Many “esotericists” delight in collecting and preserve riddles of the past but few of them go as far as finding their actual use.
It is a duty of the researcher to make every effort to understand the practical and real use of any ritual ideogram.|
Three “Mysteries” of the Secret Masters
Many “esotericists” delight in collecting and preserve riddles of the past but few of them go as far as finding their actual use.
It is a duty of the researcher to make every effort to understand the practical and real use of any ritual ideogram. Furthermore, finding their usefulness means giving their due to all those who created them and those who preserved and transmitted them, through a very long “Chain of Union”.
It will be difficult to explain the complex co-occurrence of this ideogram without the help of words, but we can still demonstrate some of its aspects.
The circle is the “perfect” determination of an ideal space which can be intended as a specific area, but also as an abstract dimension of space and time. Basically, a timeless and immanent dimension which contains (bears) a specific appearance and is determined and limited to itself.
In this case the circle is a portion of timeless space which encloses (bears) the major of the three Triads that constitute the human being. (see on the Site the dilation on the “Triads” in: Esonet Conference).
The “material expression” of this major Triad (spiritual Monad) is the Penthalpha (the five pointed Star). It is the symbol of the five natural kingdoms which every human being keeps in himself, in its “Nature”.
The Pentalpha represents: the mineral kingdom ( the bones of the skeleton ); the vegetable kingdom ( fluids and humours ); the animal kingdom ( the physicality and the chemical and hormonal energy which produces its instincts and passions ); the human kingdom ( the psyche ); the spiritual kingdom ( the nuclear energy which “animates” the material conformation ).
When the upper point of the Pentalpha ( the fifth kingdom, the dimension called spiritual ) “dominates” the four inferior kingdoms ( see the dilation on the “Quaternary” in the Acts of Esonet Conference ), the living being is physically enlightened. The ( enlightened ) Pentalpha is then called Flaming.
The letter “Z” is given several meanings depending on the different abilities of the “observer”. The most common idea is that it represents the initial of a Hebraic word.
The reason for this choice is not clear, because in the initiatory intentions the ideogram is meant to be an “instrument of transmission” of knowledge free from the interference of popular languages. The choice to see a Hebraic word in this ideogram appears therefore like a popular choice, not suitable to the initiatory peculiarities. This is demonstrated even more by the Hebraic mystic, in which its literal language is not used at all; “numerical combinations” are used instead (see Kabbalah).
An uncommon exegesis finds in this ideogram the representation of the sephirothic system (sephirothic tree), whose Third Column (spiritual) invisibly extends throughout the whole floor of the Masonic Temple; it starts from “Kether”, the Worshipful Master and reaches “Malkuth”, The External Coverer. The “Z”, then, is the representation of the double triangle which is the supporting structure of the sephirothic system.
This is one of the “secrets” of this ritual degree.
In the vertical confluence of this double triangle we find the so-called “ King Salomon's Clavicles ”. The symbol represents the “confluence” of a major triad (the fire-spirit one) in a minor one (air, water, earth) which, as described with the Tree of Life, (sephirothic Tree), descends from the sephir called “ Kether ” to the one called “ Malkuth ”.
The practical use of this ideogram can be found in its correlation with the human spine (see Baker's tables). That is the correlation between the energetic “descent” described in the sephirothic Tree (the celestial macrocosm, see Adam Kadmon) to its “ascent” shown in the Caduceus of Hermes (the human microcosm, see the earthly Adam).
The link between the sephirothic Tree and the Caduceus of Hermes “opens” an unexpected subject in which, as it often happens, only the researcher's intuition will provide the key to enter this “mystery”.
The sephirothic Tree is the elaboration of the ten status of conscience which the initiate must re-cross to reach the major Initiation and then re-ascend to discover his own “divine” nature. The itinerary of this interior “Journey” becomes then visible, joining the meanings of the two ideograms: the Caduceus of Hermes and the broken Key. Both symbols, in their initiatory meaning, represent the spine of the human being. The journey of the initiate occurs through this “ way ”, going from the physical-animal status to the accomplishment of the interior “ Freedom ” symbolized by the two wings of the Caduceus of Hermes.
The Caduceus of Hermes
The initiatory tradition shows in the symbol of the Caduceus of Hermes the ascent of the three energies which “animate” the being. The main way of transmission is the spine which goes from the coccyx to the head; the other two routes ( masculine and feminine ) go up twisting around the first one in the shape of a spiral.
Because of their spiral motion these two routes are represented with two igneous snakes which, ascending towards the head, wrap up around the stick representing the Middle Way.
The stick (or a cane with its knots) represents the spine, the middle way which leads to the top, the mind (head) of the Initiate. Once the three energies have ascended to the mind, the Wings of Freedom of the initiate burst open (see symbology of the Masonic Compass).
The “Wings” ( conjunction of masculine and feminine ) are in this case, like the Masonic Compass, the symbolic representation of that opening of conscience seen as interior and spiritual freedom; it originates from the “communion” of the triple human essence (physical-thought-spirit) and it is found again at the end of the process of interior synthesis called major Initiation.
In the ideogram the two snakes hermetically represent two energetic polarities (+ and -, masculine-feminine, that is the two poles of the ethereal electricity) which wrap up, ascending the main current which flows along the spine (see Baker's tables).
Like in the Sephirothic Tree, here too, top and bottom join in the centre (the sephiroth Tiphereth or its physical analogue the cardiac centre ); here are joined the right side, dominated by the dynamic cerebral lobe (called masculine) and the left one, dominated by the receptive cerebral lobe (called feminine). Between the two we find what the esoterical traditions called the middle way, which is a centre of conscience and the domain of the interior balance. This balance, in synthesis, can express the aspect called the interior sense of justice.
Every time the two polarities (masculine and feminine) intersect the energy transmitted through the spine they merge to make a unique energetic knot called ganglia.
This explains clearly enough the hermetic concept of the Three in One appearing when the two physical polarities (masculine-feminine) join the third one, neutral, so that their “ triple diversity ” (2+1) is changed into a unique energetic synthesis, in which the ONE is recognizable.
The confluence in an energetic synthesis forms a centre that the western science calls sensitive ganglia.
The ancient eastern wisdom called this phenomenon “ chakra ” (in Sanskrit: wheel), because once the three energies are merged in one point, thanks to a centripetal impulse, “they wheel about” clockwise, until they form a triple essence nucleus.
It is an impressive example of synthesis and a relevant process for the individual, because this energetic amalgam definitely cancels and overcomes a dual and conflicting aspect of the physical-animal nature.
The “mystery” of the “broken Key”
At this point it's easy to understand why the reconstruction of the key to a free thought in a free spirit goes through the re-conjunction of all the energetic expressions making the conscience of the individual.
In the esoterical catechisms it is said: “ the key is broken and the word is lost ”. At this point, though, interpreting these words it is not hazardous any more.
Especially if, in observance of the best hermetic tradition, we'll start from the end.^.
If there isn't a “bright” mind, the superior ideas (archetypes) appear obscure and unfathomable, therefore, usually, the tendency is to hypothesize their meanings; the result is that their contents and conclusions are false.
In this darkness the “ Word seems lost ” (the archetypical thought). Whereas it is there, even if it's not possible to see it yet, or to use it in a profane way.
To reveal it through the common language has been the hard task of great spiritual guides for thousands of years. The task to preserve and transmit their re-veiled (veiled twice) meaning in symbols has been given, on the other hand, to the great initiates, which are the real Guards of the Threshold that preserves the Temple of the planetary wisdom.
We know for sure that the primitive idea is the sacred Word of the initiator, which he transmits with his “ sacrum facere ”, enlightening the initiating conscience first and his mind then.
The conclusion is now at hand because, as it has been taught, we know that no transmission is possible until the key is still broken.
The key is, then, the spine and it represents the vertical axis of every individual. It stays “broken” until, as we find in the Caduceus of Hermes, the “Union” between all the ganglia that provide the “energetic boost” to the opening of as many dimensions of conscience is completed.
It is quite comforting that on this point there is harmony between the western and the eastern knowledge.
The oriental initiatory tradition as well, in fact, acknowledges this “interior process” and has drawn up seven different yoga philosophies to the knowledge of the seven major chakras; their “awakening” is the shortest evolutionary way to expand one's physical conscience.
The individual axis of the human being corresponds to the axis of the world and many “signs” of the mystical and mysteriosophical Regulations are joined in the motion along the vertical axis, which corresponds to the spine. It is well known that this axis works as a reception aerial between the individual “energetic sphere” and the external space surrounding it.
Many signs remind of the confluence in a unique centre (the cross sign is universal as it appears in any time and culture) of the horizontal and vertical axis (see sephir Tiphereth and cardiac centre). Other signs, on the other hand, remind of the interruption of its fluidity. For example the cut on a level with the throat made by the Apprentice mason or the cut on a level with the waist that characterizes the 3 rd Masonic degree. They are all clear signs of the “voluntary” interruption, even if only symbolic, of the vertical flow. At that stage, in fact, the energetic flow is still incomplete, therefore undesirable.
Whereas the Sign of the Fellow Craft is undoubtedly a mystical act which solemnly reminds of the union ( Bridge or royal Arch ) between “ heart and heaven ” of the initiate (see pontifex and the Ars Pontificia in White Masonry).
The “mystery” of the Seven Secret Masters
The legend of the Secret Masters tells the story of the death of the Master Hiram , killed by the iniquity of three bad Fellow crafts that then hid his body burying it into the sand. But a twig of acacia (symbol of incorruptibility) “blossomed” from the ground (earth element), which allowed the Seven Masters sent to look for him to find him.
This is the part of the catechism we shall analyze in order to find the correlation of what we have said up to this point.
We must extract the esoterical meaning from the exoterical structure of the tale in order to reach the goal.
According to the inductive method , to understand what is not immediately obvious, the researcher draws up some questions to which he will then answer.
He will then penetrate the underground meanings of the exoteric representation.
In this case, even if the symbolism offers many more, I think that answering five questions is enough to let in some light on the kind of esotericism that veils the exoteric aspect of this and any other degree of the initiatory masonry.
- What Master Hiram represents.
- What the three bad Fellow crafts represent.
- What are the seven secret Masters looking for.
- What the seven secret Masters represent.
- Who sent these seven Masters.
First: Master Hiram represents the “initiatory spirit” of the Builders of the Temples, who knew the Secrets of the Art of representing the Principle-God in material forms.
The ancient Hierophants were the pontifexes who built the links with the celestial Divine. They were aware that the conditions of earth and heaven, that is matter and spirituality, were inside any human being and this made them alike (Children) of the divine One.
Here is the “mystery of mysteries” that we keep preserving.
Elsewhere is written that if we widen the idea linked to this figure, Hiram is the Messiah of Pontifexes.
Him too, like any other “guidance figure”, was born without a father, because in the code of the spiritual symbolism, the Mother is the matter (widow because she lacks of spiritual Light) of his body, while his Father is the divine Spirit of which he is the Son. Therefore every Initiate is a child of the earth because he's a body, but also Child of the Divine because he is spiritual Light.
The hieratic figure of the Master represents the guidance spirit of those who preserve the “ royal secret ” which, re-veiled (veiled twice) in the ceiling of the Temple, is reflected on its floor (see Middle Chamber and circular Temple).
Second: In the exoteric structure the most emphasized side of the three bad Fellow crafts that killed their Master is the catechistic and moral one, which condemns their pride and wickedness. This myth, which is not a result of the popular imagination, has been created to transmit initiatory ideas. It would be wrong, therefore, to draw our conclusions only from a literal reading, without thinking that there might be aspects not perceivable from a profane point of view. We should remember that the Temple that Master Hiram was building is the representation (see the Great Work: the initiate consecrates the planetary matter through himself) of a project which involves every initiate. It is the action of smoothing (perfecting) a stone (himself) of the inner Temple.
The building of the Temple, therefore, means the Edification of the Spirituality on earth, restoring the condition of Adam Kadmon.
We can't have long preambles or explanations, so we'll get straight to the point of the esotericism of these three figures.
The Temple represents human progress in his spiritual meaning rather than in the “technological” one. The figure of Hiram Habiff represents the initiatory Spirit that “tends” to Build on earth the divine aspect (see Age of Gold). The three bad Fellow crafts reaching him from three different directions represent the Three Eras (silver, iron and lead) of his “earthly fall”.
We can understand the meaning if we consider from an esoterical point of view the points where the “Master” is hit to cause his death. The points hit correspond to the three major “centres” of the being:
- the centre of the head (spiritual intelligence)
- the centre of the throat (intellectual creativity)
- and the cardiac centre (the wisdom of altruistic love).
The obstruction of these three centres leads to inner blindness. The “darkness” which obscures the soul makes the being unconscious of his divine derivation.
The “spiritual conscience”, as represented in the sephirothic journey, is “buried” into the ground of the physical component of its material body (Malkuth) and the only sign of incorruptibility is given by the “wisdom” which, hidden in the abyss (sephir Da'ath) of every individual conscience, must be found and made able to resurrect.
Here that the whole initiatory journey originates this very event: the resurrection of the spirit (Hiram) in the heart of all those who know about it (initiatory master hood). Those who during their life overcome the idea of the physical death (initiation to Master hood), getting over it through the aphorism: I know immortality.
Third: it is said that the seven Secret Masters go to the search for Hiram.
Fourth: this number is not casual; esoterical catechisms tell how a determined number of initiates or magi always anticipate a spiritually relevant advent.
Their number is always odd: 3, 5, 7 or 9. This is because those numbers are not physical persons, as it is suggested sometimes, but they represent some precise “triangulations” that must happen in the conscientious “corpus” of the initiate, before he is able to become a protagonist of the event.
In the case of the seven secret Masters, as we are dealing with a search for an interior rebirth, it is reasonable the esoterical hermeneutic which sees in the seven Masters the seven centres of conscience dealt with in the Caduceus of Hermes.
This is the nature of their secretiveness. They are seven dimensions of conscience and therefore they are not perceivable on the outside; they can be perceived only as a result of a progressive expansion of conscience (illumination) which “unveils” in the individual the spiritual rebirth of Hiram, Master and interior guide of the initiate.
Furthermore, this number occurs in so many other themes linked to the spiritual dimension that we can't think it is only a coincidence.
Here some examples: 7 are the notes of the celestial Harmonic, 7 are its colours and 7 its energetic aspects; 7 are the sacred planets of the celestial vault and 7 the planets of the Menorah, 7 are the knots of the Caduceus of Hermes, 7 the energetic centres of this planet and 7 are the centres of the occult physiology of the human being.
Fifth: it is well known how every “ritual space” is specular to a “divine space” and how its sacredness, that is the “sacrum facere”, originates from this reflectiveness.
For this reason the subjective (mundane) reflection of a “divine space” must be considered the opposite of a spiritual reality.
So much that the word “specular” means just the reflection on the opposite of an objective and independent reality.
The “ritual space” meant as the field of action of the secret Masters is supported on one side by Salomon , which represents the “wisdom” and on the other side by Adonai-Hiram.
As we know, Adonai is one of the exoterical, therefore “pronounceable”, names of Yahwe' , the God of the Hebraic people. Following a specular logic, we might conclude that Adonai (the divine Builder), through spirituality (Master Hiram), enlightens with “wisdom” (Salomon) the path of the seven secret Masters (7 centres) which “go” to His search.
This view offers an animist vision of the degree, so much that the subject, far from being sorted, can indeed be open to a bigger dimension than the initial expectations; it can positively take the direction of the macrocosm which we all intimately reflect and that is the fundament of the Ars Pontificia.
Athos A. Altomonte