In this episode, we discuss the 26th Degree - “Prince of Mercy” as we continue our exploration of "Morals & Dogma: The Annotated Edition". It is highly recommended that you read the chapter in order to fully follow our discussion.
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Gene: Hello Dave.
David: Hello Gene. How are you today?
Gene: I’m alright! Are you ready to dig in to this degree?
David: Yes. I am. But before we get started, as always, I want to remind everyone that Show Notes, Chapter Markers and a Transcript of this, and all episodes, are available on our website - WayOfTheHermit.com. We’ve now come to the third and final Degree dedicated to the Greater Mysteries. Gene, before we talk about the Degree Ritual, how does this Degree fit in with the previous two?
The Greater Mysteries (01:43)
Gene: Well, as you said, this is the third and last of the Mystery Degrees. The 24th Degree used the symbolism of the Jewish Mysteries. The 25th Degree incorporated Islamic mysticism, and this Degree introduces the Christian Mysteries.
David: So, has this been a progression? I mean was the 24th Degree the first degree of the Mysteries and this the third?
Gene: Yes. Pike intended them to correspond to the three Degrees of the Ancient Mysteries.
David: What did those degrees represent?
Gene: According to Pike, the first degree of the Ancient Mysteries was Auditor and focused on the purification of the candidate in preparation for their true Initiation into the group in the second degree where they took on the title of “Catechumens”.
David: What does that mean?
Gene: It means a neophyte or one who is taught the basics of the Christian Mysteries. The esoteric doctrines were reserved for the final degree where they became known as “The Faithful”.
David: What were the teachings reserved for this last degree?
Gene: The Ritual says that the “grand mysteries of (the Christian) religion, the incarnation, nativity, passion, and the resurrection of Christ” were made known only to the Faithful, and “the celebration of the Holy Sacraments, particularly the Eucharist, were kept with profound secrecy.”
David: Hmm. The Christian kykeon.
Gene: Exactly. Here’s another quote from the Ritual - “In the early days of Christianity there was an initiation like those of the pagans… To arrive at a complete knowledge of the doctrine, they had to pass through three degrees of instruction”.
David: So is Pike saying that the Christian Mysteries are somehow more complete than the others?
Gene: Um… sort of. I think he’s saying that there are Jews and Muslims, and other religions… Hinduism he mentioned several times… that have mystery traditions beyond their orthodoxy that teach the same, or at least very similar doctrines to those taught in the Christian Mysteries.
David: Yeah and that’s the mystics in whatever tradition who see what the symbols point to in themselves.
Degree Ritual (03:46)
David: OK. That puts this Degree in context. What does the “Degree Ritual” look like this time?
Gene: Lodges putting on the Degree are called Chapters. The wall hangings are green. Around the room are nine columns alternating red and white with a chandelier of three lights atop each. There’s a throne in the East with a tri-colored canopy over it of green, red and white and a table in front of it covered by a cloth of the same colors. Over the throne hangs a triple interlaced triangle with the word “Aum” in the center. The three triangles are again the colors of the degree, green, red and white. By the altar is a white marble statuette of a woman covered by a veil of white gauze. In her right hand is a silver arrow with a golden arrowhead and feathers that are red on one side and green on the other.
David: What does the statue represent?
Gene: The Ritual says that it “represents truth and is the palladium of the order.”
David: What does “palladium” mean?
Gene: It means the statue is a representation of Pallas Athene.
David: Hmm. OK. Anything else about the Chapter decorations?
Gene: One more thing, in the center of the room is a triangular shaped altar. The altar is 36 inches high and each side of the triangle measures 18 inches. The top of the altar is a triangular gold plate with a Tetragrammaton engraved in the center.
David: That sounds like the altar discovered in Enoch’s Vault in the 13th Degree.
Gene: It does… with a couple of additions. On the altar is a Calvary Cross, with the Greek letters Alpha and Omega engraved on the left and right of the upright beam, just above the horizontal beam. And at each corner of the altar is a horn or flame of brass.
David: OK. So what takes place during the Ritual?
Gene: Well, it starts off with the Lord’s Prayer and then it tells us that “To avoid persecution, the early Christians were compelled to hold meetings of the Faithful in private places, under concealment by darkness. They assembled in the night, and they guarded against the intrusion of… profane persons or spies who might cause their arrest. During the early persecutions they took refuge in the vast catacombs which stretched for miles in every direction under the city of Rome.”
David: I’ve actually been in those catacombs… and the ones in Paris… years ago.
Gene: Oh, that’s interesting. The Ritual also tells the story of Pilate, Jesus and Barabbas and how the crowd chose to “Free Barabbas” rather than Jesus. It then explains that - “Brutal ignorance moves the low masses of humanity to hate those who try to teach them, and to regard intellect and learning as their enemies. Thus they are well typified by the setting maul, a fit symbol of brute force.”
David: So what were the beliefs or practices of these early Christian sects that caused them to be persecuted and forced them to go underground? Pardon the pun.
Gene: Yeah. Well, the Ritual says that they “had ceremonies similar to those of the Grecian Mysteries. (And) they… claimed to possess a secret doctrine, coming to them directly from Christ, different from that of the Gospels and Epistles, and superior to those communications, which, in their eyes, were merely exoteric.”
David: You said earlier that these mysteries related to the nativity, incarnation, death and resurrection of Christ and the sacraments of the Christian faith.
Gene: That’s correct, but in the Ritual it’s also stressed that although the symbols used in this Degree are Christian, they bear other interpretations for those of other faiths.
David: So, as always, toleration of other faiths… which comes from understanding that we have no right to claim the exclusive truth of our personal interpretation.
David: So what happens next in the Ritual?
Gene: You’re told about the three parts of man - the Material, the Intellectual and the Spiritual which are symbolized by the “Triple Triangle”. And you’re also told about the three Covenants that God made with Noah, Abraham and the prophets.
David: What are those covenants?
Gene: Well, I’d summarize them as first to allow life to continue, to not destroy it all again. That was the covenant with Noah. Then, to have a home with “One God”, that is the Jewish dispensation and the covenant with Abraham. And the last one with the Prophets was the “World to Come”, the “New Jerusalem” not centered in a physical place but encompassing the whole world.
David: OK. So what else happens in the Ritual?
Gene: You’re anointed with a Tau cross traced on your forehead. Then you share in Communion with the other Faithful and are given a “Tessera”.
David: What’s a Tessera?
Gene: The word “tessera” is a Latin word that originally meant a small piece of wood or stone used to make tessellated pavements, as we discussed in the 1st Degree. But it came to mean a small object with writing on it. In this Degree, it’s a small piece of stone or bone shaped like a fish. On one side is the Greek word “Ιχθυς” (IK-theos) meaning “fish” and on the other side was the password of the group, although the tessera itself came to be the sign or the token that identified them as belonging to the Faithful.
Purpose of the Degree (09:01)
David: Alright. That’s the Degree Ritual. What would you say is the purpose of the Degree?
Gene: As we said earlier, it’s the third and final initiation into the Greater Mysteries. It’s supposed to tie together what we’ve learned in the previous two degrees and also complete it by revealing what Pike calls the “Christian Mysteries”.
David: And even though he’s calling it that, he also stresses toleration. He says - “Masonry is a worship, but one in which all civilized (people) can unite, for it does not undertake dogmatically to settle those great mysteries that are above the feeble comprehension of our human intellect.”
Gene: And one last quote about toleration - “We do not undervalue the importance of any Truth. We utter no word that can be deemed irreverent by any one of any faith…. To every Mason, there is a ONE GOD… (and) How, or by what intermediates He creates and acts… Masonry leaves to creeds and religions to inquire.”
David: Alright. Are you ready to start into “Morals & Dogma”?
Gene: I am.
Morals and Dogma (09:57)
David: Alright. Before we get started on the Lecture, I wanted to mention that almost all of this Chapter is written by Pike.
Gene: I saw that. That is very different from most of the other Lectures. Most of those have been a compilation of quotes with a little Pike verbiage in between to make it flow.
The Great Reformers (10:17)
David: True. So, what’s the first thing you have from the Lecture?
Gene: The first thing I have is a quote that says Masonry “reverences all the great reformers” and “respects all those who seek to elevate mankind.” And it mentions Confucius, Zoroaster, Moses, Mohammed, Jesus and others.
David: And Pike also quotes many of the early church fathers including Tertullian, St. Dionysius, St. Basil, Clemens, Origen, St. Ambrose, St. Augustine and others about initiation and the rites of the early Christian Church.
Gene: And as with most of Pike’s Lectures, it’s not short on detail.
David: True that.
Gene: What’s the first thing you have?
Unseen Miracles (10:57)
David: The first thing I have is a quote about how we’re surrounded by mysteries and miracles that we just ignore. It says - “The greatest mysteries in the Universe are those which are ever going on around us, so trite and common to us that we never note them or reflect upon them. Wise men… tell us learnedly of centripetal and centrifugal forces, gravity and attraction, and… other… terms invented to hide the absence of meaning. There are other forces in the Universe than those that are mechanical.”
Gene: And what he means there, is that you always see the effects, but not the essential force behind those effects. He says out of the brown foul earth, and colorless invisible air, and limpid rain-water, the chemistry of the seeds has extracted colors… Pluck the flowers. Inhale the delicious perfumes… Whence have they come?... is it any more a problem whence come thought and will and perception and all the phenomena of the mind, than this, whence come the colors, the perfumes, the taste, of the fruit and flower?”
David: Which leads into a discussion about the nature of perception where Pike challenges us to consider how the reflection of light off an external object, focused on the retina and translated into nerve impulses becomes an image in our mind. Or how fluctuations in air pressure become sound or words or music.
Gene: Another quote says - “Our senses are mysteries to us, and we are mysteries to ourselves. Philosophy has taught us nothing as to the nature of our sensations, our perceptions… the origin of our thoughts and ideas, but words. By no effort or degree of reflection… can man become conscious of a personal identity in himself, separate and distinct from his body and his brain. We torture ourselves in the effort to gain an idea of ourselves, and weary with the exertion.”
David: That’s because we can only see the attributes, not the essence. Another quote says “Philosophers tell us that our senses make known to us only the attributes of substance… but not the thing itself… (just) as we know the attributes of the Soul, its thoughts and it’s perceptions, and not the Soul itself which perceives and thinks.”
The Triple Triangle (13:09)
Gene: “Who are you?”
David: Well, that’s the question asked by the Mysteries and the answer they say is to “Know Thyself”. And this Degree provides a framework that’s intended to help with that process.
Gene: It does and we mentioned it earlier. The Ritual tells us that we are composed of three parts - a Material part, the body, an Intellectual part, the mind, and a Spiritual part, the Soul.
David: And the symbols of the Degree are all meant to teach us about those parts. Like the colors of the degree - green, red and white. Green for Earth and the material part, the part that grows, withers and eventually dies. Red for the mind or intellect, that part that suffers or symbolically bleeds because it hangs perpetually between the Body and the Soul, which is symbolized by White because it is the part of us that hasn’t been tainted by contact with the world.
Gene: That’s a great take on the colors which are also used in the “Triple Triangle” with the outside triangle or skin being green, the next one red and the inner one either white, or gold in the Jewel. On the Jewel, inside the “Triple Triangle” is a flaming heart with the letters “I.H.S”.
David: Those are the Latin letters that correspond to the Greek letters Iota, Eta, Sigma which are the first three letters of the name of Jesus in Greek, which is “ιησούς”.
Gene: And they are also said to correspond by the Notarikon to the Latin phrase “Iesus Hominum Salvator”, which means “Jesus, Savior of Humanity” or “Imperium, Harmonia, Sapientia” meaning “Strength, Beauty and Wisdom”.
David: What is Notarikon?
Gene: That’s what they call it in Kabbalah. It’s where you take the first or last letters of a phrase as an abbreviation of it. In fact, that’s what Notarikon means in Hebrew - “abbreviation”.
David: So, at the center of the “Triple Triangle” is a flaming heart and the encoded phrase “Jesus, Savior of Humanity.
The Three Sacraments (15:03)
Gene: It’s the flaming heart of Jesus.
David: Yeah, it is.
Gene: And think about communion in that light. It’s a symbol of the commingling of the Spiritual with the Material. Jesus says to his disciples “Take! eat! this is my body;” and giving them the cup, He said, “Drink ye all of it! for this is my blood of the New Covenant.”
David: What do you think that really means?
Gene: Umm… I’d say it means fusing the Spiritual teachings of Jesus into your life. It’s supposed to make him part of you. Basically a commingling of you with the Divine.
David: Another quote says - “The fraternal supper… (teaches) us… that as matter changes ever, but no single atom is annihilated (and that) the particles that compose our mortal bodies” is composed of elements that may have also formed the habitation of other souls… And thus, in the bread we eat, and in the wine we drink tonight may enter into and form part of us the identical particles of matter that once formed parts of the material bodies called Moses, Confucius, Plato, Socrates, or (even) Jesus of Nazareth. In the truest sense, we eat and drink the bodies of the dead.
Gene: Wow. That’s a powerful statement. It even speaks to why we’re all really, “blood kin”, as we say here in the South.
David: Pike actually points that out, too. I’ve got just one more quote about Communion.
David: OK. “The bread and wine teach us that our mortal body is no more (who we are)… than the house in which we live or the garments that we wear, but the Soul is I, the One, identical, unchangeable, immortal emanation from the Deity, to return to God… in His good time, as our mortal bodies, dissolving, return to the elements from which they came, their particles coming and going ever in perpetual genesis.”
Gene: And going back to the commingling idea, we’re all builders of our personal temple… and our hope is to make it a suitable habitation for the sacred heart… or the sacred fire.
David: That’s very nicely put. Communion is the third of the three Sacraments discussed in this Lecture and the first two are supposed to prepare you for it. The first is Baptism which we’ve talked about in the 14th and 19th Degrees and the second Sacrament is Anointing. And the Sacraments, of course, relate to the “Three Bodies” - Baptism is directed toward the Material, Anointing toward the Mental or Intellectual and Communion relates to the Spiritual.
Gene: As we’ve talked about before, Baptism symbolizes material or physical cleansing, basically “cleaning up your act” externally… your actions. While anointing represents a mental or intellectual house cleaning. And during the Anointing, the Ritual said that a Tau cross is traced on your head in oil. So is this the alternate mark to the “Mark of the Beast”?
David: Well, in the Bible there are only two marks and we refused the “Mark of the Beast” in the 19th Degree… so, yes. And that Anointing, according to the Lecture, is only given to those initiated into the highest degree of the Christian Mysteries.
Gene: So, what do you think was the big reveal of this final Degree of the Christian Mysteries?
Beyond the Demiurge (18:07)
David: I think Pike believed it was how the Christian Mysteries expand upon the Jewish Mysteries… which involves a discussion of the “Demiurge”. The word “Demiurge” is the Latinized form of the Greek “Demiurgos” which means “craftsman” or “artisan”.
Gene: And, in a nutshell, the myth of the Demiurge is that He is the creator of this world and that he thinks he’s the One, the All… but he’s actually a lesser emanation. And some forms of Gnosticism believed that the Demiurge, who they called Yaldaboath, actively tries to keep Souls trapped in the lower realms.
David: And this is where Pike makes the case that the Christian Mysteries expand upon the Jewish Mysteries. He includes some text from Augustus Neander’s “History of the Christian Religion” which says - “The mass of the Jews... knew not the Demiurge in his true relation to the hidden Supreme God, who never reveals Himself in the sensible world. They confounded the type and the archetype, the symbol and the idea. They rose no higher than the Demiurge; they took him to be the Supreme God Himself.”
Gene: Another quote says - “The same jealous being, limited in his power, ruling with despotic sway, they imagined they saw in nature…. That perfect God was at most known and worshiped” by very few…. (who) on the contrary, clearly perceived, or at least divined, the ideas veiled under Judaism; (and) rose beyond the Demiurge, to a knowledge of the Supreme God.”
David: So, what did the stories of the Demiurge make you think? I mean esoterically.
Gene: Esoterically, I think it’s our normal state. We’re like big dumb beasts that only know half of what’s going on. I mean… I mean we think we’re cut off from everything and everyone but we’re not. I have one more quote about the Demiurge that says “that he”... and I read “I” here... “cannot transcend his limited essence… and therefore is unable himself to comprehend the whole scope and meaning of the work which he performs. As an organ under the guidance of a higher inspiration, he reveals higher truths than he himself can comprehend.”
First Cause (20:19)
David: And one of those higher truths that we know must be true but can’t wrap our head around is the question of “first cause” or the actual origin of things. The Lecture says “We cannot but believe, indeed we know, that, how far soever we may have to run back along the chain of effects and causes, it cannot be infinite; but we must come at last to something which is not an effect, but the first cause… The mind refuses to grasp the idea of self-existence, of existence without a beginning. An absolute existence, wholly immaterial… a cause, but not an effect, that never was not… is wholly beyond the reach of our conceptions.”
Gene: But Pike points out that just because you can’t imagine something, doesn’t make it untrue or even unknowable. He says “If we believed only that which our intellect can grasp, measure, comprehend, and have distinct and clear ideas of, we should believe scarce anything. The senses are not the witnesses that bear testimony to us of the loftiest truths.”
David: So if the senses aren’t the witnesses then what?
Gene: It’s always in your head. Always.
Where Do Thoughts Come From? (21:28)
David: It is. But that brings us to our next big question.
Gene: Which is?
David: Where do your thoughts come from?
Gene: You know, on the face of it, that sounds like a ridiculous question.
Gene: I mean, you can say I thought this or that because of such and such, but that only leads you to a deeper level. And like your quote earlier, we seem to believe that if we go deep enough, we’ll find the quote-unquote reason.
David: Here’s a quote about all that - “We know not when that Thought comes, nor what it is. It is not WE (that) mold it, shape it, fashion it. It is neither our mechanism nor our invention. It appears spontaneously, flashing, as it were, into the soul, making that soul the involuntary instrument of its utterance to the world. It comes to us, and seems a stranger to us, seeking a home.”
Gene: That’s because thoughts are our conscious perception of a process that is ultimately a mystery to us. In other words, our thoughts are effects, or attributes of something, but not the thing itself… which is cognition. But the Lecture goes even farther and says that not only can’t we grasp the cause of our thoughts, we don’t know the cause of our own volition… our will.
David: That’s right. It asks “Whence comes the will itself? Is it spontaneous - a first cause, or an effect?” Volition, like Thought, seems spontaneous, an effect without a cause. Circumstances provoke it, and serve as its occasion, but do not produce it. It springs up in the soul, like Thought, as the waters gush upward in a spring.”
Gene: So, what this is saying is that if we’re being honest with ourselves, we have to admit that we don’t know why we want what we want or why we think what we think… which is a very strange place to put yourself in.
David: Oh, you aren’t put there. You’re there. You just need to see it and realize there are other parts of you than the you that you know.
The Masonic Trinity (23:25)
Gene: That’s a lot of you’s! But that ties back to the three parts of Man… we’re a Trinity. Or to put it another way, we’re made in the image of God.
David: And Pike points out that almost all religious traditions recognize the significance of the Trinity. The Lecture mentions Egypt, Phoenicia, the Orphic Mysteries in Greece, in Hinduism with Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva as Creator, Preserver and Destroyer, in Kabbalah and in Gnosticism.
Gene: Pike actually says there’s a “Masonic Trinity”. Near the end of the Lecture it says - “Behold THE TRUE MASONIC TRINITY; the UNIVERSAL SOUL, the THOUGHT in the Soul, the WORD, or Thought expressed; the THREE IN ONE, of a Trinitarian Ecossais.”
David: That word “Ecossais” means Scottish, so there’s the alternate name of the Degree - “Scottish Trinitarian”.
Gene: OK. And the last thing I have in the Lecture is how Pike weaves that idea of immortality into a cosmology where reality is a thought in the mind of God. He says that “This is the real idea of the Ancient Nations - that God’s Thought “conceiving the whole Universe, and willing its creation… Embodied in the WORD… conducts and controls the Universe, all spheres, all worlds, all actions of mankind, and of every animate and inanimate creature… And thus most truly did "the Word become flesh and dwelt among men.”
Palladium - Pallas Athene (24:59)
David: And I think that’s a good place to end our discussion of the Lecture. Before we wrap things up, let’s talk a bit about a couple of the main symbols of the Degree - the Palladium and the Tessera. What did the Palladium, the statue of Pallas Athena make you think of.
Gene: Well, the first thing was Centennial Park in Nashville which has a full-size replica of the Greek Parthenon with a 42-foot tall statue of Athena inside. That’s an incredible structure and the statue is very awe inspiring.
David: Yeah, I thought of that, too. It is an incredible monument… but the ritual describes the statue by saying - “Behold the Palladium of this Order… It is no image or idol to be worshiped… It is but an emblem of purity and truth, which here we venerate, and of which you are now the servant.”
Gene: And in Greek mythology, Athena was the patron goddess of heroes including Odysseus, Perseus, Heracles, Bellerophon, and Jason and she’s a symbol of wisdom, the arts and learning.
David: And another interesting detail about Athena is that she was born from the forehead of Zeus.
Gene: What do you think that means in the context of the Degree?
David: That she represents an idea that becomes realized. She’s the idea that we’ve been developing in all the degrees leading up to this. One derivation of her name from Greek is A-Theos-Nous or “from the mind of God”.
Gene: And she was said to have sprung out of Zeus’ head in full battle gear. That ties in with the Palladium being a totem. It was said that Troy wouldn’t fall as long as the statue of Athena stood there. She’s a protector.
David: So, she can protect those that can conceive the idea that she represents.
Gene: Which is?
David: Well, she’s also called Athena Tritogeneia (Τριτογένεια), which could mean “Triton-born” or, and this is the one I like… “Triple Born”.
Gene: Like Hermes. So - Soul, Thought and Word. She’s the truth of the Soul, clothed in Thought and expressed through the Word.
David: Yes. That’s good.
Gene: I’ve got just one more thing about Athena, and it’s kind of funny. We’ve joked a few times about the ego being like a hydra, that you cut off a head and another grows back. You even mentioned it at the end of the last episode.
David: Yeah. I did.
Gene: Well, Athena guided Perseus’ blade when he cut off the head of the Hydra Medusa. And then he used her head to defeat the Kraken.
David: And all of that I think is relevant to this Degree.
Gene: I do, too.
David: OK. The last symbol we’re going to discuss is the Tessera - the fish token. What did you think about that?
Gene: The first thing I thought was about Philip K. Dick. And I know that you know what I’m thinking. In his book V.A.L.I.S., PKD tells about an encounter he had on February 3, 1974, which he always referred to as “2-3-74”. On that day, a girl was making a delivery and she was wearing a golden fish pendant. He said that the sight of it caused him to “unforget” that he was a member of a Gnostic sect in the 2nd Century AD.
David: Yeah, I’ve read V.A.L.I.S. and even some of his “Exegesis”, but I didn’t realize until this Degree how significant the fish symbol really was to the early Christians. It was their sign of membership… their token of being one of the Faithful.
Gene: And it also made me think of what you said last time about Jung and the “Precession of the Equinoxes”. That was during the “Age of Pisces”.
David: It was, but the most significant thing to me about it was the word that was inscribed on it.
Gene: Do you mean the watchword or the password?
David: No, just the word on the other side Ιχθυς, which means “fish”. It was said to be a Notarikon of the Greek words, Ιησούς Χριστός Θεού Υιός Σωτήρ [Iesous Christos Theou Uios Soter], “Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Savior.”
Gene: What is the significance of that to you?
David: It says to me that the Tessera wasn’t just a token of identification, it was the teaching.
Gene: How so?
David: “Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Savior”. That defines three roles - a Son, a Father and Savior.
Gene: So it teaches about the Trinity… and maybe hints at Precession and all that goes along with that.
David: And also the statement is very close to the “Jesus Prayer” which was used by the Desert Fathers of the Church as their primary teaching. That prayer was “Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me.”
Gene: So the Tessera was (1) a token that identified them as a member group, (2) it was a teaching tool, and (3) it even had the primary practice of the group encoded on it.
Gene: That’s very cool. Now I need to go back and read PKD’s “Exegesis”. I wonder how much of this he picked up on?
David: I don’t know. I’d bet that if he’d had Google, he’d would’ve.
Gene: True that.
David: Anything else you want to say about the Lecture.
David: OK then. What was your take-away from the Degree?
Gene: The main thing for me was the whole commingling idea. How the Spiritual infuses the world through Thoughts that become Words and actions. Did you notice that the“Triple Triangle” over the Throne in the Ritual had a Hindu AUM inside?
David: I remember you saying that, but I didn’t think about what it might mean. We talked about the “Jewel of the Degree” having a “Triple Triangle” with the “Sacred Heart of Jesus” inside it.
Gene: And we basically said that the “Sacred Heart” is the effect of communing with Spiritual ideas and bringing them to life in yourself. I guess that would be “bringing Jesus to life in your heart” if you want to use the Christian phrase.
David: So how do you see that relating to the “Triple Triangle” with the AUM inside?
Gene: The one with the “Sacred Heart” is on the Jewel. You wear it. It’s personal. The one over the altar is transpersonal. In Hinduism, AUM is the primal word of creation. It’s the “Soul of the World”, so to speak. And again, “As Above, So Below”.
David: That’s really nice.
Gene: What about you? What struck you about this Degree?
David: Really just the depth of the symbolism.
Gene: Do you want to give an example?
David: Sure. Take the Anointing… and I’ll just going to do a short riff on it.
David: They draw a Tau cross on your head in oil. You could say that they “impress” that emblem on your mind… because they are literally pressing on your forehead… the spot where Athena was said to have been born from the head of Zeus.
David: And the Tau cross that they draw there is a reminder of the Brazen Serpent which was crucified, or “fixed in place” on one. But the Tau Cross also is symbolic of the crossing point in the Heavens where the Ecliptic crosses the Milky Way, the Gate of Souls.
Gene: Ahh. So, in effect, you’re being marked with your ultimate destination.
David: Yeah. That’s good, too. But my point is just that it seems like you could riff like that on almost all of the symbols of the Degree. It’s just amazing.
Gene: I agree. I mean it’s incredible. But I think you’d agree that you wouldn’t have seen all that a year ago when we started this.
David: That’s true. It’s been a long road to get to this point.
Gene: “The path is long…”
David: It sure is. So Gene, what are we doing next time?
Gene: In the next episode, we discuss the 27th Degree - Knight Commander of the Temple.