« AnteriorContinuar »
are generally governed by twelve officers, the oldest “ Court superintending the others by right of seniority. The master of the Court is called Sheik, and he has his deputies, caliphs, or successors, of which there may be many. The order is divided into four“ columns” or degrees. The first is that of “Humanity,” which supposes “annihilation in the Sheik; the second is that of the “Path,” in which the “murid," or disciple, attains spiritual powers and self-annihilation into the "Peer," or founder of the Path. The third stage is called
Knowledge,” and the murid is supposed to become inspired, which is called “annihilation into the Prophet.' The fourth degree leads him even to God, when he becomes part of the Deity, and sees him in all things. After this, the Sheik confers on him the grade of “Caliph,” or “Honorary Master, for, in their mythical language, “the man must die before the saint can be born, and when born, he is but a useless and despicable animal.”
There is a widespread belief in the East that the Freemasons are in secret connection with the Dervishes; but the idea is foolish and unlikely. It was, however, always suspected that whenever mischief against our rule is astir among the Mussulman population, especially in India, the Dervishes are at the bottom of it. It is not quite certain to what order the Dervishes we have to fight in Africa belong, but it is clear that, unlike their brethren in Asia, they pursue political ends, and are instigated by fierce fanaticism; and as every Mohammedan can belong to a religious order without any outward indication of it, and as such connection is always kept secret, Great Britain does not really know the number of her enemies in Africa.
“ The heretic foxes have various faces, but they all bang together by their tails.”—POPE GREGORY IX.
168. Transition from Ancient to Modern Initiations.An order of facts now claims our attention which in a certain manner signalises the transition from ancient to modern initiations. An extraordinary phenomenon in social conditions becomes apparent, so strikingly different from what we meet with in antiquity, as to present itself as a new starting-point. Hitherto we have seen the secret organising itself in the higher social classes, so as to deprive the multitude of truths, whose revelation could not have taken place without injury and danger to the hierarchy. At the base we find polytheism, superstition; at the summit, deism, rationalism, the most abstract philosophy.
169. Spirit of Ancient and Modern Secret Societies. The secret societies of antiquity were theological, and theology frequently inculcated superstition; but in the deepest recesses of the sanctuary there was a place, where it would laugh at itself and the deluded people, and draw to itself the intelligences that rebelled against the servitude of fear, by initiating them into the only creed worthy of a free man. To that theology, therefore, otherwise very learned and not cruel, and which promoted art and science, much may be forgiven, attributing perhaps not to base calculation, but to sincere conviction and thoughtful prudence, the dissimulation with which it concealed the treasures of truth and knowledge, that formed its power, glory, and, in a certain manner, its privilege.
In modern times the high religious and political spheres have no secrets, for they have no privilege of knowledge, nor initiations which confer on those higher in knowledge the right to sit on the seat of the mighty, and no one, without being guilty of an anachronism and preparing forhimself bitter disappointments, can seek the truth where there is but a delusive show of it. Whoever persists in making any fictitious height the object of his ambition, removes his eyes from the