WE often profit more by our enemies than by our friends. “We support ourselves only on that which resists,” and owe our success to opposition. The best friends of Masonry in America were the Anti-Masons of 1826, and at the same time they were its worst enemies. Men are but the automata of Providence, and it uses the demagogue, the fanatic, and the knave, a common trinity in Republics, as its tools and instruments to effect that of which they do not dream, and which they imagine themselves commissioned to prevent.
The Anti-Masons, traitors and perjurers some, and some mere political knaves, purified Masonry by persecution, and so proved to be its benefactors; for that which is persecuted, grows. To them its present popularity is due, the cheapening of its Degrees, the invasion of its Lodges, that are no longer Sanctuaries, by the multitude; its pomp and pageantry and overdone display.
An hundred years ago it had become known that the קדש were the Templars under a veil, and therefore the Degree was pro-scribed, and, ceasing to be worked, became a mere brief and formal ceremony, under another name. Now, from the tomb in which after his murders he rotted, Clement the Fifth howls against the successors of his victims, in the Allocution of Pio Nono against the Free-Masons. The ghosts of the dead Templars haunt the Vatican and disturb the slumbers of the paralyzed Papacy, which, dreading the dead, shrieks out its excommunications and impotent anathemas against the living. It is a declaration of war, and was needed to arouse apathy and inertness to action.
An enemy of the Templars shall tell us the secret of this Papal hostility against an Order that has existed for centuries in despite of its anathemas, and has its Sanctuaries and Asyla even in Rome.
It will be easy, as we read, to separate the false from the true, the audacious conjectures from the simple facts.
“A power that ruled without antagonism and without concurrence, and consequently without control, proved fatal to the Sacerdotal Royalties; while the Republics, on the other hand, had perished by the conflict of liberties and franchises, which, in the absence of all duty hierarchically sanctioned and enforced, had soon become mere tyrannies, rivals one of the other. To find a stable medium between these two abysses, the idea of the Christian Hierophants was to create a society devoted to abnegation by solemn vows, protected by severe regulations; which should be recruited by initiation, and which, sole depositary of the great religious and social secrets, should make Kings and Pontiffs, without exposing it to the corruptions of Power. In that was the secret of that kingdom of Jesus Christ, which, without being of this world, would govern all its grandeurs.
“This idea presided at the foundation of the great religious orders, so often at war with the secular authorities, ecclesiastical or civil. Its realization was also the dream of the dissident sects of Gnostics or Illuminati who pretended to connect their faith with the primitive tradition of the Christianity of Saint John. It at length became a menace for the Church and Society, when a rich and dissolute Order, initiated in the mysterious doctrines of the Kabalah, seemed disposed to turn against legitimate authority the conservative principle of Hierarchy, and threatened the entire world with an immense revolution.
“The Templars, whose history is so imperfectly known, were those terrible conspirators. In 1118, nine Knights Crusaders in the East, among whom were Geoffroi de Saint-Omer and Hugues de Payens, consecrated themselves to religion, and took an oath between the hands of the Patriarch of Constantinople, a See always secretly or openly hostile to that of Rome from the time of Photius. The avowed object of the Templars was to protect the Christians who came to visit the Holy Places: their secret object was the re-building of the Temple of Solomon on the model prophesied by Ezekiel.
“This re-building, formally predicted by the Judaïzing Mystics of the earlier ages, had become the secret dream of the Patriarchs of the Orient. The Temple of Solomon, re-built and consecrated to the Catholic worship would become, in effect, the Metropolis of the Universe; the East would prevail over the West, and the Patriarchs of Constantinople would possess themselves of the Papal power.
“The Templars, or Poor Fellow-Soldiery of the Holy House of the Temple intended to be re-built, took as their models, in the Bible, the Warrior-Masons of Zorobabel, who worked, holding the sword in one hand and the trowel in the other. Therefore it was that the Sword and the Trowel were the insignia of the Templars, who subsequently, as will be seen, concealed themselves under the name of Brethren Masons. [This name, Frères Masons in the French, adopted by way of secret reference to the Builders of the Second Temple, was corrupted in English into Free-Masons, as Pythagore de Crotone was into Peter Gower of Groton in England. Khairūm or Khūr-ūm, (a name mis-rendered into Hiram) from an artificer in brass and other metals, became the Chief Builder of the Haikal Kadosh, the Holy House, of the Temple, the Ἱερος Δομος; and the words Bonai and Banaim yet appear in the Masonic Degrees, meaning Builder and Builders.]
“The trowel of the Templars is quadruple, and the triangular plates of it are arranged in the form of a cross, making the Kabalistic pantacle known by the name of the Cross of the East. The Knight of the East, and the Knight of the East and West, have in their titles secret allusions to the Templars of whom they were at first the successors.
“The secret thought of Hugues de Payens, in founding his Order, was not exactly to serve the ambition of the Patriarchs of Constantinople. There existed at that period in the East a Sect of Johannite Christians, who claimed to be the only true Initiates into the real mysteries of the religion of the Saviour. They pretended to know the real history of YESUS the ANOINTED, and, adopting in part the Jewish traditions and the tales of the Talmud, they held that the facts recounted in the Evangels are but allegories, the key of which Saint John gives, in saying that the world might be filled with the books that could be written upon the words and deeds of Jesus Christ; words which, they thought, would be only a ridiculous exaggeration, if he were not speaking of an allegory and a legend, that might be varied and prolonged to infinity.
“The Johannites ascribed to Saint John the foundation of their Secret Church, and the Grand Pontiffs of the Sect assumed the title of Christos, Anointed, or Consecrated, and claimed to have succeeded one another from Saint John by an uninterrupted succession of pontifical powers. He who, at the period of the foundation of the Order of the Temple, claimed these imaginary prerogatives, was named THEOCLET; he knew HUGUES DE PAYENS, he initiated him into the Mysteries and hopes of his pretended church, he seduced him by the notions of Sovereign Priesthood and Supreme royalty, and finally designated him as his successor.
“Thus the Order of Knights of the Temple was at its very origin devoted to the cause of opposition to the tiara of Rome and the crowns of Kings, and the Apostolate of Kabalistic Gnosticism was vested in its chiefs. For Saint John himself was the Father of the Gnostics, and the current translation of his polemic against the heretical of his Sect and the pagans who denied that Christ was the Word, is throughout a misrepresentation, or misunderstanding at least, of the whole Spirit of that Evangel.
“The tendencies and tenets of the Order were enveloped in profound mystery, and it externally professed the most perfect orthodoxy. The Chiefs alone knew the aim of the Order: the Subalterns followed them without distrust.
“To acquire influence and wealth, then to intrigue, and at need to fight, to establish the Johannite or Gnostic and Kabalistic dogma, were the object and means proposed to the initiated Brethren. The Papacy and the rival monarchies, they said to them, are sold and bought in these days, become corrupt, and to-morrow, perhaps, will destroy each other. All that will become the heritage of the Temple: the World will soon come to us for its Sovereigns and Pontiffs. We shall constitute the equilibrium of the Universe, and be rulers over the Masters of the World.
“The Templars, like all other Secret Orders and Associations, had two doctrines, one concealed and reserved for the Masters, which was Johannism; the other public, which was the Roman Catholic. Thus they deceived the adversaries whom they sought to supplant. Hence Free-Masonry, vulgarly imagined to have begun with the Dionysian Architects or the German Stone-workers, adopted Saint John the Evangelist as one of its patrons, associating with him, in order not to arouse the suspicions of Rome, Saint John the Baptist, and thus covertly proclaiming itself the child of the Kabalah and Essenism together.”
[For the Johannism of the Adepts was the Kabalah of the earlier Gnostics, degenerating afterward into those heretical forms which Gnosticism developed, so that even Manes had his followers among them. Many adopted his doctrines of the two Principles, the recollection of which is perpetuated by the handle of the dagger and the tesserated pavement or floor of the Lodge, stupidly called "the Indented Tessel," and represented by great hanging tassels, when it really means a tesserated floor (from the Latin tessera) of white and black lozenges, with a necessarily denticulated or indented border or edging. And wherever, in the higher Degrees, the two colors white and black, are in juxtaposition, the two Principles of Zoroaster and Manes are alluded to. With others the doctrine became a mystic Pantheism, descended from that of the Brahmin's, and even pushed to an idolatry of Nature and hatred of every revealed dogma.
[To all this the absurd reading of the established Church, taking literally the figurative, allegorical, and mythical language of a collection of Oriental books of different ages, directly and inevitably led. The same result long after followed the folly of regarding the Hebrew books as if they had been written by the unimaginative, hard, practical intellect of the England of James the First and the bigoted stolidity of Scottish Presbyterianism.]
“The better to succeed and win partisans, the Templars sympathized with regrets for dethroned creeds and encouraged the hopes of new worships, promising to all liberty of conscience and a new orthodoxy that should be the synthesis of all the persecuted creeds.”
[It is absurd to suppose that men of intellect adored a monstrous idol called Baphomet, or recognized Mahomet as an inspired prophet. Their symbolism, invented ages before, to conceal what it was dangerous to avow, was of course misunderstood by those who were not adepts, and to their enemies seemed to be pantheistic. The calf of gold, made by Aaron for the Israelites, was but one of the oxen under the laver of bronze, and the Karobim on the Propitiatory, misunderstood. The symbols of the wise always become the idols of the ignorant multitude. What the Chiefs of the Order really believed and taught, is indicated to the Adepts by the hints contained in the high Degrees of Free-Masonry, and by the symbols which only the Adepts understand.
[The Blue Degrees are but the outer court or portico of the Temple. Part of the symbols are displayed there to the Initiate, but he is intentionally misled by false interpretations. It is not intended that he shall understand them; but it is intended that he shall imagine he understands them. Their true explication is reserved for the Adepts, the Princes of Masonry. The whole body of the Royal and Sacerdotal Art was hidden so carefully, centuries since, in the High Degrees, as that it is even yet impossible to solve many of the enigmas which they contain. It is well enough for the mass of those called Masons, to imagine that all is contained in the Blue Degrees; and whoso attempts to undeceive them will labor in vain, and without any true reward violate his obligations as an Adept. Masonry is the veritable Sphinx, buried to the head in the sands heaped round it by the ages.]
“The seeds of decay were sown in the Order of the Temple at its origin. Hypocrisy is a mortal disease. It had conceived a great work which it was incapable of executing, because it knew neither humility nor personal abnegation, because Rome was then invincible, and because the later Chiefs of the Order did not comprehend its mission. Moreover, the Templars were in general uneducated, and capable only of wielding the sword, with no qualifications for governing, and at need enchaining, that queen of the world called Opinion.” [The doctrines of the Chiefs would, if expounded to the masses, have seemed to them the babblings of folly. The symbols of the wise are the idols of the vulgar, or else as meaningless as the hieroglyphics of Egypt to the nomadic Arabs. There must always be a common-place interpretation for the mass of Initiates, of the symbols that are eloquent to the Adepts.]
“Hughes de Payens himself had not that keen and far-sighted intellect nor that grandeur of purpose which afterward distinguished the military founder of another soldiery that became formidable to kings. The Templars were unintelligent and therefore unsuccessful Jesuits.
“Their watchword was, to become wealthy, in order to buy the world. They became so, and in 1312 they possessed in Europe alone more than nine thousand seignories. Riches were the shoal on which they were wrecked. They became insolent, and unwisely showed their contempt for the religious and social institutions which they aimed to overthrow. Their ambition was fatal to them. Their projects were divined and prevented. [Rome, more intolerant of heresy than of vice and crime, came to fear the Order, and fear is always cruel. It has always deemed philosophical truth the most dangerous of heresies, and has never been at a loss for a false accusation, by means of which to crush free thought.] Pope Clement V. and King Philip le Bel gave the signal to Europe, and the Templars, taken as it were in an immense net, were arrested, disarmed, and cast into prison. Never was a Coup d’Etat accomplished with a more formidable concert of action. The whole world was struck with stupor, and eagerly waited for the strange revelations of a process that was to echo through so many ages.
“It was impossible to unfold to the people the conspiracy of the Templars against the Thrones and the Tiara. It was impossible to expose to them the doctrines of the Chiefs of the Order. [This would have been to initiate the multitude into the secrets of the Masters, and to have uplifted the veil of Isis. Recourse was therefore had to the charge of magic, and denouncers and false witnesses were easily found. When the temporal and spiritual tyrannies unite to crush a victim they never want for serviceable instruments.] The Templars were gravely accused of spitting upon Christ and denying God at their receptions, of gross obscenities, conversations with female devils, and the worship of a monstrous idol.
“The end of the drama is well known, and how Jacques de Molai and his fellows perished in the flames. But before his execution, the Chief of the doomed Order organized and instituted what afterward came to be called the Occult, Hermetic, or Scottish Masonry. In the gloom of his prison, the Grand Master created four Metropolitan Lodges, at Naples for the East, at Edinburg for the West, at Stockholm for the North, and at Paris for the South.” [The initials of his name, J∴ B∴ M∴ found in the same order in the first three Degrees, are but one of the many internal and cogent proofs that such was the origin of modern Free-Masonry. The legend of Osiris was revived and adopted, to symbolize the destruction of the Order, and the resurrection of Khūrūm, slain in the body of the Temple, of KHŪRŪM ABAI, the Master, as the martyr of fidelity to obligation, of Truth and Conscience, prophesied the restoration to life of the buried association.]
“The Pope and the King soon after perished in a strange and sudden manner. Squin de Florian, the chief denouncer of the Order, died assassinated. In breaking the sword of the Templars, they made of it a poniard; and their proscribed trowels thence-forward built only tombs.”
[The Order disappeared at once. Its estates and wealth were confiscated, and it seemed to have ceased to exist. Nevertheless it lived, under other names and governed by unknown Chiefs, revealing itself only to those who, in passing through a series of Degrees, had proven themselves worthy to be entrusted with the dangerous Secret. The modern Orders that style themselves Templars have assumed a name to which they have not the shadow of a title.]
“The Successors of the Ancient Adepts Rose-Croix, abandoning by degrees the austere and hierarchal Science of their Ancestors in initiation, became a Mystic Sect, united with many of the Templars, the dogmas of the two intermingling, and believed themselves to be the sole depositaries of the secrets of the Gospel of St. John, seeing in its recitals an allegorical series of rites proper to complete the initiation.
“The Initiates, in fact, thought in the eighteenth century that their time had arrived, some to found a new Hierarchy, others to overturn all authority, and to press down all the summits of the Social Order under the level of Equality.”
The mystical meanings of the Rose as a Symbol are to be looked for in the Kabalistic Commentaries on the Canticles.
The Rose was for the Initiates the living and blooming symbol of the revelation of the harmonies of being. It was the emblem of beauty, life, love, and pleasure. Flamel, or the Book of the Jew Abraham, made it the hieroglyphical sign of the accomplishment of the great Work. Such is the key of the Roman de la Rose. The Conquest of the Rose was the problem propounded to Science by Initiation, while Religion was laboring to prepare and establish the universal triumph, exclusive and definitive, of the Cross.
To unite the Rose to the Cross, was the problem proposed by the High Initiation; and in fact the Occult philosophy being the Universal Synthesis, ought to explain all the phenomena of Being. Religion, considered solely as a physiological fact, is the revelation and satisfaction of a necessity of souls. Its existence is a scientific fact; to deny it, would be to deny humanity itself.
The Rose-Croix Adepts respected the dominant, hierarchical, and revealed religion. Consequently they could no more be the enemies of the Papacy than of legitimate Monarchy; and if they conspired against the Popes and Kings, it was because they considered them personally as apostates from duty and supreme favorers of anarchy.
What, in fact, is a despot, spiritual or temporal, but a crowned anarchist?
One of the magnificent pantacles that express the esoteric and unutterable part of Science, is a Rose of Light, in the center of which a human form extends its arms in the form of a cross.
Commentaries and studies have been multiplied upon the Divine Comedy, the work of DANTE, and yet no one, so far as we know, has pointed out its especial character. The work of the great Ghibellin is a declaration of war against the Papacy, by bold revelations of the Mysteries. The Epic of Dante is Johannite and Gnostic, an audacious application, like that of the Apocalypse, of the figures and numbers of the Kabalah to the Christian dogmas, and a secret negation of every thing absolute in these dogmas. His journey through the supernatural worlds is accomplished like the initiation into the Mysteries of Eleusis and Thebes. He escapes from that gulf of Hell over the gate of which the sentence of despair was written, by reversing the positions of his head and feet, that is to say, by accepting the direct opposite of the Catholic dogma; and then he reascends to the light, by using the Devil himself as a monstrous ladder. Faust ascends to Heaven, by stepping on the head of the vanquished Mephistopheles. Hell is impassable for those only who know not how to turn back from it. We free ourselves from its bondage by audacity.
His Hell is but a negative Purgatory. His Heaven is composed of a series of Kabalistic circles, divided by a cross, like the Pantacle of Ezekiel. In the centre of this cross blooms a rose, and we see the symbol of the Adepts of the Rose-Croix for the first time publicly expounded and almost categorically explained.
For the first time, because Guillaume de Lorris, who died in 1260, five years before the birth of Alighieri, had not completed his Roman de la Rose, which was continued by Chopinel, a half century afterward. One is astonished to discover that the Roman de la Rose and the Divina Commedia are two opposite forms of one and the same work, initiation into independence of spirit, a satire on all contemporary institutions, and the allegorical formula of the great Secrets of the Society of the Roses-Croix.
The important manifestations of Occultism coincide with the period of the fall of the Templars; since Jean de Meung or Chopinel, contemporary of the old age of Dante, flourished during the best years of his life at the Court of Philippe le Bel. The Roman de la Rose is the Epic of old France. It is a profound book, under the form of levity, a revelation as learned as that of Apuleius, of the Mysteries of Occultism. The Rose of Flamel, that of Jean de Meung, and that of Dante, grew on the same stem.
Swedenborg’s system was nothing else than the Kabbalah, minus the principle of the Hierarchy. It is the Temple, without the keystone and the foundation.
Cagliostro was the Agent of the Templars, and therefore wrote to the Free-Masons of London that the time had come to begin the work of re-building the Temple of the Eternal. He had introduced into Masonry a new Rite called the Egyptian, and endeavored to resuscitate the mysterious worship of Isis. The three letters L∴ P∴ D∴ on his seal, were the initials of the words “Lilia pedibus destrue;” tread under foot the Lilies [of France], and a Masonic medal of the sixteenth or seventeenth century has upon it a sword cutting off the stalk of a lily, and the words “talem dabit ultio messem,” such harvest revenge will give.
A Lodge inaugurated under the auspices of Rousseau, the fanatic of Geneva, became the center of the revolutionary movement in France, and a Prince of the blood-royal went thither to swear the destruction of the successors of Philippe le Bel on the tomb of Jacques de Molai. The registers of the Order of Templars attest that the Regent, the Duc d’Orleans, was Grand Master of that formidable Secret Society, and that his successors were the Duc de Maine, the Prince of Bourbon-Condé, and the Duc de Cossé-Brissac.
The Templars compromitted the King; they saved him from the rage of the People, to exasperate that rage and bring on the catastrophe prepared for centuries; it was a scaffold that the vengeance of the Templars demanded. The secret movers of the French Revolution had sworn to overturn the Throne and the Altar upon the Tomb of Jacques de Molai. When Louis XVI. was executed, half the work was done; and thenceforward the Army of the Temple was to direct all its efforts against the Pope.
Jacques de Molai and his companions were perhaps martyrs, but their avengers dishonored their memory. Royalty was regenerated on the scaffold of Louis XVI., the Church triumphed in the captivity of Pius VI., carried a prisoner to Valence, and dying of fatigue and sorrow, but the successors of the Ancient Knights of the Temple perished, overwhelmed in their fatal victory.