Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

magnificent temple, brilliantly illuminated, and filled with the priests of Isis clothed in the mystic insignia of their offices, the hierophant at their head.But the ceremonies of initiation do not cease here. The candidate is subjected to a series of fastings, which gradually increase for nine times nine days. During this period a rigorous silence is imposed upon him, which if he preserve inviolate, he is at length fully initiated into the esoteric doctrines of Isis. He is led before the triple statue of Isis, Osiris, and Horus,—another symbol of the sun, -where he swears never to publish the things revealed to him in the sanctuary, and first drinks the water of Lethe, presented to him by the high priest, to forget all he ever heard in his unregenerate state, and afterwards the water of Mnemosyne, to remember all the lessons of wisdom imparted to him in the mysteries. He is next introduced into the most secret part of the sacred edifice, where a priest instructs him in the application of the symbols found therein. He is then publicly announced as a person who has been initiated into the mysteries of Isis—the first degree of the Egyptian rites.

56. Mysteries of Serapis.—These constituted the second degree. We know but little of them, and Apuleius only slightly touches upon them. When Theodosius destroyed the temple of Serapis there were discovered subterraneous passages and engines wherein and wherewith the priests tried the candidates. Porphyry, in referring to the greater mysteries, quotes a fragment of Cheremones, an Egyptian priest, which imparts an astronomical meaning to the whole legend of Osiris, thus confirming what has been said above. And Herodotus, in describing the temple of Minerva, where the rites of Osiris were celebrated, and speaking of a tomb placed in the most secret recess, as in Christian churches there are calvaries behind the altar, says: • It is the tomb of a god whose name I dare not mention.” Calvary is derived from the Latin word calvus, “ bald," and figuratively “arid," "dried up;" pointing to the decay of Nature in the winter season.

57. Mysteries of Osiris. — These formed the third degree or summit of Egyptian lay initiation, for there was yet the higher initiation into the priesthood, described in the following section. In these the legend of the murder of Osiris by his brother Typhon was represented, and the god was personated by the candidate. (As we shall see hereafter, the Freemasons exactly copy this procedure in the master's degree, substituting for Osiris Hiram Abiff, one of

the three grand-masters at the building of Solomon's temple.) The perfectly initiated candidate was called Al-om-jak, from the name of the Deity (43), and the dogma of the unity of God was the chief secret imparted to him. How great and how dangerous a secret it was may easily be seen when it is borne in mind that centuries after the institution of the mysteries, Socrates lost his life for promulgating the same doctrine. According to Iamblichus, all initiated into the highest esoteric mysteries became, as it were, dead to their own selves; they were absorbed in the Deity; they enjoyed the beatific vision. Neither fire nor steel could hurt them; no natural obstacles could stand in their way; the afflatus of the Divine spirit encompassed them. We have, in fact, in those ancient pagan imaginations all the fancied privileges of the Christian mystics, all the raptures of canonised saints of the Roman Catholic Church,

58. Isis. The many names assumed by Isis bave already been alluded to. She was also represented with different emblems, all betokening her manifold characteristics. The lucid round, the snake, the ears of corn, and the sistrum represent the titular deities of the Hecataan (Hecate, Goddess of Night), Bacchic, Eleusinian, and Ionic mysteries; that is, the mystic rites in general for whose sake the allegory was invented. The black palla in which she is wrapped, embroidered with a silver moon and stars, denotes the time in which the mysteries were celebrated, namely, in the dead of night. Her names, to return to them, are given in the following words, put into her mouth by Apuleius in his “Golden Ass," which is a description of the mysteries under the guise of a fable: “Behold, Lucius, I, moved by thy prayers, am present with thee; I who am Nature, the parent of things, the queen of all the elements, the primordial progeny of the ages, the supreme of divinities, the sovereign of the spirits of the dead, the first of the celestials, the first and universal substance, the uniform and multiform aspect of the uncreated essence; I who rule by my nod the luminous summits of the heavens, the breezes of the sea, and the silence of the realms beneath, and whose one divinity the whole orb of the earth venerates under a manifold form, by different rites, and a variety of appellations. Hence the early Phrygians call me Pessinuntica, mother of the gods; the Attic aborigines, Cecropian Minerva; the floating Cyprians, Paphian Venus; the arrow-bearing Cretans, Diana Dictynna; the three-tongued Sicilians, Stygian

VOL. I.

D

Proserpine; and the Eleusinians, the ancient goddess Ceres. Some also call me Juno, others Bellona, others Hecate, and others Rhamnusia. The Ethiopians, the Arii, and the Egyptians, skilled in ancient learning, honour me with rites peculiarly appropriate, and call me by my true name, Queen Isis.” From this it is quite clear that Ísis was not simply the moon to the initiated. In the sanctuary the multifarious forms are reduced to unity; the many idols are reduced to the one divinity—i.e., primeval power and intelligence.

V

CRATA REPOA, OR HIGHEST DEGREE OF

EGYPTIAN INITIATION

59. Preparation.—But there was a still higher degree into which Egyptian kings and priests only were initiated. It was known by the above title. Whoso wished to enter this degree had to be specially recommended by one of the initiated. This was usually done by the king himself introducing the aspirant to the priests. These first directed him from Heliopolis to the priests at Memphis; thence he was sent to Thebes; eventually he was circumcised; then he was forbidden to eat pulse or fish and to drink wine, though in the higher degrees leave to do so was occasionally granted. He was then left for several months together in a subterranean cave to his own reflections, which he was invited to write down. Afterwards he was led into a passage, supported by Hermes' pillars, on which were graven moral sentences he had to learn by heart. As soon as he knew them, the Thesmophorus, or introducer, came to him, carrying in his hand a stout whip, to keep away the profane from the gate through which the aspirant was to pass. blindfolded, and his hands tied with cords.

60. First Degree.—The candidate having been led to the “Gate of Men,” the Thesmophorus touched the shoulder of a Portophorus, or apprentice, who guarded the gate, which latter thereupon knocked at the gate, which was opened. On the aspirant's entrance he was questioned on various matters by the Hierophant, after which he was led about the Birantha in an artificial storm of wind, rain, thunder and lightning, and if he showed no signs of fear, Menies, the expounder, explained the laws of the Crata Repoa, to which he had to give his assent. He was then led before the Hierophant, before whom he had to kneel down on his bare knees, and, with a sword pointed at his throat, had to vow fidelity and secrecy, calling sun, moon, and stars to witness. His eyes were then unbandaged, and he was placed

He was

between two spare pillars, called Betilies, where lay a ladder of seven steps, behind which were eight doors of different metals, of gradually increasing purity. The Hierophant then addressing those present as Mene Musæ, or Children of the Work of Celestial Investigation, exhorted them to govern their passions, and fix their thoughts upon God. The candidate was then instructed that the ladder, whose steps he had to ascend, was the symbol of the wanderings of the soul; he was told the causes of wind, thunder, and lightning; he was also instructed in anatomy and medicine, in the symbolical language, and the ordinary hieroglyphic writing. The Hierophant further gave him the password by which the initiated recognised one another, and wbich was Amoun, signifying secrecy; and with it was given the grip, a cap shaped like a pyramid, and an apron called Xylon. Around his neck he wore a kind of collar, fitting closely to the chest. He wore no other clothes, and it was his duty to guard the Gate of Men, whenever it came to his turn.

61. Second Degree.—The Portophorus having given proofs of proficiency, he was, after a long fast, taken into a dark chamber, called Endimion, meaning an invitation grotto. He now was raised to the degree of Neocoris. Handsome women brought him dainty food; they were the wives of the priests, who endeavoured to excite his love. If he resisted the temptation, the Thesmophorus again visited, and, having catechised him, led him into the assembly, where the Stolista, or water-bearer, poured water over him. Then the Thesmophorus threw a living serpent on him, and drew it away again from under the apron. The whole room was, moreover, full of serpents, to test the courage of the Neocoris. He was then led to two high pillars, between which stood a griffin, driving a wheel before him. The pillars symbolised east and west, the griffin the sun, and the wheel with four spokes the four seasons. taught the use of the level, and instructed in geometry and architecture. He received a rod, entwined by serpents, and the password Heve, meaning serpent, and was told the story of the fall of man. The sign consisted in crossing the arms over the chest. His duty was to wash the pillars.

62. Third Degree, or The Gate of Death.—On being initiated into this degree, the Neocoris received the name of Melanophoris; he was led into an anteroom, over the entrance to which was written : “Gate of Death.' The room itself was full of representations of embalmed bodies and coffins. And

He was

« AnteriorContinuar »