In this episode, we complete our discussion of the Lecture of the 29th Degree - “Knight of the St. Andrew” 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.
Gene: How are you doing today brother?
David: Doing good. How about you?
Gene: Just looking forward to another “eye-opening” experience!
David: OK. But as always, before we get started, 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. The last degree, “Knight of the Sun” was the capstone “Philosophical Degree” of the “Council of Kadosh” and this Degree and the next are the final two “Chivalric Degrees”. Gene, what does the Degree Ritual look like this time?
Degree Ritual (01:51)
Gene: Well, as with the other Degrees in the “Council of Kadosh”, Lodges putting on the Degree are called Chapters, and the Chapter has two apartments this time. The first is decorated in red and white, which are the colors of the Knights Templar. And the main symbol of the Degree is the “Saint Andrew’s Cross”, which is an equal-armed x-shaped cross.
David: It’s also called a “Saltire Cross”.
Gene: Right. Saltire is a Heraldry term that means diagonal. There’s a “Saint Andrews Cross” over the Master in the East, on the “Banner of the Order” and on the “Jewel of the Degree”. There’re also one on the altar formed by two crossed swords on the Holy Book, and one formed by four candles placed in an x-pattern around the altar.
David: Another symbol that appears on the Banner and on the “Jewel of the Degree” is the thistle.
Gene: Yes. On the “Banner of the Order”, the thistle appears above the Cross and inside an upside-down Pentagram of stars. On the “Jewel of the Degree” the thistle is below the cross and there’s a Knight helmet above it. The thistle is the national emblem of Scotland, which is the Legendary setting of this Degree.
David: And another name for this Degree is “Scottish Knight of Saint Andrew”.
Gene: And in the Ritual, all of the officers… which I think total 15… are dressed as Knights. They have swords and are wearing crimson robes with an embroidered Saint Andrew’s cross on the left breast and green collars edged in crimson over the neck. They’re also wearing white silk scarves fringed in gold, a scarlet sash around their waist, gilt spurs and a hat with a yellow plume.
David: Those sound like cool costumes!
Gene: Yeah they really do!
David: So what happens in the Ritual?
Gene: Before I get into that, I need to say one more thing about the “Saint Andrew’s Cross”.
Gene: Everywhere it appears in the Ritual, it has the four letters of the Tetragrammaton (YHVH) engraved on the ends of its beams. So anyway, as the four candles around the Altar are lit… which like I said before… they form a “Saint Andrew’s Cross”... as each one is lit, the associated letter of the Divine Name is spoken aloud and along with a duty expected of a Knight of Saint Andrew.
David: What are those four duties?
Gene: To reverence the Deity, to serve Truth, to protect the innocent, and here’s a quote on the last one - “to battle manfully for truth and right, free speech and free thought, defending the people against tyranny.”
David: The Greek name “Andrew” means “manly”, so when it says to “manfully fight” it’s a reference to the Patron Saint of the Degree.
Gene: And it also fits the Chivalric character of this Degree, too.
David: True. So what else happens in the Ritual?
Gene: Well, most of it isn’t described in either the “Ritual - Monitor and Guide” or “A Bridge to Light”, but I’m guessing that the other nine candles are lit. And since we’re told that there are nine qualities that a Knight of Saint Andrews should possess, I’d assume that those are discussed as the candles are lit.
David: That makes sense. So there are three candles in front of each of the three principal officers.
Gene: Right. And, not coincidentally, the nine qualities break up nicely into three groups of three. The first three are about you - Humility, Patience and Self-denial. The next three are about your relations to others - Charity, Clemency and Generosity. And the last three are how you are to carry out your actions in the world - Virtue, Truth, and Honor.
David: So in Masonic terms, those describe your relationship to God, to others and to yourself.
David: So, what happens next?
Gene: After that, you’re led to a second apartment which is dimly lit and unfurnished, that represents the ruins of a castle and an encampment of Knights.
David: What is this encampment supposed to be?
Gene: I think it’s supposed to be Robert the Bruce’s encampment at Bannockburn near Stirling Castle because you’re told in the Legend of the Degree that he established the Order in 1314 and that was what was happening then. His victory at Bannockburn was a pivotal victory in the Scottish fight for independence.
David: And the Legend says that the Order was created from the remnants of the Knights Templar whose Grandmaster, Jacques de Molay was burned alive just a few months before that.
Gene: The “Ritual - Monitor and Guide” says that - “There is a legend in Scotland (that some Templars) found protection, and joined the army with which King Robert Bruce met the invasion of his country by Edward II of England…. In consequence of the assistance reputedly rendered him on that memorable day by the Templars, Bruce created, and received them into, the Order of Saint Andrew du Chardon, meaning “of the Thistle,” of Scotland.”
David: So, the Templars helping King Robert is just a legend?
Gene: Yes. But the story is woven back into what becomes the Scottish Rite. It says that this degree was among seven Rites selected from those practiced in “Scotland, France, Germany, and elsewhere”. So these seven high-level degrees, along with the twenty-five of Perfection, make up the thirty-two degrees, with the 33rd as the last to rule over the system.
David: OK. So the setting is an encampment of Knights in Scotland where, according to Legend, the “Order of the Knights of Saint Andrew” was born. What takes place there in the Ritual?
Gene: Well, right off the bat, you’re told that you must go through a one-year probationary period to work on yourself. During that year, you’re told to focus on the first three of those nine qualities we talked about - humility, patience and self-denial.
David: What happens then?
Gene: You’re told that you’re going to have to defend the “Banner of the Order” and to “fight, if necessary, in defense of the banner”. But, you’re also told that although you will have a sword and a shield, your only armor is a white linen robe.
David: So… Mage armor. Just cloth.
Gene: Exactly. It says your Virtue “is an armor stronger than the strongest metal and… is an armor that we cannot lose, unless we be false to ourselves”. And through the conflicts involved in defending the Banner, we develop three more of the Knightly qualities - Virtue, Truth and Honor.
David: So the Ceremony has discussed six of the qualities of a Knight.
Gene: Yeah six of nine. The last three are Charity, Clemency and Generosity. Which I think are supposed to be the natural result of, you know, your attainment of the other six.
David: Hopefully. So what is the purpose of the Degree?
Purpose of the Degree (08:35)
Gene: The Ritual says that “In every degree in Freemasonry, the Candidate seeks to attain Light. In the Philosophical Degrees you journeyed continually toward the east, in search of intellectual Light. In the Chivalric Degrees you seek to be illuminated by the knightly and heroic virtues, which are the light of the soul… . this, the last of the instructive degrees of the Historical and Philosophical Series… is a fitting climax to the theory of Universal Religion.”
David: So, are you ready to discuss the Degree Lecture?
Gene: I am.
Morals and Dogma (09:09)
David: Alright. Where would you like to start?
Gene: I think a good place to start is just to define what an Order of Knights is. I mean, we’ve been Knighted in previous Degrees, what’s the difference here in this Degree than in the others?
David: What do you think the difference is?
Gene: It’s the purpose of the Order you’re Knighted into. Each Order is dedicated to a particular ideal or purpose. And the “Banner of the Order”, or the flag, is supposed to symbolize that ideal. We’re told in the Ritual that the ideals of this Order are to reverence Deity, to serve Truth, to protect the innocent, and fight, if necessary, for those beliefs.
Knightly Virtues (09:48)
David: And the Ritual named nine qualities needed by a Knight of the Order to perform those duties. They were Humility, Patience and Self-denial, Charity, Clemency and Generosity, and Virtue, Truth, and Honor. Most of the Lecture is actually an exposition of those qualities.
Gene: And, I think at this point in the Scottish Rite system, we know what those qualities mean. It’s just a question of how, or if, we can bring those out in ourselves. One quote I liked says “There are two natures in man, the higher and the lower… (and we) can and must, by (our) own voluntary act, identify (ourselves) with the one or … the other. Freemasonry is a continual effort to exalt the nobler nature over the ignoble, the spiritual over the material, the divine… over the human.”
David: A first step in that is to try to get into a position to be able to see the “high road” and the “low road”, so to speak. The Lecture says “ What does the symbolism of the Compass and Square profit him, if his sensual appetites and baser passions are not governed by, but domineer over his moral sense and reason, the animal over the divine, the earthly over the spiritual, both points of the compass remaining below the Square?”
Gene: That’s the purification process again. And in this Degree, it was the probation period of a year… which just submitting to that means you’ve got some humility, patience and self-restraint. Right after that, you’re told you may have to fight for the Order, or really, if you’ve committed to those beliefs, it means you’re willing to fight for what you believe in.
David: Yeah, just by putting a boundary around what you believe… I mean by defining what it is and what it is not… that implies conflict.
Gene: And as we’ve talked about, it’s through conflict that you learn all the other virtues - Virtue, Truth, and Honor and hopefully also Charity, Clemency and Generosity by understanding the problems and conflicts of others by having experienced some yourself.
Science and Technology (11:50)
David: One of the conflicts that Pike discusses that he thinks makes it difficult to hold any religious or spiritual beliefs is the increasingly skeptical worldview that science has ushered in. He says, “It is not one religion only, but the basis of all religions, the Truth that is in all religions, even the religious creed of Masonry, that is in danger… The structure itself will be overthrown when… Human reason leaps into the throne of God and waves her torch over the ruins of the Universe.”
Gene: Another quote says “Science, wandering in error, struggles to remove God's Providence to a distance from us… and to substitute for its supervision and care… what it calls Forces - Forces of Nature - Forces of Matter.”
David: But to be clear, I don’t think Pike is anti-science or anti-technology.
Gene: No, not at all. He’s just calling attention to the fact that just because you know the name of something doesn’t mean you understand it. Another quote says that “Science deals only with phenomena, and is but charlatanism when it babbles about the powers or causes that produce these, of which it gives us merely the names.”
David: Some of the big questions Pike asks about the technology that science has brought us is - Does it live up to its promises? Does it make life better or does it cause almost, or sometimes more problems than it solves? And ultimately have we enlarged or shrunk our world in the process? Have we given up more than we’ve gained?
Gene: And as you know, that’s just an ongoing question. Technology, by its very nature, empowers some aspect of us… of human beings.
David: In Pike’s time, that was steam power, which was used to augment physical power… as with the “Steam Engine”
Gene: And now it’s the “Search Engine” as opposed to the “Steam Engine” And what’s augmented is not physical power but our intellectual possibilities. But there’s always a dark side to every technology.
David: It’s like we said about the dark and the light being two sides of one coin. On one side is how a given technology can be used for good and on the other, which will be exactly equal, is how it can be used for bad. I love the quote from MIT Professor Sherry Turkle, “Technology isn’t good or bad, it’s powerful… and complicated.”
Gene: And that explains why Pike’s words still ring true. It isn’t the technology… it’s us. What people are. That’s the common link and that’s why there will always be that precarious balance in the world… especially as we develop more and more advanced technologies.
David: That’s true. But one more thing that was discussed in the Lecture was that no matter how advanced our technologies, we should keep in mind that we aren’t the master of the forces that we act like we understand.
Gene: Yeah. We think we’ve mastered Fire for light and heat, but it can still burn your house down.
David: And the Lecture shows how that idea applies to all of the elements of nature - fire, water - as in floods and hurricanes, air - like with tornadoes and then earthquakes or landslides.
Gene: And that’s just the elemental forces. There’s also all the heavenly forces. We’ve been hit by meteorites in the past, which have caused global devastation. And Pike also talks about “The Black Death”, Cholera and Yellow Fever epidemics. All of that is basically, in my opinion, supposed to just give you pause. So that you see the truth that there are things that are just basically “beyond our pay grade” and be OK with that.
David: I guess the “Serenity Prayer” applies here. You have to try to understand what you can do and what can change and apply the tools you have to those ends. I had just one more thing to say about the Lecture’s discussion of technology.
David: At its core, the message isn’t that we should fear technology, it was just that it’s something that we have to constantly evaluate, whatever time we’re in. And also that, like in mythology, hubris and pride come before a fall.
Gene: Yeah it’s dangerous to get too smug about what we think we know.
Saint Andrew’s Cross (15:57)
David: I think that’s a good summary of that section. So, let’s talk about the main symbol of the Degree - the “Saint Andrew’s Cross”.
Gene: OK. As we’ve said, it’s an equal-armed, X-shaped cross. It’s called a “Saint Andrew’s Cross” because it’s the style of cross that Saint Andrew was allegedly crucified on… and I say allegedly because I don’t think there’s any historical evidence to support that.
David: Right, but the Legend says that the reason that Andrew was bound to a diagonal cross was that “he deemed himself unworthy to be crucified on the same type of cross as Jesus had been.”
Gene: And that story exemplifies what the cross symbolizes in this Degree - humility, self-denial, virtue… the qualities expected of a Knight of the Order.
David: “A Bridge to Light” also noted that Andrew, along with his brother Peter were the two fishermen recruited as the first disciples.
Gene: And it said that the “Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible” describes Andrew as “continually open to new light.” And also that Saint Andrew’s relationship to Scotland goes back to at least the 11th Century, or maybe even earlier.
David: That’s right. Another Legend from the Lecture tells that Hungus II, King of the Picts in Scotland prayed to Saint Andrew for victory in a battle. On the morning of the battle, an x-shaped cross formed by clouds appeared in the sky and Hungus was victorious. So he appointed Andrew as Patron Saint of Scotland.
Gene: And the flag or Banner of Scotland is a white x-shaped cross, like the clouds in the Legend, against a sky blue background.
Banner of the Order (17:31)
David: And the “Saint Andrew’s Cross” appears on the “Banner of the Order”. There, it’s green and has the four letters of the “Divine Name” on the four ends. Above the cross is an upside-down Pentagram of gold stars, at the center of which is a thistle.
Gene: And as I said before, the Thistle is an emblem of Scotland. It’s inside an upside-down Pentagram, which means bringing something down to earth. So as a composite symbol it could mean victory after or through adversity… or something like that.
David: That works. But before we dig too far into the symbolism, let’s talk for just a few minutes about what a Banner is.
Gene: OK. A Banner is a piece of cloth, maybe attached to a pole or a standard, that contains a symbolic representation of a group's cause or ideal.
David: For the Masons it’s the Compass on top of a Square with a G in the center. And for the Scottish Rite, it’s the double-headed eagle.
Gene: Right, and if you put those on a flag, then they would be their Banners. Also, a Banner, to me, implies something worth fighting for. Like the Scottish flag, or the U.S. flag. They symbolize an ideal that unites a country.
David: That’s a very good point. A Banner is something that’s meant to get people to rally around an idea, or cause or concept.
Gene: And the beginning of that, as in the story of Saint Andrew, is that you have to be committed, or bound to the idea yourself. And that was another element of the story. Andrew wasn’t crucified to the cross, he was bound to it.
Western Yoga (19:03)
David: Yes, that struck me, too. It made me think about binding yourself to an ideal, or “yoking” yourself to it, which is what the word “yoga” means. Yoking or binding yourself to a discipline.
Gene: Like Jesus said - “Pick up your cross and follow me”. Any time you bind yourself to something, it involves giving up part of yourself. I mean, if it that was what you were going to do anyway, that’s not much of a commitment.
David: Right. Commitment to a cause implies some sacrifice and self-denial. Which is what the story of Saint Andrew symbolizes but which according to the story in Matthew, his brother Peter didn’t understand. That’s where Jesus tells Peter - “Get thee behind me Satan!”
Gene: That story seems to be saying that Peter didn’t buy into the whole humility, self-denial and virtue thing.
David: But he was declared the first Pope.
Gene: And the rest is history! Ba dum bump! Ooh!
David: Ooh! Yeah. Well, it kind of is really. This Degree begins with the persecution and execution of the Templars by Pope Clement V.
Gene: That’s true.
Crossing the Streams (20:05)
David: But anyway, we’ve talked about how the cross represents humility and sacrifice and we’ve discussed some of its historical and/or Legendary significance. Let’s talk now about its deeper and more esoteric meanings.
Gene: OK. Well, like all crosses, it has two lines or beams crossing.
David: Right. All crosses symbolize mixing or crossing one thing with another. It’s a restatement of one line as Thesis, the second as Antithesis and the center where they cross as their Synthesis. In that way, it represents how all dualities become trinities.
Gene: That’s like how we think of the “Calvary Cross” as representing the crossroads or the intersection of Heaven and Earth. And in general, all crosses are symbols of two things coming together, in conjunction or conflict, or both. It’s “crossing the streams”, if you will, which can be dangerous.
David: It can. But to relate that back to our discussion in the last Degree, the two lines could represent the upward and downward currents. And the point where they meet is again our “Alchemical Retort”, our imagination.
Gene: That’s interesting because the “Saint Andrew’s Cross” is also an “x”. As a symbol, X can mean “X marks the spot”... like on a treasure map. Which would place the treasure in the same spot we talked about last time.
David: That’s very true. Before we move on, I just want to mention some of the other ways the Lecture examined the “Saint Andrew’s Cross”. Pike noted that the “X”, besides being the symbol for the first letter Chi in the Greek word “Christos”, which means Christ, is also the Roman numeral for ten, which symbolizes completion.
Gene: He also pointed out that an X is drawn with two V’s and V is the Roman number five and five plus five is ten. But one other thing that just struck me is that five, as in the Pentagram, is the number of the Microcosm and there in the X you have an upper V with the lower one reflected. Man made in the image of God.
David: That’s a good catch.
Gene: Another important part of the Saint Andrew’s Cross as used in this Degree is that the four beams have the four-letters of the Divine Name on them.
David: What does that mean to you?
Gene: That you can also see it as four shorter lines or beams joining at a central fifth point. And each beam has one of the letters of the Tetragrammaton on it. The Lecture relates the letters to the four worlds of the Kabbalah and they’re also symbolic of the four elements.
David: And in the last episode we talked about how the Pentagram can be formed with either a point above or below the four elements.
Gene: Right, but on the Saint Andrew’s Cross you have a point not above or below, but in the center, inside the four elements which form a square. Which makes me think of Spirit inside or indwelling in matter as opposed to over or under the elements.
David: We’ve talked in previous episodes about what the elements represent. Do you want to recap that?
Gene: Sure. In the Macrocosm, the outer world, it’s the forces of nature - fire, water, air and earth… which we discussed earlier. In the Microcosm, in us - fire is symbolic of our will, water symbolizes our emotions or desires, air is our mind or intellect and earth symbolizes our body and the physical world.
David: So the crossing point is where all of those intermingle - will, desire, mind and a physical form.
Gene: Which describes you and me… and everyone else.
The Sphinx (23:39)
David: Yeah. And we talked about those four parts of us as our “magical tools” in the 24th Degree in relation to the Sphinx. The Sphinx has the face of a man - Aquarius, which stands for Mind, the body of a lion - Leo, which is Will, the wings of an Eagle - Scorpio, which is Emotions and the feet of an ox - which is Taurus, the Body. So it’s a composite creature that is itself a riddle.
Gene: And that’s why the answer to the riddle of the Sphinx of Naxos was “Man”. Because that composite creature is us.
David: It is. And for anyone who doesn’t know or remember the riddle, it was - "Which creature has one voice and yet becomes four-footed and two-footed and three-footed?" And Oedipus answered “Man” because we crawl on all fours as a baby, walk on two legs as an adult and with a cane in old age.
Gene: Yeah, that’s the riddle of “Know Thyself”. And in the last episode we saw that Baphomet was also a Sphinx with a flame between its horns for fire, scales for water, wings for air and hooves for earth. Another representation of our composite nature.
David: Right. So, to bring all this back around, if you think about it, the Saint Andrew’s Cross is also a Sphinx. Each of the beams is associated with an element, just like the other Sphinxes, you can see it, too as a composite creature, just more abstractly represented.
Gene: That’s cool! It’s just a more abstract version of the Sphinx, just with letters to stand for the animal parts. Which is confusing to people anyway! A composite creature like Baphomet or a Griffin or a Centaur… those just look bizarre!
David: But if you’re trying to use those different parts to symbolize things, it actually helps that it looks outrageous. It helps you remember it.
Gene: Yeah, but looking from the outside it looks demonic. Which is why old magical grimoires look so bizarre and scary.
David: They do, but those images, like Sphinxes, are liminal guardians. They have historically always guarded the thresholds of templesm and of the Mysteries. Like we discussed in the last episode, they’re supposed to be symbolic shorthand for the initiated, but to frighten away others, who, not knowing the key, take it as a representation of an actual creature.
Gene: That’s mistaking the symbol for what it represents. But it’s interesting to think that the symbol on the Banner and Jewel is a more abstract version of the Sphinx. And because it isn’t as bizarre looking, it sort of makes it easier to see it dispassionately. I mean, as opposed to the main symbol of the last Degree - Baphomet.
The Lemniscate (26:13)
David: That’s very true.
Gene: Another thing I thought about was that if you trace out the Divine Name on the cross on the Banner and Jewel, the order is bottom-right beam, then bottom-left then through the center to the upper-right, and then across to the upper-left, and then back to where you started. Which traces out an hourglass figure… which made me think of time.
David: That’s interesting because the answer to the Sphinx was really about the nature of man in different phases of life, or our journey through time. I also thought about the pattern made by tracing the letters on the cross.
Gene: What did it make you think?
David: Well if you just curve the lines on your hourglass figure, you get an infinity symbol.
Gene: Ahh. A Lemniscate.
David: Yes. Which is a symbol that appears on the Magician tarot card.
Gene: What do you think it symbolizes there… and here?
David: The circulation that we’ve talked about.
Gene: OK. The dual current or the “Astral Light”, as it’s sometimes called.
The Juggler (27:12)
David: Right. And as you pointed out, the center point where the currents meet is really the “x marks the spot place” in the figure.
Gene: I see what you’re saying. If you see the infinity symbol as a circulation, the upward and downward currents pass through the central point. It’s like the traffic controller. The place where you separate the subtle from the gross… or your “Alchemical Athanor”. So the Saint Andrew’s Cross with the Divine Name on it is a restatement, or really, a different way of looking at the dual current?
David: Yeah, I think so. And that center point is, like you said, the “traffic controller”. Which makes me think of a Juggler… which is another symbol that appears on many Magician tarot cards. And he’s usually depicted juggling in an infinity symbol pattern.
Gene: So the Magician as Juggler is a depiction of the separation of the subtle and the gross. It’s the consciousness that keeps things circulating in our mind. Our mind is always moving, so there’s something in us that’s always doing that. It’s our stream of consciousness.
David: Right. But we aren’t normally aware of the process that’s going on… the circulation.
Gene: That’s really true. You are aware of the results, the thoughts you have, but the process kind of takes place behind a curtain. It’s like the outside world’s forces, you see the results, but not really the whole mechanism that causes it.
David: But, becoming aware of that, because it’s so basic to who we are, is a key part of the answer to the riddle of who we really are.
Gene: I’d have to agree with that. So, it seems like that’s where the symbols of this Degree lead… to the place marked by the X of the cross. That part of ourselves that we need to learn to see.
Lucifer’s Crown (28:57)
David: And at that place on the “Jewel of the Degree”, is an Emerald… which I think is actually the culminating symbol of the Degree.
Gene: The Emerald? What do you think it symbolizes?
David: I came across a Legend about the “War in Heaven”. I’m not sure where it originates, but it was definitely in circulation in Pike’s time. But anyway, in this version, Michael defeats Lucifer, as usual, but the extra detail it adds is that when Michael strikes Lucifer with his sword and knocks him from the celestial realm to Earth, he strikes him in the forehead and dislodges a green gemstone from Lucifer’s Crown, which also falls to Earth.
Gene: So maybe an emerald?
David: Possibly. But the Legend goes on to say that when this green stone was found, it was revered because it fell from Heaven and on it was carved a sacred doctrine.
Gene: Could that be the “Emerald Tablet of Hermes”?
David: That’s what the Legend says. And it goes on to say that the Holy Grail was also carved from it. And that this Grail was found by Knights and hidden in a mountain or a cave in Scotland.
Gene: Wow! That’s very, very interesting.
David: One other thing I wanted to mention, and this is not from the Legend, but it is related is that there is a substance that resembles an emerald, that actually embodies the text of the “Emerald Tablet” in its composition.
Gene: What’s that?
David: Moldavite. It’s a green, gemstone-like glass that was formed when a meteorite struck the sand in southern Germany about fifteen million years ago.
Gene: I’ve heard of Moldavite. There was a dagger carved out of it in King Tut’s tomb.
David: Yes. Meteorites were revered as messages or messengers from Heaven. But think of the lines from the “Emerald Tablet” - “The Sun is its father, the moon its mother, the wind hath carried it in its belly, the earth is its nurse…. Its force or power is entire if it be converted into earth.” It describes how Moldavite forms. It’s the union of Heaven and Earth… literally! The meteorite melts the sand and forms the stone.
Gene: So maybe the emerald is more appropriately a chunk of Moldavite… because the idea that the “Emerald Tablet” was carved on Moldavite is a pretty satisfying thought. It seems like the perfect stone for it. It’s self-referential. It’s made in the image of itself.
David: I like that thought, too. But the most important element of that story is that the “Emerald Tablet” was supposedly carved on it, and that’s a description of the process that we’re supposed to learn to see.
Third Eye (31:25)
Gene: Do you think that learning to see that circulation… and by see I don’t mean see-see, I mean being aware of it intellectually. Do you think that’s what’s really meant by “opening your third eye”.
David: I do. And it ties back into the story of the “War in Heaven”.
Gene: How so?
David: In the Legend, Michael strikes Lucifer in the forehead, which is supposed to be where your third eye is located.
Gene: And that ties back to the story of Athena bursting out of Zeus’ forehead. I think he struck himself in the forehead with an ax.
David: That motif of being struck in the forehead appears in art throughout antiquity. It’s referred to as the “Striking Posture”. It’s two figures, one’s a Priest, a King or a Hierophant ,who is standing and has his right arm raised and holding a mallet and the left hand is down on the forehead of a figure, who he appears to be about to strike.
Gene: Oh man! That sounds familiar.
David: Yeah. It should.
Gene: That’s the 3rd Degree! And that striking pose probably looks to people like a battle scene, like subduing people… but it’s really an initiation scene. And then there’s all the stuff about the Pineal gland, too. I mean it’s located behind the center of your forehead. And it’s supposedly some sort of vestigial eye.
David: Which is cool when you think about it being light sensitive and the Masonic quest is for “more light”.
Gene: That is cool.
David: And another interesting correspondence is the name of the location that the Biblical Patriarch Jacob laid his head on a stone.
Gene: Right! That place was called Peniel… spelled P-E-N-I-E-L.
David: And it was from that location that Jacob could see the angels ascending and descending from Heaven and Earth.
Gene: He could see the circulation!
David: Yes! And the site of that stone, eventually became the location of the “Holy of Holies” Of Solomon’s Temple.
Gene: And X marks the spot of the treasure!
David: It does! And that seems like a good place to end our discussion of the symbols of the Degree. What else would you like to say before we end?
Gene: Just that I’m continually amazed by the depth of the Scottish Rite system. It’s really incredible and I’m not sure how many people realize how great it is. It encompasses the whole “Western Mystery Tradition”... at least as I understand it.
David: I think it does, too.
Gene: But I do have one question.
David: What’s that?
Gene: Do you feel like all of the things we’re finding are really in the system, or are we making some of this stuff up?
David: You know… it's always both. All the text, all the symbols of the Degrees… they don’t mean anything by themselves, like on the page. They only mean something by somehow fitting into the world that you’ve constructed in your own head… your own world of meanings.
Gene: The “temple not made with hands”.
David: Exactly. How much truth you can draw out of anything, depends on you. What you know. What you don’t know. Your prejudices. Your blind spots. I like the William Blake quote that says:
“To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour”
Gene: That’s good. How much meaning you can derive from anything depends on you… always. Which brings to mind another quote by Blake - “If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro' narrow chinks of his cavern.”
David: “More light.”
David: So Gene, what are we doing next time?
Gene: In the next episode, we discuss the 30th Degree - Knight Kadosh.