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Imago Templi / Book I

by Athos A. Altomonte

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Treaty of Esoteric Symbology and Archaic Cosmogony of the Masonic Temple
for the Freemason Brothers

Index: Introduction - The Chamber of Reflection - The Fittings - The Room of lost steps - Astrological References in the Chamber of Reflection


This is the second of the six works that I consider necessary to propose in order for the Mason Brother to access the higher or Mystery Initiations, not only symbolically but also for the Light acquired through his knowledge and the ability to use the instruments hidden in the Tradition of the Order of the Temple.

The Chamber of Reflection

The Chamber of Reflection, 1st Journey of the Masonic Initiation, represents the descent in the center of the Earth.

The access is traditionally on the west side of the wall of a rectangular room (measuring 2m by 4m). The room and the fittings are completely black , symbolizing death or the renunciation of the Traveler to the profane world (the same meaning belongs to the Masonic Chlamys that the Apprentice will wear later on).

It is the first re-birth from the profane darkness in the weak Light of Him who aspires in the acceptance of the Apprentice, he is enlightened bythe recognition of the Three Lights in the three-fold initiatory embrace.

The symbolic descent inside the Mountain of Initiation , where the only exit is forward towards the Temple , initiatory progression.

West Wall, Air element, astronomic reference: Scales.

Motto: If curiosity brought you here, leave.

On the Initiatory Path, which is magnetic, as we know, we recognize certain stages that are the development of the highest qualities of Man: Creativity, Intuition, Inspiration, Unity (alchemic marriage, search for the celestial Bride, the Soul).

But if we remember correctly, it all starts from an Attraction-Tension towards a Virtue or an Ideal and this can't be perceived by a mind and therefore by a personality that is not developed into self-conscience but for Curiosity-Attraction; the consequence is:

Magnetization, Curiosity, Attraction, Tension and here appears the Path of the individual Work.


Entry door to access the Chamber of Reflection; it doesn't allow the exit unless it is a renunciation, viz. defeat.

Personality renounces, the Soul is defeated.

We must consider, however, that the concept of defeat can only be applied to the specific life of that Personality embodied in the microcosm, whilst for the Soul in its space-time, outside the view of energetic investment on that personality, simply appears like a slowing in the macrocosm, which invalidates the Law of Economy (see article).

If we like, it is a renunciation to the reaching of the Initiatory Path.

North Wall, Water element, astronomical reference: Cancer.

The exit Door of the Humankind (matter, mass).


acronym of

Visita Interiora Terrae Rectificando Invenies Occultum Lapidem.

Visiting, descending inside your Earth (conscious and unconscious introspection) rectifying (correcting yourself ) you will find the hidden Stone (the Philosopher's stone) the Fulfilled Man (Reintegrated in the conscience by the Light of the Triad ).

Alchemic symbols.

Sulfur: active principle, masculine and solar, he who makes fertile, the Pillar J, male generating Principle whose action on Mercury (expansive) produces metals, Mineral sperm. Celestial will, alchemic-hermetic work in red.

We can indicate Mercury, Pillar B, as the principle of plasticity of Psyche and sulfur as the spiritual act of insemination.

Motto: If your heart felt fear, don't go further.

The Soul doesn't fear because everything is established; it can't fear because in It there is only Light.

The Soul doesn't know darkness; error and darkness are the World of Personality.

Salt: it is the effect of the Sun (Sulfur) on seawater, the purified physical personality.

The Sun makes water evaporate and prepares Personality to the Dry Path.

Oil lamp: represents the minimal light of the Soul (Ideal), which appears as personal will.

The Skeleton: salt, essential Man, the structure of Man. Loss of Maya, illusion of the Form, profane world, transitory.




The Thinker can concentrate only if he isolates himself from mercurial influences.

«This is why in the Chamber of Reflection Sulfur, initiatory principle of personal action, must act on the Salt, symbol of what represents the essence itself of Personality from the intellectual, moral and physical point of view».

East wall, Fire element, astronomical reference: Aries, the start of the Work.

Motto: If you persevere you will be purified by the Elements, you will come out of the Abyss of Darkness. You will see the Light.

Fire and Air (heat effect, therefore solar) acting on the Water (evaporation) leave the Salt (the seed). The Earth (the darkness of VITRIOL), putrefying transmutes and germinates (Acacia) resurrecting to the Light of the Initiatory Knowledge (the Gold of the Wise men, the Animic Gold) the Mind enlightened by the Soul (Flaming Pentalpha).

The Cockerel: Vigilance and Perseverance.

The Cockerel Herald of the Sun, symbol of pride, is pictured next to the God Mercury. It is consecrated to the God Apollo, hero of the rising day and symbol of light in the East, it represents the virtue of military courage for its spurs, for the generosity with which it shares food with chicks and hens and finally its vigilant trust and virile confidence in announcing the rising of the sun.

Therefore it is the symbol of warrior vigilance, scanning the horizon from the top of the sacred Tree (the Cosmic Ash tree); still today it is placed on the top of church bell towers and on the roof of houses to protect them from the superstitious nightly fears of the inhabitants, protector and guardian of life itself.

Sun, Life, Cockerel.

Its crest tending to the Sun, red colored, the wings, white colored, tending to the Air element and its claws, black colored, stuck in the Earth element all lead to identify this animal with the holiness of the Great Alchemic Work as Harmonious Unity integrated into the stages of inner evolution of personal life.

The Golden Verses of Pythagoras: nourish a cock, but sacrifice it not; for it is sacred to the sun and moon.

Let's remember the true initiatory meaning which the Master refers to: Operatio Solis et Lunae.

«In Masonic symbology it is both sign of vigilance and advent of initiatory Light that corresponds to the alchemic mercury».

South Wall, Earth element, astronomical reference: Capricorn.

Motto: If you care about human distinctions, go away.

Commit to being and not to appearing, with the negation of the illusion of a separating world.

If you are not strong enough, wait and try again.

The Hourglass , where the sand slowly trickles at the will of whoever moves it, represents the Chronos -Saturn , the Master of Time that flows, absorbed by Saturn, the Master that presides over the trials of the man who aspires to Initiation.

Be careful, Brother, embodied Personality, the Time of Opportunities flows fast like the little life. Use time with extreme care in the Path of Light that leads to the Achievement of the Great Work. The achievement of the Unity with the celestial Bride.

The Sickle as well, like Hourglass, bones, skull and skeleton , is a leaden and saturnine symbol.

The Sickle is symbol of death, because it makes all things equal by leveling them, precisely like death. The inexorable equalizer of the Bible represents a discriminatory instrument of punishment more than the leveler for everything of Saturn, God of trials and therefore of the difficulties, which with two sickles cuts all that lives on the material and profane personality level.

The Fittings

A square black chair or stool , corresponding to the shape of the physical plane (body). A rectangular table (the second rectangle) 72cm (nine) high from the ground and similarly black.

On the table three clay goblets containing Sulfur (see), Salt (see), Sand (see silicon, glazed sand or sea sand), a candle as a weak reflection of the mind in the weak Light of the Soul that appears through the conscience, dimmed by Personality.

Creation of the Silicon or Sea sand: effect of the Water element on the Earth element, which, by disintegrating, separates the elements.

The action of Fire (heat, sun, dry path) on Earth gives the Silicon element from Sand, separation of dry from humid, IV Ether, the bright matter.







Mineral world

Vegetable world

Animal world

The Traveler enters an act of will and he must leave his dependency on needs and desires of the lower Worlds, desires and needs that definitely qualify the profane World.

This is necessary to learn the Art of Command on the physical World.

* Initiation *

Jug, Water, Piece of Bread.

Bread and water represent the simplicity that will become the domain of the Mason's life.

They symbolize the nourishment of the body and spirit, the material and spiritual aspects necessary to man.

The Water element necessary for life and the Bread made of wheat (the flesh of God sacrificed in the Communion) symbolize moral strength and spiritual nourishment.

They express and suggest an alimentary condition always directed against excess of appetite in general and substantial balance, the Scales, which express the effect of wise and active balance of Command on desires; it will lead to the condition of absolute reality, such as being totally devoid of illusory desires. Art of Detachment.

The same condition is once again suggested and reminded by the Skull and Tibia , not forgetting that with the tibia we carry out an ancestral role of sound by harmonious percussion.

The Exit.

The little opening that leads to the Room of lost steps preceding the Temple symbolizes the crack in the Mountain of Initiation , incomparably described by Dante, who reminds us that we must be reborn in the inside, through vagina and uterus in the Temple , the womb of the Great Mother.

All this evokes the always silent presence of the Great Mother, the initiatory birth inside in contraposition to the multiple births outside in the physical and transitory World.

The Room of lost steps

Name of one of the rooms preceding the Temple. The Door of the Temple opens into it.

The Room of Lost Steps and the Hall of Recreation must not be confused, even though they often coincide physically.

The Hall of Recreation corresponds to the courtyard in ancient Temples, whilst the Room of lost steps corresponds to the peripatos where steps are lost, the vestibule where the ceremonial clothing suitable to the Holy Work is worn and where one strips of the mental cloth and attitudes of the profane life, leaving them outside.

Wearing Ritual clothing or paraments or taking them off is a Ceremonial act in every respect, even when it happens outside the Temple.

Astrological references in the Chamber of Reflection

The four zodiacal signs represented on the walls of the Chamber of Reflection (C. o. R.) make up one of the three crosses that we can inscribe inside the Zodiac: the Cardinal Cross.

The other two crosses are the Fixed cross made of Taurus, Leo, Scorpio and Aquarius and the Mobile one made of Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius and Pisces.

Each of the four signs that make a cross belongs to a different element; therefore each cross represents the four-fold in the three-fold aspect of the Zodiac.

Therefore we have:


Cardinal Cross

Fixed Cross

Mobile Cross

















We will now try and analyze the reasons why in the C. o. R. we find the Cardinal Cross rather than the other two, supporting our study with the teachings of the Ancient Wisdom, which for a very long time have inspired men committed along the Path of Return.

The man who approaches the C. o. R. is a man who, in the past, constantly swindled between the two lines of strength that rule the physical existence (J and B) and this will last until he will perceive the third line – the Middle Path which, in the Masonic Temple, symbolically joins the Outer Guard to the Worshipful master – who will guide him through the apparent chaos of the external world.

Tradition tells us that the motto of Libra in an evolutionary sense is: "I choose the Path" that goes through the two great lines of Strength. This is why this zodiacal sign is represented above the entrance of the C. o. R.

Carrying on along the axis West-East we proceeds towards Aries , which represents Light and the enlightened Mind, whose motto is: «I advance and from the plane of mind I rule».

But once reached the goal of Light the enlightened Man recognizes the needs of the World and, not stopping only at the partial achievement reached, turns South towards the Capricorn, starting a higher Work and Service, because they are not only aimed at self-improvement but at the evolution of bigger and bigger "portions" of the Humankind. The motto of this sign, also called the guardian of the glory of the soul, is: «I get lost in the supreme Light and turn my back to it».

It is interesting to notice how, by turning South, we have behind us the Sign of the Cancer, which represents the Sign of Access in the Zodiac, like the Capricorn represents the exit. The Souls that ascend the Wheel do this through the Cancer, whose motto is: «I build an enlightened house and live in it», whilst those that leave the Wheel of Delusion ascend the mountain of sacrifice and take possession of it through the Capricorn.

This brings us to consider another element of interest.

Let's examine the scheme (image on the right) that we have in the First Roll corresponding to the explanation of the seven levels of learning in the initiatory language. This diagram shows a kind of ‘U', which represents the progressive descent of the wave of Life in the matter and the following gradual re-ascent towards the subtler levels. Indeed, the start of this immersion journey occurs under the influence of the Cardinal Cross, moving under the Fixed Cross and finally, in the lower level of the scheme, under the Mobile Cross.

In the stage of re-ascent, we go from the Mobile to the Fixed Cross and then to the Cardinal one, which leads man until he reaches the prefixed goal.

In the C. o. R. we find the Symbol of the beginning and the end of the Work.

The Path, which is the journey of the Soul along the axis of evolution, is made of four different cycles.

The first cycle, called of Recreation, drives to the incarnation into the physical World up to the influence of the Mobile Cross, whose experience integrates man in the Humankind.

The second cycle, called of Regeneration , occurs under the growing influence of the Fixed Cross which, acting on the Mobile one, determines the inner changes that cause Re-orientation in the third cycle. Here in man occurs the inversion of polarity due to the Libra, the Cardinal Cross.

After twelve lives, the Labors of Hercules mentioned by the Tradition, where we face the "trials of the Zodiac", we experience the Renunciation of the fourth cycle, where the Initiate abandons every personal reason to Serve the Humankind with the sole strength of the Light achieved with his work.

The consequence will be the definitive liberation from the cycles of the Wheel.

Inside the C. o. R. the Adept, accompanied only by himself , symbolizes the work of re-orientation towards the higher Cross through an effort of self-determination; the direction is provided by the interpretation of the sign of the Libra carved on the wall of the room.

It is fair to say that the C. o. R. represents a status of conscience, for a will of re-conversion that the whole Humankind must gradually reach before facing the Door of the Temple . To cross this door means to start the building of the bridge that links the Personality of the Adept to the Ego of the Initiate, whence the Light of Wisdom for Man comes from.

In the C. o. R. we can't go backward and the only exit is the Door of the Temple that can be reached by advancing.

This work is certainly not accomplished in the few hours spent in the light of a candle, but it is the achievement of a drama that lasts several lives and that leads every single man to become aware of his essence, real and superior, and of his will to manifest it. He enters the C. o. R. as a Profane and leaves it as an Aspirant; he then knocks at the Door of the Temple in order to be "Introduced" as an Apprentice on the axis that leads to the Cardinal Cross for the achievement of the Third Real Initiation.

The last consideration is that the three crosses represent three different "mental states", three different "observation points", three different "states of conscious perception", three lenses through which Life can be perceived by different angles and more and more focused.

Even though the Cardinal Cross represents the highest goal for the average man, one day it will have to be transcended for an even higher level.

The passage from the C. o. R. to the Temple is the allegory of the annulment of the illusion of only "seeing" the Zodiac in the 12 months (Mobile Cross) and entering the understanding of our systemic cycle guided by the Solar Logos in the real crossing of the zodiacal bands in 2,500 (Fixed Cross) and 25,000 years (Cardinal Cross).

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This article comes from Esotericism Readings

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