• FREEMASONRY AND THE ANCIENT MYSTERIES

    FREEMASONRY AND THE ANCIENT


    MYSTERIES
    The theory whiFREEMASONRY AND THE ANCIENT
    MYSTERIES
    The theory which ascribes the origin of Freemasonry as a secret
    society to the Pagan (Mysteries of the ancient world) , and which
    derives the most important part of its ritual and the legend of its
    Third Degree . From the initiation practiced in these religious
    organizations , It connects itself with the Legend of the Temple
    origin, because we can only link the initiation in the Mysteries
    with that of Freemasonry by supposing that the one was in some
    way engrafted on the other, at the time of the building of the
    Temple by the Tyrian and Jewish workmen . Nevertheless, before
    we can properly appreciate the theory, which associates
    Freemasonry with the Pagan Mysteries, we must make ourselves
    acquainted with the nature and the design as well as with
    something of the history of those mystical societies. Among all the
    nations of antiquity in which refinement and culture had given an
    elevated tone to the religious sentiment, there existed two systems
    of worship, a public and a private one. "Each of the pagan Gods,"
    says Warburton, "had (besides the public and open) a secret
    worship paid unto him, to which none were admitted but those who
    had been selected by preparatory ceremonies, called INITIATION.
    This secret worship was called the MYSTERIES."
    The public worship was founded on the superstitious polytheism
    whose numerous gods and goddesses were debased in character and
    vicious in conduct. Incentive to virtue could not be derived from
    their example, which furnished rather excuses for vice. In the
    Eunuchus of Terenie, when Choerea is meditating the seduction of
    the virgin Pamphila, he refers to the similar act of Jupiter, who in
    a shower of gold had corrupted Danae, and he exclaims, "If a god,
    who by his thunders shakes the whole universe, could commit this
    crime, shall not I, a mere mortal, do so also?" Plautus, Euripides
    and other Greek and Roman dramatists and poets repeatedly used
    the same argument in defense of the views of their heroes, so that it
    became a settled principle of the ancient religion. The vicious
    example of the gods thus became an insuperable obstacle to a life of
    purity and holiness. The assurance of a future life of compensation
    constituted no part of the popular theology. The poets, it is true,
    indulged in romantic descriptions of an Elysium and a Tartarus,
    but their views were uncertain and unsatisfactory. As to any
    specific doctrine of immortality, and were embodied in the saying
    of Ovid * that of the four elements which constituted the human
    organization, "the earth covers the flesh; the shade flits around the
    tomb; the spirit seeks the stars."
    Thus did the poet express the prevalent idea that the composite
    man returned after death to the various primordial elements of
    which he had been originally composed. In such a dim and
    shadowy hypothesis, there was no incentive for life, no consolation
    in death. And hence Alger, to whom the world has been indebted
    for a most exhaustive treatise on the popular beliefs of all nations,
    ancient and modern, on the subject of the future life, has after a
    full and critical examination of the question, come to the following
    conclusion: "To the ancient Greek in general, death was a sad
    doom. When he lost a friend, he sighed a melancholy farewell after
    him to the faded shore of ghosts. Summoned himself, he departed
    with a lingering look at the sun and a tearful adieu to the bright
    day and the green earth. To the Roman death was a grim reality.
    To meet it himself he girded up his loins with artificial firmness.
    But at its ravages among his friends, he wailed in anguished
    abandonment. To his dying vision there was indeed a future, but
    shapes of distrust and shadow stood upon its disconsolate borders;
    and when the prospect had no horror, he still shrank from the
    poppied gloom."
    Yet as each nation advanced in refinement and intellectual culture
    the priests, the poets, and the philosophers aspired to a higher
    thought and cherished the longing for and inculcated the consoling
    doctrine of an immortality, not to be spent in shadowy and inert
    forms of existence, but in perpetual enjoyment, as a compensation
    for the ills of life. The necessary result of the growth of such pure
    and elevated notions must have been a contempt and
    condemnation of the absurdities of polytheism. However, as this
    was the popular religion it was readily perceived that any open
    attempt to overthrow it and to advance, publicly, opinions so
    antagonistic to it would be highly impolitic and dangerous.
    Whenever any religion, whether true or false, becomes the religion
    of a people, whoever opposes it, or ridicules it, or seeks to subvert it,
    is sure to be denounced by popular fanaticism and to be punished
    by popular intolerance. Many of the philosophers were, however,
    skeptics. The Stoics, for instance, and they were the leading sect,
    denied the survival of the soul after the death of the body; or, if
    any of them conceded its survival, they attributed to it only a
    temporary duration before it is dissolved and absorbed into the
    universe. Seneca "Troades," I., 397) says, "There is nothing after
    death, and death itself is nothing." Post mortem nihil, est ipsague
    mors nihil.
    Socrates was doomed to drink the poisoned bowl on the charge that
    he taught the Athenian youth not to worship the gods,who are
    worshipped by the state, but new and unknown deities. Jesus was
    suspended from the cross because he inculcated doctrines which,
    however pure, were novel and obnoxious to the old religion of his
    Jewish fellow citizens. The new religious truths among the Pagan
    peoples were therefore concealed from common inspection and
    taught only in secret societies, admission to which was obtained
    only through the ordeal of a painful initiation, and the doctrines
    were further concealed under the veil of symbols whose true
    meaning the initiated only could understand. "The truth," says
    Clemens of Alexandria "was taught involved in enigmas, symbols,
    allegories, metaphors, and tropes and figures. The secret
    associations in which the principles of a new and purer theology
    were taught have received in history the name of the MYSTERIES.
    Each country had its own Mysteries peculiar to itself. In Egypt
    were those of Osiris and Isis; in Samothrace those of the Cabiri; in
    Greece they celebrated at Eleusis, near Athens, the Mysteries of
    Demeter; in Phoenicia of Adonis and Dionysus; of and in Persia
    those of Mithras, which were the last to perish after the advent of
    Christianity and the overthrow of polytheism. These Mysteries,
    although they differed in name and in some of the details of
    initiation, were essentially alike in general form and design. "Their
    end as well as nature," says Warburton, "was the same in all: to
    teach the doctrine of a future state." * Alger says: "The implications
    of the indirect evidence, the leanings and guiding of the entire
    incidental clews now left us as to the real aim and purport of the
    Mysteries, combine to assure us that their chief teaching was a
    doctrine of a future life in which there should be rewards and
    punishments." Thomas Taylor, the Platonist, says that : "the
    initiated were instructed in the doctrine of a state of future
    rewards, and punishments, and that the greater Mysteries
    "obscurely intimated, by mystic and splendid visions, the felicity of
    the soul both here and hereafter, when purified from the
    defilements of a material nature and constantly elevated to the
    realities of intellectual vision All the ancient writers who were
    contemporary with these associations, and must have been
    familiar with their character, concur in the opinion that their
    design was to teach the doctrine of a future life of compensation.
    Pindar says, "Happy the man who descends beneath the hollow
    earth having beheld these Mysteries. He knows the end, he knows
    the divine origin of life." Sophocles says that "they are thrice happy
    who descend to the shades below, after having beheld these rites;
    for they alone have life in Hades, while all others suffer there
    every kind of evil." Lastly, Isocrates declares, "those who have been
    initiated in the Mysteries of Ceres entertain better hopes both as to
    the end of life and the whole of futurity. It is then evident from all
    authorities , that the great end and design of the initiation into
    these Mysteries , was to teach the aspirant the doctrine of a future
    life not that aimless one . Portrayed by the poas and doubtfully
    consented to by the people, but that pure and rational state of
    immortal existence , in which the soul is purified from the dross of
    the body and elevated to eternal life. It was, in short, much the
    same in its spirit as the Christian and Masonic doctrine of the
    resurrection.
    But this lesson was communicated in the Mysteries in a peculiar
    form, which has in fact given rise to the theory we are now
    considering that they were the antitype and original source of
    Speculative Masonry. They were all dramatic in their ceremonies;
    each one exhibited in a series of scenic representations the
    adventures of some god or hero; the attacks upon him by his
    enemies; his death at their hands; his descent into Hades or the
    grave, and his final resurrection to renewed life as a mortal, or his
    apotheosis as a god. The only important difference between these
    various Mysteries was, that there was to each one a different and
    peculiar god or hero, whose death and resurrection or apotheosis
    constituted the subject of the drama, and gave to its scenes the
    changes which were dependent on the adventures of him who was
    its main subject. Thus, in Samothrace, where the Mysteries of the
    Cabiri were celebrated, it was Atys, the lover of Cybele, who was
    slain and restored; in Egypt it was Osiris whose death and
    resurrection were represented; in Greece it was Dionysus, and in
    Persia Mithras. Nevertheless, in all of these the material points of
    the plot and the religious design of the sacred drama were
    identical. The dramatic form and the scenic representation of the
    allegory were everywhere preserved. This dramatic form of the
    initiatory rites in the Mysteries , was as the learned Dr. Dollinger
    has justly observed , eminently calculated to take a powerful hold
    on the imagination and the heart and to excite in the spectators
    alternately conflicting sentiments of terror and calmness , of
    sorrow and fear and hope . As the Mysteries were a secret society,
    whose members were separated from the rest of the people by a
    ceremony of initiation, therefore resulted from this form of
    organization, as a necessary means of defense and of isolation, a
    solemn obligation of secrecy, with severe penalties for its violation,
    and certain modes of recognition known only to those who had
    been instructed in them. There was what might be called a
    progressive order of degrees, for the neophyte was not at once upon
    his initiation invested with knowledge of the deepest arcane of the
    religious system. Thus, the Mysteries were divided into two classes
    called the lesser and the Greater Mysteries, and in addition, there
    was a preliminary ceremony, which was only preparatory to the
    Mysteries proper. So that there was in the process of reception a
    system of three steps, which those who are fond of tracing
    analogies between the ancient and the modern initiations are
    prone to call degrees. A brief review of these three steps of progress
    in the Mysteries will give the reader a very definite idea of the
    nature of this ancient system. So many writers have thought that
    they had found the incunabulum of modern Freemasonry, and will
    enable him to appreciate at their just value the analogies, which
    these writers have found, as they suppose, between the two systems.
    The first step was called purification by water. When the neophyte
    was ready to be received into any of the ancient Mysteries, he was
    carried into the temple or other place appropriated to the
    ceremony of initiation, and there underwent a thorough cleansing
    of the body by water. This was the preparation for reception into
    the Lesser Mysteries and was symbolic of that purification of the
    heart that was necessary to prepare the aspirant for admission to
    a knowledge of and participation in the sacred lessons that were to
    be subsequently communicated to him. It has been sought to find in
    this preparatory ceremony an analogy to the first degree of
    Masonry. Such an analogy certainly exists, as will here after be
    shown, but the theory that the Apprentice's degree was derived
    from and suggested by the ceremony of Lustration in the Mysteries
    is untenable, because this ceremony was not peculiar to the
    Mysteries.
    An ablution, lustration, or cleansing by water, as a religious rite
    was practiced among all the ancient nations. More especially was
    it observed among the Hebrews, Greeks, and Romans. With the
    Hebrews, the lustration was a preliminary ceremony to every act
    of expiation or sin offering. Hence, the Jewish prophets continually
    refer to the ablution of the body with water as a symbol of the
    purification of the heart. Among the Greeks lustration was always
    connected with their sacrifices. It consisted in the sprinkling of
    water by means of an olive or a laurel branch. Among the Romans,
    the ceremony was more common than among the Greeks. It was
    used not only to expiate crime, but also to secure the blessing of the
    Gods. Thus, fields were lustrated before the corn was put into the
    ground; colonies when they were first established, and armies
    before they proceeded to battle. At the end of every fifth year, the
    whole people were thus purified by a general lustration.
    Everywhere the rite was connected with the performance of
    sacrifice and with the idea of a moral purification.
    The next step in the ceremonies of the ancient Mysteries was called
    the Initiation. It was here that the dramatic allegory was
    performed and the myth or fictitious history on which the peculiar
    Mystery was founded was developed. The neophyte personated the
    supposed events of the life, the sufferings, and the death of the god
    or hero to whom the Mystery was dedicated, or he had them
    brought in vivid representation before him. These ceremonies
    constituted a symbolic instruction in the initiation - the beginnings
    - of the religious system, which it was the object of the Mysteries to
    teach. The ceremonies of initiation were performed partly in the
    Lesser, but more especially and more fully in the Greater
    Mysteries, of which they were the first part, and where only the
    allegory of death was enacted. The Lesser Mysteries, which were
    introductory to the Greater, have been supposed by the theorists
    who maintain the connection between the Mysteries and
    Freemasonry to be analogous to the Fellow Craft's degree of the
    latter Institution. There may be some ground for this comparison
    in a rather inexact way, for although the Lesser Mysteries were to
    some extent public, yet as they were, as Clemens of Alexandria *
    says, a certain groundwork of instruction and preparation for the
    things that were to follow, they might perhaps be considered as
    analogous to the Fellow Craft's degree.
    The third and last of the progressive steps or grades in the
    Mysteries was Perfection. It was the ultimate object of the system.
    It was also called the autopsy, from a Greek word, which signifies
    seeing with one's own eyes. It was the complete and finished
    communication to the neophyte of the great secret of the Mysteries;
    the secret for the preservation of which the system of initiation
    had been invented, and which, during the whole course of that
    initiation, had been symbolically shadowed forth. The
    communication of this secret, which was in fact the explanation of
    the secret doctrine, for the inculcation of which the Mysteries in
    every country had been instituted, was made in the most sacred
    and private place of the temple or place of initiation. As the
    autopsy or Perfection of the Mysteries concluded the whole system,
    the maintainers of the doctrine that Freemasonry finds its origin
    in the Mysteries have compared this last step in the ancient
    initiation to the Master's degree. But the analogy between the two
    as a consummation of the secret doctrine is less patent in the third
    degree, as it now exists, than it was before the disseverance from it
    of the Royal Arch, accepting, however, the Master's degree as it
    was constituted in the earlier part of the 18th century, the
    analogies between that and the last stage of the Mysteries are
    certainly very interesting, although not sufficient to prove the
    origin of the modern from the ancient systems. But of this more
    hereafter. This view of the organization of the Pagan Mysteries
    would not be complete without some reference to the dramatized
    allegory which constituted so important a part of the ceremony of
    initiation, and in connection with which their relation to
    Freemasonry has been most earnestly urged. It has been already
    said that the Mysteries were originally invented for the purpose of
    teaching two great religious truths, which were unknown to, or at
    least not recognized, in the popular faith. These were the unity of
    God and the immortality of the soul in a future life. The former,
    although illustrated at every point by expressed symbols, such, for
    instance, as the all-seeing eye, the eye of the universe, and the
    image of the Deity, was not allegorized, but taught as an abstract
    doctrine at the time of the autopsy or the close of the grade of
    Perfection. The other truth, the dogma of a future life, and of a
    resurrection from death to immortality, was communicated by an
    allegory which was dramatized in much the same way in each of
    the Mysteries, although, of course, in each nation the person and
    the events which made up the allegory were different. The
    interpretation was, however, always the same. As Egypt was the
    first country of antiquity to receive the germs of civilization, it is
    there that the first Mysteries are supposed to have been invented.
    And although the Eleusinian Mysteries, which were introduced
    into Greece long after the invention of the Osiriac in Egypt, were
    more popular among the ancients, yet the Egyptian initiation
    exhibits more purely and more expressively the symbolic idea
    which was to be developed in the interpretation of its allegory. I
    shall therefore select the Osiriac, which was the most important of
    the Egyptian Mysteries, as the exemplar from which an idea may
    be obtained of the character of all the other Mysteries of paganism.
    (* The first and original Mysteries of which we have any account
    were those of Isis and Osiris in Egypt, from whence they were
    derived by the Greeks. - Warburton, "Divine Legation," I., p. 194.
    Diodorus says the same thing in the first book of his "History," I.,
    xxxvii.)
    All the writers of antiquity, such as Plutarch, Diodorus Siculus,
    and Herodotus, state that the Egyptian Mysteries of Osiris, Isis,
    and Horus were the model of all the other systems of initiation
    which were subsequently established among the different peoples of
    the Old World. Indeed, the ancients held that the Demeter of the
    Greeks was identical with the Isis of the Egyptians, and Dionysus
    with Osiris. Their adventures were certainly very similar. The
    place of Osiris in Egyptian history is unknown to us. The fragments
    of Sanchuniathon speak of Isiris, the brother of Chna or Canaan; in
    the lists of Manito, he is made the fifth king under the dynasty of
    the demigods, being conjoined with Isis; but as the four preceding
    kings are named as Hephaestus, Helios, Agathodomon and
    Chronos, the whole is evidently a mere mythological fable, and we
    have as far to seek as ever. Herodotus is not more satisfactory, for
    he says that Osiris and Isis were two great deities of the Egyptians.
    Banier, however, in his Mythology thinks that ,he was the same as
    Mizraim, the son of Clam, and grandson of Noah. Bishop
    Cumberland concurs in this and adds that Cham was the first king
    of Egypt, that Osiris was a title appropriated by him, signifying
    Prince, and that Isis was simply Ishah, his wife. Lastly, Diodorus
    Siculus says that he was Menes, the first King of Egypt. Some later
    writers have sought to identify Osiris and Isis with the Iswara and
    Isi of India. There is certainly a great deal of etymological
    plausibility in this last conjecture. The ubiquitous character of
    Osiris as a personality among the ancients is best shown in an
    epigram of Ausonius, wherein it is said that in Greece, at Eleusis,
    he was called Bacchus ; the Egyptians thought that he was Osiris,
    the Mysians of Asia Minor named him Phanceus or Apollo; the
    Indians supposed that he was Dionysus; the sacred rites of the
    Romans called him Liber; and the Phoenicians, Adonis.
    But the only thing that is of any interest to us in this connection is
    that Osiris was the hero of the earliest of the Mysteries, and that
    his death and apotheosis - his change from a mortal king to an
    immortal God - symbolized the doctrine of a future life.
    His historical character was that of a mild and beneficent
    sovereign, who had introduced the arts of civilization among his
    subjects, and had then traveled for three years for the purpose of
    extending them into other nations, leaving the government of his
    kingdom, during his absence, to his wife Isis. According to the
    legend, his brother Typhon had been a rival claimant for the
    throne, and his defeat had engendered a feeling of ill will. During
    the absence of Osiris, he, therefore, formed a secret conspiracy with
    some of his adherents to usurp the throne. On the return of Osiris
    from his travels, Typhon invited him to a banquet, ostensibly given
    in his honor, at which all the conspirators were present. During the
    feast Typhoon produced a chest, inlaid with gold, and promised to
    present it to that person of the company, whose body, upon trial,
    would be found most exactly to fit it. Osiris tried the experiment,
    but as soon as he had laid himself in the chest, Typhoon closed and
    nailed down the lid. The chest was then thrown into the river Nile,
    whence it floated into the sea, and, after being for some time tossed
    upon the waves, it was finally cast ashore at the town of Byblos, in
    Phoenicia, and left at the foot of a Tamarisk tree. Isis, the wife of
    Osiris, over whelmed with grief for the loss of her husband,
    commenced a search for the body, being accompanied by her son,
    Anubis, and his nurse, Nepthe. After many adventures, Isis
    arrived on the shores of Phoenicia and in the neighborhood of
    Byblos, where she at length discovered the body at the foot of the
    Tamarisk tree. She returned with it to Egypt. The people with great
    demonstrations of joy received it, and it was proclaimed that Osiris
    had risen from the dead and had become a god. The sufferings of
    Osiris, his death, his resurrection, and his subsequent office as judge
    of the dead in a future state, constituted the fundamental
    principles of the Egyptian religion. They taught the secret doctrine
    of a future life, and initiation into the mysteries of Osiris was
    initiation into the rites of the religion of Egypt. These rites were
    conducted by the priests, and into them many sages from other
    countries especially from Greece, such as Herodotus, Plutarch, and
    Pythagoras, were initiated.
    In this way it is supposed that the principles and general form of
    the Mysteries were conveyed into other countries, although they
    everywhere varied in the details. The most important of the
    Mysteries besides the Egyptian were those of Mithras in Persia, of
    Atys or of the Cabiri in Thrace, of Adonis in Phoenicia, Syria, and
    of Dionysus in Greece. They extended even beyond the then more
    civilized parts of the world into the northern regions of Europe,
    where were practiced the Scandinavian rites of the Norsemen and
    the Druidical Mysteries of Gaul and Britain, though these were
    probably derived more directly from a primitive Aryan source.
    But wherever they existed we find in them a remarkable unity of
    design and a similarity of ceremonies from which we are compelled
    to deduce a common origin, while the purity of the doctrines which
    they taught evidently show that this common origin was not to be
    sought in the popular theology. In all of the Mysteries, the
    ceremonies of initiation were of a funereal character. They
    allegorized in a dramatic form the sufferings, the death, and the
    resurrection of some god or hero. There was a death, most
    generally by violence, to symbolize, as certain (*Thus Clemens of
    Alexandria describes the legend or allegory of the Cabiri Mysteries
    as the sacred mystery of a brother slain by his brethren, "fraters
    trucidatus a fratribus.") interpreters of the Mysteries have
    supposed, the strife of certain antagonistic powers in nature, such
    as life and death, virtue and vice, light and darkness, or summer
    and winter.
    The candidate represented the person thus slain in the allegorical
    drama. After the death followes the disappearance of the body,
    called by the Greeks the aphanism, and the consequent search for
    it. This search for the body, in which all the initiates joined,
    constituted what Faber calls "the doleful part," and was succeeded
    by its discovery, which was known as the heuresis. * This was
    accompanied by the greatest demonstrations of joy. The candidate
    was afterward instructed in the apporheta, or secret dogmas of the
    Mysteries. In all of the Pagan Mysteries, this dramatic form of an
    allegory ,was preserved, and we may readily see in the groans and
    lamentations on the death of the god or hero and the
    disappearance of the body a symbol of the death of man, and in the
    subsequent rejoicings at his discovery and restoration, a symbol of
    the restoration of the spirit to eternal life .
    In view of the purity of the lessons taught in the Mysteries and
    their inculcation of the elevated dogmas of the unity of God and
    the immortality of the soul, it is not surprising to read the
    encomiums passed upon them by the philosophers of antiquity.
    The reader, if he has carefully considered the allegorical drama
    which was represented in the ancient Mysteries, and compared it
    with the drama which constitutes the principal portion of the
    initiation in Freemasonry, will be at no loss to account for the
    reasons which have led so many writers to attribute the origin of
    the Masonic system to these mystical associations of antiquity.
    It has been a favorite theory with several German, French, and
    British scholars , to trace the origin of Freemasonry to the
    Mysteries of Paganism ; others repudiating the idea that the
    modern association should have sprung from them , still find
    analogies so remarkable between the two systems as to lead them to
    suppose that the Mysteries were an offshoot from the pure
    Freemasonry of the Patriarchs . In my opinion there is not the
    slightest foundation in historical evidence to support either theory,
    although I admit the existence of many analogies between the two
    systems, which can , however, be easily explained without
    admitting any connection in the way of origin and descent
    between them. Of the theory that the Mysteries were an offshoot or
    imitation of the pure patriarchal Freemasonry, Hutchinson and
    Oliver are the most distinguished supporters. While Hutchinson
    strongly contends for the direct derivation of Freemasonry from
    Adam, through the line of the patriarchs to Moses and Solomon, he
    does not deny that it borrowed much from the initiations and
    symbols of the Pagans. Thus he unhesitatingly says, that "there is
    no doubt that our ceremonies and Mysteries were derived from the
    rites, ceremonies, and institutions of the ancients, and some of
    them from the remotest ages." But lest the purity of the genuine
    patriarchal Masonry should be polluted by borrowing its
    ceremonies from such an impure source, he subsequently describes,
    in that indefinite manner which was the peculiarity of his style,
    the separation of a purer class from the debasement of the popular
    religion, wherein he evidently alludes to the Mysteries. Thus he
    says: "In the corruption and ignorance of after ages , those
    hallowed places were polluted with idolatry ; the unenlightened
    mind mistook the type for the original , and could not discern the
    light from darkness . The sacred and hills became the objects of
    enthusiastic bigotry and superstition; the devotees bowed down to
    the oaken log and the graven image as being divine. Some
    preserved themselves from the corruptions of the times ,and we
    find those sages and select men to whom were committed, and who
    retained the light of understanding and truth, unpolluted with the
    sins of the world, under the denomination of Magi among the
    Persians; wise men, soothsayers, and astrologers among the
    Chaldeans; philosophers among the Greeks and Romans; Brahmins
    among the Indians; Druids and bards among the Britons; and with
    the people of God, Solomon shone forth in the fullness of human
    wisdom.
    I have denominated the surreptitious initiations earth-born, in
    contradistinction to the purity of Freemasonry, which was
    certainly derived from above; and to those who contend that
    Masonry is nothing more than a miserable relic of the idolatrous
    Mysteries (vide. Fab. Pag. Idol., vol. iii., p. 190), I would reply, in
    the words of an inspired apostle, 'Doth a fountain send forth at the
    same place sweet water and bitter? Can the fig tree bear olive
    berries or a vine figs? So can no fountain both yield salt water and
    fresh. The wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable,
    full of mercy and good fruits' (James iii. 11, 12, 17). I wish to be
    distinct and intelligible on this point, as some misapprehensions are
    afloat respecting the immediate object of my former volume of
    Signs and Symbols; and I have been told that the arguments there
    used afford an indirect sanction to the opinion that Masonry is
    derived from the Mysteries . In answer to this charge, if it requires
    one, I only need reply to the general tenor of that volume, and to
    declare explicitly my firm opinion, founded on intense study and
    abstruse research, that the science which we now denominate
    Speculative Masonry , was coeval , at least, with the creation of
    our globe, and the far-famed Mysteries of idolatry were a
    subsequent institution founded on similar principles, with the
    design of conveying unity and permanence to the false worship,
    which it otherwise could never have acquired.
    There is another class of Masonic scholars who have advanced the
    theory that the Speculative Freemasonry of the present day is
    derived directly from and is a legitimate successor of the Mysteries
    of antiquity. They found this theory on the very many and striking
    analogies that are to be found in the organization, the design, and
    the symbols of the two systems, and which they claim can only be
    explained on the theory that the one is an offshoot from the other.
    The Abbey Robin was, perhaps, the first writer who advanced this
    idea in a distinct form. In a work on the Ancient and Modern
    Initiations, * published in 1780, he traces the origin of the ancient
    systems of initiation to that early period when wicked men, urged
    by the terror of guilt, sought among the virtuous for intercessors
    with the Deity. The latter, he says, retired into solitary places to
    avoid the contagion of the growing corruption, and devoted
    themselves to a life of contemplation and to the cultivation of the
    arts and sciences. In order to associate with them in their labors
    and functions only such as had sufficient merit and capacity, they
    appointed strict courses of trial and examination. This, he thinks,
    must have been the source of the initiations, which distinguished
    the celebrated Mysteries of antiquity. The Magi of Chaldea, the
    Brahmins and Gymnosophists of India, the Priests of Egypt, and
    the Druids of Gaul and Britain thus lived in sequestered places and
    obtained great reputation by their discoveries in astronomy,
    chemistry, and mechanics, by the purity of their morals, and by
    their knowledge of the science of legislation. It was in these schools,
    says the abbe, that the first sages and legislators of antiquity were
    formed, where the doctrines taught were the unity of God and the
    immortality of the soul, and it was from these Mysteries that the
    exuberant fancy of the Greeks drew much of their mythology.
    From these ancient initiations, he deduces the orders of Chivalry,
    which sprang into existence in the middle Ages, and certain
    branches of these, he thinks, produced the institution of
    Freemasonry. The theory of the Abbey Robin therefore traces the
    institution of Masonry to the ancient Mysteries, but in an indirect
    way, through the orders of Chivalry. He might therefore more
    correctly be classed among those who maintain the doctrine of the
    Templar origin of Freemasonry. However, it is Alexander Lenoir,
    the French archaeologist, who has attempted in the most explicit
    and comprehensive manner to establish the doctrine of the direct
    descent of Freemasonry from the ancient Mysteries, and especially
    from the Egyptian. In the year 1814 he published an elaborate work
    on this subject. * In this he begins by affirming that we cannot
    expect to find in the Egyptian and Greek initiations those modes of
    recognition which are used by the Freemasons of the present day,
    because these methods, which are only conventional and had been
    orally communicated under the obligation of secrecy, can not be
    known to us, for they could not have been transmitted through the
    lapse of ages. Omitting, therefore, all reference to these as matters
    of no real importance, he confines himself to a comparison of the
    Masonic with the ancient rites of initiation. In this view he comes
    to the conclusion that Freemasonry in all the points that it
    essentially comprehends is in direct relation with the Mysteries of
    the ancient world, and that hence, abstracting certain particular
    usages practiced by the modern Freemasons, it is evident that
    Freemasonry in no respect differs from the ancient initiations of
    the Egyptians and the Greeks. This theory has been embraced by
    nearly all the French Masonic writers except Rebold, who traces
    Masonry to the Roman Colleges of Artificers Unfortunately for
    the general acceptance of this theory, M. Lenoir has in the first
    place drawn his comparisons from the system of ceremonies of
    initiation which are practiced in the lodges of France, and
    especially from the "proofs and trials" of the Entered Apprentice's
    degree. But the tedious ceremonies and painful trials of the
    candidate as they are practiced in the French Rite constitute no
    part of the original English Masonry whence the French Masonry
    derives its existence, and were adopted as a pure innovation long
    after the establishment of the Order in France by the Grand Lodge
    of England. And again, the Egyptian initiations, with which they
    have been compared by Lenoir, were not those which were actually
    practiced by the priests of Egypt, or at least we have no authentic
    proof of that fact, but were most probably suggested by the
    imaginative details given by the Abe Terrasson in his romance
    entitled Sethas, in which he pretends to portray the initiation of an
    Egyptian prince. The truth is that Lenoir and those writers who
    have followed him and adopted his theories have not instituted a
    comparison between the original ceremonies of Masonic initiation
    and those of the ancient Mysteries, but merely a comparison
    between a recent system of ceremonies, certainly not earlier than
    the middle of the last century, and a fictitious system indebted for
    its birth to the inventive genius of a French abbe, and first
    promulgated in a work published by him in the year 1731.
    As well might Mr. Turner or any other writer on Anglo-Saxon
    history have cited, as authentic materials for his description of the
    customs of the Anglo-Saxon, the romantic incidents given by Sir
    Walter Scott in his novel of Ivanhoe? Hence all the references of
    the voyages of an Entered Apprentice in a French Lodge to the
    similar voyages of an Aspirant in the Mysteries of Osiris or Isis
    become nothing more than "the baseless fabric of a vision," which
    must fade and dissolve like an "insubstantial pageant" when
    submitted to the crucial test of authentic historical investigation.
    The Rev. Mr. King, the author of a very interesting treatise on the
    Gnostics, * has advanced a theory much more plausible than either
    of those to which I have adverted. He maintains that some of the
    Pagan Mysteries, especially those of Mithras, which had been
    instituted in Persia, extended beyond the period of the advent of
    Christianity, and that their doctrines and usages were adopted by
    the secret societies which existed at an early period in Europe and
    which finally assumed the form of Freemasonry. I have said that
    this theory is a plausible one. It is so because its salient points are
    sustained by historical evidence. It is, for instance, a fact that some
    of the Mysteries of Paganism were practiced in Europe long after
    the commencement of the Christian era. They afforded a constant
    topic of denunciation to the fathers of the church, who feared and
    attacked what they supposed to be their idolatrous tendencies. It
    was not until the middle of the 5th century that they were
    proscribed by an edict of the Emperor Theodosius. But an edict of
    proscription is not necessarily nor always followed by an
    immediate abolition of the thing proscribed. The public celebration
    of the Mysteries must, of course, have ceased at once when such
    celebration had been declared unlawful. But a private and secret
    observance of them may have continued, and probably did
    continue, for an indefinite time, perhaps even to as late a period as
    the end of the 5th or the beginning of the 6th century. Mosheim
    tells us that in the 4th century, notwithstanding the zeal and
    severity of the Christian emperors, there still remained in several
    places, and especially in the remoter provinces, temples and
    religious rites consecrated to the Pagan deities; that rites instituted
    in honor of them were, in the 5th century, celebrated with the
    utmost freedom and impunity in the western empire; and that
    even in the 6th century remains of the Pagan worship were to be
    found among the learned and the officers of state. *During all this
    time it is known that secret associations, such as the Roman
    Colleges of Artificers, existed in Europe, and that from them
    ultimately sprang up the organizations of Builders, which, with
    Como in Lombardy as their center, spread over Europe in the
    Middle Ages, and whose members, under the recognized name of
    Traveling Freemasons, were the founders of Gothic architecture.
    There is no forced or unnatural succession from them to the Guilds
    of Operative Masons, who undoubtedly gave rise, about the end of
    the 17th or the beginning of the 18th century, to the Speculative
    Order or the Free and Accepted Masons, which is the organization
    that exists at the present day. There is, therefore, nothing
    absolutely untenable in the theory that the Mithraic Mysteries
    which prevailed in Europe until the 5th or perhaps the 6th century
    may have impressed some influence on the ritual, form, and
    character of the association of early Builders, and that this
    influence may have extended to the Traveling Freemasons, the
    Operative Guilds, and finally to the Free and Accepted Masons,
    since it can not be proved that there was not an uninterrupted
    chain of succession between these various organizations.
    The theory of Mr. King cannot, therefore, be summarily rejected. It
    may not be altogether true, but it has so many elements of truth
    about it that it claims our serious consideration. But, after all, we
    may find a sufficient explanation of the analogy which
    undoubtedly exists between the rites of the ancient Mysteries and
    those of the modern Freemasons in the natural tendency of the
    human mind to develop its ideas in the same way when these ideas
    are suggested by the same or similar circumstances. The fact that
    both institutions have taught the same lessons by the same method
    of instruction may be attributed not to a direct and uninterrupted
    succession of organizations, each one a link of a long chain leading
    consequentially to another but rather to a natural and usual
    coincidence of human thought. The believers in the lineal and
    direct descent of Freemasonry from the ancient Mysteries have of
    course discovered, or thought that they had discovered, the most
    striking and wonderful analogies between the internal
    organizations of the two institutions. Hence the most credulous of
    these theorists have not hesitated to compare the Hierophant, or
    the Explainer of the sacred rites in the Mysteries, with the
    Worshipful Master in a Masonic Lodge, nor to style the Dadouchos,
    or Torch-Bearer, and the Hieroceryx, or Herald of the Mysteries,
    Wardens, nor to assign to the Epibomos, or Altar-Server, the title
    and duties of a Deacon.
    That there are analogies, and that many of them are very curious
    can not be denied, but I shall attempt, before leaving; this subject,
    to explain the reason of their existence in a more rational way
    than by tracing the modern as a succession from the ancient
    system. The analogies existing between the ancient Mysteries and
    Freemasonry, upon which the theory of the descent of the one from
    the other has been based, consist in the facts that both were secret
    societies, that both taught the same doctrine of a future life, and
    that both made use of symbols and allegories and a dramatic form
    of instruction. But these analogies do not necessarily support the
    doctrine of descent, but may be otherwise satisfactorily explained.
    Whether the belief in a personal immortality was communicated to
    the first man by a divine revelation, and subsequently lost as the
    intellectual state of future generations declined into a degraded
    state of religious conceptions; or whether the prehistoric man,
    created but little superior to the wild beast with whom he daily
    contended for dominion with insufficient weapons, was at first
    without any conception of his future, until it had by chance
    dawned upon some more elevated intellect and by him been
    communicated to his fellows as a consoling doctrine, afterward to
    be lost, and then in the course of time to be again recovered, but
    not to be universally accepted by grosser minds, are questions into
    which we need not enter here. It is sufficient to know that there
    has been no period in the world's history, however dark, in which
    some rays of this doctrine have not been thrown upon the general
    gloom. The belief in a future life and an immortal destiny has
    always been so inseparably connected with elevated notions of God
    that the deep and reverent thinkers in all ages have necessarily
    subscribed to its truth. It has inspired the verses of poets and
    tempered and directed the discussions of philosophers.
    As both the Mysteries of the ancients and the Freemasonry of the
    moderns were religious institutions, the conceptions of the true
    nature of God which they taught to their disciples must of course
    have involved the ideas of a future life, for the one doctrine is a
    necessary consequence of the other. To seek, therefore, in this
    analogy the proof of a descent of the modern from the ancient
    institution is to advance an utterly fallacious argument.
    As to the secret character of the two institutions, the argument is
    equally untenable. Under the benighted rule of Pagan idolatry the
    doctrine of a future life was not the popular belief. Yet there were
    also some who aspired to a higher thought - philosophers like
    Socrates and Plato, who nourished with earnest longing the hope of
    immortality. Now, it was by such men that the Mysteries were
    originally organized, and it was for instruction in such a doctrine
    that they were instituted. But opposed as this doctrine was to the
    general current of popular thought, it became, necessarily and
    defensively, esoteric and exclusive. And hence we derive the reason
    for the secret character of the Mysteries. "They were kept secret,"
    says Warburton, "from a necessity of teaching the initiated some
    things improper to be communicated to all." * The learned bishop
    assigns another reason, which he sustains with the authority of
    ancient writers, for this secrecy. "Nothing," he says, "excites our
    curiosity like that which retires from our observation, and seems to
    forbid our search." ** Synesius, who lived in the 4th century, before
    the Mysteries were wholly abolished, says that they owed the
    veneration in which they were held to a popular ignorance of their
    nature. *** And Clemens of Alexandria, referring to the secrecy of
    the Mysteries, accounts for it, among other reasons, because the
    truth seen through a veil appears greater and more venerable.
    ****emasonry also teaches the doctrine of a future life. But
    although there was no necessity, as in the Pagan Mysteries, to
    conceal this doctrine from the populace; yet there is, for the reasons
    that have just been assigned, a proneness in the human heart,
    which has always existed, to clothe the most sacred subjects with
    the veil of mystery. It was this spirit that caused Jesus to speak to
    the Jewish multitudes in parables whose meaning his disciples, like
    initiates, were to comprehend, but which would be unintelligible to
    the people, so that "seeing they might not see, and hearing they
    might not understand."
    The Mysteries and Freemasonry were both secret societies, not
    necessarily, because the one was the legitimate successor of the
    other, but because both were human institutions and because both
    partook of the same human tendency to conceal what was sacred
    from the unhallowed eyes and cars of the profane. In this way may
    be explained the andogy between the two institutions which arises
    from their secret character and their esoteric method of
    instruction. The symbolic form of imparting the doctrines is
    another analogy, which may be readily explained. For when once
    the esoteric or secret system was determined on, or involuntarily
    adopted by the force of those tendencies to which I have referred, it
    was but natural that the secret instruction should be
    communicated by a method of symbolism, because in all ages
    symbols have been the cipher by which secret associations of every
    character have restricted the knowledge which they imparted to
    their initiates only. Again, in the Mysteries, the essential doctrine
    of a resurrection from death to eternal life was always taught in a
    dramatic form. There was a drama in which the aspirant or
    candidate for initiation represented, or there was visibly pictured
    to him, the death by violence and then the resuscitation or
    apotheosis - the resurrection to life and immortality of some god or
    hero, in whose honor the peculiar mystery was founded. Hence in
    all the Mysteries there were the thanatos, the death or slaying of
    the victim; the aphanism, the concealment or burial of the body by
    the slayers; and the heuresis, the finding of the body by the
    initiates. This drama, from the character of the plot, began with
    mourning and ended with joy. The traditional "eureka," sometimes
    attributed to Euclid when he discovered the forty-seventh problem,
    but most probable to Archimedes when he accidentally learned the
    principle of specific gravity, was nightly repeated to the initiates
    when, at the termination of the drama of the Mysteries, they had
    found the hidden body of the Master.
    Now, the recognized fact that this mode of inculcating a religious
    or a philosophical idea by a dramatic representation was
    constantly practiced in the ancient world, for the purpose of more
    permanently impressing the conception, would naturally lead to its
    adoption by all associations where the same lesson was to be taught
    as that which was the subject of the Mysteries. The tendency to
    dramatize an allegory is universal, because the method of
    dramatization is the most expedient and has been proved to be the
    most successful. The drama of the third or Master's degree of
    Freemasonry is, as respects the subject and the development of the
    plot and the conduct of the scenes, the same as the drama of the
    ancient Mysteries. There is the same thanalos, or death; the same
    aphanism, or concealment of the body, and the same heuresis, or
    discovery of it. The drama of the Master's degree begins in sorrow
    and ends in joy. Everything is so similar that we at once recognize
    an analogy between Freemasonry and the ancient Mysteries; but it
    has already been explained that this analogy is the result of
    natural causes, and by no means infers a descent of the modern
    from the ancient institution. Another analogy between the
    Mysteries and Freemasonry is the division of both into steps,
    classes, or degrees - call them what you may - which is to be found
    in both. The arrangement of the Masonic system into three degrees
    certainly bears a resemblance to the distribution of the Mysteries
    into the three steps of Preparation, Initiation, and Perfection
    which have been heretofore described.
    But this analogy, remarkable as it may at first view appear, is
    really an accidental one, which in no way shows an historical
    connection between the two institutions. In every system of
    instruction, whether open or secret, there must be a gradual and
    not an immediate attainment of that which is intended to be
    imparted. The ancient adage that "no one suddenly becomes
    wicked" might with equal truth be read that "no one suddenly
    becomes learned." There must be a series of gradual approaches to
    the ultimate point in every pursuit of knowledge, like the
    advancing parallels of a besieging army in its efforts to attain
    possession of a beleaguered city. Hence the ladder, with its various
    steps, has from the earliest times been accepted as a symbol of
    moral or intellectual progress from an inferior to a superior
    sphere. In this progress from the simplest to the most profound
    arena of initiation - from the inception to the full accomplishment
    of the instruction whereby the mind was to be gradually purged of
    many errors, by preparatory steps, before it could bear the full
    blaze of truth - both the Mysteries and Freemasonry have obeyed a
    common law of intellectual growth, independently of any
    connection of the one with the other institution. The fact that there
    existed in both institutions secret modes of recognition presents
    another analogy. It is known that in the Mysteries, as in
    Freemasonry, there was a solemn obligation of secrecy, with
    penalties for its violation, which referred to certain methods of
    recognition known only to the initiates. But this may safely be
    attributed to the fact that such peculiarities are and always will be
    the necessary adjuncts of any secret organization, whether
    religious, social, or political. In every secret society isolated from
    the rest of mankind, we must find, as a natural outgrowth of its
    secrecy and as a necessary means of defense and isolation, an
    obligation of secrecy and methods of recognition. On such analogies
    it is, therefore, scarcely worthwhile to dilate. Thus, then, I have
    traced the analogies between the ancient Mysteries and modern
    Freemasonry in the following points of resemblance. 1. The
    Preparation, which in the Mysteries was called the Lustration. It
    was the first step in the Mysteries, and is the Entered Apprentice's
    degree in Freemasonry. In both systems, the candidate was
    purified for the reception of truth by washing. In one it was a
    physical ablution; in the other a moral cleansing; but in both the
    symbolic idea was the same.
    The Initiation, which in the ancient system was partly in the
    Lesser Mysteries, but more especially in the Greater. In Masonry it
    is partly in the Fellow Craft's, but more especially in the Master's
    degree.
    The Perfection, which in the Mysteries was the communication to
    the aspirant of the true dogma - the great secret symbolized by the
    initiation. In Freemasonry it is the same. The dogma
    communicated in both is, in fact, identical. This Perfection came in
    the Mysteries at the end of the Greater Mysteries. In Masonry, it is
    communicated at the close of the Master's degree. In the Mysteries,
    the communication was made in the sachem or holiest place. In
    Masonry, it is made in the Master's Lodge, which is said to
    represent the holy of holies of the Temple.
    The secret character of both institutions.
    The use of symbols.
    The dramatic form of the initiation.
    The division of both systems into: 8. the adoption by both of secret
    methods of recognition.
    These analogies, it must be admitted, are very striking, and, if
    considered merely as coincidences, must be acknowledged to be
    very singular. It is not, therefore, surprising that scholars have
    found it difficult to resolve the following problem:
    Is modern Freemasonry a lineal and uninterrupted successor of the
    ancient Mysteries? The succession being transmitted through the
    .Mithraic initiations which existed in the 5th and 6th centuries; or
    is the fact of the analogies between the two systems to be attributed
    to the coincidence of a natural process of human thought, common
    to all minds and showing its development in symbolic forms?. I can
    only arrive at what I think is a logical conclusion which is that if
    both the Mysteries and Freemasonry have taught the same lessons
    by the same method of instruction, this has arisen not from a
    succession of organizations, each one a link of a long chain of
    historical sequences leading directly to another, until Hiram is
    simply substituted for Osiris , but rather from those usual and
    natural coincidences of human thought which are to be found in
    every age and among all peoples.
    It is, however, hardly to be denied that the founders of the
    Speculative system of Masonry, in forming their ritual, especially
    of the third degree, derived many suggestions as to the form and
    character of their funereal legend from the rites of the ancient
    initiations. But how long after Freemasonry had an organized
    existence this funereal legend was devised, is a question that must
    hereafter be entitled to mature consideration.ch ascribes the origin of Freemasonry as a secret
    society to the Pagan (Mysteries of the ancient world) , and which
    derives the most important part of its ritual and the legend of its
    Third Degree . From the initiation practiced in these religious
    organizations , It connects itself with the Legend of the Temple
    origin, because we can only link the initiation in the Mysteries
    with that of Freemasonry by supposing that the one was in some
    way engrafted on the other, at the time of the building of the
    Temple by the Tyrian and Jewish workmen . Nevertheless, before
    we can properly appreciate the theory, which associates
    Freemasonry with the Pagan Mysteries, we must make ourselves
    acquainted with the nature and the design as well as with
    something of the history of those mystical societies. Among all the
    nations of antiquity in which refinement and culture had given an
    elevated tone to the religious sentiment, there existed two systems
    of worship, a public and a private one. "Each of the pagan Gods,"
    says Warburton, "had (besides the public and open) a secret
    worship paid unto him, to which none were admitted but those who
    had been selected by preparatory ceremonies, called INITIATION.
    This secret worship was called the MYSTERIES."
    The public worship was founded on the superstitious polytheism
    whose numerous gods and goddesses were debased in character and
    vicious in conduct. Incentive to virtue could not be derived from
    their example, which furnished rather excuses for vice. In the
    Eunuchus of Terenie, when Choerea is meditating the seduction of
    the virgin Pamphila, he refers to the similar act of Jupiter, who in
    a shower of gold had corrupted Danae, and he exclaims, "If a god,
    who by his thunders shakes the whole universe, could commit this
    crime, shall not I, a mere mortal, do so also?" Plautus, Euripides
    and other Greek and Roman dramatists and poets repeatedly used
    the same argument in defense of the views of their heroes, so that it
    became a settled principle of the ancient religion. The vicious
    example of the gods thus became an insuperable obstacle to a life of
    purity and holiness. The assurance of a future life of compensation
    constituted no part of the popular theology. The poets, it is true,
    indulged in romantic descriptions of an Elysium and a Tartarus,
    but their views were uncertain and unsatisfactory. As to any
    specific doctrine of immortality, and were embodied in the saying
    of Ovid * that of the four elements which constituted the human
    organization, "the earth covers the flesh; the shade flits around the
    tomb; the spirit seeks the stars."
    Thus did the poet express the prevalent idea that the composite
    man returned after death to the various primordial elements of
    which he had been originally composed. In such a dim and
    shadowy hypothesis, there was no incentive for life, no consolation
    in death. And hence Alger, to whom the world has been indebted
    for a most exhaustive treatise on the popular beliefs of all nations,
    ancient and modern, on the subject of the future life, has after a
    full and critical examination of the question, come to the following
    conclusion: "To the ancient Greek in general, death was a sad
    doom. When he lost a friend, he sighed a melancholy farewell after
    him to the faded shore of ghosts. Summoned himself, he departed
    with a lingering look at the sun and a tearful adieu to the bright
    day and the green earth. To the Roman death was a grim reality.
    To meet it himself he girded up his loins with artificial firmness.
    But at its ravages among his friends, he wailed in anguished
    abandonment. To his dying vision there was indeed a future, but
    shapes of distrust and shadow stood upon its disconsolate borders;
    and when the prospect had no horror, he still shrank from the
    poppied gloom."
    Yet as each nation advanced in refinement and intellectual culture
    the priests, the poets, and the philosophers aspired to a higher
    thought and cherished the longing for and inculcated the consoling
    doctrine of an immortality, not to be spent in shadowy and inert
    forms of existence, but in perpetual enjoyment, as a compensation
    for the ills of life. The necessary result of the growth of such pure
    and elevated notions must have been a contempt and
    condemnation of the absurdities of polytheism. However, as this
    was the popular religion it was readily perceived that any open
    attempt to overthrow it and to advance, publicly, opinions so
    antagonistic to it would be highly impolitic and dangerous.
    Whenever any religion, whether true or false, becomes the religion
    of a people, whoever opposes it, or ridicules it, or seeks to subvert it,
    is sure to be denounced by popular fanaticism and to be punished
    by popular intolerance. Many of the philosophers were, however,
    skeptics. The Stoics, for instance, and they were the leading sect,
    denied the survival of the soul after the death of the body; or, if
    any of them conceded its survival, they attributed to it only a
    temporary duration before it is dissolved and absorbed into the
    universe. Seneca "Troades," I., 397) says, "There is nothing after
    death, and death itself is nothing." Post mortem nihil, est ipsague
    mors nihil.
    Socrates was doomed to drink the poisoned bowl on the charge that
    he taught the Athenian youth not to worship the gods,who are
    worshipped by the state, but new and unknown deities. Jesus was
    suspended from the cross because he inculcated doctrines which,
    however pure, were novel and obnoxious to the old religion of his
    Jewish fellow citizens. The new religious truths among the Pagan
    peoples were therefore concealed from common inspection and
    taught only in secret societies, admission to which was obtained
    only through the ordeal of a painful initiation, and the doctrines
    were further concealed under the veil of symbols whose true
    meaning the initiated only could understand. "The truth," says
    Clemens of Alexandria "was taught involved in enigmas, symbols,
    allegories, metaphors, and tropes and figures. The secret
    associations in which the principles of a new and purer theology
    were taught have received in history the name of the MYSTERIES.
    Each country had its own Mysteries peculiar to itself. In Egypt
    were those of Osiris and Isis; in Samothrace those of the Cabiri; in
    Greece they celebrated at Eleusis, near Athens, the Mysteries of
    Demeter; in Phoenicia of Adonis and Dionysus; of and in Persia
    those of Mithras, which were the last to perish after the advent of
    Christianity and the overthrow of polytheism. These Mysteries,
    although they differed in name and in some of the details of
    initiation, were essentially alike in general form and design. "Their
    end as well as nature," says Warburton, "was the same in all: to
    teach the doctrine of a future state." * Alger says: "The implications
    of the indirect evidence, the leanings and guiding of the entire
    incidental clews now left us as to the real aim and purport of the
    Mysteries, combine to assure us that their chief teaching was a
    doctrine of a future life in which there should be rewards and
    punishments." Thomas Taylor, the Platonist, says that : "the
    initiated were instructed in the doctrine of a state of future
    rewards, and punishments, and that the greater Mysteries
    "obscurely intimated, by mystic and splendid visions, the felicity of
    the soul both here and hereafter, when purified from the
    defilements of a material nature and constantly elevated to the
    realities of intellectual vision All the ancient writers who were
    contemporary with these associations, and must have been
    familiar with their character, concur in the opinion that their
    design was to teach the doctrine of a future life of compensation.
    Pindar says, "Happy the man who descends beneath the hollow
    earth having beheld these Mysteries. He knows the end, he knows
    the divine origin of life." Sophocles says that "they are thrice happy
    who descend to the shades below, after having beheld these rites;
    for they alone have life in Hades, while all others suffer there
    every kind of evil." Lastly, Isocrates declares, "those who have been
    initiated in the Mysteries of Ceres entertain better hopes both as to
    the end of life and the whole of futurity. It is then evident from all
    authorities , that the great end and design of the initiation into
    these Mysteries , was to teach the aspirant the doctrine of a future
    life not that aimless one . Portrayed by the poas and doubtfully
    consented to by the people, but that pure and rational state of
    immortal existence , in which the soul is purified from the dross of
    the body and elevated to eternal life. It was, in short, much the
    same in its spirit as the Christian and Masonic doctrine of the
    resurrection.
    But this lesson was communicated in the Mysteries in a peculiar
    form, which has in fact given rise to the theory we are now
    considering that they were the antitype and original source of
    Speculative Masonry. They were all dramatic in their ceremonies;
    each one exhibited in a series of scenic representations the
    adventures of some god or hero; the attacks upon him by his
    enemies; his death at their hands; his descent into Hades or the
    grave, and his final resurrection to renewed life as a mortal, or his
    apotheosis as a god. The only important difference between these
    various Mysteries was, that there was to each one a different and
    peculiar god or hero, whose death and resurrection or apotheosis
    constituted the subject of the drama, and gave to its scenes the
    changes which were dependent on the adventures of him who was
    its main subject. Thus, in Samothrace, where the Mysteries of the
    Cabiri were celebrated, it was Atys, the lover of Cybele, who was
    slain and restored; in Egypt it was Osiris whose death and
    resurrection were represented; in Greece it was Dionysus, and in
    Persia Mithras. Nevertheless, in all of these the material points of
    the plot and the religious design of the sacred drama were
    identical. The dramatic form and the scenic representation of the
    allegory were everywhere preserved. This dramatic form of the
    initiatory rites in the Mysteries , was as the learned Dr. Dollinger
    has justly observed , eminently calculated to take a powerful hold
    on the imagination and the heart and to excite in the spectators
    alternately conflicting sentiments of terror and calmness , of
    sorrow and fear and hope . As the Mysteries were a secret society,
    whose members were separated from the rest of the people by a
    ceremony of initiation, therefore resulted from this form of
    organization, as a necessary means of defense and of isolation, a
    solemn obligation of secrecy, with severe penalties for its violation,
    and certain modes of recognition known only to those who had
    been instructed in them. There was what might be called a
    progressive order of degrees, for the neophyte was not at once upon
    his initiation invested with knowledge of the deepest arcane of the
    religious system. Thus, the Mysteries were divided into two classes
    called the lesser and the Greater Mysteries, and in addition, there
    was a preliminary ceremony, which was only preparatory to the
    Mysteries proper. So that there was in the process of reception a
    system of three steps, which those who are fond of tracing
    analogies between the ancient and the modern initiations are
    prone to call degrees. A brief review of these three steps of progress
    in the Mysteries will give the reader a very definite idea of the
    nature of this ancient system. So many writers have thought that
    they had found the incunabulum of modern Freemasonry, and will
    enable him to appreciate at their just value the analogies, which
    these writers have found, as they suppose, between the two systems.
    The first step was called purification by water. When the neophyte
    was ready to be received into any of the ancient Mysteries, he was
    carried into the temple or other place appropriated to the
    ceremony of initiation, and there underwent a thorough cleansing
    of the body by water. This was the preparation for reception into
    the Lesser Mysteries and was symbolic of that purification of the
    heart that was necessary to prepare the aspirant for admission to
    a knowledge of and participation in the sacred lessons that were to
    be subsequently communicated to him. It has been sought to find in
    this preparatory ceremony an analogy to the first degree of
    Masonry. Such an analogy certainly exists, as will here after be
    shown, but the theory that the Apprentice's degree was derived
    from and suggested by the ceremony of Lustration in the Mysteries
    is untenable, because this ceremony was not peculiar to the
    Mysteries.
    An ablution, lustration, or cleansing by water, as a religious rite
    was practiced among all the ancient nations. More especially was
    it observed among the Hebrews, Greeks, and Romans. With the
    Hebrews, the lustration was a preliminary ceremony to every act
    of expiation or sin offering. Hence, the Jewish prophets continually
    refer to the ablution of the body with water as a symbol of the
    purification of the heart. Among the Greeks lustration was always
    connected with their sacrifices. It consisted in the sprinkling of
    water by means of an olive or a laurel branch. Among the Romans,
    the ceremony was more common than among the Greeks. It was
    used not only to expiate crime, but also to secure the blessing of the
    Gods. Thus, fields were lustrated before the corn was put into the
    ground; colonies when they were first established, and armies
    before they proceeded to battle. At the end of every fifth year, the
    whole people were thus purified by a general lustration.
    Everywhere the rite was connected with the performance of
    sacrifice and with the idea of a moral purification.
    The next step in the ceremonies of the ancient Mysteries was called
    the Initiation. It was here that the dramatic allegory was
    performed and the myth or fictitious history on which the peculiar
    Mystery was founded was developed. The neophyte personated the
    supposed events of the life, the sufferings, and the death of the god
    or hero to whom the Mystery was dedicated, or he had them
    brought in vivid representation before him. These ceremonies
    constituted a symbolic instruction in the initiation - the beginnings
    - of the religious system, which it was the object of the Mysteries to
    teach. The ceremonies of initiation were performed partly in the
    Lesser, but more especially and more fully in the Greater
    Mysteries, of which they were the first part, and where only the
    allegory of death was enacted. The Lesser Mysteries, which were
    introductory to the Greater, have been supposed by the theorists
    who maintain the connection between the Mysteries and
    Freemasonry to be analogous to the Fellow Craft's degree of the
    latter Institution. There may be some ground for this comparison
    in a rather inexact way, for although the Lesser Mysteries were to
    some extent public, yet as they were, as Clemens of Alexandria *
    says, a certain groundwork of instruction and preparation for the
    things that were to follow, they might perhaps be considered as
    analogous to the Fellow Craft's degree.
    The third and last of the progressive steps or grades in the
    Mysteries was Perfection. It was the ultimate object of the system.
    It was also called the autopsy, from a Greek word, which signifies
    seeing with one's own eyes. It was the complete and finished
    communication to the neophyte of the great secret of the Mysteries;
    the secret for the preservation of which the system of initiation
    had been invented, and which, during the whole course of that
    initiation, had been symbolically shadowed forth. The
    communication of this secret, which was in fact the explanation of
    the secret doctrine, for the inculcation of which the Mysteries in
    every country had been instituted, was made in the most sacred
    and private place of the temple or place of initiation. As the
    autopsy or Perfection of the Mysteries concluded the whole system,
    the maintainers of the doctrine that Freemasonry finds its origin
    in the Mysteries have compared this last step in the ancient
    initiation to the Master's degree. But the analogy between the two
    as a consummation of the secret doctrine is less patent in the third
    degree, as it now exists, than it was before the disseverance from it
    of the Royal Arch, accepting, however, the Master's degree as it
    was constituted in the earlier part of the 18th century, the
    analogies between that and the last stage of the Mysteries are
    certainly very interesting, although not sufficient to prove the
    origin of the modern from the ancient systems. But of this more
    hereafter. This view of the organization of the Pagan Mysteries
    would not be complete without some reference to the dramatized
    allegory which constituted so important a part of the ceremony of
    initiation, and in connection with which their relation to
    Freemasonry has been most earnestly urged. It has been already
    said that the Mysteries were originally invented for the purpose of
    teaching two great religious truths, which were unknown to, or at
    least not recognized, in the popular faith. These were the unity of
    God and the immortality of the soul in a future life. The former,
    although illustrated at every point by expressed symbols, such, for
    instance, as the all-seeing eye, the eye of the universe, and the
    image of the Deity, was not allegorized, but taught as an abstract
    doctrine at the time of the autopsy or the close of the grade of
    Perfection. The other truth, the dogma of a future life, and of a
    resurrection from death to immortality, was communicated by an
    allegory which was dramatized in much the same way in each of
    the Mysteries, although, of course, in each nation the person and
    the events which made up the allegory were different. The
    interpretation was, however, always the same. As Egypt was the
    first country of antiquity to receive the germs of civilization, it is
    there that the first Mysteries are supposed to have been invented.
    And although the Eleusinian Mysteries, which were introduced
    into Greece long after the invention of the Osiriac in Egypt, were
    more popular among the ancients, yet the Egyptian initiation
    exhibits more purely and more expressively the symbolic idea
    which was to be developed in the interpretation of its allegory. I
    shall therefore select the Osiriac, which was the most important of
    the Egyptian Mysteries, as the exemplar from which an idea may
    be obtained of the character of all the other Mysteries of paganism.
    (* The first and original Mysteries of which we have any account
    were those of Isis and Osiris in Egypt, from whence they were
    derived by the Greeks. - Warburton, "Divine Legation," I., p. 194.
    Diodorus says the same thing in the first book of his "History," I.,
    xxxvii.)
    All the writers of antiquity, such as Plutarch, Diodorus Siculus,
    and Herodotus, state that the Egyptian Mysteries of Osiris, Isis,
    and Horus were the model of all the other systems of initiation
    which were subsequently established among the different peoples of
    the Old World. Indeed, the ancients held that the Demeter of the
    Greeks was identical with the Isis of the Egyptians, and Dionysus
    with Osiris. Their adventures were certainly very similar. The
    place of Osiris in Egyptian history is unknown to us. The fragments
    of Sanchuniathon speak of Isiris, the brother of Chna or Canaan; in
    the lists of Manito, he is made the fifth king under the dynasty of
    the demigods, being conjoined with Isis; but as the four preceding
    kings are named as Hephaestus, Helios, Agathodomon and
    Chronos, the whole is evidently a mere mythological fable, and we
    have as far to seek as ever. Herodotus is not more satisfactory, for
    he says that Osiris and Isis were two great deities of the Egyptians.
    Banier, however, in his Mythology thinks that ,he was the same as
    Mizraim, the son of Clam, and grandson of Noah. Bishop
    Cumberland concurs in this and adds that Cham was the first king
    of Egypt, that Osiris was a title appropriated by him, signifying
    Prince, and that Isis was simply Ishah, his wife. Lastly, Diodorus
    Siculus says that he was Menes, the first King of Egypt. Some later
    writers have sought to identify Osiris and Isis with the Iswara and
    Isi of India. There is certainly a great deal of etymological
    plausibility in this last conjecture. The ubiquitous character of
    Osiris as a personality among the ancients is best shown in an
    epigram of Ausonius, wherein it is said that in Greece, at Eleusis,
    he was called Bacchus ; the Egyptians thought that he was Osiris,
    the Mysians of Asia Minor named him Phanceus or Apollo; the
    Indians supposed that he was Dionysus; the sacred rites of the
    Romans called him Liber; and the Phoenicians, Adonis.
    But the only thing that is of any interest to us in this connection is
    that Osiris was the hero of the earliest of the Mysteries, and that
    his death and apotheosis - his change from a mortal king to an
    immortal God - symbolized the doctrine of a future life.
    His historical character was that of a mild and beneficent
    sovereign, who had introduced the arts of civilization among his
    subjects, and had then traveled for three years for the purpose of
    extending them into other nations, leaving the government of his
    kingdom, during his absence, to his wife Isis. According to the
    legend, his brother Typhon had been a rival claimant for the
    throne, and his defeat had engendered a feeling of ill will. During
    the absence of Osiris, he, therefore, formed a secret conspiracy with
    some of his adherents to usurp the throne. On the return of Osiris
    from his travels, Typhon invited him to a banquet, ostensibly given
    in his honor, at which all the conspirators were present. During the
    feast Typhoon produced a chest, inlaid with gold, and promised to
    present it to that person of the company, whose body, upon trial,
    would be found most exactly to fit it. Osiris tried the experiment,
    but as soon as he had laid himself in the chest, Typhoon closed and
    nailed down the lid. The chest was then thrown into the river Nile,
    whence it floated into the sea, and, after being for some time tossed
    upon the waves, it was finally cast ashore at the town of Byblos, in
    Phoenicia, and left at the foot of a Tamarisk tree. Isis, the wife of
    Osiris, over whelmed with grief for the loss of her husband,
    commenced a search for the body, being accompanied by her son,
    Anubis, and his nurse, Nepthe. After many adventures, Isis
    arrived on the shores of Phoenicia and in the neighborhood of
    Byblos, where she at length discovered the body at the foot of the
    Tamarisk tree. She returned with it to Egypt. The people with great
    demonstrations of joy received it, and it was proclaimed that Osiris
    had risen from the dead and had become a god. The sufferings of
    Osiris, his death, his resurrection, and his subsequent office as judge
    of the dead in a future state, constituted the fundamental
    principles of the Egyptian religion. They taught the secret doctrine
    of a future life, and initiation into the mysteries of Osiris was
    initiation into the rites of the religion of Egypt. These rites were
    conducted by the priests, and into them many sages from other
    countries especially from Greece, such as Herodotus, Plutarch, and
    Pythagoras, were initiated.
    In this way it is supposed that the principles and general form of
    the Mysteries were conveyed into other countries, although they
    everywhere varied in the details. The most important of the
    Mysteries besides the Egyptian were those of Mithras in Persia, of
    Atys or of the Cabiri in Thrace, of Adonis in Phoenicia, Syria, and
    of Dionysus in Greece. They extended even beyond the then more
    civilized parts of the world into the northern regions of Europe,
    where were practiced the Scandinavian rites of the Norsemen and
    the Druidical Mysteries of Gaul and Britain, though these were
    probably derived more directly from a primitive Aryan source.
    But wherever they existed we find in them a remarkable unity of
    design and a similarity of ceremonies from which we are compelled
    to deduce a common origin, while the purity of the doctrines which
    they taught evidently show that this common origin was not to be
    sought in the popular theology. In all of the Mysteries, the
    ceremonies of initiation were of a funereal character. They
    allegorized in a dramatic form the sufferings, the death, and the
    resurrection of some god or hero. There was a death, most
    generally by violence, to symbolize, as certain (*Thus Clemens of
    Alexandria describes the legend or allegory of the Cabiri Mysteries
    as the sacred mystery of a brother slain by his brethren, "fraters
    trucidatus a fratribus.") interpreters of the Mysteries have
    supposed, the strife of certain antagonistic powers in nature, such
    as life and death, virtue and vice, light and darkness, or summer
    and winter.
    The candidate represented the person thus slain in the allegorical
    drama. After the death followes the disappearance of the body,
    called by the Greeks the aphanism, and the consequent search for
    it. This search for the body, in which all the initiates joined,
    constituted what Faber calls "the doleful part," and was succeeded
    by its discovery, which was known as the heuresis. * This was
    accompanied by the greatest demonstrations of joy. The candidate
    was afterward instructed in the apporheta, or secret dogmas of the
    Mysteries. In all of the Pagan Mysteries, this dramatic form of an
    allegory ,was preserved, and we may readily see in the groans and
    lamentations on the death of the god or hero and the
    disappearance of the body a symbol of the death of man, and in the
    subsequent rejoicings at his discovery and restoration, a symbol of
    the restoration of the spirit to eternal life .
    In view of the purity of the lessons taught in the Mysteries and
    their inculcation of the elevated dogmas of the unity of God and
    the immortality of the soul, it is not surprising to read the
    encomiums passed upon them by the philosophers of antiquity.
    The reader, if he has carefully considered the allegorical drama
    which was represented in the ancient Mysteries, and compared it
    with the drama which constitutes the principal portion of the
    initiation in Freemasonry, will be at no loss to account for the
    reasons which have led so many writers to attribute the origin of
    the Masonic system to these mystical associations of antiquity.
    It has been a favorite theory with several German, French, and
    British scholars , to trace the origin of Freemasonry to the
    Mysteries of Paganism ; others repudiating the idea that the
    modern association should have sprung from them , still find
    analogies so remarkable between the two systems as to lead them to
    suppose that the Mysteries were an offshoot from the pure
    Freemasonry of the Patriarchs . In my opinion there is not the
    slightest foundation in historical evidence to support either theory,
    although I admit the existence of many analogies between the two
    systems, which can , however, be easily explained without
    admitting any connection in the way of origin and descent
    between them. Of the theory that the Mysteries were an offshoot or
    imitation of the pure patriarchal Freemasonry, Hutchinson and
    Oliver are the most distinguished supporters. While Hutchinson
    strongly contends for the direct derivation of Freemasonry from
    Adam, through the line of the patriarchs to Moses and Solomon, he
    does not deny that it borrowed much from the initiations and
    symbols of the Pagans. Thus he unhesitatingly says, that "there is
    no doubt that our ceremonies and Mysteries were derived from the
    rites, ceremonies, and institutions of the ancients, and some of
    them from the remotest ages." But lest the purity of the genuine
    patriarchal Masonry should be polluted by borrowing its
    ceremonies from such an impure source, he subsequently describes,
    in that indefinite manner which was the peculiarity of his style,
    the separation of a purer class from the debasement of the popular
    religion, wherein he evidently alludes to the Mysteries. Thus he
    says: "In the corruption and ignorance of after ages , those
    hallowed places were polluted with idolatry ; the unenlightened
    mind mistook the type for the original , and could not discern the
    light from darkness . The sacred and hills became the objects of
    enthusiastic bigotry and superstition; the devotees bowed down to
    the oaken log and the graven image as being divine. Some
    preserved themselves from the corruptions of the times ,and we
    find those sages and select men to whom were committed, and who
    retained the light of understanding and truth, unpolluted with the
    sins of the world, under the denomination of Magi among the
    Persians; wise men, soothsayers, and astrologers among the
    Chaldeans; philosophers among the Greeks and Romans; Brahmins
    among the Indians; Druids and bards among the Britons; and with
    the people of God, Solomon shone forth in the fullness of human
    wisdom.
    I have denominated the surreptitious initiations earth-born, in
    contradistinction to the purity of Freemasonry, which was
    certainly derived from above; and to those who contend that
    Masonry is nothing more than a miserable relic of the idolatrous
    Mysteries (vide. Fab. Pag. Idol., vol. iii., p. 190), I would reply, in
    the words of an inspired apostle, 'Doth a fountain send forth at the
    same place sweet water and bitter? Can the fig tree bear olive
    berries or a vine figs? So can no fountain both yield salt water and
    fresh. The wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable,
    full of mercy and good fruits' (James iii. 11, 12, 17). I wish to be
    distinct and intelligible on this point, as some misapprehensions are
    afloat respecting the immediate object of my former volume of
    Signs and Symbols; and I have been told that the arguments there
    used afford an indirect sanction to the opinion that Masonry is
    derived from the Mysteries . In answer to this charge, if it requires
    one, I only need reply to the general tenor of that volume, and to
    declare explicitly my firm opinion, founded on intense study and
    abstruse research, that the science which we now denominate
    Speculative Masonry , was coeval , at least, with the creation of
    our globe, and the far-famed Mysteries of idolatry were a
    subsequent institution founded on similar principles, with the
    design of conveying unity and permanence to the false worship,
    which it otherwise could never have acquired.
    There is another class of Masonic scholars who have advanced the
    theory that the Speculative Freemasonry of the present day is
    derived directly from and is a legitimate successor of the Mysteries
    of antiquity. They found this theory on the very many and striking
    analogies that are to be found in the organization, the design, and
    the symbols of the two systems, and which they claim can only be
    explained on the theory that the one is an offshoot from the other.
    The Abbey Robin was, perhaps, the first writer who advanced this
    idea in a distinct form. In a work on the Ancient and Modern
    Initiations, * published in 1780, he traces the origin of the ancient
    systems of initiation to that early period when wicked men, urged
    by the terror of guilt, sought among the virtuous for intercessors
    with the Deity. The latter, he says, retired into solitary places to
    avoid the contagion of the growing corruption, and devoted
    themselves to a life of contemplation and to the cultivation of the
    arts and sciences. In order to associate with them in their labors
    and functions only such as had sufficient merit and capacity, they
    appointed strict courses of trial and examination. This, he thinks,
    must have been the source of the initiations, which distinguished
    the celebrated Mysteries of antiquity. The Magi of Chaldea, the
    Brahmins and Gymnosophists of India, the Priests of Egypt, and
    the Druids of Gaul and Britain thus lived in sequestered places and
    obtained great reputation by their discoveries in astronomy,
    chemistry, and mechanics, by the purity of their morals, and by
    their knowledge of the science of legislation. It was in these schools,
    says the abbe, that the first sages and legislators of antiquity were
    formed, where the doctrines taught were the unity of God and the
    immortality of the soul, and it was from these Mysteries that the
    exuberant fancy of the Greeks drew much of their mythology.
    From these ancient initiations, he deduces the orders of Chivalry,
    which sprang into existence in the middle Ages, and certain
    branches of these, he thinks, produced the institution of
    Freemasonry. The theory of the Abbey Robin therefore traces the
    institution of Masonry to the ancient Mysteries, but in an indirect
    way, through the orders of Chivalry. He might therefore more
    correctly be classed among those who maintain the doctrine of the
    Templar origin of Freemasonry. However, it is Alexander Lenoir,
    the French archaeologist, who has attempted in the most explicit
    and comprehensive manner to establish the doctrine of the direct
    descent of Freemasonry from the ancient Mysteries, and especially
    from the Egyptian. In the year 1814 he published an elaborate work
    on this subject. * In this he begins by affirming that we cannot
    expect to find in the Egyptian and Greek initiations those modes of
    recognition which are used by the Freemasons of the present day,
    because these methods, which are only conventional and had been
    orally communicated under the obligation of secrecy, can not be
    known to us, for they could not have been transmitted through the
    lapse of ages. Omitting, therefore, all reference to these as matters
    of no real importance, he confines himself to a comparison of the
    Masonic with the ancient rites of initiation. In this view he comes
    to the conclusion that Freemasonry in all the points that it
    essentially comprehends is in direct relation with the Mysteries of
    the ancient world, and that hence, abstracting certain particular
    usages practiced by the modern Freemasons, it is evident that
    Freemasonry in no respect differs from the ancient initiations of
    the Egyptians and the Greeks. This theory has been embraced by
    nearly all the French Masonic writers except Rebold, who traces
    Masonry to the Roman Colleges of Artificers Unfortunately for
    the general acceptance of this theory, M. Lenoir has in the first
    place drawn his comparisons from the system of ceremonies of
    initiation which are practiced in the lodges of France, and
    especially from the "proofs and trials" of the Entered Apprentice's
    degree. But the tedious ceremonies and painful trials of the
    candidate as they are practiced in the French Rite constitute no
    part of the original English Masonry whence the French Masonry
    derives its existence, and were adopted as a pure innovation long
    after the establishment of the Order in France by the Grand Lodge
    of England. And again, the Egyptian initiations, with which they
    have been compared by Lenoir, were not those which were actually
    practiced by the priests of Egypt, or at least we have no authentic
    proof of that fact, but were most probably suggested by the
    imaginative details given by the Abe Terrasson in his romance
    entitled Sethas, in which he pretends to portray the initiation of an
    Egyptian prince. The truth is that Lenoir and those writers who
    have followed him and adopted his theories have not instituted a
    comparison between the original ceremonies of Masonic initiation
    and those of the ancient Mysteries, but merely a comparison
    between a recent system of ceremonies, certainly not earlier than
    the middle of the last century, and a fictitious system indebted for
    its birth to the inventive genius of a French abbe, and first
    promulgated in a work published by him in the year 1731.
    As well might Mr. Turner or any other writer on Anglo-Saxon
    history have cited, as authentic materials for his description of the
    customs of the Anglo-Saxon, the romantic incidents given by Sir
    Walter Scott in his novel of Ivanhoe? Hence all the references of
    the voyages of an Entered Apprentice in a French Lodge to the
    similar voyages of an Aspirant in the Mysteries of Osiris or Isis
    become nothing more than "the baseless fabric of a vision," which
    must fade and dissolve like an "insubstantial pageant" when
    submitted to the crucial test of authentic historical investigation.
    The Rev. Mr. King, the author of a very interesting treatise on the
    Gnostics, * has advanced a theory much more plausible than either
    of those to which I have adverted. He maintains that some of the
    Pagan Mysteries, especially those of Mithras, which had been
    instituted in Persia, extended beyond the period of the advent of
    Christianity, and that their doctrines and usages were adopted by
    the secret societies which existed at an early period in Europe and
    which finally assumed the form of Freemasonry. I have said that
    this theory is a plausible one. It is so because its salient points are
    sustained by historical evidence. It is, for instance, a fact that some
    of the Mysteries of Paganism were practiced in Europe long after
    the commencement of the Christian era. They afforded a constant
    topic of denunciation to the fathers of the church, who feared and
    attacked what they supposed to be their idolatrous tendencies. It
    was not until the middle of the 5th century that they were
    proscribed by an edict of the Emperor Theodosius. But an edict of
    proscription is not necessarily nor always followed by an
    immediate abolition of the thing proscribed. The public celebration
    of the Mysteries must, of course, have ceased at once when such
    celebration had been declared unlawful. But a private and secret
    observance of them may have continued, and probably did
    continue, for an indefinite time, perhaps even to as late a period as
    the end of the 5th or the beginning of the 6th century. Mosheim
    tells us that in the 4th century, notwithstanding the zeal and
    severity of the Christian emperors, there still remained in several
    places, and especially in the remoter provinces, temples and
    religious rites consecrated to the Pagan deities; that rites instituted
    in honor of them were, in the 5th century, celebrated with the
    utmost freedom and impunity in the western empire; and that
    even in the 6th century remains of the Pagan worship were to be
    found among the learned and the officers of state. *During all this
    time it is known that secret associations, such as the Roman
    Colleges of Artificers, existed in Europe, and that from them
    ultimately sprang up the organizations of Builders, which, with
    Como in Lombardy as their center, spread over Europe in the
    Middle Ages, and whose members, under the recognized name of
    Traveling Freemasons, were the founders of Gothic architecture.
    There is no forced or unnatural succession from them to the Guilds
    of Operative Masons, who undoubtedly gave rise, about the end of
    the 17th or the beginning of the 18th century, to the Speculative
    Order or the Free and Accepted Masons, which is the organization
    that exists at the present day. There is, therefore, nothing
    absolutely untenable in the theory that the Mithraic Mysteries
    which prevailed in Europe until the 5th or perhaps the 6th century
    may have impressed some influence on the ritual, form, and
    character of the association of early Builders, and that this
    influence may have extended to the Traveling Freemasons, the
    Operative Guilds, and finally to the Free and Accepted Masons,
    since it can not be proved that there was not an uninterrupted
    chain of succession between these various organizations.
    The theory of Mr. King cannot, therefore, be summarily rejected. It
    may not be altogether true, but it has so many elements of truth
    about it that it claims our serious consideration. But, after all, we
    may find a sufficient explanation of the analogy which
    undoubtedly exists between the rites of the ancient Mysteries and
    those of the modern Freemasons in the natural tendency of the
    human mind to develop its ideas in the same way when these ideas
    are suggested by the same or similar circumstances. The fact that
    both institutions have taught the same lessons by the same method
    of instruction may be attributed not to a direct and uninterrupted
    succession of organizations, each one a link of a long chain leading
    consequentially to another but rather to a natural and usual
    coincidence of human thought. The believers in the lineal and
    direct descent of Freemasonry from the ancient Mysteries have of
    course discovered, or thought that they had discovered, the most
    striking and wonderful analogies between the internal
    organizations of the two institutions. Hence the most credulous of
    these theorists have not hesitated to compare the Hierophant, or
    the Explainer of the sacred rites in the Mysteries, with the
    Worshipful Master in a Masonic Lodge, nor to style the Dadouchos,
    or Torch-Bearer, and the Hieroceryx, or Herald of the Mysteries,
    Wardens, nor to assign to the Epibomos, or Altar-Server, the title
    and duties of a Deacon.
    That there are analogies, and that many of them are very curious
    can not be denied, but I shall attempt, before leaving; this subject,
    to explain the reason of their existence in a more rational way
    than by tracing the modern as a succession from the ancient
    system. The analogies existing between the ancient Mysteries and
    Freemasonry, upon which the theory of the descent of the one from
    the other has been based, consist in the facts that both were secret
    societies, that both taught the same doctrine of a future life, and
    that both made use of symbols and allegories and a dramatic form
    of instruction. But these analogies do not necessarily support the
    doctrine of descent, but may be otherwise satisfactorily explained.
    Whether the belief in a personal immortality was communicated to
    the first man by a divine revelation, and subsequently lost as the
    intellectual state of future generations declined into a degraded
    state of religious conceptions; or whether the prehistoric man,
    created but little superior to the wild beast with whom he daily
    contended for dominion with insufficient weapons, was at first
    without any conception of his future, until it had by chance
    dawned upon some more elevated intellect and by him been
    communicated to his fellows as a consoling doctrine, afterward to
    be lost, and then in the course of time to be again recovered, but
    not to be universally accepted by grosser minds, are questions into
    which we need not enter here. It is sufficient to know that there
    has been no period in the world's history, however dark, in which
    some rays of this doctrine have not been thrown upon the general
    gloom. The belief in a future life and an immortal destiny has
    always been so inseparably connected with elevated notions of God
    that the deep and reverent thinkers in all ages have necessarily
    subscribed to its truth. It has inspired the verses of poets and
    tempered and directed the discussions of philosophers.
    As both the Mysteries of the ancients and the Freemasonry of the
    moderns were religious institutions, the conceptions of the true
    nature of God which they taught to their disciples must of course
    have involved the ideas of a future life, for the one doctrine is a
    necessary consequence of the other. To seek, therefore, in this
    analogy the proof of a descent of the modern from the ancient
    institution is to advance an utterly fallacious argument.
    As to the secret character of the two institutions, the argument is
    equally untenable. Under the benighted rule of Pagan idolatry the
    doctrine of a future life was not the popular belief. Yet there were
    also some who aspired to a higher thought - philosophers like
    Socrates and Plato, who nourished with earnest longing the hope of
    immortality. Now, it was by such men that the Mysteries were
    originally organized, and it was for instruction in such a doctrine
    that they were instituted. But opposed as this doctrine was to the
    general current of popular thought, it became, necessarily and
    defensively, esoteric and exclusive. And hence we derive the reason
    for the secret character of the Mysteries. "They were kept secret,"
    says Warburton, "from a necessity of teaching the initiated some
    things improper to be communicated to all." * The learned bishop
    assigns another reason, which he sustains with the authority of
    ancient writers, for this secrecy. "Nothing," he says, "excites our
    curiosity like that which retires from our observation, and seems to
    forbid our search." ** Synesius, who lived in the 4th century, before
    the Mysteries were wholly abolished, says that they owed the
    veneration in which they were held to a popular ignorance of their
    nature. *** And Clemens of Alexandria, referring to the secrecy of
    the Mysteries, accounts for it, among other reasons, because the
    truth seen through a veil appears greater and more venerable.
    ****emasonry also teaches the doctrine of a future life. But
    although there was no necessity, as in the Pagan Mysteries, to
    conceal this doctrine from the populace; yet there is, for the reasons
    that have just been assigned, a proneness in the human heart,
    which has always existed, to clothe the most sacred subjects with
    the veil of mystery. It was this spirit that caused Jesus to speak to
    the Jewish multitudes in parables whose meaning his disciples, like
    initiates, were to comprehend, but which would be unintelligible to
    the people, so that "seeing they might not see, and hearing they
    might not understand."
    The Mysteries and Freemasonry were both secret societies, not
    necessarily, because the one was the legitimate successor of the
    other, but because both were human institutions and because both
    partook of the same human tendency to conceal what was sacred
    from the unhallowed eyes and cars of the profane. In this way may
    be explained the andogy between the two institutions which arises
    from their secret character and their esoteric method of
    instruction. The symbolic form of imparting the doctrines is
    another analogy, which may be readily explained. For when once
    the esoteric or secret system was determined on, or involuntarily
    adopted by the force of those tendencies to which I have referred, it
    was but natural that the secret instruction should be
    communicated by a method of symbolism, because in all ages
    symbols have been the cipher by which secret associations of every
    character have restricted the knowledge which they imparted to
    their initiates only. Again, in the Mysteries, the essential doctrine
    of a resurrection from death to eternal life was always taught in a
    dramatic form. There was a drama in which the aspirant or
    candidate for initiation represented, or there was visibly pictured
    to him, the death by violence and then the resuscitation or
    apotheosis - the resurrection to life and immortality of some god or
    hero, in whose honor the peculiar mystery was founded. Hence in
    all the Mysteries there were the thanatos, the death or slaying of
    the victim; the aphanism, the concealment or burial of the body by
    the slayers; and the heuresis, the finding of the body by the
    initiates. This drama, from the character of the plot, began with
    mourning and ended with joy. The traditional "eureka," sometimes
    attributed to Euclid when he discovered the forty-seventh problem,
    but most probable to Archimedes when he accidentally learned the
    principle of specific gravity, was nightly repeated to the initiates
    when, at the termination of the drama of the Mysteries, they had
    found the hidden body of the Master.
    Now, the recognized fact that this mode of inculcating a religious
    or a philosophical idea by a dramatic representation was
    constantly practiced in the ancient world, for the purpose of more
    permanently impressing the conception, would naturally lead to its
    adoption by all associations where the same lesson was to be taught
    as that which was the subject of the Mysteries. The tendency to
    dramatize an allegory is universal, because the method of
    dramatization is the most expedient and has been proved to be the
    most successful. The drama of the third or Master's degree of
    Freemasonry is, as respects the subject and the development of the
    plot and the conduct of the scenes, the same as the drama of the
    ancient Mysteries. There is the same thanalos, or death; the same
    aphanism, or concealment of the body, and the same heuresis, or
    discovery of it. The drama of the Master's degree begins in sorrow
    and ends in joy. Everything is so similar that we at once recognize
    an analogy between Freemasonry and the ancient Mysteries; but it
    has already been explained that this analogy is the result of
    natural causes, and by no means infers a descent of the modern
    from the ancient institution. Another analogy between the
    Mysteries and Freemasonry is the division of both into steps,
    classes, or degrees - call them what you may - which is to be found
    in both. The arrangement of the Masonic system into three degrees
    certainly bears a resemblance to the distribution of the Mysteries
    into the three steps of Preparation, Initiation, and Perfection
    which have been heretofore described.
    But this analogy, remarkable as it may at first view appear, is
    really an accidental one, which in no way shows an historical
    connection between the two institutions. In every system of
    instruction, whether open or secret, there must be a gradual and
    not an immediate attainment of that which is intended to be
    imparted. The ancient adage that "no one suddenly becomes
    wicked" might with equal truth be read that "no one suddenly
    becomes learned." There must be a series of gradual approaches to
    the ultimate point in every pursuit of knowledge, like the
    advancing parallels of a besieging army in its efforts to attain
    possession of a beleaguered city. Hence the ladder, with its various
    steps, has from the earliest times been accepted as a symbol of
    moral or intellectual progress from an inferior to a superior
    sphere. In this progress from the simplest to the most profound
    arena of initiation - from the inception to the full accomplishment
    of the instruction whereby the mind was to be gradually purged of
    many errors, by preparatory steps, before it could bear the full
    blaze of truth - both the Mysteries and Freemasonry have obeyed a
    common law of intellectual growth, independently of any
    connection of the one with the other institution. The fact that there
    existed in both institutions secret modes of recognition presents
    another analogy. It is known that in the Mysteries, as in
    Freemasonry, there was a solemn obligation of secrecy, with
    penalties for its violation, which referred to certain methods of
    recognition known only to the initiates. But this may safely be
    attributed to the fact that such peculiarities are and always will be
    the necessary adjuncts of any secret organization, whether
    religious, social, or political. In every secret society isolated from
    the rest of mankind, we must find, as a natural outgrowth of its
    secrecy and as a necessary means of defense and isolation, an
    obligation of secrecy and methods of recognition. On such analogies
    it is, therefore, scarcely worthwhile to dilate. Thus, then, I have
    traced the analogies between the ancient Mysteries and modern
    Freemasonry in the following points of resemblance. 1. The
    Preparation, which in the Mysteries was called the Lustration. It
    was the first step in the Mysteries, and is the Entered Apprentice's
    degree in Freemasonry. In both systems, the candidate was
    purified for the reception of truth by washing. In one it was a
    physical ablution; in the other a moral cleansing; but in both the
    symbolic idea was the same.
    The Initiation, which in the ancient system was partly in the
    Lesser Mysteries, but more especially in the Greater. In Masonry it
    is partly in the Fellow Craft's, but more especially in the Master's
    degree.
    The Perfection, which in the Mysteries was the communication to
    the aspirant of the true dogma - the great secret symbolized by the
    initiation. In Freemasonry it is the same. The dogma
    communicated in both is, in fact, identical. This Perfection came in
    the Mysteries at the end of the Greater Mysteries. In Masonry, it is
    communicated at the close of the Master's degree. In the Mysteries,
    the communication was made in the sachem or holiest place. In
    Masonry, it is made in the Master's Lodge, which is said to
    represent the holy of holies of the Temple.
    The secret character of both institutions.
    The use of symbols.
    The dramatic form of the initiation.
    The division of both systems into: 8. the adoption by both of secret
    methods of recognition.
    These analogies, it must be admitted, are very striking, and, if
    considered merely as coincidences, must be acknowledged to be
    very singular. It is not, therefore, surprising that scholars have
    found it difficult to resolve the following problem:
    Is modern Freemasonry a lineal and uninterrupted successor of the
    ancient Mysteries? The succession being transmitted through the
    .Mithraic initiations which existed in the 5th and 6th centuries; or
    is the fact of the analogies between the two systems to be attributed
    to the coincidence of a natural process of human thought, common
    to all minds and showing its development in symbolic forms?. I can
    only arrive at what I think is a logical conclusion which is that if
    both the Mysteries and Freemasonry have taught the same lessons
    by the same method of instruction, this has arisen not from a
    succession of organizations, each one a link of a long chain of
    historical sequences leading directly to another, until Hiram is
    simply substituted for Osiris , but rather from those usual and
    natural coincidences of human thought which are to be found in
    every age and among all peoples.
    It is, however, hardly to be denied that the founders of the
    Speculative system of Masonry, in forming their ritual, especially
    of the third degree, derived many suggestions as to the form and
    character of their funereal legend from the rites of the ancient
    initiations. But how long after Freemasonry had an organized
    existence this funereal legend was devised, is a question that must
    hereafter be entitled to mature consideration.


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