In this episode, we discuss the Rituals of the 28th Degree - “Knight of the Sun” (Part 1 of 3) 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.
"Morals and Dogma" is available from these sites:
Gene: Hello Dave.
David: Hello Gene.
Gene: Well… here we are.
David: Yeah, we’ve been anticipating this Degree since the beginning. The “Knight of the Sun” Lecture covers over 200 pages in the annotated version of “Morals and Dogma”. We talked about this in the first episode… about how we might have to do more than one podcast for this Degree. And after studying all the material, we think it’s going to take about three episodes.
Gene: Yeah. And we’re planning to cover just the Ritual in this episode.
David: Yes. 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. This Degree is the capstone Philosophical Degree of the Council of Kadosh.
Ritual Background (01:59)
Gene: That’s right. And the final two degrees in the Council of Kadosh are chivalric degrees - Knight of St. Andrews and Knight Kadosh.
David: And as we discussed in the previous degree, the “Knight of the Sun” degree was swapped with the “Knight Commander of the Temple” degree during the major revision of Pike’s rituals that took place in 2000.
Gene: Yes. And the Ritual of this Degree, along with the 25th Degree - “Knight of the Brazen Serpent” were the two that were changed the most.
David: We talked about that some in the 25th Degree. That ritual was modified to focus on the Sufis rather than the Druze. Which seems like a good change, but as we discussed, you could see why Pike chose to focus on the Druze. So, what are your feelings about the revisions to the Ritual of this Degree?
Gene: I’m going to be honest. When I first read the two rituals back to back, I hated the revisions. I mean, it made me think of that line from “Fight Club” where Edward Norton’s character says “I felt like destroying something beautiful.”
David: Ouch! That’s brutal!
Gene: I know… I know… But having said that, I do understand why they made the changes. Pike’s Ritual was about 40 pages long. So it would take 2 or 3 hours to do… maybe more. De Hoyos says in the “Ritual Monitor and Guide” that “A benefit of the current revision is that the majority of the Degrees can be conferred within an hour. This will allow more Valleys to confer most, if not all, of the Degrees over a weekend Reunion.”
Ritual of the Degree (03:32)
David: Alright. Let’s talk about the revised Ritual.
Gene: OK. There are two presiding officers “Father Adam” and “Brother Truth” who are seated in the East on either side of the altar. Father Adam wears a brown robe, and a white lambskin apron with painted or embroidered fig leaves. He holds a scepter with a gold globe on top and wears a Jewel with the Sun on one side and the northern half of the Zodiac… the signs from Taurus to Libra, on the reverse.
David: So, what about Brother Truth and the other officers?
Gene: Brother Truth wears a white robe with a black infinity symbol on the chest. He holds a white rod with an eye of gold on top. His Jewel is like Father Adam’s. In the West is a “choir of angels”, which is a straight row of seven seated officers. Behind each officer’s chair is a banner with the symbol for a planet.
David: Who are these officer angels that are seated in the choir?
Gene: From left to right, Cassiel is Saturn and has a black banner with a white emblem. Sachiel is Jupiter with a blue banner with an orange symbol. Zamael is Mars and has a red banner with a green symbol. Michael is the Sun with a yellow banner with a purple symbol. Hanael is Venus and has a green banner with a red symbol. Raphael is Mercury with an orange banner and blue symbol. And finally, Gabriel is associated with the Moon and has a purple banner with a yellow symbol.
David: So the banners have the “flashing colors” associated with the planets?
Gene: Right, the main color and it’s opposite.
David: Are the officer’s robes also the colors of the planets they represent?
Gene: Actually, no and that’s another thing that initially turned me off. Cassiel is associated with Saturn, but he’s wearing a red robe. And beside him is Sachiel, who is associated with Jupiter, but he’s wearing Orange.
Gene: But anyway, the order of the robe colors is… from left to right, Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo and Violet.
David: So they form a rainbow… from red to violet. Maybe that’s meant to symbolize the chakras.
Gene: Yeah, could be. Here’s a quote I wanted to read “The Council must be so arranged as to permit the use of slides, which may be projected onto a screen or wall, and visible to the Candidates. It may be convenient to project above and behind the seven chairs.”
David: That sounds like a classroom. So, what are you taught?
Gene: Well, here’s how the Ritual starts out. It says - “This Degree will instruct you in the nature of symbolism. It will show you what symbols are, and how to read them. Symbols are used because many abstract, philosophical, and profound truths and realizations cannot be expressed by words alone.”
Gene: Yeah. Hmm.
David: I think we may have already covered that.
David: So, what instruction do you get?
Gene: Each of the seven officers, or angels, delivers a speech. Cassiel starts off by talking about Geometry. He tells you that “The word “geometry” literally means to measure the earth. Man, in observing nature, recognized reoccurring forms. He drew those forms and thus laid the foundations of the art of geometry…. From this knowledge grew the sciences and Hermetic arts. That is why the Hermetic philosophers said, “Analyze and synthesize.” That is, take things apart and put them together again in new and useful ways. The march of human progress is dependent upon this action.”
David: That actually summarized quite a bit of material in a few sentences.
Gene: It does. And that’s what the new Ritual does. It summarizes in simple language many of the concepts we’ve talked about… and in some cases expands on it. But to me, because of the layout and staging, it feels like a class or a seminar… what with the slideshow built into it and all.
David: Yeah. What other knowledge is imparted by the angels?
Gene: They talk about the symbolism of the point in the circle, the pentagram, the hexagram, numbers, alchemy, the planets, the “Pythagorean Theorem”, and the tetractys.
David: We’ve talked about all of those, so is it a review of what we’ve already covered in previous degrees?
Gene: Yeah, mostly. Everyone should read it over, of course… but the last angel, Gabriel, describes a slide that contains a Rebus.
David: What’s a Rebis?
Gene: Gabriel says - “It is called the Rebis, which means ‘twice a thing’ because it represents both the male and the female aspects, symbolic of equilibrium or balance. In the right hand is the square, symbolic of the material, and in the left, the compasses, symbolizing the spiritual.”
David: I’ve linked to that illustration in the show notes. The figure in it looks like a person with a single body and two heads.
Gene: Yes. And it’s implied that it’s a hermaphrodite, both male and female, or “two operations” in one creature.
David: What does the Ritual say about the other symbols in that illustration?
Gene: It says - “Around the Rebis is an arc of symbols representing the planets. The sun, over the head of the male, and the moon, over the head of the female… The figure stands upon a dragon that rests upon a winged globe. Note the point within the circle, the equilateral triangle, and the square - figures that are now familiar to you.”
David: Does it explain anything else about the Rebis?
Gene: Not really, at least not what’s included in the “Ritual Monitor and Guide”. It says “An illustration as complicated as the Rebis cannot be fully explained here and we encourage its further contemplation.”
David: OK. So, what else happens in the ritual?
Gene: You’re also given short lectures by “Father Adam” and “Brother Truth” and I’d like to read the final paragraph of the revised ritual, which is part of Brother Truth’s Lecture to the Candidate.
Gene: It says - “The Masonry of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite does not permit any one to put forth on its behalf pretenses to the possession of any mysterious or occult knowledge not within the reach of the world at large. Indeed such pretenses are unauthorized anywhere in Masonry. Masonic labor is to learn - and to teach others… .”
David: Wow! That’s a strange statement.
Gene: It is.
David: So, I’m confused. What have we been doing all this time?
Gene: “Hello - I’m Geraldo Rivera and welcome to Al Capone’s Vault!”
David: Most people probably don’t even remember that.
Gene: I know.
David: But… it’s a good analogy. All this work we’re doing is to discover the treasure that’s hidden in the Scottish Rite degrees, right?
Gene: If there isn’t, then what are we doing? But also, why make a statement like that anyway?
The Original Ritual (10:44)
David: I don’t know. We’ll come back to that question in a bit, but let’s talk now about the Ritual before the revisions.
Gene: Well, right off the bat, this original Ritual is way more elaborate. The Council chamber has wall hangings to represent the outdoors and the ceiling is decorated to represent the night sky with a new moon in the West, and the main stars of Taurus and Orion, and the circumpolar stars represented. In each of the four quarters are equilateral triangles with the sides colored white, black and red. In the West is a red pentagram, with the point upwards, symbol of the Microcosm. In the East is a black and white hexagram, the symbol of the Macrocosm.
David: And that hexagram is composed of a white upward pointing triangle interlaced with a black downward pointing triangle.
Gene: Yes. And above that hexagram is the Latin phrase “Lux e Tenebris”. Also in the East, at the right hand of the presiding officer is a gold pedestal. On the pedestal is a gold Caduceus with two serpents entwined around a cross, with the heads of the serpents resting on the cross beam. And on the top of the cross is a globe.
David: Wow. That’s an interesting set of symbols. I’d call that last one, the caduceus-cross with the globe, the “healing of the world”.
Gene: That’s a good take on it.
David: A quote from the Ritual that I thought was interesting says that the hour for opening the Council is “Midnight among the Profane, but when the Sun is at the zenith in the Council.”
Gene: That is a strange statement…. the Sun in the Council is symbolized by a glass globe suspended in the South, which is the only source of light for the Chamber.
David: South is the location of “High Twelve” or noon. So, the Sun is symbolically at its zenith in the South. So, there’s light in the Council, even though it’s dark outside.
Gene: Like the phrase in the East above the hexagram - “Lux e Tenebris”. “Light in Darkness”... and you could add to that, though “the darkness comprehendeth it not.”
David: That fits perfectly. So, how is the rest of the chamber decorated?
Gene: In the West, on the right of the officer, is a white pedestal on top of which is a white dove with its wings folded. On his left hand is a black pedestal with a black raven with its wings extended as if it is landing. In the South is a painting of the “Temple of Solomon”. At the entrance, between the two pillars is a man holding a white lamb. And at the center of the room is an altar with gold flames on each corner. The altar top is square and made of white marble inlaid with a golden pentagram. There are three unlit candles around the altar and on it, the Book of Constitutions and a censer.
David: That’s a lot of detail.
Gene: That’s part of why I like this version of the Ritual so much.
David: Are the officers the same - “Father Adam”, “Brother Truth” and seven officers associated with the planets?
Gene: Mostly the same. The presiding officer is called “Father Adam” as before, but his costume and really, all the officer costumes are very different from the revised version.
David: How so?
Gene: In the revised version, “Father Adam” wore an apron with fig leaves painted on it and none of the other officers wore aprons. In this one all of the officers wear a white lambskin apron with a red pentagram and edging on it. Also “Father Adam” wears a saffron robe instead of a brown… and he wears a hat.
David: What kind of hat?
Gene: It doesn’t say.
David: I’m going to guess a “Liberty Cap”. What about Brother Truth?
Gene: Brother Truth here wears a red robe instead of the white and black.
David: Are the other officers still the planetary angels?
Gene: Yes, but different ones. Here they are Gabriel, Auriel, Michael, Raphael, Zerachiel, Hamaliel, and Tsaphiel. They all wear flame-colored robes and the Cordon of the Degree, which is a gold seven-pointed star.
David: Are they arranged all in a row in the back like in the revised Ritual?
Gene: No, they are arranged with the four archangels - Gabriel, Michael, Auriel and Raphael in the North-East, South-East, South-West and North-West holding banners of red, black, orange, and green silk with the images of an Eagle, a Lion, a Bull and a Man on them.
David: So the fixed signs of the Zodiac.
Gene: Yes. And the remaining three are - Zerachiel who stands in front of Father Adam, Tsaphiel who stands in front of Brother Truth, and Hamaliel, who is associated with Venus, and stands in the South.
David: So are angels associated with the planets like before?
Gene: They are, but they aren’t the traditional associations. But one other detail, each officer wears a bracelet made of the metal associated with the planet they represent.
David: That’s interesting. I liked the quote at the opening where the Herald says “If there be any one here present, whose heart is not free from envy, guile, or malice, whose conscience does not acquit (them) of… disregard of… Masonic obligations, who has any quarrel with a brother Mason unreconciled, who is disloyal to (their) country, lukewarm in the cause of suffering humanity, or disobedient to the laws of God and Masonry, let (them) forthwith depart from the presence of the Holy Light into outer darkness!”
Gene: That means “get out of the Lodge”!
David: Right. And go outside… where it’s dark… because it’s midnight.
Gene: Yeah. I’m going to have to admit it. The archaic language was a pain in the beginning, but I’ve grown to like it now. There’s poetry and feeling in it. Here’s the first part of the opening prayer by “Father Adam” - “O uncreated Reason, spirit of Light and Wisdom, Whose breath gives and withdraws the form of everything! The universe is Thy utterance and revelation. Thou, before whom the life of beings is a shadow that changes, and a vapor that passes away!”
David: Yeah. That is beautiful. I have another quote I like from the reception that says “Can you look hereafter with pitying sympathy on the diseases of the spirit and the intellect, as you do on those of the body; and not with hatred or anger, or a desire to punish or to persecute?... Are you willing hereafter to write the favors done you on the marble, and the injuries on sands?”
David: Pity and sympathy for “diseases of the spirit and intellect.” That’s a tall order… just to even see things that way.
Gene: It is, but you have to open your own eyes to it. Another quote says “Nature is revelation; and the light of Truth shines everywhere in the world. The want of Faith, and the refusal to reason… make the shadows. Man is blindfolded by himself. All men might be free; but Ignorance and Superstition forge the fetters, and men enchain themselves and create their own bondage.”
David: That quote continues by saying that those “who (are) the slave of (their) passions or (their) weaknesses, or of the prejudices of the world, cannot be really initiated, and will never attain initiation until (they are) born again. If you are thus enslaved, you cannot become an Adept; for that word means one who has attained the mastery, by (your) will and by (your) works.”
Gene: And one more quote from the reception - a warning which says “(Those) in love with (their) own ideas… (and) who fear new truths… should not seek to learn the lessons of this Degree. They will be useless and dangerous to (them). (They) will misunderstand them and be troubled by them; but (they) will be yet more troubled if by chance (they) should comprehend them.”
David: That’s a good quote. So after the opening and reception, what else takes place in the original Ritual?
Lecture of Brother Truth (18:49)
Gene: After the reception are the speeches by the Angels.
David: Are they the same as in the revision?
Gene: No, but they do mostly talk about things we’ve covered in previous degrees. But after those talks are Lectures by Brother Truth, Father Adam and the archangel Gabriel. The first part of Brother Truth’s Lecture is a retelling and explanation of St. John’s vision from Revelation.
David: And I want to read part of that story from Revelation. John says “I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last… And I turned to see the voice that spake with me… and I saw seven golden candlesticks; And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt with a golden girdle… And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in its strength.”
Gene: The Sun is in its strength at noon or “high twelve”, which as we’ve said, is where the Sun is symbolically in the Council chamber.
David: Right. And there are also seven officers in this Ritual, who are the angels of the candlesticks. And there are four archangels around the chamber holding banners with the faces of an Eagle, a Lion, an Ox and a Man. Those are the “Living Creatures” from the vision.
Gene: So… in the chamber… we are standing in St. John’s vision… and receiving instruction from the “Alpha and Omega”?
David: I think that’s the idea. And you’re being instructed on the Kabbalistic hierarchy of emanations. Brother Truth describes the relationship between the Tetragrammaton, the Ain Soph, the Macroprosopos, which means “large face”, “Adam Kadmon”, and the Microprosopos or “small face”. All of those are Kabbalistic terms for emanations.
Gene: What is the relationship between all of those?
David: The Ain Soph is the One, the Infinite, Universal and “nameless god”, above all emanations. The Macroprosopus or “large face” is what we’ve been calling the Macrocosm. It’s the manifested universe which is both male and female.
Gene: A Rebis?
David: That is an image of the Macrocosm. It is self-creative and self-sustaining. Another symbol for it is the ouroboros… the snake swallowing its own tail.
Gene: And with the Hexagram as symbol of the Macrocosm, the Ritual describes how we’ve gone astray in our thinking. It says - “The folly was enacted (by) severing GOD in twain; the Star of Solomon was separated into two triangles… (and) this evil God, born in the imagination… became the inspirer of all follies and crimes.”
David: And Adam Kadmon also represents the Macrocosm, in its wholeness. He’s the first Adam, the one that Eve was taken out of, and a more perfect “image of God”. But here’s an interesting related quote - “Woman is the creation of man; and the universal Creation is the female of the first principle.”
Gene: That’s a brain twister.
David: It is… and it means the opposite of what it sounds like.
Gene: What do you think it means?
David: The first part says “Woman is the creation of man.” That means that Eve’s separation from Adam was the birth of mankind or humanity… of male and female.
Gene: Ahh. OK.
David: The second part says “universal creation is the female of the first principle”. The “first principle”, as we’ve said, is both male and female. So, it’s saying that the female part of that is the capacity to create.
Gene: Yeah. That makes sense to me.
David: So that’s the Macrocosm symbolized by the hexagram, which is hanging in the East in the Council chamber. The Ritual says - “In the West… you behold the holy and mysterious Pentagram, the sign of the Microcosm… called in the gnostic schools “The Blazing Star,”... It represents what is called in the Kabbalah Microprosopos, being in some sort a human figure, with the four limbs and a point representing the head.” So, the Microcosm is symbolized by the Pentagram.
Gene:The Ritual also says that “the complete understanding of (the Pentagram) is the key of the two worlds. It is the Absolute Philosophy and Natural Science. All the mysteries of Magic, all the symbols of the Gnosis, all the figures of the Occult Philosophy, all the Kabbalistic keys of prophecy are summed up in the sign of the Pentagram, the greatest and most potent of all signs.”
David: And, as we’ve pointed out many times, “occult” just means hidden or occluded… but it was probably ideas like that one being misunderstood that led to that statement at the end of the revised Degree condemning “occult” or “hidden knowledge”.
Gene: Or ones like this - “To disclose the Absolute Truth never profits the common people. Fables and leading-strings always have been and always will be necessary for children…
Gene: … but those who hold the strings must not themselves be children and listeners to fables.” You know… I’m laughing because I know people will hear that as “Masons rule the world”.
David: They might hear that, but it didn’t say that at all. It just said that people who rule shouldn’t delude themselves.
Gene: I know, but people focus on statements like that.
Lecture of Father Adam (24:12)
David: They do. But anyway, Brother Truth, in his Lecture, defines a philosophy, or you might say, a Science of dual forces, that permeates everything that is, was or will be. The next speech is by Father Adam, who describes the practical application of that philosophy. His Lecture starts off by saying that “The power of the Magus is composed of two things, a Science and a Force. Without the Force, the Science is nothing, or rather it is a danger.”
Gene: “Use the Force Luke!”
Gene: I know, not that force, but there’s another “bugaboo”.
David: What’s that?
Gene: Ooooh!... Magic!
Gene: What do you really think he’s talking about there?
David: As I said, the “Science” he’s talking about is the philosophy of duality, the “Force” is how that duality manifests and what he’s calling magic is the practical application of those two things.
Gene: That’s a really good definition… but it’s also a serious source of confusion. The Ritual says - “The symbols of the Sages become the idols of the vulgar... Mankind must ever, in this world, be divided into two classes; the few, the Seers, the Kings of Thought and Science, who lead, and the many, the blind multitude who follow. The people cannot be enlightened beyond a certain point. It’s the immutable law of God.”
David: Well, that is in direct opposite to the statement at the end of the revised ritual. And here’s another one that says - “Force is not given. It must be seized…. Men, in whom zeal overpowered knowledge, have believed in the primitive and absolute equality of men. The essential law of nature, that of initiation by labors, and of dangerous, toilsome, and voluntary progress has been fatally disowned…. To preach equality to that which is below without teaching it how to rise is to pledge yourself to descend.”
Gene: And right there is the real difference between the revised Ritual and this one. The revised Ritual is for everyone. I mean, it literally says that. It basically disowns this part of the original degree that says otherwise.
David: That’s true. Anyway, it goes on to describe the difference between Initiates and others. It says that true Initiates possess the “Light of Truth” and use it to keep their imagination in check and thereby gain mastery over their reason. This enables them “to reach and pass at a bound… the goals which others slowly struggle to attain and never reach… This (wisdom), so wonderful to the many, has been the secret of the power of those who have been (called) Magicians.”
Gene: What is that power that it’s talking about?
David: To not only see the dual forces in play in any situation, but to be able to see the cause and effect chain created by the actions… which really means understanding human nature at a very deep level and what reactions to expect from a given action.
Gene: Which would appear to be seeing into the future, or prophecy.
David: Yeah… but not only in appearance. I mean, if you predict what’s going to happen and it happens, what’s the difference how you arrived at it? But it says that you can only wield this power when you have silenced your own “lusts and fears” and listen to Reason alone “and this is a chief object of Magism and the Hermetic philosophy, as it is also the secret of power.”
Gene: You know, I think we could talk for weeks on any part of the original Ritual.
David: We could, and we’re going to have to skip parts because it’s so long. But I do encourage everyone listening to read and study the material for yourself. It really is true that in this and the next two podcasts on the “Knight of the Sun” degree, we’re just hitting the highlights.
Gene: We really are. I’ve got one more quote from Father Adam’s Lecture before we move on.
Gene: It’s talking about the dual force. It says - “This mighty agent, like the other powers of Nature, may be used for good as well as for evil, by the Magus as well as by the Sorcerer. The Ancient Hierophants knew its value, and it has always been the bond of union of all secret societies and occult associations. The Magus is the Sovereign Pontiff of Nature, possessed of the traditional knowledge of her secrets and using a force which he knows to attain power over other men.”
David: That sounds mysterious and creepy, but watch “Mad Men” and you’ll see magicians using knowledge of human nature to get people to buy things. That’s one application of the knowledge that we’re talking about here.
Gene: Yeah… yeah. You know, I have plenty of books on my shelf that you might call “occult”, because they talk about things that aren’t usually common knowledge, but I’d say that one of the most “Black Magic” books that I own is Anthony Robbins book “Unlimited Power”.
David: Well, it is because it’s about how to persuade others… or, put another way, how to dominate other people’s will with your own… to get them to do what you want them to do.
Gene: Exactly. And “How to Win Friends and Influence People” is another “occult classic”.
David: It is. I’ve got one quote from Father Adam’s Lecture. He says our society is “shattered and decayed” and that to repair it requires an association, or a “magical chain” that can propagate the use and influence of the “great magical agent” for the healing of the world. “This”, it says, “is the great purpose of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite. Woe unto it, if it be found unequal to its mission!”
Lecture of Malak Gabriel (29:53)
Gene: Here, here! And that brings us to the last Lecture in the Ritual, Archangel Gabriel’s. And it starts off with a quote from the Kabbalistic text the Zohar, which says - “The understanding of the Occult is the knowledge of Equilibrium. Forces that are produced without being balanced perish in the void”.
David: And Gabriel likens that Equilibrium to an arch or a keystone that unites the two columns of the Temple of Solomon. It’s the beam of the balance that we control with our will.
Gene: And as an Initiate we’re instructed that the proper application of will is to act as a check against our animal nature. Gabriel points out that animals steal and kill and rape, but we don’t consider that behavior “evil”. But those behaviors in people, we do call evil, because we consider people to be more than mere animals… they’re supposed to have some level of rationality… which, of course, varies among people.
David: Right. Which is the main reason the Ritual says that all people are not equal. Gabriel says there is an infinite difference between those who are masters of their appetites and passions and those who are not, and he equates that to how much “light” or reason, they possess.
Gene: Right. And I’ve got one more quote from Gabriel’s Lecture.
Gene: It says - “Prepare yourself to understand what is written by believing that those who wrote it were men of thought and that there is a profound meaning in the utterances, if you can… possess yourself of the keys to it. It is not the babble of fools or the incoherences of the insane. The Kabbalah is from beginning to end a succession of symbols, the meaning of which was not meant to be easily penetrated, and the writings of the Alchemists are still more enigmatical…. You also may wholly fail to penetrate their meaning, for none but the true Adepts can enter into the Sanctuary.”
David: And I have one more, too which says - “For further instruction in respect to the Kabbalah and the Hermetic and Alchemical philosophy, we refer you to the printed Morals and Dogma, which you may study at your leisure. It will depend upon yourself whether what is there written shall be to you light or obscurity (because) Truths, like the Temples of Truth, are dark on one side and project their shadows.”
A Tale of Two Rituals (32:13)
Gene: And that’s a good lead-in to talking about the two versions of the Ritual. The revised one is shorter, definitely more modern and accessible, easier to stage, etc., etc… but it’s in a sense a castrated version.
Gene: But… but, really… I mean that the way it sounds.
David: OK. So, what exactly do you mean?
Gene: The powerful part appears to have been cut off and quite forcefully disowned… and to be clear, I’m talking about what is left out of the Ritual and also, that statement at the end distancing Masonry from magic and occult, or hidden knowledge “not accessible to the masses.”
David: Yeah, that really bothered me, too. And while we’re on the subject, I also wanted to read a quote from “A Bridge to Light” that describes the Lecture by Father Adam, it says “Father Adam, the representative of the earthly dominion of man, argues that the only knowledge worth learning is that which relates to the phenomena of nature because nature is God’s revelation known to man by his senses.”
David: Yeah… but this is the best part, “A Bridge to Light” says that in Father Adam’s Lecture, he asserts that the Kabbalah is nonsense “because it discusses unknown causes of effects not recognized by the senses”.
Gene: Where was that? Pike did talk about how we can’t know the true cause of many of the effects we see, but where did he say the “Kabbalah was nonsense”?
David: I couldn’t find anything like that in the “Ritual - Monitor and Guide” or in Pike’s “Magnum Opus” even… and my understanding of what was said was just the opposite of that. But, as we’ve been told all along, symbols can be easily misinterpreted. And I think this Degree Ritual, and its legacy is maybe a good example of that.
The Golden Dawn (34:13)
Gene: What do you think is its legacy?
David: Well, Pike’s main reference for the Kabbalistic ideas he presents in the Ritual and the Lecture are from Christian Knorr Von Rosenroth’s “Kabbala Denudata”, which is a Latin translation of several Kabbalistic texts from Hebrew. But, “Kabbala Denudata” means “Kabbalah Unveiled”.
Gene: Is that the book S.L. MacGregor Mathers translated into English?
David: He only translated a small part of it… but that is part of the legacy of this Degree. Mathers and two other Masons, William Wynn Westcott and William Robert Woodman formed a separate organization, called “The Golden Dawn” based on the Kabbalistic writings that Mathers translated.
Gene: So… you’re thinking that Mathers and the other Masons could have learned of, or at least formed their ideas about the Kabbalah from this Degree Ritual and Lecture?
David: I think that’s a good possibility, but at the very least, it’s the same ideas from the same source, “Kabbalah Denudata”... and a key idea that we’re seeing from that book, here for the first time in this Degree, is the practical application of Kabbalah.
Gene: That’s true. And The Golden Dawn was formed with that practical application in mind. You know, that’s just a very interesting conjecture… that those guys may have been exposed to the Kabbalah through their involvement with the Scottish Rite… or I guess over there it would have been just the Rite of Freemasonry.
David: That sounds right. It was London at the end of the 1800’s… but as far as legacy goes, the Golden Dawn inspired many other esoteric groups and movements with a wide spectrum of beliefs and practices.
Gene: Yeah. The Fraternity of the Inner Light, the Argenteum Astrum or A.A., the Ordo Templi Orientis or O.T.O.,, and other esoteric orders. You could even argue that modern Wicca emerged from tattered strands of The Golden Dawn. But to be clear, The Golden Dawn and the things that came after it, aren’t part of the Scottish Rite.
David: No… but the point is that they are all, knowingly or not, rooted in the Kabbalah. And that “magical chain” possibly even traveled through this Degree Ritual.
Gene: And that seems like a good point to end our discussion of the Rituals of the Degree. What else did you want to discuss before we wrap up?
David: Two things. One is the importance of this Degree. The text of “Morals and Dogma”, just the unannotated text, is 513 pages. The Lecture of this Degree, unannotated, is 139 pages, which is over one-fourth of the book. Since Pike dedicated so much space to it, I think it’s safe to say that he felt that the knowledge contained in it was important.
Gene: That seems like a safe bet.
David: So, why put so much in one Degree? I think that Pike knew that this information could easily be misunderstood unless you were sufficiently prepared by the previous degrees.
Gene: Like it said early on - “Knowledge is attained by degrees.”
David: Right. The other thing I had was just the importance of the Rebis symbol. I mean it’s in Alchemy and Hermeticism and it’s right there in the symbol of the Scottish Rite, the double-headed eagle. It’s, and I’ll be punny here, a “pregnant symbol”.
Gene: Indeed it is.
David: What about you? What do you want to say before we end?
Gene: Ahh… I don’t know. We’ve said a lot. Maybe too much. I do have one more thing… but it’s weird.
David: OK. What have you got?
Gene: I’m seeing a relationship between the Osiris myth and the rituals of this Degree.
David: What’s the connection?
Gene: Well, in the myth, Osiris is castrated by Set, and his “organs of generation” are discarded in the Nile. But the part that was removed is actually the key to the resurgence of the Nile in the Spring. The vitality of Osiris is in the creative part.
David: So, you’re relating that to the “occult” or “magical” parts that were excised from this ritual?
Gene: Exactly. And also, how that part has actually spawned children… and grand-children… a whole family of esoteric groups… with varying degrees of light… as always.
David: Family. Right? Anyway, Gene, what are we doing next time?
Gene: In the next episode, we begin discussing the Lecture of the 28th Degree - Knight of the Sun.