One should never place full faith in the opinions and findings of others, particularly in regards to a subject so shrouded in mystery, and subject to the biases and prejudices of those whose beliefs diverge from what they think these societies believe. Many people are incapable of seeing the world without looking through the lens of their ideological identity.
Any scholar worth his salt will tell you the discussion of secret societies and the occult is limited due to the fact that esoteric beliefs and histories have been deliberately concealed from us (“occult” means hidden) or wiped away by rival ideologies. Handicapping myself further is the fact that I am a relative novice when it comes to the subject matter. The purpose of this essay is just to express some general thoughts on esoteric beliefs, symbols and influence that I think most people misunderstand or are just plain unaware of.
The Secret Society
From my limited reading, the origin of the secret society stems from the acquisition of certain truths and knowledge that the keepers of such information felt was too dangerous in the hands of the average person. I’m not entirely certain I see the logic in this; to me, knowledge is power, so the belief that the mundanes can’t be trusted with such knowledge, lest they corrupt it, is probably an excuse to horde the knowledge for themselves and sustain power over the masses.
It should be noted that, besides differing faiths outside of Christianity, there were many different beliefs within Christianity that came under the scrutiny of the Roman Church. Among the earliest of these were the Gnostics, who believed that Jesus never walked among Man in the flesh, but appeared to them as an apparition or phantasm. Therefore he was not born of a virgin, did not perform miracles, was not crucified or risen from the dead. Later forms of Christianity included the Bogomils and the Cathars. These Gnostic heresies believed that two gods reigned: one, an evil god who created the material world and trapped our souls within it; another, a god of love, peace and light who ruled over the spiritual realm our souls longed to return to. It may surprise many to learn that these related sects believed that the god of evil was Yahweh or Jehovah of the Hebrew Torah or Old Testament.
Many people may wonder how these beliefs came to be known as heresies (heresy derived from the Greek hairesis, meaning “to choose”) and how mainstream Christianity came to be accepted. First of all, the current Bible was compiled at the Council of Nicea, where politicians decided which books were canon and which were apocryphal. For instance, there is a gospel of Barnabas, a gospel of Mary Magdalene, and a gospel of Thomas, which claims that Jesus had a twin brother. Still, other sects endured, and, in the case of the Bogamils and the Cathars, became extremely popular – the former within the lands of the Eastern Orthodox Church and the latter in the lands the Catholic Church claimed authority.
With state sponsorship of Christianity through the emperor Constantine, the Christian Church transformed from a sort of persecuted secret society itself to a mob of murderers and thieves seeking to convert humanity to the Faith, and crushing anyone who refused. Despite what many people are led to believe, many pre-Christian and heretical beliefs did not simply fall by the wayside, overwhelmed by the logic and truth of the politically-motivated doctrine created at Nicea. Even the ancient Egyptian religion, which most people believe is primitive pagan mythology, was quite alive and well until the Church had it violently stamped out, while the Cathar “heresy”, enormously popular, was eradicated by the sword of Crusade and the fire of Inquisition (Bogomilism eventually fell prey to Islamic jihad).
But these beliefs were not, in fact, wiped out. Their followers, though decimated, simply hid their beliefs from the inquisitors, until such time as they could be shown the light of day.
Origins of Freemasonry
While in Jerusalem, a small band of knights formed a fraternity that, it is alleged, sought to protect Christians on pilgrimage to the holy land from armed Saracen raiders. These knights made their headquarters in the Muslim Dome of the Rock, which sits on what is known as the Temple Mount – the supposed site of the Temple of Solomon. Thus they became known as the Knights Templar. Regardless of the veracity of this story – that their mission was simply to guard Christian pilgrims from marauding Muslims (there were originally only 9 knights in the order) – it appears that while in Jerusalem the Templars were greatly influenced by the convergences of different faiths and beliefs they came into contact with, including Hebrew Cabalism and Egyptian mysticism, as well as mathematics and geometry.
After their crushing defeat at the Horns of Hattin and the eventual fall of the Christian Kingdom of Jerusalem, the Templars returned to their homes, particularly in France, where they came into contact with the Cathars. It is debatable whether the Templars subscribed to Catharism, but many tenets of Catharism were absorbed by the Templars just as they had absorbed the mysteries of the East. And when the Pope, who the Templars were sworn to serve, ordered a crusade to wipe out the heresy, the Templars refused to participate. Whether they were full-blown Cathars or not, the Templars were inevitably convicted of heresy and their order was eradicated on Friday, the 13th of October 1307.
Of course, this was only the end of the Templars by name; their remnants would scatter across Europe and their rituals and mysteries would eventually form the basis for Freemasonry. Whereas ancient cults hid their knowledge in symbolism and allegory (supposedly) to protect it from corruption, the keepers of the esoteric faith now relied on symbolism and allegory to hide their beliefs from the Church.
It is beyond my capability and the scope of this essay to go into detail regarding the myriad beliefs and symbolism of secret societies, particularly Freemasonry, the most prevalent. For one, like early Christianity, there are different sects of Freemasonry (Scottish Rite, Egyptian Rite, etc). But for the most part, the core of esoteric beliefs is the use of symbolism.
Almost any religion, from the ancient Sumerian to modern Christianity, is a series of allegories and symbols, usually revolving around astrology. Most religious beliefs and archetypes have their roots in some religion of an earlier culture or civilization. For instance, Jesus is the same as the Egyptian Horus, the Zoroastrian Mithra, the Greek Dionysus, etc. All of these pre-Christ gods were anthropomorphized caricatures of the sun and its travels among the twelve constellations of the Zodiac (12 Zodiac signs, 12 disciples). Jesus is associated with the fish because he represents the sun in the age of Pisces; Moses is associated with the ram because he represents the age of Aries. When Moses descended from Mount Sinai with the Ten Commandments, he was enraged to find his followers worshiping a golden bull – the bull being Taurus, representative of the previous age which had ended. These are just a scraping of the astrological allegories which form the foundation of almost any religion, far too numerous to list here.
Likewise, the “devil”, Satan, or Lucifer has similar allegorical origins. The image of Satan as the evil reptilian creature stocking the fires of hell with his pitchfork is an invention of the Catholic Church. To the ancients, Lucifer, like the sun god associated with Jesus, had many different names and similar stories appear in various religions of different cultures and civilizations which seemingly had no contact with one another.
The word Lucifer derives from the Latin term lucem ferre - bringer, or bearer, of light. In passing I note that this is the name given to Jesus in 2 Peter 1:19. Gustave Dore describes how a bearer of light became the Prince of Darkness:
- The scholars authorized by King James I to translate the Bible into current English did not use the original Hebrew texts, but used versions translated largely by St. Jerome in the fourth century. Jerome had mistranslated the Hebraic metaphor, "Day star, son of the Dawn," as "Lucifer," and over the centuries a metamorphosis took place. Lucifer the morning star became a disobedient angel, cast out of heaven to rule eternally in hell. Theologians, writers, and poets interwove the myth with the doctrine of the Fall, and in Christian tradition Lucifer is now the same as Satan, the Devil, and - ironically - the Prince of Darkness.
Known in other cultures as Phaeton or Tiamat, among others, Lucifer was a planetary body that was so bright it rivaled the Lord – the sun. In the Bible, the book of Isaiah says, "How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!" The book of Ezekiel tells us of Lucifer: “Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness.” And yet consider that these are Hebrew texts incorporating a Latin term.
Imagine a bright object, similar to Venus (‘the morning star’, another name for Lucifer (and also the name Jesus gives himself in the book of Revelation 22:16)), which is so bright it casts a shadow on a clear, moonless night. It is unknown what exactly this body was. Some say it was a comet, others an actual planet that orbited between Mars and Jupiter, where today is found the asteroid belt. This planet was somehow destroyed, perhaps in a collision by a rogue planet some call Nibiru or X. Whether a comet or the remains of Lucifer/Tiamat, a large mass from space came crashing down to the abyss, or the ocean, causing a flood that covered the entire planet. William Comyns Beaumont tells us:
- The flood immortalizes the collision of a fallen planet, later termed ‘Satan’, actually a cometary body, with our Earth.
The creation myth of the Ute Indians tells us:
- The sun was shivered into a thousand fragments which fell to the earth, causing a general conflagration. Then Ta-wats (Tiamat) fled before the destruction he had wrought, and as he fled the burning earth consumed his feet, his legs, his body, his hands and his arms, until at last, swollen with heat, the eyes of the god burst and the tears gushed forth in a flood which spread over the earth and extinguished the fire.
Similarly, in the Babylonian creation myth known as the Enuma Elish, Marduk, the Babylonian equivalent of Jove or Jupiter, fought Tiamat, known as ‘the glistening one’, a bloated dragon of salt waters. Marduk defeated Tiamat and cast her to the abyss of Earth, where her chaotic waters mingled with the sweet waters of Apsu, the Babylonian god of the abyss, which to the ancients wasn’t a fiery hell but the oceans.
- And chaos, Tiamat, the mother of them both; (Apsu and Tiamat’s) waters were mingled together.
Stephanie Dalley, in her interpretation of this text, says that Tiamat’s eyes became the sources of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Was Tiamat/Lucifer a glistening salt-water planet destroyed in some cataclysmic event?
The book of Enoch, an ancient text once part of the Bible prior to the Council of Nicea, tells us:
- And behold a star fell from heaven…and the children of the Earth began to tremble and quake before them and to flee from them. And again I saw how they began to gore each other and to devour each other and the Earth began to cry aloud.
I saw in a vision how the heavens collapsed…and when it fell to Earth I saw how the Earth was swallowed up in a great abyss…and I lifted up my voice to cry aloud, and said “the Earth is destroyed.”
In the Roman myth by Ovid known as the Metamorphoses, Phaeton (Tiamat, Lucifer), a child of the sun god Helios, wished to become the sun for a day by driving the great sun chariot across the sky. Unable to control the fierce horses that drew the chariot, he caused chaos and destruction, forcing Jove (Marduk) to strike him down with a thunderbolt. The sun chariot crashed to Earth in flames, which were put out by a flood from a river unseen before:
- The breathless Phaeton, with flaming hair,
Shot from the chariot, like a falling star,
That in a summer's ev'ning from the top
Of Heav'n drops down, or seems at least to drop;
'Till on the Po his blasted corps was hurl'd,
Far from his country, in the western world.
- And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels going forth to war with the dragon; and the dragon warred and his angels…And the great dragon was cast down, the old serpent, he that is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world; he was cast down to the earth…
One thing that raised an eyebrow while reading about the Gnostic heresies in Graham Hancock’s Talisman was that Gnostics often referred to their god of good as the bearer of light, or the god of light, which, while they never used this term so far as I know, are also names given to Lucifer. The reader will recall that Gnostic dualistic beliefs actually held that Yahweh, or Jehovah, was the evil god of the material realm, and that all Hebrews and Christians who followed him were led astray, their souls doomed to stay trapped in their unnatural state in the material world. Here we see that there existed a religious sect who, though Christians, believed that the god of the Old Testament, which most Christians believe to be the father of Jesus, is actually the Devil, or what was known as the demiurge - the creator of the material world our souls yearned to escape.
Good vs Evil
Great detail is given to the origins and ideas of the myth of Lucifer or Satan, what Christians refer to as the Devil. The point being, despite hysterics and propaganda emanating from the Church, who certainly know better, the term “Luciferian” doesn’t necessarily mean worshiper of the Christian Devil.
In all mystery schools, the language is symbolism and allegory. Almost never is a story to be taken literally. To many, the worship of Lucifer symbolizes not the mere acquisition of knowledge but the worship of it, for Lucifer, the light bearer, symbolizes illumination. Knowledge is value neutral; only its application can be good or evil.
Similarly, in the Gnostic sects which were eliminated by the Church but whose beliefs became ingrained in Freemasonry, one did not achieve salvation through faith, but through knowledge of the true nature of things: all one needed was to realize that his soul was trapped in the material realm, and reject the evil of the material, which included the flesh, to free the soul. One can see why Gnostics regarded the Pope and his agents as servants of the evil god of the material, as the Church slaughtered anyone who dared to think he or she could achieve salvation simply by the acquisition of knowledge, rather than blind faith and obedience through fear.
Any adherents to certain faiths, when they hear the word “God”, automatically think of “their” god, while the antithesis of their god is always Satan, the Devil, etc; the root of all evil. Understand that the Gnostics were Christians, yet their idea of “god” was the polar opposite of mainstream Christianity. A Christian today may say that they were tricked by the Devil, but given the manner which mainstream Christianity triumphed over the heresies – by genocide, not by logic and reasoning – it would seem obvious that, if anyone was tricked by “the Devil”, it was the adherents of mainstream Christianity – Catholics, Baptists, Protestants, etc; the evil god of the material realm.
The Society With Secrets
Eventually the fires of the Inquisition went out and Freemasonry was no longer a secret society, but a society with secrets. There is no doubt that, since being able to practice their mysteries in the open, and perhaps even beforehand, Freemasons have yielded almost omnipresent influence in world events. George Washington and Benjamin Franklin were master masons, as were many Founding Fathers of the American Revolution. Marquis de Lafayette was a French Freemason who played a pivotal role in both the American and French Revolutions, the latter of which is also soaked in Masonic influence. Almost every major American and European historical figure of the last two or three hundred years was a mason. Some would see this as a conspiracy; others would simply note that Freemasonry was extremely popular among the elite at that time, thus it was inevitable that many of the participants in these events would be Freemasons.
Masonic influence can be seen in the city planning and architecture of many cities. The civitas solis of Paris is practically a carbon copy of the solar complex at Karnak, Egypt (Temple of Luxor). Every major structure is meticulously designed and placed for an astrological effect, as well as the dates and times their cornerstones were placed.
The same can be said for Washington, DC, which, along with its carefully planned street routes corresponding with astrological events such as the heliacal rising of Sirius (the Egyptian goddess of wisdom, Isis) and the solstices, its owl-shaped roads around the capitol building, and not-so inconspicuous pentagram with the White House at the head of the "star", is also patterned after the Cabalistic "tree of life", with its 10 "Sephiroth" archetypes and the 22 paths that connect them, adopted by Freemasons to represent the 32 degrees. It is the first city designed, in its entirety, from the laying of its first cornerstone, to be a talisman. Again, prejudiced by Christian influences, whether they are aware of them or not, some hysterically point out that the pentagram is the symbol of Satan/Lucifer. Understanding what Lucifer represents in esoteric symbolism, the rational reader will inevitably ask, so what? You must purge your mind of the cultural preconceptions of Satan as the prince of darkness, this unimaginably evil figure you've seen in movies and read about in books.
The 33rd Degree
There are two aspects of Freemasonry that must be considered to grasp the full scope of any conspiracy. First, there are the esoteric beliefs of the Freemasons, which are, again, beyond the scope of this essay. In this endeavor I recommend Manly P Hall’s Secret Teachings of All Ages, and Albert Pike’s Morals and Dogma. Second, there is the hierarchical order of the society, and how much influence each degree yields. That there are 32 degrees of Freemasonry is practically common knowledge. It is my impression that these initiates simply study esoteric mysteries, such as philosophy, geometry, and Pythagorean mathematics, among others. There is a 33rd degree, which is not so much a level of attained knowledge as it is a title, and between the 32nd and 33rd degree is a chasm the size of the Grand Canyon; a secret society within a secret society.
I believe even those of the 32nd degree are unaware of what goes on among those above them, and it is those at the top of the capstone who coldly and calculatingly conspire to conquer and enslave the world. Thus, in my opinion there is no Masonic conspiracy to rule the world; there is a 33rd Degree conspiracy to rule the world. This 33rd degree is likely what some call the Illuminati, which other secret groups such as Bilderberg, the CFR, and the Bohemian Club fall under. As such the first 32 degrees are almost like a college course, after which it is likely only those of a certain bloodline qualify to advance. I do not dismiss the possibility that such elites practice other variations of occult worship, such as mock or even real human sacrifice. The only way to fully make this determination is to learn their mysteries, and make your own determination as to what end such knowledge can be used.
Through all of this, it is my hope that you’ve kept in mind that my opinion is barely qualified, if at all. Have I done my homework? Yes, to a certain extent; likely more than the average person, particularly those who automatically think that because secret societies aren’t Christian they must automatically be evil. I have bad news for them: many if not most of this country’s Founders were not Christian; they were deists, which, in my view, is the religion of Freemasonry – the worship of the Grand Architect, l'Être supreme. No matter how deeply you delve into the subject matter - and, again, any scholar you encounter will tell you this - they're called secret societies because, well, they're secret, so no one will ever have a complete and concise picture of their histories and beliefs. One must also be wary of cultural and ideological prejudices that might lie beneath accounts of such societies, as, again, some people are simply incapable of seeing the world in any other way.
More than anything, rather than insult your intelligence by deigning to convince you of some “truth” that I know and you do not, the intent of this essay has been to break down the barriers of prejudice, and to make you think, so that rather than lazily allow others to insult your intelligence by telling you they’ve got it all figured out, you’ll crack open a book, or load a web page, and begin doing your own research, having confidence in your ability to discern what is truth and what is not. I will continue to do the same.