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or superstitions that have filled the earth with crime and woe, sanguinary wars, internecine cruelty, and persecution of every kind. Bloodthirsty fanatics, disputing about words whose meaning they did not understand, maintaining antagonistic dogmas, false on both sides, have invented the most fiendish tortures to compel their opponents to adopt their own views. While the two Mahommedan sects of Omar and Ali will fight each other to decide whether ablution ought to commence at the wrist or the elbow, they will unite to slay or to convert the Christians. Nay, even these latter, divided into sects without number, have distinguished themselves by persecutions as cruel as any ever practised by so-called pagan nations. Not satisfied with attempting to exterminate by fire and sword Turks and Jews, one Christian sect established such a tribunal as the Inquisition; whilst its opponents, scarcely less cruel, when they had the power, deprived the Roman Catholics of their civil rights, and occasionally executed them. Their mutual hatred even attends them in their missionary efforts—very poor in their results, in spite of the sensational reports, manufactured by the societies at home, for extracting money from the public. To mention but one instance : a leading missionary endeavoured to prejudice the Polynesians in advance against some expected Roman Catholic missionaries by translating Foxe's “Book of Martyrs” into their language, and illustrating its scenes by the aid of a magic-lantern.
16. The Mysteries under their Astronomical Aspect. But seeing that the mysteries, as they have come down to us, and are still perpetuated, in a corrupted and aimless manner, in Freemasonry, have chiefly an astronomical bearing, a few general remarks on the leading principles of all will save a deal of needless repetition in describing them separately.
In the most ancient Indian creed we have the story of the fall of mankind by tasting of the fruit of the tree of knowledge, and their consequent expulsion from Paradise. This allegory was taken by the ignorant Jews for a record of actual occurrences, and as such interpolated in Genesis, about 900 years after the composition of that book, and after all the other books of the Old Testament had been written, whence it becomes plain why, contrary to all expectation, the Fall of Man is never once alluded to in those books. Read in its mysterious and astronomical aspect, the narrative of the Fall, as given in the Book of Genesis, would assume some such form as the following :-Adam, which
does not mean an individual, but the universal' man, mankind, and his companion, Eve, which means life, having passed spring and summer in the Garden of Eden, necessarily reached the season when the serpent, Typhon (51), the symbol of winter, points out on the celestial sphere that the reign of Evil, of winter, is approaching. Allegorical science, which insinuated itself everywhere, caused malum, “evil,” also to mean an “apple,” the produce of autumn, which indicates that the harvest is over, and that man in the sweat of his brow must again till the earth. The cold season comes, and he must cover himself with the allegorical fig-leaf. The sphere revolves, the man of the constellation Boötes, the same as Adam, preceded by the woman, the Virgin, carrying in her hand the autumnal branch laden with fruit, seems to be allured or beguiled by her. A look at a celestial globe will render this quite plain. A sacred bough or plant is introduced into all the mysteries. We have the Indian and Egyptian lotus, the fig-tree of Atys, the myrtle of Venus, the mistletoe of the Druids, the golden bough of Virgil, the rose-tree of Isis ;—in the “Golden Ass” Apuleius is restored to his natural form by eating roses—the box of Palm-Sunday, and the acacia of Freemasonry. The bough in the opera “Roberto il Diavolo" is the mystic bough of the mysteries.
17. Astronomical Aspects continued-The Mysteries funereal.-In all the mysteries we encounter a god, a superior being, or an extraordinary man, suffering death, to recommence a more glorious existence; everywhere the remembrance of a grand and mournful event plunges the nations into grief and mourning, immediately followed by the most lively joy. Osiris is slain by Typhon, Uranus by Saturn, Sousarman by Sudra, Adonis by a wild boar; Ormuzd is conquered by Ahrimanes; Atys and Mithras and Hercules kill themselves; Abel is slain by Cain, Balder by Loke, Bacchus by the giants; the Assyrians mourn the death of Thammuz, the Scythians and Phænicians that of Acmon, all Nature that of the great Pan, the Freemasons that of Hiram, and so
The origin of this universal belief has already been pointed out.
18. Uniformity of Dogmas.—The doctrine of the Unity and Trinity was inculcated in all the mysteries. In the most ancient religious creeds we meet with the prototype of the Christian dogma, in which a virgin is seen bringing forth a saviour, and yet ever remaining a virgin (11). In the more outward sense, that virgin is the Virgo of the
zodiac, and the saviour brought forth is the sun (17); in the most inward sense, it is the eternal ideal, wherein the eternal life and intelligence, the power of electricity, and the virtue of the tincture, the first the sustainer, the latter the beautifier of apprehensible existence, are, as it were, corporified in the countless creatures that fill this universe-yea, in the universe itself. And the virgin remains a virgin, and her own nature is not affected by it, just as the air brings forth sounds, the light colours, the mind ideas, without any of them being intrinsically altered by the production. We certainly do not find these principles so fully and distinctly enunciated in the teaching of the ancient mystagogues, but a primitive knowledge of them may be inferred from what they did teach.
In all the mysteries, light was represented as born out of darkness. Thus reappears the Deity called now Maja Bhawani, now Kâli, Isis, Ceres, Proserpina; Persephone, the Queen of Heaven, is the night from whose bosom issues life, into which the life returns, a secret reunion of life and death. She is, moreover, called the Rosy, and in the German myths the Rosy is called the restoring principle of life. She is not only the night, but, as mother of the sun, she is also the aurora, behind whom the stars are shining. When she symbolises the earth as Ceres, she is represented with ears of corn. Like the sad Proserpina, she is beautiful and lustrous, but also melancholy and black. Thus she joins night with day, joy with sadness, the sun with the moon, heat with humidity, the divine with the human. The ancient Egyptians often represented the Deity by a black stone, and the black stone Kaábah, worshipped by the Arabs, and which is described as having originally been whiter than snow, and more brilliant than the sun, embodies the same idea, with the additional hint that light was anterior to darkness. In all the mysteries we meet with the cross (53) as a symbol of purification and salvation; the numbers three, four, and seven were sacred; in most of the mythologies we meet with two pillars; mystic banquets were common to all, as also the trials by fire, water, and air; the circle and triangle, single and double, everywhere represented the dualism or polarity of Nature; in all the initiations, the aspirant represented the good principle, the light, overcome by evil, the darkness; and his task was to regain his former supremacy, to be born again or regenerated, by passing through death and hell and their terrors, that were scenically enacted during the neophyte's passage through seven caves, or ascent of seven steps.
All this, in its deepest meaning, represented the eternal struggle of light to free itself from the encumbrance of materiality it has put on in its passage through the first three properties of eternal Nature (11); and in its secondary meaning, when the deeper one was lost to mankind, the progress of the sun through the seven signs of the zodiac, from Aries to Libra, as shown in Royal Arch Masonry, and also in the ladder with seven steps of the Knight of Kadosh. In all the mysteries the officers were the same, and personified astronomical or cosmical phenomena; in all, the initiated recognised each other by signs and passwords; in all, the conditions for initiation were the same-maturity of age, and purity of conduct. Nero, on this account, did not dare, when in Greece, to offer himself as a candidate for initiation into the Eleusinian Mysteries. In many, the chief hierophant was compelled to lead a retired life of perpetual celibacy, that he might be entirely at liberty to devote himself to the study and contemplation of celestial things. And to accomplish this abstraction, it was customary for the priests, in the earlier periods of their history, to mortify the flesh by the use of certain herbs, which were reputed to possess the virtue of repelling all passionate excitements; to guard against which they even occasionally adopted severer and more decided precautions. In all countries where mysteries existed, initiation came to be looked upon as much a necessity as afterwards baptism among Christians; which ceremony, indeed, is one that had been practised in all the mysteries. The initiated were called epopts, i.e., those that see things as they are; whilst before they were called “mystes,” meaning quite the contrary. In all we find greater and less mysteries, an exoteric and an esoteric doctrine, and three degrees. To betray the mysteries was everywhere considered infamous, and the heaviest penalties were attached to it; hence also, in all initiations, the candidate had to take the most terrible oaths that he would keep the secrets entrusted to him. Alcibiades was banished and consigned to the Furies for having revealed the mysteries of Ceres; Prometheus, Tantalus, Edipus, Orpheus, suffered various punishments for the same reason.
19. Most Ancient Secret Society.—The very contents of this work show that the records of ancient secret societies have come down to us in pretty full detail; yet on looking at a map of the ancient world we are struck by a fact, which can only be explained by assuming the existence, at a remote period, of a secret society of which no record, except the one
supplied by the map, exists. This secret society, whose existence, it is true, can be proved inferentially only, must have been that of Benjamin and his ten sons. We know from Gen. xlvii. that Joseph delegated to the Benjaminites the keeping of all the cattle of Egypt, which conferred on them vast powers their warlike spirit knew how to utilise for their own aggrandisement. And that they must have acted in concert is proved, inferentially as stated above, by the names of European and other countries. The proof is founded on etymology; this science is not always reliable, when we have only one or two roots to guide us, but when we come to five or more, a suspicion of mere coincidence must be dismissed from the mind. The subjoined names of Benjamin and his ten sons, together with those of the countries or localities named after them, will make the matter clear :
Benjamin or Benymn, Benym, Benoni
That all these countries should have Benjaminite names proves an identity of purpose at some long-past period; and as no Benjaminite sovereignty has ever been proclaimed over Europe, it is clear that the above result must have been brought about by a powerful secret society, the leaders of which were Benjamin and his ten sons.
And to carry out their scheme, and to do so without the kings and politicians, not associated with them, detecting its origin, they must have had signs and passwords known only to the initiated. It is indisputable that pneuma, the Greek word for spirit or ghost, is derived from Benymn or Benjamin, as Christ is derived from Geras; hence Christ is said to have been begotten by the Holy Ghost.
20. Secret Societies no longer needed.—Thanks to secret societies themselves, they are now no longer needed, at least