,
where they had remained hidden, and joined to themselves some of the crusaders
who had remained in Jerusalem. Declaring that they were the descendants of the
masons who had worked on the Temple of Solomon, they professed to concern
themselves with " speculative architecture," which served to disguise a more
glorious point of view. From this time they took the name of Free Masons,
presented themselves under this title to the crusading armies and assembled
under their banners.(35)
It would of course be absurd to regard any of the foregoing accounts as
historical facts ; the important point is that they tend to prove the fallacy of
supposing that the Johannite-Templar theory originated with the revived Ordre
du Temple, since one corresponding to it so closely was current in the
middle of the preceding century. It is true that in these earlier accounts the
actual words " Johannite " and " Templar " do not occur, but the resemblance
between the sect of Jews professing the Christian faith but possessing a "
particular liturgy " and a " sublime treatise "--apparently some early form of
the Cabala--dealing with occult science, and the Mandans or Johannites with
their Cabalistic " Book of Adam," their Book of John, and their ritual, is at
once apparent. Further, the allusions to the connexion between the Knights who
had been indoctrinated in the Holy Land and the Scottish lodges coincides
exactly with the Templar tradition, published not only by the Ordre du Temple
but handed down in the Royal Order of Scotland.
From all this the following facts stand out : (1) that whilst British Craft
Masonry traced its origin to the operative guilds of masons, the Freemasons of
France from 1737 onwards placed the origin of the Order in crusading chivalry ;
(2) that it was amongst these Freemasons that the upper degrees known as the
Scottish Rite arose ; and (3) that, as we shall now see, these degrees clearly
suggest Templar inspiration. The earliest form of the upper degrees appears to
have been the one given by de Bérage, as follows :
1. Parfait Maçon Élu.
2. Élu de Perignan.
3. Élu des Quinze.
4. Petit Architecte.
5. Grand Architecte.
6. Chevalier de l'Épée et de Rose-Croix.
7. Noachite ou Chevalier Prussien.
The first of these to make its appearance is believed to have
been the one here assigned to the sixth place. This degree known in modern
Masonry as " Prince of the Rose-Croix of Heredom or Knight of the Pelican and
Eagle " became the eighteenth and the most important degree in what was later
called the Scottish Rite, or at the present time in England the Ancient and
Why was this Rite called Scottish ? " It cannot be too strongly insisted on,"
says Mr. Gould, " that all Scottish Masonry has nothing whatever to do with the
Grand Lodge of Scotland, nor, with one possible exception--that of the Royal
Order of Scotland--did it ever originate in that country."(36)
But in the case of the Rose-Croix degree there is surely so justification for
the term in legend, if not in proven fact, for, as we have already seen,
according to the tradition of the Royal Order of Scotland this degree had been
contained in it since the fourteenth century, when the degrees of H.R. (Heredom)
and R.S.Y.C.S. (Rosy Cross) are said to have been instituted by Robert Bruce in
collaboration with the Templars after the battle of Bannockburn. Dr. Mackey is
one of the few Masons who admit this probable affiliation, and in referring to
the tradition of the Royal Order of Scotland observes : " From that Order it
seems to us by no means improbable that the present degree of Rose-Croix de
Heredom may have taken its origin."(37)
But the Rose-Croix degree, like the Templar tradition from which it appears
to have descended, is capable of a dual interpretation, or rather of a multiple
interpretation, for no degree in Masonry has been subject to so many variation.
That on the Continent it had descended through the Rosicrucians in an alchemical
form seems more than probable. It would certainly be difficult to believe that a
degree of R.S.Y.C.S. was imported from the East and incorporated in the Royal
Order of Scotland in 1314 ; that by a mere coincidence a man named Christian
Rosenkreutz was--according to the Rosicrucian legend--born in the same century
and transmitted a secret doctrine he had discovered in the East to the
seventeenth-century Brethren of the Rosy Cross ; and finally, that a degree of
the Rose-Croix was founded circ. 1741 without any connexion existing between
these succeeding movements. Even if we deny direct affiliation, we must surely
admit a common source of inspiration producing, if not a continuation, at any
rate a periodic revival of the same ideas. Dr. Oliver indeed admits affiliation
between the seventeenth-century fraternity and the eighteenth-century degree,
and after pointing out that the first indication of the Rose-Croix degree
appears in the Fama Fraternitatis in 1613, goes on to say :
It was known much sooner, although not probably as a degree in Masonry, for
it existed as a cabalistic science from the earliest times in Egypt, Greece,
and Rome, as well as amongst the Jews and Moors in times more recent, and in
our own country the names of Roger Bacon, Fludd, Ashmole, and many others
are found in its list of adepts.(38)
Dr. Mackey, quoting this passage, observes that " Oliver confounds the
masonic Rose-Croix with the alchemical Rosicrucians," and proceeds to give an
account of the Rose-Croix degree as worked in England and America, which he
truly describes as " in the strictest sense a Christian degree."(39)
But the point Dr. Mackey overlooks is that this is only one version of the
degree, which, as we shall see later, has been and still is worked in a very
different manner on the Continent.
It is, however, certain that the version of the Rose-Croix degree first
adopted by the Freemasons of France in about 1741 was not only so Christian but
so Catholic in character as to have given rise to the belief that it was devised
by the Jesuits in order to counteract the attacks of which Catholicism was the
In a paper on the Additional Degrees Mr. J.S. Tackett writes :
There is undeniable evidence that in their earlier forms the Ecossais
or Scots Degrees were Roman Catholic ; I have a MS. Ritual in French of what
I believe to be the original Chev. de l'Aigle or S.P.D.R.C.
(Souverain Prince de Rose-Croix), and in it the New Law is declared to be "
la foy Catholique," and the Baron Tschoudy in his L'Etoile Flamboyante
of 1766 describes the same Degree as " le Catholicisme mis en grade " (Vol.
in. p. 114). I suggest that Ecossais or Scots Masonry was intended to be a
Roman Catholic as well as a Stuart form of Freemasonry, into which none but
those devoted to both Restorations were to be admitted.(41)
But is it necessary to read this political intention into the degree ? If the
tradition of the Royal Order of Scotland is to be believed, the idea of the
Rose-Croix degree was far older than the Stuart cause, and dated back to
Bannockburn, when the degree of Heredom with which it was coupled was instituted
in order " to correct the errors and reform the abuses which had crept in among
the three degrees of St. John's Masonry," and to provide a " Christianized form
of the Third Degree," " purified of the dross of paganism and even of Judaism."(42)
Whether the antiquity attributed to these degrees can be proved or not, it
certainly appears probable that the legend of the Royal Order of Scotland had
some foundation in fact and therefore that the ideas embodied in the
eighteenth-century Rose-Croix degree may have been drawn from the store of that
Order and brought by the Jacobites to France. At the same time there is no
evidence in support of the statement made by certain Continental writers that
Ramsay actually instituted this or any of the upper degrees. On the contrary, in
his Oration he expressly states that Freemasonry is composed of the Craft
degrees only :
We have amongst us three kinds of brothers : Novices or Apprentices, Fellows
or Professed Brothers, Masters or Perfected Brethren. To the first are
explained the moral virtues ; to the second the heroic virtues ; to the last
the Christian virtues. . . .
It might be said then that the Rose-Croix degree was here foreshadowed in the
Masters' degree, in that the latter definitely inculcated Christianity. This
would be perfectly in accord with Ramsay's point of view as set forth in his
account of conversion by Fénelon. When he first met the Archbishop Cambrai in
1710, Ramsay relates that he had lost faith in Christian sects and had resolved
to " take refuge in a wise Deism limited to respect for the Divinity and for the
immutable ideas of pure virtue," but that his conversation with Fénelon led him
to accept the Catholic faith. And he goes on to show that " Monsieur de Cambrai
turned Atheists into Deists, Deists into Christians, and Christians into
Catholics by sequence of ideas full of enlightenment and feeling."(43)
Might not this be the process which Ramsay aimed at introducing into
Freemasonry--the process which in fact does form part of the masonic system in
England to-day, where the Atheist must become, at least by profession, a Deist
before he can be admitted to the Craft Degrees, whilst the Rose-Croix degree is
reserved solely for those who profess the Christian faith ? Such was undoubtedly
the idea of the men who introduced the Rose-Croix degree into France ; and
Ragon, who gives an account of this " Ancien Rose-Croix Francais "--which is
almost identical with the degree now worked in England, but long since abandoned
in France--objects to it on the very score of its Christian character.(44)
In this respect the Rose-Croix amongst all the upper degrees introduced to
France in the middle of the eighteenth century stands alone, and it alone can
with any probability be attributed to Scottish Jacobite inspiration. It was not,
in fact, until three or four years after Lord Derwentwater or his mysterious
successor Lord Harnouester (45) had
resigned the Grand Mastership in favour of the Duc d'Antin in 1738 that the
additional degrees were first heard of, and it was not until eight years after
the Stuart cause had received its deathblow at Culloden, that is to say, in
1754, that the Rite of Perfection in which the so-called Scots Degrees were
incorporated was drawn up in the following form :
RITE OF PERFECTION
1. Entered Apprentice.
2. Fellow Craft.
3. Master Mason.
4. Secret Master.
5. Perfect Master.
6. Intimate Secretary.
7. Intendant of the Buildings.
8. Provost and Judge.
9. Elect of Nine.
10. Elect of Fifteen.
11. Chief of the Twelve Tribes.
12. Grand Master Architect.
13. Knight of the Ninth Arch.
14. Ancient Grand Elect.
15. Knight of the Sword.
16. Prince of Jerusalem.
17. Knight of the East and West.
18. Rose-Croix Knight.
19. Grand Pontiff.
20. Grand Patriarch.
21. Grand Master of the Key of Masonry.
22. Prince of Libanus or Knight of the Royal Axe.
23. Sovereign Prince Adept.
24. Commander of the Black and White Eagle.
25. Commander of the Royal Secret.(46)
We have only to glance at the nomenclature of the last twenty-two of these
degrees to see that on the basis of operative Masonry there has been built up a
system composed of two elements : crusading chivalry and Judaic tradition. What
else is this but Templarism ? Even Mr. Gould, usually so reticent on Templar
influence, admits it at this period :
In France . . . some of the Scots lodges would appear to have very early
manufactured new degrees, connecting these very distinguished Scots Masons
with the Knights Templar, and thus given rise to the subsequent flood of
Templarism. The earliest of all are supposed to have been the Masons of
Lyons, who invented the Kadosch degree, representing the vengeance of the
Templars, in 1741. From that time new rites multiplied in France and German
but all those of French origin contain Knightly, and almost all Templar
grades. In every case the connecting link was composed of one or more Scots
The name Kadosch here mentioned is a Hebrew word signifying "holy " or "
consecrated," which in the Cabala is found in conjunction with the
The degree is said to have developed from that of Grand Elect,(49)
one of the three " degrees of vengeance " celebrating with sanguinary realism
the avenging of the murder of Hiram. But in its final form of Knight
Kadosch--later to become the thirtieth degree of the " Ancient and Accepted
Scottish Rite "--the Hiramic legend was changed into the history of the Templars
with Jacques du Molay as the victim.(50)
So the reprobation of attack on authority personified by the master-builder
becomes approbation of attack on authority in the person of the King of France.
The introduction of the upper degrees with their political and, later on,
anti-Christian tendencies thus marked a complete departure from the fundamental
principle of Freemasonry that " nothing concerning the religion or government
shall ever be spoken of in the lodge." For this reason they have been assailed
not only by anti-masonic writers but by Freemasons themselves."(51)
To represent Barruel and Robison as the enemies of Freemasonry is therefore
absolutely false ; neither of these men denounced Craft Masonry as practised in
England, but only the superstructure erected on the Continent. Barruel indeed
incurs the reproaches of Mounier for his championship of English Freemasons :
He vaunts their respect for religious opinion and for authority. When he
speaks of Freemasons in general they are impious, rebellious successors of
the Templars and Albigenses, but all those of England are innocent. More
than this, all the Entered Apprentices, Fellow Crafts, and Master Masons in
all parts of the world are innocent ; there are only guilty ones in the
higher degrees, which are not essential to the institution, and are sought
by a small number of people.(52)
In this opinion of Barruel's a great number of Masonic writers
concur--Clavel, Ragon, Rebold, Thory, Findel, and others too numerous to mention
; all indicate Craft Masonry as the only true kind and the upper degrees as
constituting a danger to the order. Rebold, who gives a list of these writers,
quotes a masonic publication, authorized by the Grand Orient and the Supreme
Council of France, in which it is said that " from all these rites there result
the most foolish conceptions, . . . the most absurd legends, . . . the most
extravagant systems, the most immoral principles, and those the most dangerous
for the peace and preservation of States," and that therefore except the first
three degrees of Masonry, which are really ancient and universal, everything is
" chimera, extravagance, futility, and lies."(53)
Did Barruel and Robison ever use stronger language than this ?
To attribute the perversion of Masonry to Jacobite influence would be absurd.
How could it be supposed that either Ramsay or Lord Derwentwater (who died as a
devout Catholic on the scaffold in 1746) could have been concerned in an attempt
to undermine the Catholic faith or the monarchy of France ? I would suggest,
then, that the term " Scots Masonry " became simply a veil for
Templarism--Templarism, moreover, of a very different kind to that from which
the original degree of the Rose-Croix was derived. It was this so-called Scots
Masons that, after the resignation of Lord Derwentwater, " boldly came forward
and claimed to be not merely a part of Masonry but to greater privileges and the
right to rule over the ordinary, i.e. Craft Masonry."(54)
The Grand Lodge of France seems, however, to have realized the danger of
submitting to the domination of the Templar element, and on the death of the Duc
d'Antin and his replacement by the Comte de Clermont in 1743, signified its
adherence to English Craft Masonry by proclaiming itself Grande Loge Anglaise
de France and reissued the " Constitutions " of Anderson, first published in
1723, with the injunction that the Scots Masters should be placed on the same
level as the simple Apprentices and Fellow Crafts and allowed to wear no badges
Grand Lodge of England appears to have been reassured by this proclamation as
to the character of Freemasonry, for it was now, in 1743, that it at last
delivered a warrant to Grand Lodge of France. Yet in reality it was from this
moment that French Freemasonry degenerated the most rapidly. The Order was soon
invaded by intriguers. This was rendered all the easier by the apathy of the
Comte de Clermont, appointed Grand Master in 1743, who seems to have taken
little interest in the Order and employed a substitute in the person of a
dancing master named Lacorne, a man of low character through whose influence the
lodges fell into a state of anarchy. Freemasonry was thus divided into warring
factions : Lacorne and the crowd of low-class supporters who had followed him
into the lodges founded a Grand Lodge of their own (Grande Loge Lacorne), and in
1756 the original Freemasons again attempted to make Craft Masonry the national
Masonry of France by deleting the word " Anglaise " from the appellation of
Grand Lodge, and renaming it " Grande Loge Nationale de France." But many lodges
still continue to work the additional degrees.
The rivalry between the two groups became so violent that in 1767 the
government intervened and closed down Grand Lodge.
The Templar group had, however, formed two separate associations, the "
Knights of the East " (1756) and the " Council of the Emperors of the East and
West " (1758). In 1761 a Jew named Stephen Morin was sent to America by the a "
Emperors " armed with a warrant from the Duc de Clermont and Grand Lodge of
Paris and bearing the sonorous title of " Grand Elect Perfect and Sublime
Master," with orders to establish a Lodge in that country. In 1766 he was
accused in Grand Lodge of " propagating strange and a monstrous doctrines " and
his patent of Grand Inspector was withdrawn.(56)
Morin, however, had succeeded in establishing the Rite of Perfection. Sixteen
Inspectors, nearly all Jews, were now appointed. These included Isaac Long,
Isaac de Costa, Moses Hayes, B. Spitser, Moses Cohen, Abraham Jacobs, and Hyman
Meanwhile in France the closing of Grand Lodge had not prevented meetings of
Lacorne's group, which, on the death of the Duc de Clermont in 1772, instituted
the " Grand Orient " with the Duc de Chartres--the future " Philippe Egalité
"--as Grand Master. The Grand Orient then invited the Grande Loge to revoke the
decree of expulsion and unite with it, and this offer being accepted, the
revolutionary party inevitably carried all before it, and the Duc de Chartres
was declared Grand Master of all the councils, chapters, and Scotch lodges of
In 1782 the " Council of Emperors " and the " Knights of the East " combined to
form the " Grand Chapitre Général de France," which in 1786 joined up with the
Grand Orient. The victory of the revolutionary party was then complete.
It is necessary to enter into all these tedious details in order to
understand the nature of the factions grouped together under the banner of
Masonry at this period. The Martinist Papus attributes the revolutionary
influences that now prevailed in the lodges to their invasion by the Templars,
and goes on to explain that this was owing to a change that had taken place in
the Ordre du Temple. Under the Grand Mastership of the Regent and his
successor the Duc de Bourbon, the revolutionary elements amongst the Templars
had had full play, but from 1741 onwards the Grand Masters of the Order were
supporters of the monarchy. When the Revolution came, the Duc de Cossé-Brissac,
who had been Grand Master since 1776, perished amongst the defenders of the
throne. It was thus that by the middle of the century the Order of the Temple
ceased to be a revolutionary force, and the discontented elements it had
contained, no longer able to find in it a refuge, threw themselves into
Freemasonry, and entering the higher degrees turned them to their subversive
purpose. According to Papus, Lacorne was a member of the Templar group, and the
dissensions that took place were principally a fight between the ex-Templars and
the genuine Freemasons which ended in the triumph of the former :
Victorious rebels thus founded the Grand Orient of France. So a contemporary
Mason is able to write : " It is not excessive to say that the masonic
revolution of 1773 was the prelude and the precursor of the Revolution of
1789." What must be well observed is the secret action of the Brothers of
the Templar Rite. It is they who are the real fomentors of revolution, the
others are only docile agents.(58)
But all this attributes the baneful influence of Templarism to the French
Templars alone, and the existence of such a body rests on no absolutely certain
evidence. What is certain and admits of no denial on the part of any historian,
is the inauguration of a Templar Order in Germany at the very moment when the
so-called Scottish degrees were introduced into French Masonry. We shall now
return to 1738 and follow events that were taking place at this important moment
beyond the Rhine.
1. Histoire de la Monarchie Prussienne, VI. 76.
2. Lecouteulx de Canteleu, op. cit., p. 105.
3. Ibid., p. 106 ; Lombard de Langres, Les Sociétés
Secrètes en Allemagne, p. 67.
4. Monsignor George F. Dillon, The War of Anti-Christ with
the Church and Christian Civilization, p. 24 (1885).
5. Brother Chalmers I. Paton, The Origin of Freemasonry :
the 1717 Theory Exploded, p. 34.
6. Lecouteulx de Canteleu, op. cit., p. 107 ; Robison's
Proofs of a Conspiracy, p. 27 ; Dillon, op. cit, p. 24 ; Mackey, Lexicon
of Freemasonry, p. 148.
7. Preston's Illustrations of Masonry, p. 209 (1804) ;
Brother Chalmers I. Paton, The Origin of Freemasonry, etc., p. 12.
8. Ars Quatuor Coronatorum, XXV. p. 31. See account of
some of these convivial masonic societies in this paper entitled " An
9. Religious Thought and Heresy in the Middle Ages, p.
373. A " Past Grand Master," in an article entitled " The Crisis in
Freemasonry," in the English Review for August 1922, takes the same view.
" It is true . . . that the Craft Lodges in England were originally Hanoverian
clubs, as the Scottish lodges were Jacobite Clubs."
10. Dr. Anderson, a native of Aberdeen and at this point
period minister of the Presbyterian Church in Swallow Street, and Dr.
Desaguliers, of French Protestant descent, who had taken holy orders in England
and in this same year of 1717 lectured before George I, who rewarded him with
benefice in Norfolk (Dictionary of National Biography, articles on James
Anderson and John Theophilus Desaguliers).
11. The Free Mason's Vindication, being an answer to a
scandalous libel entitled (sic) The Grand Mystery of the Free Masons dicover'd,
etc. (Dublin, 1725). It is curious that this reply is to be found in the British
Museum (Press mark 8145, h. I. 44), but not the book itself. Yet Mr. Waite
thinks it sufficiently important to include in a " Chronology of the Order," in
his Encyclopodia of Freemasonry, I. 335.
12. Gentleman's Magazine for April 1737.
13. Dates given in A.Q.C., XXXII. Part I. pp. 11, 12,
and Deschamps, Les Sociétés Secrètes et la Société, II. 29. The Writer of
the paper in A.Q.C. appears not to recognize the authorship of the second
work L'Ordre des Franc-Maçons trahi ; but on p. XXIX of this book the
signature of Abbé Pérau appears in the masonic cypher of the period derived from
the masonic word LUX. This cypher is, of course, now well known. It will be
found on p. 73 of Clavel's Histoire pittoresque.
14. The British Museum possesses no earlier edition of this
work than that of 1797, but the first edition must have appeared at least
thirty-five years earlier, as A Free Mason's Answer to the suspected Author
of . . . Jachin and Boaz, of which a copy may be found in the British Museum
(Press mark 112, d 41), is dated 1762. This book bears on the title-page the
following quotation from Shakespeare : " Oh, that Heaven would put in every
honest Hand a Whip To lash the Rascal naked through the World."
15. The author of Jachin and Boaz says in the 1797 edition
that in reply to this work he has received " several anonymous Letters,
containing the lowest Abuse and scurrilous Invectives ; nay some have proceeded
so far as to threaten his Person. He requests the Favour of all enraged
Brethren, who shall chuse to display their Talents for the future, that they
will be so kind as to pay the Postage of their Letters for there can be no
Reason why he should put up with their ill Treatment and pay the Piper into that
Bargain. Surely there must be something in this Book very extraordinary ; a
something they cannot digest, thus to excite the Wrath and Ire of these
hot-brained Mason-bit Gentry." One letter he has received calls him a Scandalous
Stinking Pow Catt (sic)."
16. A.Q.C., XXXII. Part I. p. 34.
18. Mackey also thinks that R.A. was introduced in 1740, but
that before that date it formed part of the Master's degree (Lexicon of
Freemasonry, p. 299.
19. Yarker, The Arcane Schools, p. 437.
20. Review by Yarker of Mr. A.E. Waite's book The Secret
Tradition in Freemasonry in The Equinox, Vol. I. No. 7. p. 414.
21. Encyclopodia of Freemasonry, II. 56.
22. A.Q.C., Vol. XXXII. Part I. p. 23.
23. Correspondence on Lord Derwentwater in Morning Post
for September 15, 1922. Mr. Waite (The Secret Tradition in Freemasonry I.
113) wrongly gives the name of Lord Derwentwater as John Radcliffe and in his
Encyclopodia of Freemasonry as James Radcliffe. But James was the name of the
third Earl, beheaded in 1716.
24. Gould, op. cit. III. 138. " The founders were all of them
Britons."--A.Q.C., XXXII. Part I. p. 6.
25. " If we turn to our English engraved lists we find that
whatever Lodge (or Lodges) may have existed in Paris in 1725 must have been
unchartered, for the first French Lodge on our roll is on the list for 1730-32.
. . . It would appear probable . . . that Derwentwater's Lodge . . . was an
informal Lodge and did not petition for warrant till 1732."--Gould, History
of Freemasonry, III. 138.
26. John Yarker, The Arcane Schools, p. 462.
27. Gautier de Sibert, Histoire des Ordres Royaux,
Hospitaliers-Militaires de Notre-Dame du Carmel et de Saint-Lazare de Jérusalem,
Vol. II. p. 193 (Paris, 1772).
28. This oration has been published several times and has
been variously attributed to Ramsay and the Duc d'Antin. The author of a paper
in A.Q.C., XXXII. Part I., says on p. 7 : " Wether Ramsay delivered his
speech or not is doubtful, but it is certain that he wrote it. It was printed in
an obscure and obscene Paris paper called the Almanach des Cocus for 1741
and is there said to have been ' pronounced ' by ' Monsieur de R--Grand Orateur
de l'Ordre.' It was again printed in 1742 by Bro. De la Tierce in his
Histoire, Obligations et Status, etc., . . . and De la Tierce says that it
was ' prononcé par le Grand Maître des Francs-Maçons de France ' in the year
1740. . . . A.G. Jouast (Histoire du G.O., 1865) says the Oration was
delivered at the Installation of the Duc d'Antin as G.M. on 24th June, 1738, and
the same authority states that it was first printed at the Hague in 1738, bound
with some poems attributed to Voltaire, and some licentious tales by Piron. . .
. Bro. Gould remarks : ' If such a work really existed at that date, it was
probably the original of the " Lettre philosophique par M. de V--,avec
plusieurs pièces galantes," London, 1757.' " Mr. Gould has, however,
provided very good evidence that Ramsay was the author of the oration by
Daruty's discovery of the letter to Cardinal Fleury, which together with the
oration itself (translated from De la Tierce's version) he reproduces in his
History of Freemasonry Vol. III. p. 84.
29. A.Q.C., XXII. Part I. p. 10.
30. Les plus secrets mystères des Hauts Grades de la
Maçonnerie dévoilés, ou le vrai Rose-Croix. A Jerusalem. M.DCC.LXVII. (A.Q.C.,
Vol. XXXII. Part I. p. 13. refers, however, to an edition of 1747).
31. As Godefroi de Bouillon died in 1100, I conclude his name
to have been introduced here in error by de Bérage or the date of 1330 to have
been a misprint.
32. Dr. Mackey confirms this assertion, Lexicon of
Freemasonry, p. 304.
33. Etoile Flamboyante, I pp. 18-20.
34. The same theory that Freemasonry originated in Palestine
as a system of protection for the Christian faith is given almost verbatim in
the instructions to the candidate for initiation into the degree of " Prince of
the Royal Secret " published in Monitor of Freemasonry (Chicago, 1860),
where it is added that " the brethren assembled round the tomb of Hiram, is a
representation of the disciples lamenting the death of Christ on the Cross."
Weishaupt, founder of the eighteenth-century Illuminati, also showed--although
in a spirit of mockery--how easily the legend of Hiram could be interpreted in
this manner, and suggested that at the periods when the Christians were
persecuted they enveloped their doctrines in secrecy and symbolism. " That was
necessary in times and places where the Christians lived among the heathens, for
example in the East at the time of the Crusades."--Nachtrag zur
Originalschriften, Part II. p. 123.
35. Étoile Flamboyante, pp. 24-9.
36. Gould, History of Freemasonry, III. 92.
37. Mackey's Lexicon of Freemasonry, p. 267.
38. Oliver's Landmarks of Freemasonry, II. 81, note
39. Lexicon of Freemasonry, p. 270.
40. Clavel, Histoire pittoresque de la Franc-Maconnerie,
41. A.Q.C., XXXII. Part I. p. 17.
42. The Royal Order of Scotland, by Bro. Fred. H.
Buckmaster, p. 3.
43. Histoire de la Vie et des Ouvrages de Messire François
de Selignac de la Mothe-Fénelon, archevêque de Cambrai, pp. 105, 149 (1727).
44. J.M. Ragon, Ordre Chapitral, Nouveau Grade de
Rose-Croix, p. 35.
45. The identity of Lord Harnouester has remained a mystery.
It has been suggested that Harnouester is only a French attempt to spell
Derwentwater, and therefore that the two Grand Masters referred to were one and
the same person.
46. In 1786 the seventh and eighth degrees were transposed,
the eleven became Sublime Knight Elect, the twentieth Grand Master of all
Symbolic, the twenty-first Noachite or Prussian Knight, the twenty-third Chief
of the Tabernacle, the twenty-fourth Prince of the Tabernacle, the twenty-fifth
Knight of the Brazen Serpent. The thirteenth is now known as the Royal Arch of
Enoch and must not be confounded with the Royal Arch, which is the complement of
the third degree. The fourteenth is now the Scotch Knight of Perfection, the
fifteenth Knight of the Sword or of the East, and the twentieth is Venerable
47. History of Freemasonry, III. 93. Thory gives the
date of the Kadosch degree as 1743, which seems correct.
48. Zohar, section Bereschith, folio 18b.
49. A.Q.C., XXVI : " Templar Legends in Freemasonry."
50. " This degree is intimately connected with the ancient
order of the Knights Templars, a history of whose destruction, by the united
efforts of Philip, King of France, and Pope Clement V, forms a part of the
instructions given to the candidate. The dress of the Knights is black, as an
emblem of mourning for the extinction of the Knights Templars, and the death of
Jacques du Molay, their last Grand Master. . . ." -- Mackey, Lexicon of
Freemasonry, p. 172.
51. Mr. J.E.S. Tuckett, in the paper before mentioned, quotes
the Articles of Union of 1813, in which it is said that " pure ancient Masonry
consists of three degrees and no more," and goes on to observe that : "
According to this view those other Degrees (which for convenience may be called
Additional Degrees) are not real Masonry at all, but an extraneous and
spontaneous growth springing up around the 'Craft ' proper, later in date, and
mostly foreign, i.e. non-British in origin, and the existence of any such
degrees as by some writers condemned as a contamination of the ' pure Ancient
Freemasonry ' of our forefathers."--A.Q.C., XXXII. Part I. p. 5.
52. J.J. Mounier, De l'Influence attribué aux Philosophes,
aux Francs-Maçons et aux Illuminés sur la Révolution Française, p. 148
(1822). See also letter from the Duke of Northumberland at Alnwick to General
Rainsford dated January 19, 1790, defending Barruel from the charge of attacking
Masonry and pointing out that he only indicated the upper degrees, A.Q.C.,
XXVI. p. 112.
53. Em. Rebold, Histoire des Trois Grandes Loges de Franc-Maçons
en France, pp. 9, 10 (1864).
54. A.Q.C., XXXII. Part I. 21.
55. A.Q.C., XXXII. Part I. 22. It is curious that in
this discussion by members of the Quatuor Coronati Lodge the influence of the
Templars, which provides the only key to the situation, is almost entirely
56. Yarker, The Arcane Schools, pp. 479-82.
57. Mackey, Lexicon of Freemasonry, p. 119.
58. Martines de Pasqually, par Papus, président du
Suprême Conseil de l'Ordre Martiniste, p. 144 (1895). Papus is the pseudonym of
Dr. Gerard Encausse.
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