A Masonic Glossary of the Gnostic Mass


The following alphabetized series of articles are collected from various old Masonic reference works. The details are not so interesting (or reliable) on account of objective scholarship or “factual” content, but rather because they demonstrate how the terms were likely to have been understood in the milieu of the composition and first presentation of Liber XV. The principal references used include:

  • Mackenzie, Kenneth. The Royal Masonic Cyclopaedia. 1877.
  • Mackey, Albert G. Encyclopedia of Freemasonry and Kindred Sciences. 1873. Revised and expanded by Robert I. Clegg in 1929.
  • Macoy, Robert. Cyclopedia of Freemasonry. circa 1875.
  • Oliver, George. A Dictionary of Symbolical Masonry. circa 1850.

All these books were written by Freemasons, for Freemasons.

Abraxas | Adoration | Altar | Ancient Mysteries | Aum | Baphomet | Bells | Benediction | Book of the Law | Bread, Consecrated | Breast | Brother | Chaos | Circumambulation | Coffin | Covenants | Cross | Crown | Dais | Deacon | Double Cube | East | Eleven | Feasts | Formula | Gnosticism | Goblets | High Places | Incense | King | Kneeling | Labour | Lance | Light | Moon | Mystery | Obelisk | On | Pan, The God | Penal Sign | Pillars | Priest | Robes | Resurrection | Saints | Salt | Secret | Serpent | Shrine | Sign | Step | Sun | Sword | Temple | Three | Triads | Veils | Virtues | West | Wine

The MS. published by Locke, but which is now condemned as spurious, attributed at one time to King Henry VI. says, that the Freemasons, among other secrets, possess “the facultye of Abrac.” Oliver fancifully connects the word Abraxas with Abraham; but it is known to have been the name applied by Basilides, the Pythagorean of Alexandria, to the Supreme Deity, from whom all other divinities emanated, being seven in number, with 365 virtues, typified in Greek numeration by the value of the word, thus:–

b = 2 a = 1 m = 40
h = 8 b = 2 e = 5
l = 30 r = 100 i = 10
e = 5 a = 1 q = 9
n = 50 x = 60 r = 100
o = 70 a = 1 a = 1
V = 200 = 365V = 200 = 365V = 200 = 365

It will be seen that, placed side by side with Meithras or Mithras and Belenus, the Gaulish sun–the sum of the values is the same, and corresponds to the ancient length of the year in days–Abraxas, Belenus, and Mithras, all signifying the sun. Beausobre, in the History of Manicheism, enters into a long etymological disquisition to prove that Abraxas is derived from the two Greek words, AbroV Saw; or, “the magnificent Saviour, he who heals and preserves.” AbroV is an epithet of the Sun, and those who perceive in the Sun and Mithras a type of the Saviour, may draw some curious inferences as to the identity of these personages in philosophical mythology. But the futility of such figures, and any deductions from them, is shown by the fact that the terminal letters in all these, furnish the major portion of the common product, and the root words, in a philological sense, would give results of no significative meaning at all; while three widely scattered countries–Gaul, Greece, and Persia–have been laid under contribution for this common addition to the pseudo-philosophy of the Solar myth. The fact that the word Abraxas was first applied by Basilides, a philosopher of the Alexandrian school, about the year 250, is enough to show from what base sources the fictions of this class of sophists were drawn.

–Mackenzie's Royal Masonic Cyclopaedia

The act of paying divine worship. The Latin word adorare is derived from ad, to, and os, oris, the mouth, and we thus etymologically learn that the most primitive act of adoration was by the application of the fingers to the mouth. Hence we read in Job (xxxi, 26): “If I beheld the sun when it shined, or the moon walking in brightness, and my heart hath been secretly enticed, or my mouth hath kissed my hand, this also were an iniquity to be punished by the Judges; for I should have denied the God that is above.” Here the mouth kissing the hand is equal in meaning and force to adoration, as if he had said “If I have adored the sun or the moon.”

This mode of adoration is said to have originated among the Persians, who, as worshippers of the sun, always turned their faces to the east and kissed their hands to that luminary. The gesture was first used as a token of respect to their monarchs, and was easily transferred to objects of worship. Other additional forms of adoration were used in various countries, but in all of them this reference to kissing was in some degree preserved. It is yet a practise of quite common usage for Orientals to kiss what they deem sacred or that which they wish to adore–as, for example, the Wailing Place of the Jews at Jerusalem, the nearest wall to the Temple where they were permitted by the Mahommedans to approach and on which their tears and kisses were affectionately bestowed before the British General Allenby, took possession of the city in the World War and equalised the rights of the inhabitants. The marble toes of the statue of Saint Peter in the Cathedral of Saint Peter's at Rome have been quite worn away by the kissings of Roman Catholics and have been replaced by bronze.

Among the ancient Romans the act of adoration was thus performed: The worshiper, having his head covered, applied his right hand to his lips, thumb erect, and the forefinger resting on it, and then, bowing his head, he turned round from right to left. Hence, Lucius Apuleius, a Roman author, born in the first century, in his Apologia sive oratio de magia, a defense against the charge of witchcraft, uses the expression to apply the hand to the lips, manum labris admovere, to express the act of adoration. The Grecian mode of adoration differed from the Roman in having had the head uncovered, which practise was adopted by the Christians. The Oriental nations cover the head, but uncover the feet. They also express the act of adoration by prostrating themselves on their faces and applying their foreheads to the ground. The ancient Jews adored by kneeling, sometimes by prostration of the whole body, and by kissing the hand.

–Mackey's Revised Encyclopedia of Freemasonry

The place of sacred offerings–either as altars of sacrifice or as altars of incense. Altars are common to all religions, and are still in use, except in the Protestant faith, in which the communion table has very properly been substituted. In an ordinary English Craft Lodge, the altar is also called the pedestal, and is placed immediately in front of the Master; on it lie the volume of the Sacred Law, and the working tools of the degree in which the Lodge is open. In America, the altar is situated in the centre of the Lodge, in the form of a cube, three feet high, with four horns, one at each corner, the open Bible, square and compass being displayed, and the three lesser lights placed in proper position around it. In some of the higher degrees, thirty-three lights are placed upon the altar, then somewhat differently situated; and the number of lights vary according to the degree, as nine, twelve, fifteen, &c.

–Mackenzie's Royal Masonic Cyclopaedia

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 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 veils 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.”

As the Mysteries were a secret society, whose members were separated from the rest of the people by a ceremony of initiation, there 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.

–from “Freemasonry and the Ancient Mysteries”
in Albert Mackey's History of Freemasonry

A mystic syllable among the Hindus, signifying the Supreme God of Gods, which the Brahmans, from its awful and sacred meaning, hesitate to pronounce aloud, and in doing so place one of their hands before the mouth so as to deaden the sound. This triliteral name of God, which is as sacred among the Hindus as the Tetragrammaton is among the Jews, is composed of three Sanskrit letters, sounding Aum. The first letter, A, stands for the Creator; the second, U, for the Preserver; and the third, M, for the Destroyer, or Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva.

Benfey, in his Sanskrit-English Dictionary, defines the word as “a particle of reminiscence”; and this may explain the Brahmanical saying, that a Brahman beginning or ending the reading of a part of the Veda or Sacred Books, must always pronounce, to himself, the syllable Aum; for unless that syllable precede, his learning will slip away from him, and unless it follow, nothing will be long retained. An old passage in the Purana says, “All the rites ordained in the Vedas, the sacrifices to fire, and all sacred purifications, shall pass away, but the word Aum shall never pass away, for it is the symbol of the Lord of all things.”

The word has been indifferently spelled, O'om, Aom, and Aum; but the last is evidently the most proper, as the second letter is Oo = U in the Sanskrit alphabet (see On).

–Mackey's Revised Encyclopedia of Freemasonry

Among the charges preferred against the Order of Knights Templar, for which Jacques de Molay suffered martyrdom, was that of worshipping an idol or image called Baphomet or Baphometus. Many discussions have arisen respecting this word. Maccoy considers it to have been a corruption of Mohammed; but when it is remembered that the very object of the Templar Order was to combat the faith of Islam, it is easy to see that such a view must be erroneous. Von Hammer suggests that it may have arisen from the two Greek words, bafh, mhtiV, the baptism of wisdom; and Nicolai suggests that the three heads, sometimes shown on the image, referred to the Trinity; but it might as well be referred to Cerberus, as we have dog-headed divinities constantly in the Egyptian and Hellenic mysteries. It is curious that bafa is the Provencal for a falsehood. That it was a Kabbalistical talisman is unquestionable, and was connected with the esoteric doctrines of Hermetic philosophy. It is very likely that an image embodying these doctrines may have existed, nor is it difficult to reconstruct its singular form, in itself essentially Masonic and universal. Be it remembered that the Rabbis were the jealous custodians of the science of the Cabala or Kabbalah, and that their mystical form of reading would prevail in the terminology of that science. If the word be read in the Hebrew manner (that is, instead of BAPHOMET, read thus, TEMOHPAB), it is found to be an abbreviated cipher of the words TEMpli Omnium Hominum Paces ABbas–“The father of the Temple, the universal peace of men,” thus conveying in a phrase an appropriate and universal sentiment of a Masonic nature. It has been suggested that Baphomet is none other than the Ancient of Days or Creator. More cannot be said here without improperly revealing what we are bound to hele, conceal, and never reveal.

–Mackenzie's Royal Masonic Cyclopaedia

Bells were the most notable ornaments on the robe of the chief pontiff of the Hebrews. “And it shall be unto Aaron to minister, and his sound shall be heard when he goeth in into the Holy Place before the Lord, and when he cometh out, that he die not.”

–Macoy's Cyclopedia of Freemasonry

The solemn invocation of a blessing in the ceremony of closing a Lodge is called the benediction. The usual formula is as follows:

May the blessing of Heaven rest upon us, and all regular Masons; may brotherly love prevail, and every moral and social virtue cement us.

The response is, “So mote it be. Amen”; which should always be audibly pronounced by all the Brethren.

–Mackey's Revised Encyclopedia of Freemasonry

The Holy Bible, an emphatically Masonic book, ever open in a Lodge, as a symbol that its light should always be diffused among the brethren.

–Mackenzie's Royal Masonic Cyclopaedia

Consecrated bread and wine, that is to say, bread and wine used not simply for food, but made sacred by the purpose of symbolizing a bond of brotherhood, and the eating and drinking of which are sometimes called the Communion of the Brethren, is found in some of the advanced Degrees, such as the Order of High Priesthood in the American Rite, and the Rose Croix of the French and Scottish Rites.

It was in ancient times a custom religiously observed, that those who sacrificed to the gods should unite in partaking of a part of the food that had been offered. And in the Jewish Church it was strictly commanded that the sacrificers should “eat before the Lord,” and unite in a feast of joy on the occasion of their offerings. By this common partaking of that which had been consecrated to a sacred purpose, those who partook of the feast seemed to give an evidence and attestation of the sincerity with which they made the offering; while the feast itself was, as it were, the renewal of the covenant of friendship between the parties.

–Mackey's Revised Encyclopedia of Freemasonry

A Mason's breast should be a safe and sacred repository for all your just and lawful secrets. A brother's secrets, delivered to me as such, I would keep as my own, as to betray that trust might be doing him the greatest injury he could sustain in this mortal life; nay, it would be like the villany of an assassin who lurks in darkness to stab his adversary when unarmed and least prepared to meet an enemy. –Old Lectures.

–Oliver's Dictionary of Symbolical Masonry

In the lodge, Masons always call each other brother; and the poorest among them, even the serving brethren, dare not address them by any other title, although they may fill the highest offices in the state, or even be monarchs. Out of the lodge, in the presence of strangers, the word brother may be dropped; but when a brother meets a brother, even out of the lodge, and no other person is present, then the title of brother must not be omitted. It must be much more agreeable to every brother to be called by that endearing name than to be addressed by the title of your excellency or Mr., as well in the lodge as out of it when no strangers are present. No one hath a brother except he be a brother himself. –Gadicke.

–Oliver's Dictionary of Symbolical Masonry

A confused and shapeless mass, such as is supposed to have existed before God reduced creation into order. It is a Masonic symbol of the ignorance and intellectual darkness from which man is rescued by the light and truth of Freemasonry. Hence, Ordo ab chao, or, Order out of chaos, is one of the mottoes of the Institution.

–Mackey's Revised Encyclopedia of Freemasonry

Processions round the centre object of worship, such as statues and altars, have always been in vogue, and a certain symbolical meaning was attached to the ceremony. The procession in all ancient religions usually followed the course of the sun, and in part and in whole we still possess humns sung by the priests on such occasions; for instance, the hymn of the priests of Delos, sung in praise of Apollo the Sun, the burthen of which was, “We imitate the example of the sun, and follow his benevolent course.” In the same way, the Druidical priests circumambulated their altars thrice. Nor is this custom extinct in the Highlands of Scotland to the present time. In passing round the monumental cairns, the people go thrice round by the south, and term it deiscal, from deas or deis, the right hand, and soil or sul, the sun. Circumambulation is also practised in Freemasonry during certain ceremonies, such as the consecration of Lodges, initiation or advancement of members, and other circumstances.

–Mackenzie's Royal Masonic Cyclopaedia

In the Ancient Mysteries the aspirant could not claim a participation in the highest secrets until he had been placed in the Pastos, a bed or coffin. The placing him in the coffin was called the symbolical death of the mysteries, and his deliverance was termed a raising from the dead. “The mind,” says an ancient writer, quoted by Stobaeus, “is affected in death just as it is in the initiation into the mysteries. And word answers to word, as well as thing to thing; for teleutan is to die, and teleisqai, to be initiated.” The coffin in Freemasonry is found on tracing boards of the early part of the eighteenth century, and has always constituted a part of the symbolism of the Third Degree, where the reference is precisely the same as that of the Pastos in the Ancient Mysteries.

–Mackey's Revised Encyclopedia of Freemasonry

The various oaths of obligation in the several degrees are sometimes thus called.

–Mackenzie's Royal Masonic Cyclopaedia

Although the cross to Christians possesses a well-known meaning as a symbol of salvation, it is by no means peculiar to Christianity. The Egyptians, Assyrians, Ancient Americans, Hindus, Greeks, and Romans, were all acquainted with the cross in one or other of its modifications. Among the Egyptians it was the sign of life, and so occurs continually in the rituals of that country, where, under various forms, and associated with various legends, we find the worship of one God inculcated by the priesthood. The Brahmans and Buddhists, in like manner, adored one God under various aspects. In Masonry, we find the cross retained in the Royal Arch degree as the Triple Tau; and this may be also found of continual occurrence in the higher ineffable and philosophical degrees. Indeed, according to an ancient Masonic tradition, we find the cross foreshadowed in the Temple of King Solomon. This noble structure was said to have three foundations; the first of which contained seventy stones, five rows from north to south, and fourteen in each row running from east to west. The centre row corresponded with the upright of a cross, the transverse of which was formed by two stones on either side of the eleventh stone, from the east side of the centre row of which the upright is formed, and the fourth stone from the west end of it. This stone, which hence occupies the crossing of the beams, was under the sanctum sanctorum, where were deposited the Ark of the Covenant and the Shekinah.

–Mackenzie's Royal Masonic Cyclopaedia

A portion of Masonic regalia worn by officers who represent a king, more especially King Solomon. In Ancient Craft Freemasonry, however, the crown is frequently displaced by the hat.

–Mackey's Revised Encyclopedia of Freemasonry

From the French word dais, meaning a canopy. The raised floor at the head of a banqueting room, or any ceremonial chamber or hall, designed for guests of distinction; so called because it used to be decorated with a canopy. In Masonic language, the dais is the elevated portion of the eastern part of the lodge-room, which is occupied by Past Masters and the dignitaries of the Order. This should be elevated three steps above the floor.

–Mackey's Revised Encyclopedia of Freemasonry

The duties attached to the office of a deacon are, “to convey messages, to obey commands, and to assist at initiations, and in the general practice of the rites and ceremonies of the Order.” The jewel of their office is a dove, as an emblem of peace, and characteristic of their duties.

–Oliver's Dictionary of Symbolical Masonry

The heathen deities were many of them represented by a cubical stone. Pausanius informs us that a cube was the symbol of Mercury, because, like the cube, he represented Truth. In Arabia a black stone in the form of a double cube, was reputed to be possessed of many occult virtues. Apollo was sometimes worshipped under the symbol of a square stone, and it is recorded that when a fatal pestilence raged at Delphi, the oracle was consulted as to the means proper to be adopted for the purpose of arresting its progress, and it commanded that the cube should be doubled. This was understood by the priest to refer to the altar, which was of a cubical form. They obeyed the injunction, increasing the altitude of the altar to its prescribed dimensions, like the pedestal in a Masons' lodge, and the pestilence ceased.

–Oliver's Dictionary of Symbolical Masonry

The pedestal, with the volume of the Sacred Law, is placed in the eastern part of the lodge, to signify that as the sun rises in the east to open and enliven the day, so is the W[orshipful] M[aster] placed in the east to open the lodge, and to employ and instruct the brethren in Masonry.

–Oliver's Dictionary of Symbolical Masonry

A mystical number in Preston's lectures, but subsequently omitted. In the Knights Templar system, the number eleven is still significant. In the Hermetic system, eleven is impar, and follows the perfect number ten. It has a magical meaning.

–Mackenzie's Royal Masonic Cyclopaedia

At regular and appropriate seasons, convivial meetings of the Craft are held for the purpose of social intercourse. Temperance, harmony, and joy should always characterize these assemblies. On the continent and in the United States, an annual feast is held on the anniversary of St. John the Baptist, June 24. That every one may strive to give mirth and happiness to his brother, the Grand Lodge of England, at the quarterly meeting on the festival of St. John the Evangelist, in 1720, adopted the following regulation: “That, in future, the new Grand Masters should be named and proposed to the Grand Lodge some time before the feast; and if approved, and present, he shall be saluted as Grand Master elect.”

–Oliver's Dictionary of Symbolical Masonry

A prescribed mode or form of doing or saying anything. The word is derived from the technical language of the Roman law, where, after the old legal actions had been abolished, suits were practised according to certain prescribed forms called formulae. Formulas in Freemasonry are very frequent. They are either oral or monitorial. Oral formulas are those that are employed in various parts of the ritual, such as the opening and closing of a Lodge, the investiture of the candidate, etc. From the fact of their oral transmission they are frequently corrupted or altered, which is one of the most prolific sources of nonconformity so often complained of by Masonic teachers. Monitorial formulas are those that are committed to writing, and are to be found in the various Monitors and Manuals. They are such as relate to public installations, to laying foundation-stones, to dedications of halls, to funerals, etc. Their monitorial character ought to preserve them from change; but uniformity is not even here always attained, owing to the whims of the compilers of manuals or of monitors, who have often unnecessarily changed the form of words from the original standard.

–Mackey's Revised Encyclopedia of Freemasonry

(Greek, GnwsiV, or Knowledge). There was a period of a priori knowledge, which, fostered by the ideas of Proclus and his school–itself founded upon Platonism–intermingled with the more recondite mysteries of the east, in which a powerful and singular sect of philosophers arose, called the Gnostics. Gnosticism was very attractive to minds imbued with mystical ideas; and semi-pantheistc in nature, it sought to purify its disciples from the corruptions of matter, and elevate them to a higher scale of being, suited only to those who were to become perfect by knowledge. As nearly as that ancient doctrine can be interpreted, it ran thus–

  1. That the supreme God had dwelt from all eternity in a pleroma of inaccessible light–perhaps, in comparison with this world's material light or fire, inappreciable light.
  2. They called this, God, first Father, or Principle; also, Bythos to denote his unfathomable nature.
  3. Copying from the Brahmans, they considered that this Being, by a purely mental operation, or by his bissexual character, derived from Platonism, produced from his own being, in striking similarity to the Genetical mystery, two other beings of different sexes, from whom, by a series of avatars or descents, of a more or less numerous character, several pairs of beings, termed eons, or aeons, ensued.

These were successively inferior in quality, and they were an essential ingredient in the great plan, in order to account for the creation of the world, without making the supreme God the author of evil; and these aeons existed throughout countless ages, in a state of quiescence, with their Father–being constantly, however, given off by their ever prolific Creator, and as they were ejected from this first primordial Being, they deteriorated in proportion to their distance from the pleroma in which He existed. A collision between these and the pre-existent dead matter would naturally occur within the course of ages, and this collision so altered the form of dead, latent, or inert matter, that it became instinct with a species of secondary or mortal life–not immortal, because derived, created, and yet not made,–inevitable, although not designed, but a natural result of the intermixture between that which partook of the divine and eternal nature, and that which, although perishable, was susceptible of mutation of form; in other words, was corruptible, and might again arise into new forms of life. Although such crude notions may be resisted by the philosophies of modern ages, still, beholding as we do new discoveries every year in the richness and fulness of microscopical animal life, they are worthy of a passing notice. And the more carefully research is pushed, with our gradually improving instruments, into the Microcosm or Infinitely Little, the greater must be our appreciation of those truths dimly taught by the Gnostics. Everywhere we perceive orderly laws, even regulations of a fiscal and communal life, and a ceaseless activity on the part of the organized microscopiae. Doubtless, with better magnifying power, we could trace, and even become familiar with, many forms of life as yet beyond our knowledge or conception. It is wise under the circumstances to bear in mind some very ancient lines alluding to this continual action of the formative principle. Men, unfamiliar with any forms but their own, are too apt to hold in contempt other admirable animated shapes, and hence the words of Xenophanes (Fragmenta, V. and VI.) may well be quoted here:–

But men foolishly think that gods are born like as men are,

And have, too, a dress like their own, and their voice, and their figure:

But if oxen and lions had hands like ours, and fingers,

Then would horses like unto horses, and oxen to oxen,

Paint and fashion their god-forms, and give to them bodies

Of like shape to their own, as they themselves too are fashioned.

In fair defence of Gnostic ideas, we may readily ask, why may not the lower creations, as man proudly calls them, have Soters or Saviours of their own, in their own forms, and why is mortal man to arrogate to himself the humiliating and odious necessity of a Saviour? Surely man must, with his known gifts of reason, memory, and discrimination, be far below the brutes, and even the animiculae, to require, or even to merit, a special elevating power to redeem him from the results of the inadvertent error of original sin? Original sin, in its essence, I take to e nothing but ignorance; and ignorance has ever led to intolerance, strife, and opposition,–a fatal waste of mortal life, lamentably illustrated by the known history of the world. Divested of the portions of eastern lore derived by slow and imperfect means from their source, and even then first misrepresented, and afterwards misunderstood, Gnosticism offers a fair picture of philosophic thought at a time when to think freely, and even reverently, was death; and when, also, the rival principles of ancient polytheism and nascent Christianity were engaged in the throes of a death struggle. That struggle has been prolonged through the centuries by the political power–now, happily, on the wane–acquired by the Church of Rome, as the true inheritrix of the pagan system. Perhaps the main reason why Gnosticism has not recommended itself to the world, is in the base and slavish worship paid by its votaries to the mere outside show of amulets and phylacteries, derived from the Jewish element in its main philosophy. To regard an emblem as typical of something beyond has been, in all times, a custom–to adore it as the thing or essential principle is exactly as reprehensible, and by the common consent of mankind this has been banished from the realm of thought. It was therefore to that time, when men of the Gnostic faith pinned their success in everyday concerns to the possession of certain talismans, or palladia,, that we may refer the downfall of their otherwise pure and wise views on creation. In these troublous times, such arrogance is best replaced by humility; such speculations, by industrious emulation in the attainment of knowledge, and in faith and chartiy towards all mankind. The principal defenders and instructors in it were Basilides, Menander, Saturninos, Persicos, Marcion, and Valentinus, and especially Cerinthus. They were stigmatized by the later Roman Church because they came into conflict with the purer Church of Christianity,–the possession of which was usurped by the bishops of Rome, but which original continues in its docility towards the founder, in the Primitive Orthodox Greek Church.

–Mackenzie's Royal Masonic Cyclopaedia

This would seem a fitting place to mention the goblets and other vessels of gold and silver made for the service of the First Temple, according to Josephus:–

Vessels of Gold
Wine Cups

Vestments for the priests, 21,000.

600,000 gold and silver musical instruments.

200,000 stoles of silver for the Levites.

The consideration of these wonderful aggregations of gold and silver plate leads us to the farther contemplation of the enormous mass of mineral wealth existing in the earlier times of the world, and the consequent perfection of metallurgical skill in those days. For without a knowledge of the treatment of metals, all this bounteous provision of rich and gorgeous matter would have remained as mere dross in the bowels of the earth, or distributed, as in Australia and California, on or near to the surface. It has become the habit of mankind to esteem the possession and exchange of gold and silver tokens as the real signs of wealth, just as shells on the Coromandel coast, and cowries and ivory on the coast of Guinea, have actual representative value. It seems as if mankind would, by common consent, turn away from the actual idea of what constitutes intrinsic value, and Almighty Providence is now proving the utter nullity of the worth of these precious articles by the liberal discoveries made at the present time of diamonds, emeralds, precious metals, and other objects. The real objects of importance–viz., monuments and documents illustrating the history and progress of mankind–have been, until comparatively recent times, positively ignored and misinterpreted when broughte under notice. Surely, in a shifting and changing world such as ours, it would be wiser to look upon the progress and amelioration of our race rather than an adventitious glory derived from inanimate matter; we can rejoice in the evidences of art we see around us, without for one moment thinking that we can rival the works of Nature, or rather of God. It is only a just use we are making of the globe, placed at our disposal by a Being of infinite wisdom; and our return should be one of praise for His goodness. It is not by extolling our own age, with its undoubted scientific triumphs, that we are doing the work of the Unseen; and our duty to our neighbor is imperative that like benefits should be conferred in all worthy directions. Things, however intrinsically valuable, are only “worldly possessions,” and fleet like all other phenomena of nature; the enduring monuments we are enabled to erect are–greater physical comforts, better education, proper food; and the comforts professed to be sought by so many and found by so few–of a sure reliance that the everlasting arms may ever be found to hold us up in seasons of doubt and disbelief. Hence goblets, in which, as Freemasons, we drink to a happy future, are symbolical of both Faith and Hope, illustrated by Works, and consecrated by Fidelity, while the cup has been ever the symbol of Charity and Truth. The Roman Catholic Church denies the cup to the laity, on account of reasons exactly in opposition to the above principles.

–Mackenzie's Royal Masonic Cyclopaedia

It seems natural to man to regard mountains and high places with a certain degree of reverence; and the sentiment of religion has always, and everywhere, impelled him to consecrate them as places of worship. Solomon went to Mount Gibeon to offer sacrifice, because it was a high place. The Druids, too, were partial to hills, and erected their altars on their highest summits.

–Macoy's Cyclopedia of Freemasonry

The use of incense as a part of the Divine worship was common to all the nations of antiquity. Among the Hebrews, the Egyptians, and the Hindus it seems to have been used for no other purposes; but the Persians burnt it also before the king. The Roman Catholic Church has borrowed the usage from the ancients; and the burning of incense in certain sacred rites is also practised in Freemasonry, especially in the advanced Degrees. In Scripture, incense is continually spoken of both in the Old and the New Testaments, as a symbol of prayer. Thus the Psalmist says (cxli, 2), “Let my prayer be set before thee as incense.” It has in Freemasonry a similar signification; and hence the Pot of Incense has been adopted as a symbol in the Third Degree, typifying the pure heart from which prayers and aspirations arise, as incense does from the pot or incensorium, as an acceptable sacrifice to the Deity.

–Mackey's Revised Encyclopedia of Freemasonry

The first officer in the Royal Arch Chapter, commonly called the First Principal. He represents Zerubbabel, the Governor of Judaea, at the building of the second temple.

–Oliver's Dictionary of Symbolical Masonry

We bend the knee to T[he] G[reat] A[rchitect] O[f] T[he] U[niverse], in reverence to His all-comprehending love, and as a sign of gratitude for its exercise towards us. It was not the custom in ancient times to assume this attitude, nor was it until rulers had assumed the prerogatives of Deity that kneeling was introduced, and rendered peremptory upon worshippers. True humility need assume no special form, but the act of kneeling has been for many thousands of years associated with submission. As God does not demand it of us, it is superfluous to pay such deference to man, and it can only be interpreted as an impulse of instinctive adoration. What says one of our noblest poets of the present time [i.e. 1877], Algernon Charles Swinburne?

O lips that the live blood faints on, the leavings of racks and rods!

O ghastly glories of saints, dead limbs of gibbeted gods!

Though all men abase them before you in spirit, and all knees bend,

I kneel not, neither adore you, but standing look to the end.

The wisest of men were the Egyptians, and upon their sculptures, so intimately associated with our Masonic mysteries, we find them always standing in the act of adoration. They had no fear of T.G.A.O.T.U., but a love for him; and in the New Testament a similar custom, in the instance of the Pharisee and the Publican, is perceptible.

–Mackenzie's Royal Masonic Cyclopaedia

An important word in Freemasonry – we may say the most important. It is for this sole reason alone, that a person must be made a Freemason; all other reasons are incidental and unimportant, or unconnected with it. Labour is commonly the reason why meetings of the lodge are held, but do we every time receive a proof of activity and industry? The work of an operative mason is visible, if even it be very often badly executed; and he receives his reward if his building is thrown down by a storm in the next moment. He is convinced that he has been active; so must also the brother Freemason labour. His labour must be visible to himself and unto his brethren, or, at the very least, it must be conducive to his own inward satisfaction.–Gadicke.

–Oliver's Dictionary of Symbolical Masonry

A weapon for thrusting at an enemy, usually adorned with a small flag, made of tough ash, weighted at one end to balance it in use, and pointed at the other.

–Mackey's Revised Encyclopedia of Freemasonry

Light is a symbol of knowledge. May every Mason strive incessantly for light, and especially for the light eternal! When a society is assembled any where to do good, they require an influential person to communicate the light of experience, instruct them, and point out the way they should go, or bring light to them. This may be done symbolically, by suddenly lighting up a dark room with torches. He who thus introduces the light into the lodge, must be a worthy man, and experienced in the Craft. –Gadicke.

–Oliver's Dictionary of Symbolical Masonry

The adoption of the moon in the Masonic system as a symbol is analogous to, but could hardly be derived from, the employment of the same symbol in the Ancient religions. In Egypt, Osiris was the sun, and Isis the moon; in Syria, Adonis was the sun, and Ashtoroth the moon; the Greeks adored her as Diana, and Hecate; in the mysteries of Ceres, while the hierophant ofr chief priest represented the Creator, and the torch-bearer the sun, the epibwmioV, or officer nearest the altar, represented the moon. In short, moon-worship was as widely disseminated as sun-worship.

Freemasons retain her image in their Rites, because the Lodge is a representation of the universe, where, as the sun rules over the day, the moon presides over the night; as the one regulates the year, so does the other the months, and as the former is the king of the starry hosts of heaven, so is the latter their queen; but both deriving their heat, and light, and power from Him, who, as the Greatest Light, the Master of heaven and earth, controls them both.

–Mackey's Revised Encyclopedia of Freemasonry

From the Greek musthrion, compound word meaning an initiate and a secret, something to be concealed. The Gilds or Companies of the Middle Ages, out of which we trace the Masonic organization, were called mysteries, because they had trade-secrets, the preservation of which was a primary ordination of these fraternities. “Mystery” and “Craft” thus came to be synonymous words. In this secondary sense we speak of the “Mystery of the Stone-Masons” as equivalent to the “Craft of the Stone-Masons.”

Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations (volume i, page 126), refers to the old stipulation that unless he had served an apprenticeship to it of seven years, “it was enacted, that no person should for the future exercise any trade, craft, or mystery.” But the Mystery of Freemasonry refers rather to the primary meaning of the word as immediately derived from the Greek (see Ancient Mysteries).

–Mackey's Revised Encyclopedia of Freemasonry

The obelisk is a quadrangular, monolithic column, diminishing upward, with the sides gently inclined, but not so as to terminate in a pointed apex, but to form at the top a flattish, pyramidal figure, by which the whole is finished off and brought to a point. It was the most common species of monument in ancient Egypt, where they are still to be found in great numbers, the sides being covered with hieroglyphic inscriptions. Obelisks were, it is supposed, originally erected in honor of the sun god. Pliny says (in Holland's translation), “The kings of Egypt in times past made of this stone certain long beams, which they called obelisks, and consecrated them unto the sun, whom they honored as a god; and, indeed, some resemblance they carry of sunbeams.” In Continental Freemasonry the monument in the Master's Degree is often made in the form of an obelisk, with the letters M. B. inscribed upon it. And this form is appropriate, because in Masonic, as in Christian iconography, the obelisk is a symbol of the resurrection.

Two Egyptian obelisks are best known as Cleopatra's Needles and were formerly at Alexandria, Egypt. They are made of granite and were erected Thothmes III before the great temple of Heliopolis, the On of the Bible, where Moses was born.

These obelisks were brought to Alexandria shortly before the Christian Era and after the death of Cleopatra. One of them is erected on the Thames Embankment in London and was placed there in 1878. The other was presented to the United States by the Khedive of Egypt and was erected in Central Park, New York City, in 1881. They are about seventy feet high, and Lieutenant Commander H.H. Gorringe reported that on bringing the one to the United States, Masonic emblems were discovered in the foundation.

–Mackey's Revised Encyclopedia of Freemasonry

Under this appellation the Deity was worshipped by the Egyptians, and they professed to believe that he was eternal, and the fountain of light and life, but, according to their gross conceptions, being necessarily visible, the sun was adored as his representative, and was most probably the same as Osiris. If they believed On to be the living and eternal God, they allowed the same attributes to the sun, which they undoubtedly worshipped as the Lord of the creation. Oannes was the God of the Chaldeans, and Dag-On of the Philistines; both of which are derivations of the same name. On was evidently the same deity as the Hebrew Jehovah, and was introduced amongst the Greeks by Plato, who acknowledges his eternity and incomprehensibility in these remarkable words: “Tell me of the God On; which is, and never knew beginning.” And the same name was used by the early Christians for the true God; for St. John, in the Apocalypse, has this expression–O Wn, kai o hn, kai o ercomenoV, which is translated by our authorized version of the Scriptures, by “Him, which is, and which was, and which is to come.”

–Macoy's Cyclopedia of Freemasonry

The special god venerated by shepherds, huntsmen, and country people, and sometimes called the great god Pan. Homer says that he was the son of Hermes or Mercury by Dryope, but Lucian and others say his mother was Penelope, afterwards the wife of Ulysses. His name signifies All or Everything, and his form was monstrous, as was that of Baphometus–(see //Baphometus//). His complexion was ruddy–two horns issued from his forehead, his nose was flat, and some assign him the head of an ass; his legs, thighs, tail, and feet, were those of a goat. Dionysos bestowed upon him the name of Pan, and his residence was in Arcadia. He was the inventor of the Pandaean pipes; and although his form was so grotesque, he was not regarded as absolutely a malevolent being. The Abbe Constant [i.e. Eliphas Levi], in his “Doctrine and Ritual of High Magic,” has given a plate in which all his attributes are united. His wisdom was vast, and comprehended a knowledge of all sciences. In Egypt, he was identified with the Mendesian goat, and worshipped with great devotion, and esteemed to be the Creator of the Universe, in one sense. His horns represented the rays of the sun, and the brightness of his face symbolized the brightness of the firmament. On his breast he wore the blazing star, and his hairy legs and feet were emblematical of the woods and plants in the inferior part of the earth. He had an oracle on Mount Lycaeus in Arcadia, and Evander brought his worship into Italy, where the festival of the Lupercalia was celebrated in his honour; at Athens, he had a temple near the Acropolis. This peculiar form has been in modern times assigned to the devil. There can be little doubt that the ideas relating to Pan were successive accumulations of various ages, so varied has been the part he plays in Ancient Mythology. It is said that the final history of Pan was as follows, according to Plutarch:–A company of sailors, navigating the Aegean Sea, near the Echinades, in the reign of Tiberius, suddenly heard a great voice calling upon Thamus, the Egyptian pilot; thrice the voice repeated the summons, and on the third time, the pilot was enjoined, on his arrival at port, to announce that the Great God Pan was dead, which was done. Tiberius inquired into the matter, and commanded the attendance of Thamus; and after his story had been related, it was corroborated by Demetrius, who had been sent by the emperor to the coast of Brittany, where the Druidical inhabitants averred that, during a tremendous storm, frightful outcries were heard, and that one of the chief demons had been vanquished and put to death. Legendary histories connect this with the birth of Christ. If there were any truth in it, there would no longer exist any reason for a belief in the existence of Auld Clootie. It may be worth while to note that, throughout the history of the human race, personal hideousness has ever been associated with superhuman power, and frequently with knowledge; while beauty has usually received exactly the opposite interpretation, being attributed in mythology to weak and puerile personages with little strength of mind.

–Mackenzie's Royal Masonic Cyclopaedia

That act which refers to a penalty.

–Mackey's Revised Encyclopedia of Freemasonry

Pillars were continually used among ancient nations for the purposes of commemorating events of public and private importance, and it is quite unnecessary here to mention instances of this universal practice. It may be sufficient to mention the pillars of Seth–on which secrets are mythologically said to have been engraved. There can be no doubt that first the rude pillar unhewn, and afterwards the sculptured column, like the modern church spire, was a method of calling Heaven to witness concerning some fact, or confirming a solemn contract. Enoch is said to have constructed pillars; and pillars of cloud and fire are related to have preceded the Israelites in their march. There has been a great mass of nonsense talked about such mystical pillars. Sanchoniathon has been invoked; every crack-brain author, who would give credence to what is susceptible of no rational proof, has been brought into the field.

–Mackenzie's Royal Masonic Cyclopaedia

It would be an insult to readers of this book to attempt to define a priest; but it may be said that there are priests in every religion, and, what is also very curious, priests beyond the pale of the authorised or recognised churches–men of insight, and it may almost be said of inspiration–men such as was Samuel Taylor Coleridge. These men correspond to that class of teachers known in the East as prophets in ancient times, and dervishes in modern times. The best priest, however, is he who sets the best example; and every Freemason being bound to do that, is, in so far as he acts up to the Masonic principle, a priest in himself. In Masonry, however, there are certain degrees partaking of the characteristic features of regular ordination.

–Mackenzie's Royal Masonic Cyclopaedia

The Master Mason's tracing-board, covered with emblems of mortality, reads a lesson to the initiated of the certainty of death, and also of a resurrection from the dead. Like that of the two preceding contriving to captivate the hearer by strength of argument and beauty of expression, whether it be to entreat or exhort, to admonish or applaud.

–Oliver's Dictionary of Symbolical Masonry

A proposition was made in the Grand Lodge of England, on April 8, 1778, that the Grand Master and his officers should be distinguished in the future at all public meetings by robes. This measure, Preston says in his Illustrations, 1792 edition (page 332), was at first favorably received; but it was, on investigation, found to be so diametrically opposed to the original plan of the Institution, that it was very properly laid aside. In no Jurisdiction are robes commonly used in Symbolic Freemasonry. In many of the advanced Degrees, however, they are employed. In the United States and in England they constitute an important part of the paraphernalia of a Royal Arch Chapter.

–Mackey's Revised Encyclopedia of Freemasonry

In Freemasonry, there are frequent references to various Christian saints, including Saints John the Baptist, John the Evangelist, Alban, Augustine, and Bernard. However, many of the Saints named in the Saints Collect of Liber XV are of sufficient Masonic note to merit entries in Masonic reference works, naturally without reference to their canonization by Crowley. For example:

KRISHNA. (In Mackey and Mackenzie)

MOSES. (In Mackey, Oliver, and Mackenzie)


MOHAMMED. (In Mackey under KORAN)

HERMES. (In Mackey and Mackenzie)

PAN. (In Mackenzie)

OSIRIS. (In Mackey, Macoy, and Mackenzie)

MELCHIZEDEK. (In Mackey, Macoy, and Mackenzie)

KHEM. (In Mackey and Mackenzie)

AMUN. (In Mackey and Mackenzie)

ORPHEUS. (In Mackey; Macoy and Mackenzie under ORPHIC MYSTERIES)

RABELAIS. (In Mackenzie)


MANES. (In Mackey and Mackenzie under MANICHAEANS)

PYTHAGORAS. (In Mackey, Macoy and Mackenzie)

VALENTINUS. (Mackenzie references a second century ORDER OF VALENTINIANS)



MOLAY, JACQUES DE. (In Mackey and Mackenzie)

ROSENKREUZ, CHRISTIAN. (In Mackey and Mackenzie)

PARACELSUS. (In Mackey and Mackenzie)

MAIER, MICHAEL. (In Mackey and Mackenzie)

BOEHMEN, JACOB. (In Mackey and Mackenzie)

BACON, FRANCIS, BARON VERULAM. (In Mackey and Mackenzie)

ROGER BACON. (In Mackey and Mackenzie)

ANDREA, JOHANN VALENTIN. (In Mackey and Mackenzie)

FLUDD, ROBERT. (In Mackey and Mackenzie)

DEE, JOHN. (In Mackenzie under MAGIC)

KELLY, SIR EDWARD. (In Mackenzie)

ASHMOLE, ELIAS. (In Mackey and Mackenzie)

WEISHAUPT, ADAM. (In Mackey and Mackenzie)

GOETHE, JOHANN WOLFGANG VON. (In Mackey and Mackenzie)

LEVI, ELIPHAS. (In Mackey and Mackenzie)

In the Helvetian or Swiss instructions, salt is added to corn, wine, and oil as one of the elements of consecration, because it is a symbol of the wisdom and learning which should characterize a Freemason's Lodge. When the foundation-stone of a Lodge is laid, the Helvetian ceremonial directs that it shall be sprinkled with salt, and this formula be used: “May this undertaking, contrived by wisdom, be executed in strength and adorned with beauty, so that it may be a house where peace, harmony, and brotherly love shall perpetually reign.

This is but carrying out the ancient instructions of Leviticus (ii, 13), “And every oblation of thy meat offering shalt thou season with salt; neither shalt thou suffer the salt of the covenant of thy God to be lacking from thy meat offering: with all thine offerings thou shalt offer salt. Significant as are the references in the Bible to salt… these are all reminders of the ancient importance of salt, the symbol of pledged affiliation, as in the weighty and warning utterance of Jesus in Matthew (v, 13) “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.” Salt to the ancient world was pronounced a substance dear to the gods (Plato, Timaeus) and to break bread and eat salt at a meal with others were symbols of plighted faith and loyalty.

–Mackey's Revised Encyclopedia of Freemasonry

What can it be? This is a question which has been asked for centuries, and will probably continue to be asked for centuries to come. Ceremonies, customs, moral explanations of allegorical and symbolical instruments and figures which are to be found in a Freemasons' lodge, are, it is true, considered as secrets by some of the brotherhood. But those cannot be the real genuine secrets of Freemasonry; it is impossible; for a Mason may be acquainted with all the ceremonies, usages, and customs of the Craft–he may be able morally to explain every symbolical or allegorical instrument which is to be found in a Masons' lodge–and yet neither be happy in this world, nor have a sure foundation on which to build his hopes of happiness in the world to come. –Gadicke.

–Oliver's Dictionary of Symbolical Masonry

The whole history of serpent or ophite symbolism would require a book as large as the present volume to render it fair justice; hence very little space can be given to it here. In Craft Masonry, the symbol of the serpent does not occur, except on the die of the centenary jewel; and in the Templar and Philosophical degrees, the serpent is an emblem of Christ. In ancient Egypt, the god Nehebka, who represented the resurrection of nature, was represented with a serpent's head.

–Mackenzie's Royal Masonic Cyclopaedia

The place where the secrets of the Royal Arch are deposited.

–Oliver's Dictionary of Symbolical Masonry

It is needless to comment on the question of signs. These formed a necessary constituent part of the esoteric side of Masonry–the esoteric side being reserved for men of rare culture, high inventive faculties, and unimpeachable honour. That, however, this secret method of intercommunicating significantly by signs is very ancient, we learn from classical sources. Even the dramas of Plautus are full of this peculiar sign play, and there can be little doubt that their influence was great at the time they were produced. The Poenulus, in particular, is rife in references to esoteric mysteries, perhaps only partially understood by the author of that comedy. In another of his comedies, he says (Miles Gloriosus, iv. 2): Cede signum, si harum Baccharum es.–“Give me the sign if you are one of these Bacchantes.”

–Mackenzie's Royal Masonic Cyclopaedia

The Step can hardly be called a mode of recognition, although Apuleius informs us that there was a peculiar step in the Osiriac initiation which was deemed a sign. It is in Freemasonry rather an esoteric usage of the ritual. The steps can be traced back as far as to at least the middle of the eighteenth century, in the rituals of which they are described. The custom of advancing in a peculiar manner and form, to some sacred place or elevated personage, has been preserved in the customs of all countries, especially among the Orientalists, who resort even to prostrations of the body when approaching the throne of the sovereign or the holy part of a religious edifice. The steps of Freemasnory are symbolic of respect and veneration for the altar, whence Masonic light is to emanate.

In former times, and in some of the advanced and other Degrees in various parts of the world, a bier or coffin was placed in front of the altar, as a well-known symbol, and in passing over this to reach the altar, those various positions of the feet were necessarily taken which constitute the proper mode of advancing. Respect was thus necessarily paid to the memory of a worthy artist as well as to the holy altar.

Brother Lenning says of the steps–which the German Masons call die Schritte der Aufzunehmenden meaning the steps of the recipients, and the French, les pas Mysterieux, the mysterious steps–that “every degree has a different number, which are made in a different way, and have an allegorical meaning.” Of the “allegorical meaning” of those in the Third Degree, we have spoken above as explicitly as would be proper. Gaedicke says: “The three grand steps symbolically lead from this life to the source of all knowledge.”

It must be evident to every Master Mason, without further explanation, that the three steps are taken from the place of darkness to the place of light, either figuratively or really over a coffin, the symbol of death, to teach symbolically that the pssage from the darkness and ignorance of this life is through death to the light and knowledge of the eternal life. And this, from the earliest times, was the true symbolism of the step.

–Mackey's Revised Encyclopedia of Freemasonry

Hardly any of the symbols of Freemasonry are more important in their signification or more extensive in their application than the sun. As the source of material light, it reminds the Freemason of that intellectual light of which he is in constant search. But it is especially as the ruler of the day, giving to it a beginning and end, and a regular course of hours, that the sun is presented as a Masonic symbol.

The sun is then presented to us in Freemasonry first as a symbol of light, but then more emphatically as a symbol of sovereign authority.

But, says Wemyss (Symbolic Language), speaking of Scriptural symbolism, “the sun may be considered to be an emblem of Divine Truth,” because the sun or light, of which it is the source, “is not only manifest in itself, but makes other things; so one truth detects, reveals, and manifests another, as all truths are dependent on, and connected with, each other more or less.” And this again is applicable to the Masonic doctrine which makes the Master the symbol of the sun; for as the sun discloses and makes manifest, by the opening of day, what had been hidden in the darkness of night, so the Master of the Lodge, as analogue of the ancient hierophant or explainer of the mysteries, makes Divine Truth manifest to the neophyte, who had been hitherto in intellectual darkness, and reveals the hidden or esoteric lessons of initiation.

–Mackey's Revised Encyclopedia of Freemasonry

In Freemasonry, the use of the sword as a part of the Masonic clothing is confined to the advanced Degrees and the Degrees of chivalry, when, of course, it is worn as a part of the insignia of knighthood. In the symbolic Degrees its appearance in the Lodge, except as a symbol, is strictly prohibited. The masonic prints engraved in the eighteenth century, when the sword, at least as late as 1780, constituted a part of the dress of every gentleman, show that it was discarded by the members when they entered the Lodge. The official swords of the Tiler and the Pursuivant or Sword-Bearer are the only exceptions. This rule is carried so far, that military men, when visiting a Lodge, are required to divest themselves of their swords, which are to be left in the Tiler's room.

–Mackey's Revised Encyclopedia of Freemasonry

An edifice erected for religious purposes. As the grand symbols of Freemasonry are a temple and its ornaments, and to construct temples was the business of the original Masons, some remarks upon these structures cannot but be instructive. The word temple is derived from the Latin Templum, and this word templum seems to have been derived from the old Latin verb, Templari, to contemplate. The ancient augurs undoubtedly applied the name templa to those parts of the heavens which were marked out for observation of the flight of birds. Temples, originally, were all open; and hence most likely came their name. These structures are among the most ancient monuments. They were the first built, and the most noticeable of public edifices. As soon as a nation had acquired any degree of civilization the people consecrated particular spots to the worship of their duties. In the earliest instances they contented themselves with erecting altars of earth or ashes in the open air, and sometimes resorted, for the purposes of worship, to the depths of solitary woods. At length they acquired the practice of building cells or chapels within the enclosure of which they placed the image of their divinities, and assembled to offer up their supplications, thanksgivings, and sacrifices. These were chiefly formed like their own dwellings. The Troglodytes adored their gods in grottoes; the people who lived in cabins, erected temples like cabins in shape. Clemens, Alexandrinus, and Eusebius refer the origin of temples to sepulchers; and this notion has been illustrated and confirmed from a variety of testimonies. At the time when the Greeks surpassed all other people in the arts introduced among them from Phoenicia, Syria, and Egypt, they devoted much time, care and expense to the building of temples. No country has surpassed, or perhaps equaled, them in this respect; the Romans alone successfully rivaled them, and they took the Greek structures for models. According to Vitruvius, the situations of the temples were regulated chiefly by the nature and characteristics of the various divinities. Thus the temples of Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva, who were considered by the inhabitants of many cities as their protecting deities, were erected on spots sufficiently elevated to enable them to overlook the whole town, or, at least the principal part of it. Minerva, the tutelary deity of Athens, had her seat on the Acropolis. In like manner the temple of Solomon was built on Mount Moriah.

–Macoy's Cyclopedia of Freemasonry

A number which has commanded reverence from unimagined antiquity. The Chinese assigned to this number mysterious properties, and founded upon it their famous Triad Society. If we examine ancient mythology, we still find a triplicity attributed to the deities of antiquity among the nations of Rome and Greece, as well as in Egypt and India. Virgil expressly says that “numero Deus impari gaudet.” The Druids and the disciples of Mithra also delighted in and honoured the number three. But it is no less honoured in Freemasonry, which possesses its three symbolical degrees, in which birth, manhood, and death, life maturity, and transmigration, are depicted in a forcible manner. Every efficient practical and speculative Mason is acquainted with the importance of this number.

–Mackenzie's Royal Masonic Cyclopaedia

The following mythological triads, or mysterious co-existences, of three deities, will be found useful in unravelling ancient symbolisms:

  1. Egypt–Osiris, Isis, and Horus.
  2. Orphic Mysteries–Phanes, Uranus, and Kronos.
  3. Zoroastrianism–Ormuzd, Mithras, and Ahriman.
  4. Hindu–Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva.
  5. Cabiric Mysteries–Axieros, Axiokersos, and Axiokersa.
  6. Phoenicia–Ashtaroth, Micom, and Chemosh.
  7. Tyre–Belus, Venus, and Tammuz.
  8. Greece–Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades.
  9. Rome–Jupiter, Neptune, and Pluto.
  10. Eleusis–Iacchus, Persphone, and Demeter.
  11. Platonic Mysteries–Tagathon, Nous, and Psyche.
  12. Celtic–Hu, Ceridwen, and Creirwy.
  13. Teutonic–Fenris, Midgard, and Hela.
  14. Gothic–Woden, Frigga, and Thor.
  15. Scandinavia–Odin, Vile, and Ve.
  16. Mexico–Vitzliputzli, Tlaloc, and Tezcatlipoca.

–Mackenzie's Royal Masonic Cyclopaedia

The passage through the veils […] typifies the difficulties and dangers to be encountered in the search for truth.

–Mackenzie's Royal Masonic Cyclopaedia

In all ages it has been the object of Freemasonry, not only to inform the minds of its members, by instructing them in the sciences and useful arts, but to better their hearts, by enforcing the precepts of religion and morality. In the course of the ceremonies of initiation, brotherly love, loyalty, and other virtues are inculcated in hieroglyphic symbols, and the candidate is often reminded that there is an eye above, which observeth the workings of his heart, and is ever fixed upon the thoughts and actions of men. –Laurie.

–Oliver's Dictionary of Symbolical Masonry

Where the sun closes its daily race, there the thanks of the inhabitants of the world follow it, and with the ensuing morning it again commences its benevolent course. Every brother draws near to the evening of his days; and well will it be with him if at the close of his labors he can look forward with hope for a good reward for his work. –Gadicke.

–Oliver's Dictionary of Symbolical Masonry

One of the elements of Masonic consecration, and, as a symbol of the inward refreshment of a good conscience is intended, under the name of the Wine of Refreshment, to remind us of the eternal refreshments which the good are to receive in the future life for the faithful performance of duty in the present.

–Mackey's Revised Encyclopedia of Freemasonry

Abraxas | Adoration | Altar | Ancient Mysteries | Aum | Baphomet | Bells | Benediction | Book of the Law | Bread, Consecrated | Breast | Brother | Chaos | Circumambulation | Coffin | Covenants | Cross | Crown | Dais | Deacon | Double Cube | East | Eleven | Feasts | Formula | Gnosticism | Goblets | High Places | Incense | King | Kneeling | Labour | Lance | Light | Moon | Mystery | Obelisk | On | Pan, The God | Penal Sign | Pillars | Priest | Resurrection | Robes | Saints | Salt | Secret | Serpent | Shrine | Sign | Step | Sun | Sword | Temple | Three | Triads | Veils | Virtues | West | Wine

Traditions Antecedent to New Aeon Gnosticism
Cardinal Sacraments: The Eucharist of the Gnostic Mass
Vigorous Food & Divine Madness