When, therefore, thou hearest the myth-sayings of the Egyptians con- cerning the Gods — wanderings and dismemberings, and many such passions — thou shouldst remember what has been said above and think none of these things spoken as they [really] are in state and action. Plutarch then sets forth the Osiris and Isis Mys- tery-Myth. Osiris and Isis being in love with each other were united. They ruled over Egypt for many years but finally the malicious Typhon, his evil brother, while filled with envy sought his destruction. He devised a beau- tiful chest, and having it brought into the banquet hail, promised to give it to any one whom it would exactly fit.
Osiris stepped in and laid down, where- upon they who were present rushed up and put on the lid and fastened it down, and carried the chest 36 Ancient Mysteries and Modern Masonry to the river Nile, whence it was borne out on the flood to the sea. When Isis heard what had been done she set forth in search of the chest, which, mean- while, had been carried by the waves to the Byblos country, where the land-wash brought it to rest in a certain heather bush or tamarisk tree, a species of acacia.
This bush grew around, enfolded and hid it entirely within itself. The King Malkander mar- velled at the greatness of the tree, and cut it down and made of it a prop in the form of a pillar for his roof, but Isis having found trace of the chest and its disposition through Anubis and the daemonean spirit of a voice, came also to Byblos and sitting down by a fountain head showed attention to the maids of the Queen, dressing their hair with ambrosia, thus securing an invitation to the palace, where she became nurse of the Queen's little child ; then finding time ripe to reveal herself, the Goddess claimed for her own the pillar of the roof, and taking it down, she cut the tree from around the coffin and placing the chest in a boat, carried the body to her son Horus, who concealed it in a deep forest.
But Typhon while out hunting came upon it, and recognizing the body as that of Osiris, tore it into fourteen parts, and scat- tered them abroad. Isis, hearing what had been done, sought to recover the parts, and succeeded in finding all but one, which had been cast into the river and eaten by the fishes. Horus then fought Typhon and overpowered him, when it was proclaimed that Osiris had risen from the dead. This is merely an outline of the myth. It has a macrocosmic and microcosmic meaning. In the for- mer sense, Osiris and Isis are cosmic or super-cosmic The Egyptian, Hindu, and Persian Mysteries 37 beings, symbolized by the sun and moon, and the elder and younger Horus are the Intelligible and Sensible Worlds.
Microcosmically the Myth per- tains to the mystery of Initiation — the Horus or Christ stage of manhood. In this latter aspect it symbolizes the mystic life of the Initiate. In regard to Initiation Plutarch says, "When the Initiates of Isis at their 'death' are adorned in these [robes], it is a symbol that this Reason Logos , is with them; and with Him and naught else they go there [or walk there, that is, in Hades, — the death here mentioned is the mystic death unto sin].
For it is not the growing beard and wearing cloak that makes philosophers, O Klea, not clothing in linen and shaving oneself that makes Initiates of Isis; but a true Isiac is one who, when he by law receives them searches out by reason Logos the [Mysteries] shown and done concerning these Gods and meditates upon the truth in them.
In speaking of the Feast of Epiphany, which was a great day in Egypt connected with the birth of the Aeon a phase of the birth of Horus he says, "Indeed, the leaders of the idol-cults, filled with wiles to deceive the idol worshippers who believe in them, in many places keep highest festival on this same night of Epiphany the manifestation of Light , so that they whose hopes are in error may not seek the truth.
For instance, at Alexandria, in the Koreion, as it is called an im- mense temple — that is to say, the precinct of the vir- gin ; after they have kept all night vigil with song and 38 Ancient Mysteries and Modern Masonry music, chanting to their idol, when the vigil is over at cock-crow, they descend with lights into an under- ground crypt, and carry up a wooden image lying naked on a litter, with the seal of a crpss made in gold on its forehead, and on either hand two similar seals, and on both knees two others, all five seals being similarly made in gold.
And they carry around the image itself, circumambulating seven times the inner- most temple, to the accompaniment of pipes, tabors, and hymns, and with merry-making they carry it down again underground. This also takes place in the city of Elousa on the same night just as at Petra and at Alexandria.
But the importance of the passage is the testi- mony it bears to the fact that one of the most wide- spread mystic festivals was connected with a "rite of resurrection. Epiphanius tells us that the mystic rite represents a macrocosmic mystery. Very true, but it also rep- resents a microcosmic mystery. The mystic birth, The Egyptian, Hindu, and Persian Mysteries 39 death, and resurrection, were familiar to all the schools and communities of ancient times, and the mystic "rising again from the dead" was an integral part of the universal mystic-drama.
The Initiations of Egypt are described by C. Leadbeater, a well known theosophical writer, as fol- lows: "The candidate was attired in a white-robe, emblematic of the purity which was expected, and brought before a conclave of priest-initiates in a sort of vault or cavern. He was first formally tested as to the development of the clairvoyant faculty which he had been previously instructed how to awaken, and for this purpose had to read an inscription upon a brazen shield, of which the blank side was pre- sented to his physical vision.
Later he was left alone to keep a kind of vigil. Certain mantrams, or words of power, had been taught him, which were supposed to be appropriate to control a certain class of entities. Other ceremonies of the Egyptian Mysteries are of interest. At one stage of his advance- ment the candidate laid himself upon a curiously hol- lowed wooden cross and, after certain ceremonies, was entranced.
Here he had many experiences, part of his work being to 'preach to the spirits in prison;' for he remained in that trance condition three days and three nights, which typified the three rounds and the intervals between them, during which man was go- ing through the earlier part of his evolution, and de- 40 Ancient Mysteries and Modern Masonry scending into matter. This symbolizes the awakening of man in the fourth round, and the com- mencement of his ascent out of matter on the upward arc of evolution.
The Mortals were probationary pupils, who were instructed in the doctrine, but who had not yet realized the inner vision: The Intelli- gences were those who had attained the inner vision and had become men and received Mind. The Cre- ators or Sons of Light were those who had become one with the Light — had attained to true spiritual consciousness. These three stages are called by W. Marsham Adams, Initiation, Illumination and Perfec- tion.
This state could be attained while yet in the body, and included the after death consciousness as a part of its content. The ancient temples of Initiation in Egypt were models of the "Heavenly Jerusalem," a type of the world-building, to use a Jewish Gnostic term. Adams describes the temple at Denderah thus, "In the center of the temple is the Hall of the Altar, with entrances opening east and west; and beyond it lies the great hall of the temple entitled the Hall of the Child in his Cradle, from whence access is obtained to the secret and sealed shrine entered once a year by the The Egyptian, Hindu, and Persian Mysteries 41 high priest, on the night of midsummer.
The Mysteries of India were celebrated in temples carved out of solid rock; and in pyramids and dark pagodas. The temple of Elephanta is perhaps the most ancient in the world. It is one hundred and thirty-five feet square and eighteen feet high, sup- ported by four massive pillars, and its walls are cov- ered with statutes and carved emblematical decora- tions. The temples of Salsette exceed in magnitude those of Elephanta, though they are excavated in rock, their external form being pyramidal.
The interior has many galleries and secret caverns, and in the inmost recesses of the structure a "cubical cista" — a sepul- chre where the candidate was laid during his entranced state. An account of the Initiation is given by Dr. Oliver in his History of Initiations which we herewith con- dense as follows: The mysteries were divided into four degrees.
The candidate might perform his first probation at the 42 Ancient Mysteries and Modern Masonry early age of eight years. This consisted of an in- vestiture of the Zennar or sacred cord of three threads, corresponding to our "cable-tow.
Freemasonry and the Ancient Mysteries
After this the candidate was clothed in a linen gar- ment without seams, and a cord put over his right ear, and he was placed under the care of a Brahmin, as a spiritual guide, to be instructed in the necessary qualifications for the Second Degree. He was sub- jected to many hardships and rigid penances and was taught to preserve the purity of his body, to avoid external defilements and to devote much time to study of the sacred books.
At the age of twenty, if he were found to have made suitable proficiency in the preceding degree, he was admitted on probation to the Second. Here his austerities were doubled. At the conclusion of this probation he was Initiated into the privileges- of the Mysteries. Sanctified by the sign of the Cross, which was marked on every part of the body, he was subjected to the probation of Pastos, which was denominated the door of Patala or hell — the Tartarus of the Grecian Mysteries.
This was the Mystical death.
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His perfection of the proba- tionary period being attained, he was led, at the dead of night, to the cave which had been duly prepared for his reception; the interior of this cavern blazed with a light equal to the meridian sun. There sat in rich and costly robes the three chief hierophants, sta- tioned in the East, West and South to represent the Sacred Triad — Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva, with the attendant Mystagogues, clad in holy vestments seated around. The well known signal from the sacred bell The Egyptian, Hindu, and Persian Mysteries 43 summoned the aspirant into the center of the august assembly; when the ceremony commenced with an anthem and solemn invocation.
The oath was then ad- ministered, after which the candidate was sprinkled with water, and a mantra pronounced. He was then divested of his shoes, that the consecrated ground on which he stood might not be polluted, and was then made to circumambulate the temple three times, ex- claiming each time on his arrival in the south, "I copy the example of the Sun, and follow his benevolent course.
At the conclusion of the circuits, the candidate was placed in the care of a spiritual guide, and directed to observe proper silence during the succeeding cere- monies.
Ancient Mysteries and Modern Masonry : Rev Ch H Vail :
He was then passed through seven ranges of dark and gloomy caverns; amid the din of howls, shrieks and dismal lamentations, a sudden explosion was heard which seemed to rend the mountains; flashes of light streamed before his eyes, and then all was darkness and silence. Gradually he beheld shad- ows and phantoms of various shapes, some with many hands, arms and legs, while others had none; the most terrible and frightful figures appeared, all typi- fying the generation of the Gods, and other sacred mysteries.
The candidate then personified Vishnu, and was made to perform his numerous Avatars. In the fifth manifestation he took three steps at right angles, from which we get the three steps, as in the Master's de- gree, ending at right-angles. All these experiences were designed to teach certain lessons, and illustrate 44 Ancient Mysteries and Modern Masonry important truths, as the seven caverns, for instance, bore an allusion to the seven-fold division of the in- visible world — the seven places of reward and pun- ishment.
After all these trials, the pealing Conch was sound- ed, the folding doors were thrown open, and the can- didate was conducted into Paradise, which was a spa- cious apartment blazing with a thousand brilliant lights, ornamented with statues and emblematical fig- ures, decorated profusely with gems and jewels. With eyes riveted on the altar, he was taught to expect the descent of the Deity in the bright pyramidal fire that blazed upon it.
This gorgeous display filled the mind of the aspirant with admiration, and lighted up the holy fervor of devotion in his heart. And now be- ing fully regenerated, a new name was given him, ex- pressive of his recently attained purity, and he was introduced to the chief Brahmin, in the midst of the august assembly, who received him as a brother and associate, invested him with a white robe and tiara, seated him in an elevated place, and solemnly deliv- ered the signs, tokens, and lectures of the Order.
His forehead was marked with a cross. An inverted level or tau cross, was inscribed on his breast, this was a badge of innocence and a symbol of eternal life. He was invested with the sacred sash or belt, and finally, he was entrusted with the sublime Name which was known only to the Initiated. The Arch Brahmin then entered on an explanation of the various em- blems which were arranged around him; with the arcana of the hidden science enfolded under the holy gloom of the mysterious veil.
The Egyptian, Hindu, and Persian Mysteries 45 An extensive system of symbolical instruction was also used in the Hindu Mysteries, and their philoso- phy was veiled under the impervious shade of hiero- glyphical symbols, unintelligible to the profane, and intended to lead them into a maze of error, from which it was difficult to extract a single idea which bore any semblance to the original truth. These symbols were publicly displayed in their temples, bear- ing streams of light to the Initiated ; while to the pro- fane they were but an obscure mass of unintelligible darkness.
Oliver's History of Initiations, Ch. The Persian Mysteries or the Mysteries of Mithras are among the most important of antiquity. Even Pythagoras is said to have travelled from Greece to receive Initiation at the hands of those Persian Hiero- phants. The candidates were prepared for Initiation by various lustrations and forty degree-days of pro- bation, which ended by a fifty-days fast. These trials were undergone in a subterranean cavern, where the candidate was bound to perpetual silence. At the conclusion of his probation he was guided into the Hall of Initiation, and received on the point of a sword presented to his naked left breast.
He was conducted into the inner Chamber where he was purified by fire and water, and then conducted through the seven stages of Initiation.
Ancient Mysteries and Modern Masonry
Amidst the admiration thus inspired, his terror was excited by the distant yelling of ravenous beasts ; the roaring of lions, the howling of wolves, the fierce and threatening bark of dogs. Enveloped in blackest dark- ness, he was at a loss where to turn for safety ; but was impelled rapidly forward by his attendant, who main- tained an unbroken silence, towards the quarter from whence the appalling sounds proceeded; and at the sudden opening of a door he found himself in a den of wild beasts, dimly enlightened with a single lamp.
His conductor exhorted him to courage, and he was immediately attacked, amidst the most tremendous up- roar, by the initiated in the forms of lions, tigers, wolves, griffins, and other monstrous beasts; fierce dogs appeared to rise from the earth, and with dread- ful howlings endeavored to overwhelm the aspirant with alarm; and how bravely soever his courage might sustain him in this unequal conflict, he seldom escaped unhurt.
Being hurried through this cavern into another, he was once more shrouded in darkness. A dead silence succeeded, and he was obliged to proceed with de- liberate step, meditating on the danger he had just escaped, and smarting under the wounds he had re- ceived. His attention, however, was soon roused from these reflections and directed to other dangers which appeared to threaten. An undefined rumbling The Egyptian, Hindu, and Persian Mysteries 47 noise was heard in a distant range of caverns, which became louder and louder as he advanced, until the pealing thunder seemed to rend the solid rocks and burst the caverns around him ; and the vivid and con- tinued flashes of lightning, in streaming sheets of fire, rendered visible the flitting shades of avenging genii, who, frowning displeasure, appeared to threaten with summary destruction these daring intruders into the privacy of their hallowed abodes.
Scenes like these were multiplied with increasing horror, until nature could no longer endure the trial; and when the aspirant was ready to sink under the effects of ex- haustion and mental agony, he was conveyed into an- other apartment to recruit his strength. Here, a vivid illumination was suddenly introduced, and his out- raged feelings were soothed by the sound of melodious music, and the flavor of grateful perfumes.
Seated at rest in this apartment, his guide explained the ele- ments of those invaluable secrets which were more fully developed when his initiation was complete. Having pronounced himself disposed to proceed through the remaining ceremonies, a signal was given by his conductor, and three priests immediately made their appearance ; one of whom, after a long and sol- emn pause, cast? He turned his eyes with an involuntary motion to the place from whence these bewailings appeared to proceed, and beheld in every appalling form, the torments of the wicked in Hades.
Turning from this scene of woe, 48 Ancient Mysteries and Modern Masonry he was passed through some other dark caverns and passages; until, having sucessfully threaded the laby- rinth, consisting of six spacious vaults, connected by winding galleries, each opening with a narrow stone portal, the scene of some perilous adventure; and having, by the exercise of fortitude and perse- verance, been triumphantly borne through this ac- cumulated mass of difficulty and danger ; the doors of the seventh vault, or Sacellum, were thrown open, and his darkness was changed into light.
He was ad- mitted into the spacious and lofty cavern already de- scribed, which was denominated the sacred grotto of Elysium.
This consecrated place was brillinatly il- luminated, and sparkled with gold and precious stones. A splendid sun and starry system emitted their daz- zling radiance, and moved in order to the symphonies of heavenly music. Here sat the Archimagus in the East, elevated on a throne of burnished gold, crowned with a rich diadem decorated with myrtle boughs, and habited in a flowing tunic of a bright cerulean tincture; round him were arranged in solemn order the Presules, and dispensers of the mysteries; form- ing altogether a reverend assembly, which covered the awe-struck aspirant with a profound feel- ing of veneration; and by an involuntary impulse, frequently produced an act of worship.
Here he was received with congratulations; and after having en- tered into the usual engagements for keeping secret the sacred rites of Mithras, the sacred words were entrusted to him, of which the ineffable Tetractys, or Name of God, was the chief. History of Initiation, Oliver, Ch. The candidate was then instructed in the secret The Egyptian, Hindu, and Persian Mysteries 49 science. The meaning of the emblems was ex- plained, the incidents experienced converted to a moral purpose, and their significance made clear.
Nothing was done without a purpose and every ex- perience illustrated some truth and fact in nature.
What they were designed to set forth we shall see in subsequent lectures. Suffice it here to say, that the Mithra-Mystery was identical with the Christ-Mystery — the mystery of man's perfection and final apotheosis. This secret was the one secret of all the great mystery-rites and mystery- arts. A Ritual dealing with the mystery of apotheosis and used by the most advanced in the Mithraic eso- teric circles has recently been discovered.
It is a "yoga-rite," one far in advance of the lower grades of Initiation. Initiation does not mean consumma- tion — it is merely starting things going. The candi- date, to make the initiation valid, must "seal up the links," so to speak, and this Mithraic Ritual has to do with the final stages of spiritual evolution.
Mead, Besides the various rites of Initiation already de- scribed, we find the same sacraments in the Mys- teries that in later years were administered in the Christian Church. Justin Martyr First Apology, Vol.
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Kessinger Publishing reprints over 1, similar titles all available through Amazon. Though the author cannot, alas, "lift the veil from the secrets of the Order," 32nd-degree Freemason Charles H. Vail endeavors to lead the curious toward a more complete understanding of the ancient knowledge of the eternal truth of the universe of which the Masons are the keepers. From the great antiquity of Masonic symbols and traditions to the formation of the organization with their perpetuation as its goal, this book is an intriguing glimpse inside one of the most secretive fraternities in existence.
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