In this episode, we discuss the 32nd Degree - “Master of the Royal Secret” 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: Are you ready to tie it all together?
David: Yes. We will tie it all together because this is the last “Degree Episode”. It’s the final Chapter of “Morals and Dogma”. We will have one more episode after this to wrap things up, 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. So, in the last degree, we made a perilous journey through the darkness of the Underworld and this Degree begins symbolically at sunrise on the full moon of the Vernal Equinox.
Gene: And… coincidentally, we’re not too far off from the Equinox at the time of this recording.
David: Yeah, it’s right around the corner. So Gene, what does the Ritual look like this time?
Ritual Setting (02:02)
Gene: The costumes for the officers are those of a Knight Kadosh, which means pantaloons, boots, spurs and a broad-brimmed hat, this time, with one red and one black ostrich feather. They also wear long, crimson velvet cloaks lined with white silk and a cordon which is black on one side and red on the other. On the black side, near the end, is a red Teutonic Cross with a silver, double-headed eagle in the center. On the red side, near the heart, is a black Teutonic cross.
David: How is the chamber for the ritual set up?
Gene: In the East is a chair or throne. Behind it, three symbols are displayed. The first is a 9-pointed star made of three interlaced triangles of white, red and blue. The second is a 7-pointed star with the points colored the seven colors of the rainbow. And the third is a red pentagram. The throne is on a platform of seven steps. And this is interesting, it says that between the third and fourth steps is an “interval of twice the width of a step”.
David: That is interesting… like the musical scale.
Gene: Yes. In front of the platform are candles forming the Greater and Lesser Tetractys. Behind the Tetractys is the “Altar of Obligation”. Toward the Southwest is the “Altar of Sacrifice” and in the West, the “Altar of Perfumes”. And finally, in the center of the room is a model called the “Camp” or the “Encampment”, which is the main symbol of the Degree.
David: What does the “Altar of Obligation” look like?
Gene: It’s covered with a purple cloth with the letters A, U and M on its east, west and south sides. On the altar are the Bible, the “Book of Constitutions” and a triple triangle of gold bars. There’s also a 3-foot by 4-foot by 5-foot triangle of candles around it.
David: So, how are the other altars decorated?
Gene: The “Altar of Sacrifice” is a 3 or 4 foot square altar with a bowl for a sacrificial fire. And the sacrifice is symbolized by 4 bundles of either 3, 5, 7, or 9 twigs. The Lieutenant Commanders are seated at the “Altar of Perfume” in the West, which is split into two tables covered in crimson, with water on one and alcohol, incense and a censor on the other. The covering of the table has, on the right, the letter O and on the left, the letter M, in silver.
David: So, O-M on the “Altar of Perfume” and A-U-M on “Altar of Obligation”. Two different spellings of the sacred word of Hinduism - Aum.
Gene: Yes. And, last but not least, in the center of the room, is the main symbol of the Degree, the Encampment. It’s a nested geometric figure. At the center is a St. Andrew’s Cross inside a Circle. That is inside a Triangle, which is inside a Pentagram, inside a Septagram, inside a Nonagram. So if you take the Circle to be 1. It’s a sequence of 1, 3, 5, 7, 9.
David: So the odd numbers from 1 to 9. So, from the center, 1 is a Circle. 3 is a Triangle. 5 is a Pentagon. 7 is a Septagon. And 9 is a Nonagon, which is the outside. And a St. Andrew’s Cross at the very center.
Gene: Yeah. It’s just as simple as that!
Degree Ritual (05:38)
David: Oh well, it is the culminating symbol of the Scottish Rite. So, anyway, what takes place during the Degree Ritual?
Gene: I’ve got a quote to start off with that sets the tone of the Ritual.
Gene: “Most men value only their material interests or the flattery of exalted titles, and few care to learn the lessons taught by the symbols of Masonry. Some join Freemasonry out of idle curiosity, some because it may profit them in their business affairs or secure them aid in distress…. Many are satisfied with Masonic rites or Degrees that are but shadows and teach nothing of value. Few care for the great truths of Masonic philosophy or become interested in the study of its ancient symbols.”
David: But, if it is something that you value, then this is the culmination of what the Scottish Rite has to offer. The Ritual says that “All of the preceding instructions, admonitions, and initiatory Rites of the previous Degrees have been to prepare you for this Degree, and to enable you to comprehend the Royal Secret and the Holy Doctrine… The Great Symbol of the Degree is the Symbolic Camp. (Which) will be presented to you as an emblem of (this) Realization… If the great questions of philosophy about God, the universe, and yourself are of interest to you, then you are not doing an idle thing in receiving this Degree…. You are here to think, if you can think; to learn, if you can learn.”
Gene: And I have one more quote from the Ritual, too. “Some of the most profound truths of the ancient mysteries are spoken as axioms. You are called upon to summon your greatest capacities and to attempt to pierce the veil of the symbolic language in which they are presented. To be truly a Master of the Royal Secret, individual realization is required on the part of each and every initiate.”
The Encampment (07:29)
David: So, the Ritual symbolically takes place at dawn on the Vernal Equinox.
Gene: And the reason given is that “The ancients adored the planets and stars that rose just before the vernal equinox. Observing groups of stars, they saw the sacred numbers three, four, five, seven, and nine. These numbers concealed a mystery as impenetrable as the Sphinx. There is a tradition that Pythagoras borrowed these symbols, and they are here, where we are now the stewards of their interpretations. The interpretation of these symbols forms a part of the Holy Doctrine and leads toward the Royal Secret.”
David: So, what interpretation are you given? What is the Encampment?
Gene: Well, on the level it’s first explained to you, it’s a glyph for the Scottish Rite System and how it’s organized. The degrees are in camps arranged around the Nonagon, the Pentagon and the Triangle which they walk you through. And, it’s interesting… the path they lead you on is from the outside inward, to the center, in a counter-clockwise spiral.
David: That is interesting. So who is camped around the outside of the Nonagon?
Gene: The 1st degree through the 18th degrees are camped around the Nonagon. Which means the “Blue Lodge”, the “Lodge of Perfection” and the “Chapter Rose Croix”.
David: What do they tell you about each camp?
Gene: They tell you a letter and a color associated with the camp… sometimes two letters or two colors… and a line or two summary of each degree.
David: So, you’re basically doing a quick review of the first eighteen degrees.
Gene: That’s right. And after you make a counter-clockwise circuit around the outside, you start walking around the Pentagon. You skip right over the Septagon. They just say it’s the “Mystery of the Sevens” that we’ve talked about many times before. You know, seven seals, seven gates, seven steps, etc.
David: Right. So who is camped around the Pentagon?
Gene: The “Council of Kadosh”, which are the 19th through the 30th Degrees. And this time, there aren’t any tents or colors. There are Banners, letters and mottos associated with each camp. Starting in the North-Eastern corner and going counter-clockwise, the banners have:
David: So, an Ox, a Lion, an Eagle, a Heart and the Ark. Another Sphinx.
Gene: Yes, it says that those refer to the four beasts from Enoch’s vision. And it says that S.Q.S. stands for the Latin phrase - “Sum Qui Sum” - “I am that I am”.
David: So, that completes your traversal of the Pentagon and the “Council of Kadosh”. All that’s left is “The Consistory”, which is the 31th and the 32nd degree.
Gene: And I’ll just read the ending quote of that section. It says, “Enclosed within the pentagon, you see the equilateral triangle shown you in the Thirtieth Degree. At its angles are encamped the Inspector Inquisitors and the Masters of the Royal Secret. Within the triangle is a circle, the symbol of one. On its circumference are the quarters of those Inspectors General or Masons of the Thirty-third Degree, Generals invested with the command of Divisions. Within the circle is a St. Andrew’s Cross. At the intersection of the bars thereof are the quarters of the Grand Commander and, at the four extremities, those of four Inspectors General who are invested with the dignity of Marshals.”
David: So, it also includes the 33rd Degree and alludes to their oversight of the Scottish Rite System.
Gene: It does. It’s a glyph of the whole system… but of course, it’s something else, too. We were told at the beginning that it symbolizes the “Royal Secret”, which leads to an understanding of the “Holy Doctrine”, and that’s what’s talked about in the Second Section” of the Ritual.
David: Before we talk about the “Second Section”, I wanted to talk about the letters associated with the camps.
Gene: OK. One interpretation given is that the letters associated with the camps stand for the Latin phrase meaning, “Let us now offer to the invincible Xerxes our sacred incomparable treasure, and we shall succeed victoriously.”
David: Xerxes was a King of Babylon and the successor to Darius the Great. But really, that phrase is just meant to help you remember the order of the camps. There was a better interpretation.
Gene: The other interpretation is that the letters form the phrase “Lux Inens nos agit”. Which means “The Inner Light leads us on.”
Degree Symbols (12:34)
David: I like that interpretation. Let’s move into the “Second Section” which starts off by saying that “the symbols of Freemasonry conceal the Holy Doctrine and the Royal Secret even in the Master (Mason’s) Lodge. (and) The wise and the studious may discover them (even) there.” You know, we’ve talked about many, many symbols in the degrees, but the most important ones have been the Temple, Light and the names of God.
Gene: I’d say so, too. And the names were for emanations of the Light. Another quote says “in the ancient creeds various manifestations of light were worshiped… Everywhere in our own Holy Books, we find the old “Light Religion” perpetuated. “God is Light; and in Him is no darkness at all.… In Him was Life, and the Life was the Light of men.”
David: Another quote says that - “To be a Soldier of the Light, you must first obtain Light for yourself… To teach, you must first learn. Are you willing to qualify yourself to teach and then to endeavor to make those around you wiser and better?... The great truths of religions and philosophies teach us what God and nature are, and what we are, and lift us up into the sphere of intellectual independence. The wise man makes neither a god nor a devil in his own image.”
Gene: I like that quote. Anyway, at this point in the Ritual, you have to take five vows. The first three are about fighting against despotism, from the Church and State, or wherever it arises to oppress the human spirit.
David: I’d like to read the third of those vows, but it’s long.
Gene: OK. Go for it.
David: “The people do not so often become the abused instruments of crafty dictators through ignorance but by the blind readiness with which (they) surrender thinking for themselves. If they cannot find a genuine hero or a live prophet, they will be restless… until they find a leader of some sort or other. Those who are truly fit to lead are seldom popular… The pretentious demagogue replaces them… They are the ruin of republics, and yet no republic is without them or fails to trust and honor them. If you are willing to swear eternal hostility to the incompetent, the unprincipled, and the foolish who seek or assume to be leaders of the people and, if you will henceforward endeavor to protect the people, come again to the Altar of Perfumes.”
Gene: That’s really good. The “Fourth Vow” is seven short statements, which are basically a summary of the Gnostic or Kabbalistic “Theology of Light” that we’ve discussed throughout the Degrees. But it’s referred to in the Ritual as the “Holy Doctrine” or “Sacred Doctrine”.
David: I have one more quote from the Ritual. It says - “You will recall that you were introduced to a philosophical system known as the Kabbalah. Its chief symbol was the Tree of Life, represented by three pillars. The two outer pillars… represent parallels. (Everyone) has within (themselves) the same opposites, such as good and evil, virtue and vice. Your task is to reconcile those parallel forces, and, in so doing, you become the middle pillar. This is the Royal Secret.”
Gene: And my last quote from the Ritual says that “This Royal Secret, or equilibrium, prepares us to understand the Holy Doctrine. This Doctrine, simply stated, is that the human spirit is a ray of the Divine Light. … Thus, God dwells in the human soul, and the divine intermingles with the human… We are the sons of God, as we are the sons of men.”
Morals and Dogma (16:02)
David: Alright. Let’s start into the last Chapter of “Morals and Dogma”. What’s the first thing you have?
Gene: The first thing I have is the opening paragraph of the Chapter that declares that “The Occult Science of the Ancient Magi was concealed under the shadows of the Ancient Mysteries… Magism was the Science of Abraham and Orpheus, of Confucius and Zoroaster… that (was) engraved on the tables of stone by (Enoch) and (Hermes). The… tradition of the single revelation has been preserved under the name of "Kabbalah," by the Priesthood of Israel.
David: And that quote continues by saying that “The Kabalistic doctrine, which was also the dogma of the Magi and of Hermes, is contained in the Sepher Yetzirah, the Zohar, and the Talmud. The Zohar… is the Key of the Holy Books, (and) opens also all the depths and lights, all the obscurities of the Ancient Mythologies and of the Sciences originally concealed in the Sanctuaries.”
Gene: But… then it says that unless you know the quote-unquote “Secret of the Key”, that “for even the most penetrating intellects, not initiated in the Secret, the Zohar is absolutely incomprehensible and almost illegible.”
David: And the Secret it’s referring to is the “Royal Secret”.
Gene: Which we’ve been told is Equilibrium… which seems like a let down. I mean, if you just skip to the end here to find out the quote-unquote “secret”, you’ll be sorely disappointed.
David: Sure, but the Ritual shows what you have to do. You have to “walk the walk”, through the camps, you have to assimilate the symbols from the previous Degrees. Let’s walk through the Encampment diagram and talk about what each part symbolizes.
White Light (17:48)
Gene: OK. As we talked about earlier, the outside is 9-sided, a Nonagon. Around it are the camps of the first eighteen degrees, the “Blue Lodge”, the “Lodge of Perfection” and the “Council Rose Croix”.
David: Let’s talk a little bit about each of those. The “Blue Lodge” myth is about the early construction of “Solomon’s Temple”, which was interrupted by the death of Grand Master Hiram Abiff and the loss of the “Word of a Master Mason”. It culminated with the raising of Hiram and the establishment of a new Word.
Gene: And then the “Lodge of Perfection” was about completing the “First Temple”. It culminated with our finding the “True Name”, the Tetragrammaton.
David: But then the “True Name” was again lost with the destruction of the “First Temple”. The building of the “Second Temple” was the goal of the “Chapter Rose Croix”. At its completion, we were given the “True Word”, INRI to replace the Word that was lost.
Gene: So, the 9-sided figure contains the degrees related to the building of the first two Temples and also the first two names of God.
David: You know, the completion of the “First Temple” coincided with the discovery of the “True Name” and the completion of the “Second Temple” coincided with the discovery of the “True Word”. It’s like they fit together.
Gene: Yes. A new symbol for Divinity and a place for it to live.
David: That’s good. The three stars hanging in the East make you think of that idea, too. One of them is a 9-pointed Nonagram that fits nicely inside the Nonagon. It’s made of three interlaced triangles, one blue, one red and one white.
Gene: Those are the colors of the camps of the culminating degrees in each Scottish Rite Body. So, it’s those three interlocked and they fit right inside the Encampment.
David: Even though the colors of the interlaced triangles are red, white and blue… I think of them as red, blue and green… you know RGB, the “Primary Colors” that if you mix them together you get White.
Gene: I think that’s what the outer Nonagon ultimately represents…the unified or “White Light” of Kether, the source of Light in Kabbalah. And the nine emanations are the points of the figure.
Rainbow Bridge (19:58)
David: In addition to the Encampment illustrating the Scottish Rite System, it also serves a tracing board of the “Holy Doctrine”, the Gnostic theology of Light. In that view, the Nonagon is the Macrocosm and the three interlocking worlds that fit inside are Heaven, Earth and mankind, who partakes of both. Going inward, the next figure is the Septagon, which doesn’t have camps around it, but in relation to the “Holy Doctrine”, I think of it as acting like a prism.
Gene: What do you mean?
David: It takes the “White Light” and refracts it. The second star in the East is a Septagram with points colored the seven colors of the rainbow. It fits inside the Septagon and provides the key to the way that reality is expressed through the number seven. Like the seven colors or the seven notes of the musical scale.
Gene: The “Seven Steps of the Philosophical Ladder” and all the sevens in Revelation. Which again, as we’ve discussed, are ultimately related to the lower seven sephirah in the “Tree of Life”. The Seven do seem like an interface, as it were, between Heaven and Earth.
David: A quote from the Ritual says - “Through the seven planetary spheres, represented by the Mystic Ladder of the Mithriac Initiations, and it by that which Jacob saw in his dream (not with three, but with seven steps), the Souls, emanating from the Deity, descended, to be united to their human bodies; and through those seven spheres they must re-ascend, to return to their origin and home in the bosom of the Deity.”
Gene: Sort of like a “Rainbow Bridge”. Another line from the Ritual said that “The Seven are all of One Mind.”
David: Which is also a reference to the “Tree of Life”, where Tiphareth is the “One Mind” or organizing principle of the lower seven sephirah. That organization is also represented by a dot inside a Hexagram.
Gene: There was also a statement that said that “The Seven are four male and three female.” What did you make out of that?
David: Well, there was that extra half-step referred to between the third and fourth steps on the platform in the Ritual. And also the “Seven Liberal Arts” are broken into three, the Trivium - Grammar, Rhetoric and Logic, and the four, the Quadrivium - Arithmetic, Geometry, Music and Astronomy.
Gene: And there’s also the three-four-five or “Pythagorean Triangle” which the Lecture says represents man “as a union of the spiritual and material, of the divine and human. The base, measured by the number 3, the number of the Triangle, represents the Deity and the Divine; the perpendicular, measured by the number 4, the number of the Square, represents the Earth, the Material, and the Human; and the hypotenuse, measured by 5, represents that nature which is produced by the union of the Divine and Human, the Soul and the Body.”
Compass and Square (22:48)
David: And that Union or Equilibrium is illustrated in the frontispiece to the Lecture which is “The Hermaphrodite” by Heinrich Khunrath, which we’ve talked about before. Over the male half of the being in the image is the symbol for the Sun and over the female half is the Moon. The female half holds a Square and the male half holds a Compass.
Gene: Here’s a quote from the Lecture - “Return now, with us, to the Degrees of … Blue Masonry, and for your last lesson, receive the explanation of one of their Symbols. You see upon the altar of those Degrees the SQUARE and the COMPASS… The SQUARE is an instrument… appropriate to Geometry, or measurement of the Earth… (and) therefore, is a natural and appropriate Symbol of this Earth and the things that belong to it… The COMPASS is an instrument… adapted to spherical trigonometry… which deals with the Heavens and the orbits of the planetary bodies… (and) is an equally natural and appropriate Symbol of the Heavens, and of all celestial things.”
David: And you have to stretch your imagination to see it, but what that is saying is that the Square symbolizes all that is meant by Earth. The “Earth Mother”. Where our food comes from. What our bodies are made of. The animals, the trees, the waters… all of that.
Gene: On the other side, is the unbelievable spectacle of the Heavens. I mean, just take a look at some of the James Webb images. Whatever idea you have of God or of Unity, has to encompass all of that!
David: It’s a lot to take in. We talked in the last degree about the daily cycle of the Sun. This degree relates the concepts of that “Night Journey” with the yearly cycle. Just like the Sun appears to wear out at the end of the day and need renewal, the duration of Light waxes and wanes during the year.
Gene: Which is why this Degree is set at the Vernal Equinox. It’s like the sunrise of the yearly cycle. It’s Light overcoming Darkness because days become longer than nights… for a time… but more importantly, life returns to the Earth.
David: And that is the really important part, but we’re so cut from the natural world that we can’t see that. If you can just imagine what Winter is like for animals and what it’s like in Spring to feel the light and the life returning. Or just imagine it didn’t happen. We’d all starve or freeze to death. I mean really.
Gene: The Sun is literally our source of Life.
Spirit Over Matter (25:12)
David: It is. And because of that, most world mythology concerns the cycles of the seasons, marked by the Solstices and the Equinoxes.
Gene: One way of marking these points is to watch where the Sun rises on the horizon. Its Southernmost point marks the Winter Solstice where it makes the lowest arc in the sky. So it’s the shortest day. Then it moves north on the horizon, until it reaches its northernmost point, which is the longest day, the “Summer Solstice”. And then it starts back South.
David: And the point in the middle is the Equinoxes.
Gene: Which ties back to another basic symbol of Masonry, two lines with a dotted circle between them. The dotted circle is the symbol of the Sun and the two lines are the Two Pillars of the Temple, and also the Summer and Winter Solstices. So, it’s the Sun rising along the “Middle Pillar” on the Equinoxes.
David: Another way of marking those times is that different stars appear to rise with the Sun during the year. The four that have been commemorated to mark the seasons are Aldebaran in Taurus, Regulus in Leo, Antares in Scorpio and Formalhaut in Aquarius.
Gene: And those Zodiac signs give us the four “Living Creatures” of Enoch’s vision. Which are very close to the images on the Banners around the Pentagon. They’re the Sphinx of the Year… and of Time.
David: And the key of this “Riddle of the Sphinx” is the third of the three stars hanging in the East, the Pentagram, which fits inside the Pentagon.
Gene: With the point facing upwards!
David: Exactly. Because it has the same meaning as the Compass on top of the Square. It’s Spirit ruling over the forces of Earth and the Elements. It’s our Microcosm.
Gene: And around the Pentagon are the camps of the Degrees of the “Council of Kadosh”, the 19th through the 30th degrees.
David: Those degrees were about the quest for the “Third Temple” and a new name to replace the one that was lost. But the new Temple wasn’t completed in those degrees.
The Logos (27:14)
Gene: No, but going on inward, inside the Pentagon is the Triangle. This part of the Encampment is referred to in the Ritual with the lines - “One is Three, and Three are One: the Fire, the Dawn, and the Morning Star.”
David: That refers to the “Macrocosmic Trinity”, the three interlocking triangles or Isis, Osiris and Apophis. Another line refers to this Triangle, which is the Trinity in us. It says - “One is Three and Three are One: the Creator, the Divine Wisdom, and the Divine Word.”
Gene: That is the “Divine Word” or the Logos. Esoterically, it’s our ability to use symbols.
David: The Lecture said earlier that this concept was sometimes illustrated as a Triangle, representing spirit, inside a Square, which symbolized matter.
Gene: Here, it’s the Triangle inside the Pentagon. Around it are the camps of the Consistory, which are this degree and the 31st at the lower corners, along with the images of a raven and dove.
David: And, at the apex of the Triangle is a Golden Phoenix, a reference to the completion of the “Great Work”. But there’s still one more symbol, the Circle inside the Triangle. The Circle has a St. Andrew’s Cross in it, which we talked about in the Knight of St. Andrew Degree. To me, that symbolizes your central axis, your kernel of consciousness.
Gene: Since the Circle represents the number One, I see it as a seed, as in the Kabbalistic dictum - “Kether is in Malkuth and Malkuth is in Kether”. It’s the four-fold name embedded in the Word. It’s the oak hidden in the acorn.
Third Temple (28:54)
David: That’s a good analogy. So, we’ve made it to the center of the Encampment. And the walk we made in the Ritual symbolizes the completion of the Scottish Rite degrees. But the ultimate quest we’ve been on, the completion of the “Third Temple” never explicitly happened. It’s implied by the Golden Phoenix at the apex of the Triangle.
Gene: But we’ve talked about this in the “Council of Kadosh” degrees. The “Third Temple” is in you. You have to construct it inside yourself. And, again thinking of Bucky Fuller… form fitting function… the shape of your Temple will match the idea of God you have. But again, it’s a symbol and a place for it to live. All of us are “Living Temples”.
David: And in the mythology of the Degrees, the Temple can be completed when the “Middle Pillar” is raised, and the “Royal Secret” of Equilibrium is the means. But this “Capstone Event”, and all the others leading up to it were symbolized in the 3rd Degree of Master Mason, specifically in the raising of Grand Master Hiram Abiff.
Gene: Is Hiram the “Third Temple”?
David: I think he symbolizes all of the Temples… and also the “Middle Pillar”. But all of the details around his resurrection… the technique… are there right on the Banners around the Pentagon.
Gene: The “Five Points of Fellowship”.
David: That’s right. Which are themselves symbols of elemental purification. But anyway, the five points relate to the images on the Banners. The Ox is the foot. The Ark is the knee… you have to think about that one. The flaming heart is the chest. The double-headed eagle represents the heads of the one raising and the one being raised. And of course, the grip is the Lion. Take a good look at the Banner at the apex of the Pentagon.
Gene: Wow. OK. It has a lion with a key in its mouth. The Ritual says it represents the “Lion of the Tribe of Judah”. So there’s the “Lion’s Paw”.
David: The “Grip of the Lion’s Paw” was the means used to raise Hiram the third time when it was successful.
Gene: Right. The first time, the skin slipped and he couldn’t be raised.
David: That corresponds to the first “Solomon’s Temple”. The implication is that this first Temple, at least what it symbolizes for us… our first concepts of God… were superficial. In terms of the lineage of the “Holy Doctrine”, it represents Judaism… and perhaps an image of God that exhibits as many human traits as he does Divine. A stern and jealous God.
Gene: As in “God the Father”. And then the second attempt to raise Hiram failed because the flesh slipped off the bone. Which is saying that the “Second Temple” went deeper but still failed.
David: In the lineage, this refers to Christianity, which wasn’t really what was practiced in the actual “Second Temple”, but it’s a symbol of our own efforts to rebuild a conception of Divinity that can live in this world. That’s what the “Chapter of Rose Croix” was about, an embodied spirituality, “God the Son”.
Gene: But the third attempt succeeds because of the technique that’s used. So, symbolically, the three attempts to raise Hiram correspond to the “Three Temples”. With the first associated with Judaism, the second Christianity and the third… what… Gnosticism?
David: Yes. I think that’s a summary of the Scottish Rite System. And it’s really all in the first three degrees. But the Scottish Rite provides the historical context and the philosophical concepts that you really need to understand to understand what those symbols mean. The Lecture says that “Until now, Humanity has been endeavoring to stand on one foot; sometimes on one, sometimes on the other…. “I Am, God said to Moses, that which Is, Was and Shall forever Be. But the Very God, in His unmanifested Essence, conceived of as not yet having created and as Alone, has no Name.”
Gene: Is that saying then that those other faiths are flawed?
David: Absolutely not. But it does express the notion that the true meaning of the symbols they use have, for the most part, been lost and that Masonry is an attempt to keep them alive. All along, Masonry has been said to be about the core of religious faith, the “bones” of it. And it’s gripping onto the bone, with a “Lion’s Grip” that finally succeeds in raising Hiram.
The Sacred Word (33:13)
Gene: So, what about the Word that’s whispered to Hiram when he’s raised? Is that the “Sacred Word” of this degree, Aum?
David: Well, you know that’s not what you’re told at the time, but in the context of the whole system… yes, it is. Whatever it is, it’s just a symbol for the highest conception of Divinity you can achieve. But Aum is a good choice for the final word. It’s the “Sacred Word” of Hinduism and it actually means “let it be so”.
Gene: Like “so mote it be”? Or even Aum-en. Amen.
David: Which all mean the same thing. They’re all forms of asking for a blessing or “Divine Ratification” of something. To try to speak it into being.
Gene: “Let it be.” Like how God spoke things into existence… even light. God said, “Let there be Light.”
David: And, if you think about the staging of the 3rd Degree Ritual, it’s implied that having this Word whispered “mouth to ear” is what resuscitates Hiram and brings him back to Life. Before that he’s just a standing corpse.
Gene: Which again makes you think of Genesis. Adam is initially a creature of Earth, a Golem. But then God gives Adam his breath, his essence. God doesn’t speak Adam alive, he breathes his essence into him.
David: It’s a transmission of Light… which is exactly what is symbolized by the “Sacred Word”. It’s the Light of the Scottish Rite system passed “from mouth to ear”, from initiate to initiate in a sacred chain. And if you’ve prepared a place for it, it can provide you with the same illumination.
Gene: The “Third Temple”... a new conception of divinity and a place for it to live. It comes alive… through you.
David: And that’s a good place to end our discussion of this degree. Do you have anything else you’d like to say before we end?
Gene: I’d like to read the last paragraph in “Morals and Dogma”.
Gene: “As in each Triangle of Perfection. One is Three and Three are One. So Man is one, though of a double nature; and he attains the purposes of his being only when the two natures that are in him are in… equilibrium; and his life is a success only when it too is a harmony, and beautiful, like the great Harmonies of God and the Universe. Such, my Brother, is the TRUE WORD of a Master Mason; such is the true ROYAL SECRET, which makes possible, and shall at length make real, the HOLY EMPIRE of true Masonic Brotherhood.”
David: That’s a really nice quote and I’d like to read one more quote, too. “You have heard the Holy Doctrine - that the human spirit is a ray of the Divine Light - and you have learned that our Royal Secret is equilibrium. When these teachings have become real to you, you will always strive to see the best in humanity and always marvel at all of creation. When you can read the Grand Design from the Book of Nature, the world will indeed become a most holy place to you.”
David: And the last line in “Morals and Dogma” is the Latin phrase “Gloria dei est celare verbum. Amen.” “The Glory of God is to conceal the Word.”
Gene: Amen. So mote it be.
David: And that’s it. We’re done with the degrees. But, we will be back for one more episode.
Gene: That’s right. In the next episode, we’re going to wrap up our discussion of the Scottish Rite System.