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Ars Muratoria, Ars Regia e Ars pontificia

Three keys of the Masonic initiation

by Athos A. Altomonte

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Index The thread of a tradition that comes from afar - Building “immaterial bridges”The “Light” comes from the East, a symbolic message

Appendix Considerations on spirituality and religious myth Moses, prophet “saved from the water” and the story of King Sargon, his persecutor - Pharaoh Akhenaton, founder of monotheistic religion

«…by transforming himself, the initiate builds the link between heaven and earth…».

The thread of a tradition that comes from afar

Since ancient times, building «immaterial bridges»has been the fundament of mysteric science, which finds its highest expression in hiero-inspiration. The term Hierophant comes from this; it indicates the initiator that became “bridge” and transmitted to the postulant the “knowledge” of which he was the «Chalice».

Holy inspiration was a prerogative of Hierophants; it consists of receiving ideas from the "divine" plane. Plato called this dimension "hyperuranium" (plane of archetypical ideas). Later on, hiero-inspiration became the fulcrum of Gnosis. It would be a mistake, at this point, to consider inspirational action as an "exclusive attribute" of mystics and prophets. Inspiration is a human characteristic, rare but spread, that everybody can develop in the respect of his own characteristics, like the great thinkers, philosophers, artists, scientists and inventors did.

Inspiration and illumination are contiguous aspects; they are impressed in the memory of Freemasonry, too, even if it is reduced to the bulb lit on the face of the initiating person to simulate his "illumination". The thing is that for many Masons the idea of building bridges of "Light" is part of the esoteric folklore; therefore they don't even try to verify if this postulate is true or false.

Perhaps we have kept the prejudice out of curiosity; as it happened with other "folklores" we have tried to find the logical thread in this, too. Without anticipating the conclusion, we can say that in our opinion building immaterial bridges is reflected in the experimental science called vertical telepathy.

Building "immaterial bridges"

"Immaterial bridges" are links that cross the conscience in any direction. What makes them precious is the fact that they are the mediators of the process of transmutation, which changes the physical substance of the microcosm Man and helps him re-integrate in the dimension of the macrocosm Man. This process of transmutation, also called inner metamorphosis, is the active principle around which every mysteric teaching revolves. This is a "secret" also impressed in the dormant conscience of Freemasonry in the form ofArs muratoria, first key of Freemasonry, Ars regia, second key of Freemasonry and Ars pontificia, third key of Freemasonry.

In order to reach the real meanings of Masonic Initiation it is necessary to open the three magisterial Arts, overcoming the moral precepts and following the symbolic journey that leads to the subtle idea hidden in the Ars pontificia. (see The two faces of Masonry).

Freemasonry is a container of wisdom survived to the eclipse of ancient Mysteries. The "pearls of wisdom" that peep in ritual catechisms can be revived by the "light" of the person who knows how to use them. Otherwise they remain dull, dumb and mysterious representations.

We have enough pearls to find the key to "ancient mysteries"; nevertheless in their symbolic, pictorial and metaphoric cover (see Use of languages), they are imperceptible to those who don't know their "language". Their elusiveness has originated quite a few misunderstandings. On one hand the crypticness of the symbolic language has opened a series of hypotheses that originated the "epopee of secrets"; on the other hand it has created the skepticism that ridiculed the mysteric sense. This has allowed scholars such as J. Gottlieb Fichte to publicly state that "…the main secret of Freemasons is that they don't have any…" (Filosofia della Massoneria (Philosophy of Freemasonry, Note of the Translator), Bastogi 1986).

In actual fact the secret exists in the eclecticism of mind and in the immeasurable extension of human conscience. Guenon is right, then, when he writes that "the initiatory secret is a secret that can't stop being as such, since it exists exclusively in inexpressible things, and therefore it is also incommunicable".

By detaching himself from the dimension of the animal mind, man reaches an inexpressible condition. We must add that if this condition is incommunicable, the way to reach it has always been described through oral and written teachings. This is a sufficient reassurance on our journey.

The "Light" comes from the East, a symbolic message

Pre-Vedic (oral) archaic culture and later Vedic and Brahminic (written) culture have been the cradle of particularly refined spiritual perceptions, so much that their primogeniture has been recognized in the motto "the Light comes from the East".

Such refinement has developed as much subtle methods. Among them, creating an intermediate mental plane (manas) to alternate different dimensions, such as the lower conscience of man (kama manas), his higher conscience (buddhi) and the soul conscience (atmá), in order to connect and interrupt the isolation that halves man's faculties.

To avoid this separation a mental connection was thought of; it would join dimensions that would be otherwise separated by the physical senses. Here starts the story of the builders of "inner bridges". The brahminic culture recognizes two independent bridges. The main one is Sutratma (golden bridge, solar and masculine), where the divine spirit descends from the highest plane. The other one is Antahkarana (silver bridge, lunar and feminine) through which the physical conscience of material man ascends towards the spiritual plan (in the West, to go back to the House of the Father).

It is quite significant that this concept has resisted through thousands of years; it has been transmitted from a people to another up to theMediterranean mysteric Schools, becoming the foundation of Gnosis. The latter is not art of memory but knowledge by contact, viz. hiero-inspiration.

From a Gnostic Commentary: «…intellect is not wisdom, whilst direct knowledge is. Intellect is ratiocination. Wisdom decides because the choice is ready to make. Intellect is the threshold of wisdom; when it is sharp it penetrates in the sphere of synthesis. Reasoning and a specialized mind are the corners of a future building. The man who has such a mind prepares a brilliant future for himself, but he will keep repeating himself until he has lost rigidness».

The Double way of Fire * is the "bridge" that descends from the Divine plane, identifying itself in the plane of the densest matter in order to consecrate it. This "marriage" is an ancient idea taken from the Hebrew mystics and elaborated in the great scheme of the Sephirotic Tree.

The Sephirotic Tree, or Tree of Life, is the metaphor of the double way that connects the macrocosm (the imperceptible divine plane) to the microcosm (the sensitive plane of man). Going through its eleven stages, or trials (the eleven sephiroths), conscience perfects itself and it can bring man back to the original condition. This vision is another elaboration of the solar cult. Moses, the Egyptian "saved from the water", infused it in the conscience of the Hebrew people with the metaphor of a shrub that burns in a perpetual fire.


* «The Way of the Fire according to the Kabala»; «The Triple Way of the Fire» (Vedanta, Alchemy, Kabala) – Raphael, Ed. Asram Vidya



Considerations on spirituality and religious myth

Imagery has produced everywhere powerful figures, sources of the magic that feeds popular cultures. These characters, though, couldn't stand the trial of a critical attitude; they wouldn't be so strong if the observer wasn't so compliant. Nevertheless every metaphor has an intrinsic value that is worth discovering. It often happens that a concrete enquiry leads to results that are more engaging than fabulous meanings.

On the journey of the Three Arts two images stand out: the prophet Moses and Master Hiram. We will look for the hidden aspect of both.

Let's start with Moses. He is a first-rank figure in a Book that, except for some cases, is on the Altars of Masonic Temples. The Bible is not a piece of furniture for Freemasonry. Its Workshops open and close on its pages. The hands of Freemasons lay on its pages during the oaths for any degree, office and dignity. Most of its symbolism is based on its tales; therefore it is dutiful to examine its contents.

Prophets lead us back to hiero-inspiration although the true inspired people have been a small minority. Most of the prophets and clairvoyants produced miracles to ingratiate themselves to the powerful figures; those who didn't reach their palaces looked for notoriety among the masses; but masses are voluble animals, they can adore their idol now and send it to death tomorrow.

The point, though, is not the crowd's idols, but the quality of the few true spiritual messengers. Spirituality should be distinguished from religious feeling, which accompanies man since he started developing a primitive symbolic language. It is a panacea that consoles during the hard times, useful to mitigate fear of death and to justify phenomena that would otherwise be incomprehensible. Religious cults were born to influence fate or to mitigate the process of obscure phenomena; they have ruled the social order and influenced cultures and costumes of every nation. They have never solved any of man's problems, but on the other hand they have caused bloodshed throughout history.

Pretty soon people realized that the removal of fear and pain was an effective instrument of power. But for the corporeal cults to be organized, structure and rules were needed; the latter, though, suffered from the imperfection of the people who created them. They tried to hide their imperfection by erecting living totems, figures that reflected the Divinity. Man's ideas, though, although different, have never produced different results. Differences have always been the obsession of leaders; they want to demonstrate to the masses that they are like them, that they are the unique and incomparable interlocutors of the only God, chosen above all as depositaries of his thoughts and champions of his rules.

Man is definitely not the center of the universe; he is only the center of his own universe. Therefore every people, culture and epoch has found carnal images to justify its desire for centrality.

Next to the people who realized their own desire for leadership, glorifying the powerful figures or exalting the masses, there are men of another kind. They stood out because they never nourished the cult of power, neither have they looked for the sympathy of the masses; indeed they have always detached from them. The former are all children of their time; the latter are remembered for the diversity they bore.

Moses, prophet "saved from the water" and the story of King Sargon, his precursor

The only certain thing about Moses is that there is no certainty about his existence. He is indubitably a strong image in the western culture, but the truthfulness of his story is quite debatable.

It is not a mystery, for example, that the Laws that Moses engraved in stone during the forty days in isolation on the mountain, are an extract of the ancient Hammurabi's code.(*)


* Hammurabi's Code is one of the earliest extant sets of law known in the history of the humankind. It was created during the reign of the Babylonian King Hammurabi (or Hammü-Rabi) between 1792 and 1750 B.C. It was translated thanks to the finding of the Rosetta stone (1822, by Jean François Champollion). The latter is a granite stone measuring 114x72 cm; its inscriptions are in hieroglyphic, Demotic Egyptian and Greek (from top to bottom). Since Greek was known, it was a decisive key to understand hieroglyphics.


For many scholars "saved from the water" doesn't have a literal meaning. Like for other figures, to be saved from the water is the metaphor of the salvation following the initiation to the Mysteries of the antediluvian era (the mythical Atlantis), viz. the principles of knowledge rescued from the Great Flood (see Noachides).

His initial letter is «M»; it comes from Meborach, which is the sacred name of God in Hebrew and it means the Saint; Mbul is the name of the Water of the Flood in Hebrew.

For many chroniclers, Moses was the priest of Osiris in the city of Hieropolis and the superintendent to the royal buildings. He owed his wisdom to Thermuthis, mother of the Egyptian princess who adopted him and to Batria, wife of the Pharaoh, (the mother of his step-brother – other royal first-born preferred to Moses as head of the army – she was an initiate too; she allowed him to be accepted to the "solar Mysteries" to become priest of Osiris, which was a privilege enjoyed only by Egyptians).

According to this version the Jewish people owe Themurthis the fact that the whimsical prophet of the choleric "God of the Mountain" was "instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and he was mighty in his words and works" (Acts of the Apostles, VII, 22). Close to the figure of Moses there is Jethro, priest of the "God of the Mountain" and his initiator. He lived in the Midian desert, where the future prophet took refuge after killing an officer of the royal guard. Many people wrote that Jethro was his "father-in-law", because he married Zipporah, one of his seven daughters, from which their son Gershom was born. But the "daughter" of Jethro is the allegory of Zipporah (the "Glowing one"), one of the seven Sciences transmitted to him by Reuel-Jethro, Midian initiator. The "well" where Moses sat was the "Well of Knowledge", represented by the "bronze snake" with which he adorned himself, which then became the Caduceus of Mercury and Asclepius, son of the sun-god Apollo.

The story in Exodus (II): «When she ( Moses' mother) could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him, and plastered it with bitumen and pitch; she put the child in it and placed it among the reeds on the bank of the river», reminds us of the story of a precursor of Moses; Sargon "saved from the water". Sargon was a very powerful king and his reputation reached Egypt, therefore it is likely that it inspired the event reported in Exodus.

The story of Sargon I is told in the Assyrian tablets of Kanesh; he was a Babylonian king that ruled on the city of Akkad in 1600 B.C. (G. Smith, Chaldean Account).

The name Sargon means the fair, true, or legitimate sovereign. What follows is written on the fragments preceding Moses' era.

«Sargon am I, the mighty king, monarch of Akkad»

«My mother was a princess, I never knew my father, my father's brother ruled over the country»

«In the city of Azupirana, which lies on the bank of the river Euphrates»

«My mother, the princess, conceived me; in difficulty she delivered me»

«She put me in a reed basket, she sealed it with bitumen»

«She pushed me into the river, which didn't drown me»

«The river took me to Akki, the water carrier»

«Akki, the water carrier, for the softness of his heart, took me»

Pharaoh Akhenaton, founder of monotheistic religion

Moses' story contains other extraordinary analogies; the careful observer can compare his political goals with those of Pharaoh Akhenaton, husband of Nefertiti, and founder of the Cult of Aton (sun-God). He moved the seat of the new religion to Thebes, in order to get rid of the excessive economical power of the priests that ruled the capital of the kingdom. But there are also other considerations to be made.

Exodus tells about the liberation of the Jewish people after 400 years in Egypt and 200 years of slavery and the wandering in the Egyptian territory for 40 years. Well, in that territory it has never been found any a trace of settlements (the oases where to find water are in exact positions) or tombs or any other finding that proves their staying in that place. Is it possible that whole generations disappeared without leaving traces?

«Exodus celebrates the birth of the Hebrew people, but archaeologists have never found proof to confirm the story told by the Bible».

The journalist Michael Slackman interviewed doctor Zahi Hawass, the highest Egyptian archaeological authority; he asked him if the findings discovered in Qantara East(north of the Sinai, two hours drive from Cairo) could back up the tale of the biblical departure of the Israelites, which for 40 years wandered in that stretch of desert to find the Promised Land.

"The story of Exodus is in actual fact a myth" , Hawass replied. "Egypt is one of the main warehouses of ancient history. But it is also a spiritual center, where, for centuries, men have searched for the meaning of life. Sometimes these two things coincide, and it happens that archaeological testimonies confirm the story of the believers. Often, though, this doesn't happen; it is not my problem if someone is annoyed by that. I am an archaeologist; my job is to tell the truth. If people are upset about it, it is not my problem. Sometimes we archaeologists have to say that something never happened, because there are no proofs to support it.

For 10 years archaeologist have removed the earth to discover pieces of history, helped by workers that arrive daily from neighbor cities. Two human skeletons have been discovered; the bones were placed next to Egyptian earthenware and scarabs. Nothing has ever been found to prove the story of Moses in the Old Testament, the Israelites fleeing from Egypt".

Doctor Mohamed Abdel-Maqsoud , responsible for the digs, is aware that this conclusion might disappoint some people. "A pharaoh drowned with a whole army", he says, referring to the part of the story where God separated the Red Sea water to allow the Jews to escape and then closed it back on the army that was chasing them, "this is a negative episode for Egyptians, but they have never documented this event." (Copyright The New York Times, 10 th April 2007).

Prof. Schweitzer (Prize for peace 1951; Nobel prize for Peace, 1952, Order of peace Pour le Mèrite, 1954) reviewed the ancient Aramaic text and discovered that the previous translation had a gross mistake: the heavy combat carts of the Egyptian chasers didn't sink in the sea, but in a sea of reeds.

We have already mentioned Pharaoh Akhenaton, which, together with his wife Nefertiti, in 1344 B.C. started the biggest religious reform of history, abandoning multiple deities to found the monotheistic cult of a unique God.

Sigmund Freud, father of psycho-analysis, was convinced that Moses and Akhenaton were the same person.

Strabo talks about Moses as a pharaoh that Egyptians describe with Akhenaton's features. Only in 1990, with the Amarna episode, Ahmed Osman brought to Europe the theory that Akhenaton and Moses were the same person.

The figure that gave the Jewish people the laws that helped founding the state of Israel lived between 1400 and 1200 B.C.; his story was kept secret because, according to the Judaic tradition, his true identity can't be revealed to the people or the whole human gender. In fact, both Akhenaton and Moses disappeared without leaving a trace. Akhenaton disappeared from the memories of Egyptians leaving his empty sarcophagus. Moses leaves his people in a state where they can't use their memory or body.

Manetho, an Egyptian historian, says that the leader of the ministers of Akhenaton was called Aper-El, that is "Servant of the God El", from one of the names of Israel's God.

Moses is an Egyptian name meaning "son" or "born", which in Hebrew is written Moshe, and in Greek Mosis. Egyptian used to put the name of a God in front of a name. For example, Thotmose means born from the God Tot, viz. Son of Thot. Likewise, Ramoses means son of Ra and so on.

When Akhenaton disappeared, the scribes removed the God's name from his name leaving Moses, which means son of… .

According to Manetho, Akhenaton was a child of the Levi tribe. He was educated in Heliopolis (city of the sun) under the kingdom of Amenhotep; he used the science and philosophy he had learnt from the Brotherhood of the high prelate to be recognized from the Hebrew people as their leader. Egyptian priests told Strabo that Moses was a priest of Osiris in charge of an area in the South of the country. Akhenaton-Moses had a disagreement with the official cult; he left the Congregation followed by a group of men convinced that the religious symbolism confused people and led them to mistake. The God was unique and he had to be worshipped in a sanctuary erected in a consecrated land, without images, signs or figures that represented it. Many people followed him in search of the sacred place where he would erect the new Temple.


In the next chapter we will start drawing the symbolism of Ars Muratoria in all its extent.

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This article comes from Esotericism Readings

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