The subject of this work is the analysis of the pyramid symbol, which, in its apparent simplicity, is the synthesis of a wider concept linked to the idea of hierarchic order. An idea, or the symbol that represents it, is generally ‘personalized' through opinions and interpretations given by those who have lost the objective meaning of the idea itself.
Comments on the Pyramidal Hierarchy
By Roberta Giammaria
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The analysis of symbols is the first step for any brother mason who wants to develop the ability to use the thought, an art that has always been the core of any initiatory school.
Each teaching brings, together with its exteriorization, the peculiarity of being deformed or deflected, when it gradually leaves the abstract world where it comes from and materializes in the mind of the people who receives it, up to being pervaded by the emotions of those who often, unconsciously, benefit from it far away from the origin. What we have just stated can be better understood by using the image of a paddle immersed in the water, which, by effect of refraction, is deflected to the eyes of the observer. If the paddle of this example is, by analogy, the teaching, the water represents the mind which, still affected by emotions, deforms what it receives, unaware of doing so.
The subject of this work is the analysis of the pyramid symbol, which, in its apparent simplicity, is the synthesis of a wider concept linked to the idea of hierarchic order . As we have just said, an idea, or the symbol that represents it, is generally ‘personalized' through opinions and interpretations given by those who have lost the objective meaning of the idea itself. Nevertheless, traces of this meaning can be unconsciously passed on; in this specific instance there are two popular expressions that hide such meaning in the pyramid: ‘sharp mind' and ‘square head'. If the sense usually given to these expressions is immediate, perhaps the same cannot be said about the sense they veil.
By associating these expressions to the image of the pyramid, we can see how its vertex is king in the air element, vehicle of intellect; when it is referred to ‘sharp mind' it emphasizes the ability to penetrate the meanings behind forms, independently from them being symbols, concepts or people. The expression ‘square head', on the other hand, refers to attributes of practicality and strictness, well represented by the basis of the pyramid, through its junction with the earth element, the slowest among the elements for its vibratory ability and therefore the least ductile.
From this first decomposition of the pyramid we can see two primarily important geometrical entities; the vertex that is a point and the basis that is a square, viz. the revelation of the two fundamental principles of the world: Infinite and Definite.
The triangle in the pyramid joins the top to the base and it is the symbol of the divine manifestation of the three-fold Creating Entity. From the point the angle originates, which expresses the male and female principles that develop from the Unity; but, since they move away from each other, its lines would be unproductive if a third horizontal line didn't intersect them and turned the angle in triangle.
Therefore through the triangle we descended from the point to the square, symbol of the sensitive world. The basis of this triangle that constitutes a side of the square reveals that, although it is a neuter product of the angle, it is a generator at the same time, because the three of the ternary potentially contains the four of the quaternary and it expresses the law of fulfillment. Therefore the square, symbol of the fulfilled work and basis of the pyramid, is the ‘son' of the triangle.
In continuing the analysis of the pyramid we should keep in mind the ancient precept according to which: ‘Every form is the symbol of the energy that produces it'. A. Altomonte explains it in a work of his as follows: ‘The symbol is a form, a container like a temple, a cathedral or a book; they are all feminine and receptive. The symbol as well as the book is qualified by the light it contains, but the content is limited by the ability of the observer. Symbol and form live a two-fold reality, lunar to the external world and solar to the inner world. This complementariness originates two esoteric languages: two-dimensional external and three-dimensional internal. Both rest their expressiveness on Geometrics and Number, which represent Form in their exterior aspect and Sound in their inner development. Vibration (the Number) produces the Form (Geometry) of the Sound (the Motion) and the three of them, in their interaction, manifest ‘the Universes' and ‘the Worlds' through Color .'
Pythagoras expressed in the Sacred Tetractys, matrix of every hierarchy, the close relations between number and form. Indeed, he taught that:
The point symbolizes the power of the number one ,
the line the power of the number two ,
the surface the power of the number three ,
the solid the power of the number four .
The result of the sum of these first four numbers is ten, the Tetractys, represented as an equilateral triangle with four units per side. This symbol expresses the first four worlds of existence, viz. generator, generating, generated and matter (physical form).
These four worlds were used by Dante to express that there are four levels in the real ability of the power of man's mind.
At the first level, which belongs to the lower mind, man reads the history in the events and, since he cannot interpret properly what he sees, he falls into the trap of the world of hypothesis, feeding the World of Chaos, the plane of suffering . This level corresponds to legends, myths and fables.
On the second level, plane of concrete mind, man elaborates and manages to interpret what he learns, perceiving the causes that produce effects; in the attempt to arrange them, he learns the art of Geometry in building the events of his own life. This is the plane of learning and it expresses the Ars Muratoria.
On the third level, plane of abstract mind, man senses the causes that generate events; therefore he can work on them by transforming ignorance and its forms of manifestation thanks to the use of the intellect. This is the plane of knowledge, Ars Regia.
On the fourth level, plane of the Triad, is found the invisible point that joins the maximum of the minimum to the minimum of the maximum and where man works to make causes through principles, because he recognizes archetypes. Here, in the plane of wisdom , through the sacrifice of the inner self, man knows and allows the Spiritual Project to manifest itself through its own attributes in thoughts, actions and words: the Ars Pontificia.
The relations descending from the symbol of the pyramid are therefore quite wide and they can lead to many journeys of intellectual enquiry. Since we have stated that the Tetractys represents the matrix of every hierarchy, it is appropriate to study this aspect, which is so closely linked to the symbol of the pyramid.
The term ‘hierarchy' indicates a series of levels arranged in order of priority and succession.
A hierarchic order can be found in the social, religious, Masonic, initiatory structure and so on.
Society has always been divided in casts, both when this is explicitly recognized, such as in India , and when it is expressed in orders and hierarchies that make the ‘body' of society itself; in both cases, its structure is based on economic power. The latter, which can be inherited or acquired thanks to abilities demonstrated in one's own working field, is a mirage for some people and an obsession for others. In both cases it is the main motivation for most people, who commit themselves to such achievement, ignoring their own inner world, where it is possible to start dissolving delusions.
On the other hand, we must also say that many people give a meaning to their life through intellectual goals. It is not a coincidence that tradition has often shown with a pictorial language the mountain as the symbol of a hierarchy of spiritual values to gain, and the reaching of its top as achievement and illumination.
The difference that we must see in the comparison between the various hierarchies is in the level of interpretations through which they are experienced. In particular I am referring to the hierarchies (scientific, religious, Masonic) where intellect should represent the only discriminating element; if they are not analyzed carefully, it is obvious that they express the first level, where the truth is deflected and transmitted through myth, legend or even fable. They seldom testify the second, where culture and reasonable mind prevail through isolated cases that are negligible in a generalized analysis. Such hierarchies only contain the memory (if there is one) of what drove other men to build them. In this case the pyramid ‘makes' men; the parameters with their colors will not be enough to enlighten the shadows.
In the instance of the initiate, which on the contrary contains in himself the four interpretative levels, the degrees, jewels and paraments will be vivified from inside, because he ‘is' what he represents, so much so that he might not even wear them, since he expresses them with his thoughts, his actions and words. These men, the initiates, ‘make' the pyramid; they are, without any distortion, living testimony of the different degrees and levels that naturally make an initiatory pyramid.