Chapter 8 – Jesuits, Templars, Rosicrucians, Masons, and the Lost Word (Jesuitry and Masonry)
This chapter is an important statement about Blavatsky’s secret lodge of eastern adepts relation to Western esoteric societies and at the same time it forms a brief segue with her history of ancient esoteric societies and the present. Moreover, she presents a critique of the Jesuits which places her in the Jesuit conspiracy theory camp. It is fairly tame by today’s standards, she seems to rely mainly on The Principles of the Jesuits by Henry Handley Norris (1839).
She continued to write on this question afterwards and the Jesuits have undergone major changes in the 20th century and continue to be heavily critiqued to this day for various reasons and due to the various power struggles with the Catholic church, it is difficult to evaluate where Blavatsky views would apply in today’s context; suffice to say that her critique is part of a wider critical Christian reform project present throughout volume two.
She does maintain that the Templars, the early Roscrucians, and the early Masons did indeed have authentic esoteric credentials (derived from the East), but that they all became corrupted and have lost much of their knowledge. Although this chapter does have the mystery and intrigue that one would expect from a chapter on esoteric secret societies, it does not have the sensationalistic speculations of the modern conspiracy theory works that have proliferated greatly since her time (for example, https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=jesuit+conspiracy ) and she tends to be critical of the many claims of long authentic lineages claimed by many western esoteric groups. Moreover, she continued to write on this subject afterwards for example:
see also Geoffrey Farthing’s compilation on Masonry:
- The Jesuits (348)
The Secret Word 348 / Jesuits 352 / Simon Magus 357 / Jesuit ethics 357 / Hermetism 361 / Jesuit Initiations 365
The JesuitsJesuit ethics
In what particular was then Simon Magus a blasphemer, if he only did that which his conscience invincibly told him was true? And in what particular were ever the “Heretics,” or even infidels of the worst kind more reprehensible than the Jesuits — those of Caen,***** for instance — who say the following:”The Christian religion is . . . evidently credible, but not evidently true. It is evidently credible; for it is evident that whoever embraces it is prudent. It is not evidently true; for it either teaches obscurely or the things which it teaches are obscure. And they who affirm that the Christian religion is evidently true, are obliged to confess that it is evidently false.” “Infer from hence —
“1. That it is not evident that there is now any true religion in the world. . . . . . . . . ”
“2. That it is not evident that of all religions existing upon the earth, the Christian religion is the most true; for have you travelled over all countries of the world, or do you know that others have? . . .
“Neither is an avowed belief in Jesus Christ, in the Trinity, in all the articles of Faith, and in the Decalogue, necessary to Christians. The only explicit belief which was necessary to the former (Jews) and is necessary to the latter (Christians) is 1, of God; 2, of a rewarding God” (Position 8).
“4. That it is not evident that the predictions of the prophets were given by inspiration of God; for what refutation will you bring against me, if I deny that they were true prophecies, or assert that they were only conjectures?
5. That it is not evident that the miracles were real, which are recorded to have been wrought by Christ; although no one can prudently deny them (Position 6). ***** “Thesis propugnata in regio Soc. Jes. Collegio celeberrimae Academiae Cadomensis, die Veneris, 30 Jan., 1693.” Cadomi, 1693. (357)
And far older, perhaps. It dates from the time when the soul was an objective being, hence when it could hardly be denied by itself; when humanity was a spiritual race and death existed not. Toward the decline of the cycle of life, the ethereal man-spirit then fell into the sweet slumber of temporary unconsciousness in one sphere, only to find himself awakening in the still brighter light of a higher one. But while the spiritual man is ever striving to ascend higher and higher toward its source of being, passing through the cycles and spheres of individual life, physical man had to descend with the great cycle of universal creation until it found itself clothed with the terrestrial garments. Thenceforth the soul was too deeply buried under physical clothing to reassert its existence, except in the cases of those more spiritual natures, which, with every cycle, became more rare. And yet none of the pre-historical nations ever thought of denying either the existence or the immortality of the inner man, the real “self.” Only, we must bear in mind the teachings of the old philosophies: the spirit alone is immortal — the soul, per se, is neither eternal nor divine. When linked too closely with the physical brain of its terrestrial casket, it gradually becomes a finite mind, a simple animal and sentient life-principle, the nephesh of the Hebrew Bible.* (362)
Egyptian Cycles and Reincarnation 366 / Magic – Pagan and Christian 370 / Masonry 371 / Templars 380 / Current Masonry 387 / Eastern Masonry 392 / Secret Masonic Ciphers 394 / JHVH and the lost Word 398 / Ancient Secret Brotherhoods 402
The Temple was the last European secret organization which, as a body, had in its possession some of the mysteries of the East. True, there were in the past century (and perhaps still are) isolated “Brothers” faithfully and secretly working under the direction of Eastern Brotherhoods. But these, when they did belong to European societies, invariably joined them for objects unknown to the Fraternity, though at the same time for the benefit of the latter. It is through them that modern Masons have all they know of importance; and the similarity now found between the Speculative Rites of antiquity, the mysteries of the Essenes, Gnostics, and the Hindus, and the highest and oldest of the Masonic degrees well prove the fact. If these mysterious brothers became possessed of the secrets of the societies, they could never reciprocate the confidence, though in their hands these secrets were safer, perhaps, than in the keeping of European Masons. When certain of the latter were found worthy of becoming affiliates of the Orient, they were secretly instructed and initiated, but the others were none the wiser for that.
No one could ever lay hands on the Rosicrucians, and notwithstanding the alleged discoveries of “secret chambers,” vellums called “T,” and of fossil knights with ever-burning lamps, this ancient association and its true aims are to this day a mystery. Pretended Templars and sham Rose-Croix, with a few genuine kabalists, were occasionally burned, and some unlucky Theosophists and alchemists sought and put to the torture; delusive confessions even were wrung from them by the most ferocious means, but yet, the true Society remains to-day as it has ever been, unknown to all, especially to its cruelest enemy — the Church. 380
Current Masonry 387
Thus falls to ruins the grand epic poem of Masons, sung by so many mysterious Knights as another revealed gospel. As we see, the Temple of Solomon is being undermined and brought to the ground by its own chief “Master Masons,” of this century. But if, following the ingenious exoteric description of the Bible, there are yet Masons who persist in regarding it as once an actual structure, who, of the students of the esoteric doctrine will ever consider this mythic temple otherwise than an allegory, embodying the secret science? Whether or not there ever was a real temple of that name, we may well leave to archaeologists to decide; but that the detailed description thereof in 1 Kings is purely allegorical, no serious scholar, proficient in the ancient as well as mediaeval jargon of the kabalists and alchemists, can doubt. The building of the Temple of Solomon is the symbolical representation of the gradual acquirement of the secret wisdom, or magic; the erection and development of the spiritual from the earthly; the manifestation of the power and splendor of the spirit in the physical world, through the wisdom and genius of the builder. The latter, when he has become an adept, is a mightier king than Solomon himself, the emblem of the sun or Light himself — the light of the real subjective world, shining in the darkness of the objective universe. This is the “Temple” which can be reared without the sound of the hammer, or any tool of iron being heard in the house while it is “in building.” 391
Eastern Masonry 392
In the East, this science is called, in some places, the “seven-storied,” in others, the “nine-storied” Temple; every story answers allegorically to a degree of knowledge acquired. Throughout the countries of the Orient, wherever magic and the wisdom-religion are studied, its practitioners and students are known among their craft as Builders — for they build the temple of knowledge, of secret science. Those of the adepts who are active, are styled practical or operative Builders, while the students, or neophytes are classed as speculative or theoretical. The former exemplify in works their control over the forces of inanimate as well as animate nature; the latter are but perfecting themselves in the rudiments of the sacred science. These terms were evidently borrowed at the beginning by the unknown founders of the first Masonic guilds. 392
JHVH and the lost Word 398
At all events, Jehovah is not the ancient of the ancient, or “aged of the aged,” of the Sohar; for we find him, in this book, counselling with God the Father as to the creation of the world. “The work-master spoke to the Lord. Let us make man after our image” (Sohar i., fol. 25). Jehovah is but the Metatron, and perhaps, not even the highest, but only one of the AEons; for he whom Onkelos calls Memro, the “Word,” is not the exoteric Jehovah of the Bible, nor is he Jahve the Existing One.
It was the secresy of the early kabalists, who were anxious to screen the real Mystery name of the “Eternal” from profanation, and later the prudence which the mediaeval alchemists and occultists were compelled to adopt to save their lives, that caused the inextricable confusion of divine names. This is what led the people to accept the Jehovah of the Bible as the name of the “One living God.” Every Jewish elder, prophet, and other man of any importance knew the difference; but as the difference lay in the vocalization of the “name,” and its right pronunciation led to death, the common people were ignorant of it, for no initiate would risk his life by teaching it to them. Thus the Sinaitic deity came gradually to be regarded as identical with “Him whose name is known but to the wise.” When Capellus translates: “Whosoever shall pronounce the name of Jehovah, shall suffer death,” he makes two mistakes. The first is in adding the final letter h to the name, if he wants this deity to be considered either male or androgynous, for the letter makes the name feminine, as it really should be, considering it is one of the names of Binah, the third emanation; his second error is in asserting that the word nokeb means only to pronounce distinctly. It means to pronounce correctly. Therefore, the biblical name Jehovah may be considered simply a substitute, which, as belonging to one of the “powers” got to be viewed as that of the “Eternal.” There is an evident mistake (one of the very many), in one of the texts in Leviticus, which has been corrected by Cahen, and which proves that the interdiction did not at all concern the name of the exoteric Jehovah, whose numerous other names could also be pronounced without any penalty being incurred.* In the vicious English version, the translation runs thus: “And he that blasphemeth the name of the Lord, shall surely be put to death,” Levit. xxiv. 16. Cahen renders it far more correctly, thus: “And he that blasphemeth the name of the Eternal shall die,” etc. The “Eternal” being something higher than the exoteric and personal “Lord.”** 400-401
Ancient Secret Brotherhoods 402
The greatest mistake of the age was to attempt a comparison of the relative merits of all the ancient religions, and scoff at the doctrines of the Kabala and other superstitions.
But truth is stranger than fiction; and this world-old adage finds its application in the case in hand. The “wisdom” of the archaic ages or the “secret doctrine” embodied in the Oriental Kabala, of which, as we have said, the Rabbinical is but an abridgment, did not die out with the Philaletheans of the last Eclectic school. The Gnosis lingers still on earth, and its votaries are many, albeit unknown. Such secret brotherhoods have been mentioned before Mackenzie’s time, by more than one great author. If they have been regarded as mere fictions of the novelist, that fact has only helped the “brother-adepts” to keep their incognito the more easily. We have personally known several of them who, to their great merriment had had the story of their lodges, the communities in which they lived, and the wondrous powers which they had exercised for many long years, laughed at and denied by unsuspecting skeptics to their very faces. Some of these brothers belong to the small groups of “travellers.” Until the close of the happy Louis-Philippian reign, they were pompously termed by the Parisian garcon and trader the nobles etrangers, and as innocently believed to be “Boyards,” Valachian “Gospodars,” Indian “Nabobs,” and Hungarian “Margraves,” who had gathered at the capital of the civilized world to admire its monuments and partake of its dissipations. There are, however, some insane enough to connect the presence of certain of these mysterious guests in Paris with the great political events that subsequently took place. Such recall at least as very remarkable coincidences, the breaking out of the Revolution of ’93, and the earlier explosion of the South Sea Bubble, soon after the appearance of “noble foreigners,” who had convulsed all Paris for more or less longer periods, by either their mystical doctrines or “supernatural gifts.” The St. Germains and Cagliostros of this century, having learned bitter lessons from the vilifications and persecutions of the past, pursue different tactics now-a-days.
But there are numbers of these mystic brotherhoods which have naught to do with “civilized” countries; and it is in their unknown communities that are concealed the skeletons of the past. These “adepts” could, if they chose, lay claim to strange ancestry, and exhibit verifiable documents that would explain many a mysterious page in both sacred and profane history. Had the keys to the hieratic writings and the secret of Egyptian and Hindu symbolism been known to the Christian Fathers, they would not have allowed a single monument of old to stand unmutilated. And yet, if we are well informed — and we think we are — there was not one such in all Egypt, but the secret records of its hieroglyphics were carefully registered by the sacerdotal caste. These records still exist, though “not extant” for the general public, though perhaps the monuments may have passed away for ever out of human sight. 402-403