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trating into those gigantic temples which seem the work of an extinct race, different from ours, as fossil quadrupeds are different from those now living; traversing those cloisters, which after many windings lead to the innermost sanctuary, we are seized by a singular thought—that of the silence and solitude which ever reigned within those edifices into which the people were not allowed to penetrate; only the few were admitted, and we moderns are the first profane that have set foot within the hallowed precincts. The temple of Luxor is the vastest on earth—six propylæa with long files of columns, and colossi and obelisks and sphinxes; six cloisters-every new generation of kings for seventy centuries added some new portion and inscribed on the walls the history of its deeds, and every new addition removed the faithful further from the seat of the god; the marvel and mystery increased. The sixth propylæum is not finished; it is a chapter of history broken off in the middle, and will never be completed. The walls and pillars of the temples were covered with religious and astronomical representations, and from the fact of many of these pictures showing human beings in various states of suffering and under torture, it has been assumed that the Egyptian ritual was cruel, like the Mexican (8589); but such is not the case; the pictures are only representations of the punishments said to be inflicted on the wicked in another life.

49. Egyptian Priests and Kings.—The priestly caste, possessing all the learning, ruled first and alone; but in its own defence it armed a portion of the population; the rest it kept down by superstition, or disarmed and weakened it by corruption. To Plato, who saw it from a distance, this government seemed stupendous, and he idealised it; it was for him the “city of God,” the pattern republic. Nevertheless, as was inevitable, might rebelled against doctrine, the soldiery broke the reign of the priesthood, and by the side of the pontiffs arose the kings, or to speak more correctly, the two series proceeded in parallels; that of the priests was not set aside, it had its palaces, the temples, strong like fortresses, along the Nile, which were at the same time splendid abodes, agricultural establishments, commercial dépôts, and caravan stations; its members appointed and ruled the kings themselves, regulating the most minute acts of their daily conduct; they were the depositaries of the highest offices, and as the learned savans, magistrates, and physicians, enjoyed the first honours. Their chief colleges were at Thebes, Memphis, Heliopolis, and Saïs; they possessed a great

portion of the land, which they caused to be cultivated; paid no taxes, but collected tithes. They formed indeed the elect, privileged, and only free portion of the nation.

50. Exoteric and Esoteric Doctrines.—The priests were no followers of the idolatrous faith of the people; but to have undeceived the latter would have been dangerous for themselves. The true doctrine of the unity of God, therefore, which was their secret, was only imparted to those that after many trials had been initiated into the mysteries. Their doctrines, like those of all other priesthoods, were therefore exoteric and esoteric; and the mysteries were of two kinds, the greater and the less, the former being the mysteries of Osiris and Serapis, the latter those of Isis. The mysteries of Osiris were celebrated at the autumnal equinox; those of Serapis at the summer solstice; and those of Isis at the vernal equinox.

51. Egyptian Mythology. Though want of space does not allow me fully to enter upon the vast subject of Egyptian mythology, yet a few words thereon are necessary to render its bearing on the mysteries clear, and also to show its connection with many of the rites of modern freemasonry.

That all the symbols and ceremonies of all the ancient creeds originally had a deep and universal cosmic meaning, has already been shown (9, 10); but at the time when the mysteries were most flourishing that meaning was to a great extent lost, and a merely astronomical one substituted for it, as will be seen from the following explanations :

Osiris, represented in Egypt by a sceptre surmounted by an eye, to signify him that rules and sees, symbolises the sun. Osiris is evidently derived from Iswara, an epithet of Brahma, and means the Supreme Lord; it is therefore a title, and not a proper name.

The same adventures are attributed to Osiris that are related of Brahma. Osiris is killed by Typhon; a serpent engendered by the mud of the Nile. But Typhon is a transposition of Python, derived from the Greek word πύθω, , “to putrefy,” and means nothing else but the noxious vapours arising from steaming mud, and thus concealing the sun; wherefore in the Greek mythology Apollo—another name for the sun is said to have slain Python with his arrows, that is to say, dispelled the vapours by his rays. Osiris having been killed by Python-to which, however, the wider meaning of the sun's imaginary disappearance, or death, during the winter season, was attached—Isis, his wife, or the moon, goes in search of him, and at last finds his body, cut into fourteen pieces ;

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that is to say, into as many parts as there are days between the full moon and the new. She collects all the pieces, with one important exception, for which she made a substitution, which gave rise to a worship resembling that of the lingam in India, and which in Egypt was called that of the phallus. Among the Sidonians, Isis was called Ashtaroth, meaning

'flocks,” “riches," i.e., the plenty of the earth ; and hence we so frequently find “asherah” and “ashtaroth ' tioned together. In the Bible asherah is translated “ but this is an error; asherah means “pillar," or the phallus, the mast of the ship of Isis, which was carried in procession at Egyptian religious festivals.

But although to the vulgar crowd Isis was only the moon, to the initiated she was Hathor, the Universal Mother, the primordial harmony and beauty, called in Egyptian “ Iophis,” which the Greeks turned into “ Sophia," I whence the Virgin Sophia of theosophy. Hence also the many names by which Isis was known (58), indicating the multifarious aspects she necessarily assumed. Her image was worshipped at Saïs under the emblem of “Isis veiled," with this inscription : “I am all that has been, all that is, and all that will be, and no mortal has drawn aside my veil.”

Apis, or the Bull, was an object of worship throughout all the ancient world, because formerly the zodiacal sign of the Bull opened the vernal equinox (81).

52. The Phoenix.—The Egyptians began the year with the rising of the dog-star or Sirius. But making no allowance for the quarter of a day which finishes the year, the civil year every four years began one day too soon, and so the beginning of the year went successively through every one of the days of the natural year in the space of four times 365, which makes 1460 years. They fancied they blessed and made all the seasons to prosper by making them thus to enjoy one after another the feast of Isis, which was celebrated along with that of Sirius, though it was frequently very remote from that constellation; wherefore they introduced the image of dogs, or even the real and living animals, preceding the chariots of Isis. When in the 1461st year the feast again coincided with the rising of the star Sirius, they looked upon it as a season of plenty, and symbolised it by a bird of singular beauty, which they called Phænix (deliciis abundans), saying that it came to

1 By a transposition of consonants, common enough in

ation of new words; Typhon from Python is an instance already mentioned ; forma, from Mopon, is another.

die upon the altar of the sun, and that out of its ashes there arose a little



birth to a bird perfectly like the preceding.

53. The Cross. — Among the astronomical symbols we must not omit the Cross. This sign really signifies the fire, as we have seen (11, ix.), but in Egypt it was simply the Nilometer, consisting of an upright pole with a cross-bar, that was raised or lowered according to the swelling or decrease of the river. It was frequently surmounted by a circle, typifying the deity that governs this important operation. Now, the overflow of the Nile was considered the salvation of Egypt, and hence the sign came to be looked upon with great veneration, and to have occult virtues attributed to it, such as the power of averting evil ; wherefore the Egyptians hung small figures of the cross, or rather the letter T, with a ring attached to it, the crux ansata, round the necks of their children and of sick persons; they applied it to the string or fillets with which they wrapped up their mummies, where we still find it; it became, in fact, an amulet (amolitio malorum). Other nations adopted the custom, and hence the cross or the letter T, whereby it was symbolised throughout the ancient world, was supposed to be a sign or letter of more than ordinary significance. In the mysteries, the cruc ansata was the symbol of eternal life. But the cross was worshipped as an astronomical sign in other countries. We have seen that in India the neophyte was sanctified by the sign of the cross (42), which in most ancient nations was a symbol of the universe, pointing as it does to the four quarters of the compass; and the erection of temples on the cruciform principle is as old as architecture itself. The two great pagodas of Benares and Mathura are erected in the form of vast crosses, of which each wing is equal in extent, as is also the pyramidal temple of New Grange in Ireland. But the older and deeper meaning of the cross is shown in (11); it refers to the fire, and the double quality everywhere observable in Nature. The triple tau is the Royal Arch Mason's badge.

54. Places of Initiation.—In Egypt and other countries (India, Media, Persia, Mexico) the place of initiation was a pyramid erected over subterranean caverns. The pyramids, in fact, may be looked upon, considering their size, shape, and solidity, as artificial mountains. Their form not only symbolically represented the ascending flame, but also had a deeper origin in the conical form, which is the primitive figure of all natural products. And the Great Pyramid, the

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tomb of Osiris, was erected in such a position, and to such a height, that at the spring and autumnal equinoxes the sun would appear exactly at midday upon the summit of the pyramid, seeming to rest upon this immense pedestal, when his worshippers, extended at the base, would contemplate the great Osiris as well when he descended into the tomb as when he arose from it triumphant.

55. Process of Initiation.—The candidate, conducted by a guide, was led to a deep, dark well or shaft in the pyramid, and, provided with a torch, he descended into it by means of a ladder affixed to the side. Arrived at the bottom, he saw two doors-one of them barred, the other yielding to the touch of his hand. Passing through it, he beheld a winding gallery, whilst the door behind him shut with a clang that reverberated through the vaults. Inscriptions like the following met his eye: “Whoso shall pass along this road alone, and without looking back, shall be purified by fire, water, and air; and overcoming the fear of death, shall issue from the bowels of the earth to the light of day, preparing his soul to receive the mysteries of Isis.” Proceeding onward, the candidate arrived at another iron gate, guarded by three armed men, whose shining helmets were surmounted by emblematic animals, the Cerberus of Orpheus. Here the candidate had offered to him the last chance of returning, if so inclined. Electing to go forward, he underwent the trial by fire, by passing through a hall filled with inflammable substances in a state of combustion, and forming a bower of fire. The floor was covered with a grating of redhot iron bars, leaving, however, narrow interstices where he might safely place his feet. Having surmounted this obstacle, he has to encounter the trial by water. A wide and dark canal, fed by the waters of the Nile, arrests his progress. Placing the flickering lamp upon his head, he plunges into the canal, and swims to the opposite bank, where the greatest trial, that by air, awaits him. He lands upon a platform leading to an ivory door, bounded by two walls of brass, into each of which is inserted an immense wheel of the same metal. He in vain attempts to open the door, when, espying two large iron rings affixed to it, he takes hold of them ; but suddenly the platform sinks from under him, a chilling blast of wind extinguishes his lamp, the two brazen wheels revolve with formidable rapidity and stunning noise, whilst he remains suspended by the two rings over the fathomless abyss. But ere he is exhausted the platform returns, the ivory door opens, and he sees before him a

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