One building that intrigues many is the Glasgow Cathedral. Consecrated in 1197, the worship of God has continued ever since.
The history of the Cathedral is linked heavily with the city. It is supposedly at the site where the patron saint of Glasgow, Saint Mungo, built his church. The tomb of the saint is in the lower crypt. Walter Scott’s novel Rob Roy gives an account of the cathedral. It is a great example of Scottish Gothic architecture. One attribute to this style are pointed arches. The style is known to appeal to emotions.
In the previous post on this blog, I wandered into the parallels of Mithraism and Freemasonry. There are similarities, but direct correlations still need to be determined in most areas. This study is ongoing. I have done some research on this matter, however I am just beginning. I need to further delve into the work of previous studies by some very brilliant people. I am of the opinion we will learn more about the two entities and the Mithric influence on Freemasonry. This post is directing you towards an interesting area, that frankly needs attention.
The pious Mithraist believed that in the back of the great scheme of things was a great and unknowable deity, Ozmiuzd by name, and that Mithra was his son. A soul destined for a life on earth left the presence of Ormuzd, descended by the gates of Cancer, passed through the spheres of the seven planets and through each of these picked up some function or faculty for use on earth. Upon its its term on earth the soul was prepared by sacraments and disciplines for its re-ascent after death. Upon its return journey it underwent judgment before Mithra. Leaving something behind in each of its planetary spheres it finally passed back through the gates of Capricorn to a great union with the Source of all. Also there was an eternal hell, and those who had proved unfaithful to Mithra were sent there. The planets continued to exercise good and evil influence over the human being.
This is interesting to the Freemason. We are taught there are seven liberal arts and sciences: grammar, rhetoric, logic, arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy. You have noticed there are seven planets and seven liberal arts (and sciences). This, to me, and I’m sure to others, is no coincidence. As stated in the previous paragraph, as the soul descends to earth it passes through each of the seven planets and picks up a function of the planet. I feel that the seven planets represent the seven liberal arts. We Freemasons recognize the starry heaven. Of course this heaven includes planets.
If elements or Mithraism were handed down to Freemasonry, wouldn’t the seven planets be included? As culture and society evolved, the Greeks had recognized, defined, and executed the seven liberal arts in their lives. Freemasons were taught to be on the look-out for “the seven” from somewhere. At least there is seven of something and they will be very important!
Whether or not Freemasons felt their ideas were descended from the Mithras belief is not known to me. But Mithras did have somewhat of an impact on the Greeks. This influence was probably minor, but we have to recognize this nonetheless. The use of the seven planets was widespread and understanding the range that Mithraism possessed, I conclude that Mithraism influence may be underrated. Further research will hopefully determine the origin of seven, whether it be objects or disciplines.
The theory that modern Freemasonry is in some sense a direct descendant from the ancient Mysteries has held a peculiar attraction for Masonic writers. The world is rife with men who will debate the issue for a long time. It is a difficult subject to write about because this topic covers so much ground. We can allow ourselves to get mixed up in the subject very easily in a way that we accomplish nothing and uncover everything.
The one Mystery that stands out when exploring this topic is Mithraism. It possesses parallelism with Freemasonry the most it seems. We learn from the Avesta that Mithra was a young god who appeared just before sunrise and lingered after sunset. To him was attributed patronship of the virtues of truth, life-giving, and youthful strength and joy. To worshipers Mithra grew from a rather obscure entity to become a great god in his own right and almost equal to the sun god himself. He became exalted to the right hand of Ormuzd (the principle god behind all life), who rolled up within himself all the attributes of all gods whatsoever.
When the Persians conquered the Babylonians, who worshiped the stars in a thorough manner, Mithra was placed at the center of star cults and won himself strength. When the Persian Empire went into a melting pot, Mithra kept his identity so that he established a religion of his own. His followers were attracted to the arts of victory. The Iranian tribesmen kept their worship of Mithra until they were converted to Mohammedanism centuries afterwards. Even then they did not abandon him altogether. It could be argued that the converts rebuilt him into Allah and into Mohammed, so that today one will find pieces of Mithra scattered about in what the Mohammedans call their theology.
After the collapse of the Persian Empire, Phrygia, where so many religions were manufactured at one time or another, took Mithra up and built a cult about him. They gave him a Phrygian cap and they incorporated into his rites the dreadful “taurobolium”, which was a baptism in the blood of a healthy young bull. This had a profound impression on the hordes of young slaves and ignorant men who came into the mithrea, as Mithraic houses of worship were called.
Competition among religions was very in Greece and Egypt. But a Greek sculptor had made Mithra into a young, vital man slaying a bull. This served as the orthodox likeness of the god.
After Macedonian conquests, as so it is believed, the cult of Mithra became crystallized. It received a orthodox theology, its church system, its philosophy, its drama and rites, its picture of the universe and the grnd ending of everything in a day of judgment. Many things were built into it. There were exciting ceremonies, much mysticism for the devout; a great machinery of salvation for the timid; a program of militant activity for men of valor; and a lofty ethic for the superior classes. Mithraism gained a vast momentum from millions and millions among scattered tribes. The young god and his religion were prepared to enter the Roman Empire.
When Mithridates Eurator waged war and was utterly destroyed in 66 B.C., the scattered fragments of his armies took refuge among the outlaws and pirates of Cilicia and carried with them the rites of Mithraism. Soldiers of the Republic of Tarsus were responsible for bringing Mithra into the Roman world. These soldiers were the remnants of the Eurator armies.
Syrian merchants took Mithra back and forth wherever they went. Slaves and freedmen became supporters. Alters were set up. The soldiers of the Roman armies were the greatest propagandists. Mithra was believed to love the sight of swords and banners. The time came when practically every Roman camp had its own mithreum.
A foreign god was worshiped. Mithra was fond of rulers. The god himself was said to stand at the right hand of rulers. The ruling priests declared Mithra himself at the forefront of emperors. These priests invested the divine right of kings. Emperors gave Mithra all the support they could. Many rulers had their artists depict them with a halo around their heads, which represented the sun and became a symbol of Mithra support. After the Roman Empire fell, the Roman Catholic Church took up the custom of the halo. Their saints are typically be-haloed.
Mithraism spread up and down the world. Northern Africa to England and up into Scotland. Across the channel into Germany. London was at one time a great center of his worship. Mithraism reached its apogee in the second century; it went the way of all flesh in the fourth century; and flickered out entirely in the fifth. Bits of it were salvaged and used, such as in the various forms of Maniceeism.
MITHAISM AND FREEMASONRY
Masonic writers have professed to see many points of resemblance between Mithraism and Freemasonry. There are similarities between Masonry and the old Mystery cults, but most are superficial. Resemblances with Mithraism are often startling. One item is the different levels of membership. Freemasonry has three: Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft, and Master Mason. Mithraism had seven. Charity and relief were universally practiced by Mithra followers as Freemasons practice this to this day. Mithraism was practiced by men who were free and slave, ruler and follower. Freemasons come from all walks of life and station.
So did Freemasonry directly descend from Mithraism? Still difficult to establish. As I wrote earlier, the high priests brought Mithraism into the ruling class fold since many people were already followers. Did the high priests of any one culture bring the remnants of Mithraism into a working class order? This working class could very well be the masons who built the early Church structures. They wanted organization and loyalty. They wanted protection. The rituals of Mithaism, and perhaps other religions, may very well be some of the rituals Freemasons use today. Early Church leaders, knowing the conflicts that could have arose from incorporating ritual into the Church, may have developed a system to give the rituals of Mithraism to early Freemasons. The Church leaders did not wish to give their followers a new religion. They kept this new ritualistic entity away from the Church. Hence we have Freemasonry, which has been said to not be a religion. This too is a matter for debate. But that will come a later time.
SAINT AUGUSTINE! well hast thou said,
That of our vices we can frame
A ladder, if we will but tread
Beneath our feet each deed of shame!
All common things, each day’s events,
That with the hour begin and end,
Our pleasure and our discontents,
Are rounds by which we may ascend
The low desire, the base design,
That makes another’s virtues less,
The revel of the ruddy wine,
And all occasions of excess;
The longing for ignoble things;
The strife for triumph more than truth,
The hardening of the heart, that brings
Irreverence for the dreams of youth;
All thoughts of ill; all evil deeds,
That have their root in thoughts of ill;
Whatever hinders or impedes
The action of the nobler will,-
All these must first be trampled down
Beneath our feet, if we would gain
In the bright fields of fair renown
The right of eminent domain.
We have not wings, we cannot soar;
But we have feet to scale and climb
By slow degrees, by more and more,
The cloudy summits of our time.
The mighty pyramids of stone
That wedge-like cleave the desert airs,
When nearer seen, and better known,
Are but gigantic flights of stairs.
The distant mountains, that uprear
Their solid bastions to the skies,
Are crossed by pathways that appear
As we to higher levels rise.
The heights by great men reached and kept
Were not attained by sudden flight;
But they, while their companions slept,
Were toiling upward in the night.
Standing on what too long we bore
With shoulders bent and downcast eyes,
We may discern – unseen before -
A path to higher destinies.
Nor deem the irrevocable Past
As wholly wasted, wholly vain,
If, rising on its wrecks, at last
To something nobler we attain.
Do you remember the story of Jacob’s ladder? A young man, the first night away from home, lying asleep in the desert, only the stars for his companions, he dreams a dream, – “And behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven.”
You and I live on the earth, but we want to get to heaven; and the way to do it seems to be prefigured in this dream of the patriarch. It is something above us we are to reach. Not only is the way to it narrow, but upward. What was merely a dream to the young man in the desert, at his start in life, should be grave thought to every young man and woman at their start.
I do not mean to say that every thing in a Christian life depends upon the kind of start you make; for I know some men who have made a very bad start, and afterward recovered from it. But a wrong start complicates matters, and needlessly multiplies dangers. It is a great thing to recognize the necessity of a right start; to feel that you cannot afford to make a failure; to find where that right start is to be made, and then follow it up in the right way.
Now, what do you want to do to reach heaven, to obtain God’s favor, to secure your own peace? To do this, you need to lead a spiritual life. How are you to do that?
By not only beginning, but beginning at the beginning. There are a great many persons who want to have all spiritual promises, to think they have “got it,” who never do this at all; who never clear away thoroughly the old rubbish in their lives, plant the ladder securely, and begin with the first round to climb along the slow and tedious and upward way. They got something which is called a “conviction;” they feel that something must be done; and so, without pause or self-scrutiny or accurate purpose, begin upon themselves a series of spasmodic experiments, – a little this, and a little that, and the other, – very desultory, very aimless, very worthless. No long time ensues before they are thrown back in their way, discouraged, give it all up. It is of no use for them to try. Either there is no such thing as spirituality, or it is too high, they cannot attain unto it. Where is the difficulty? Not in spirituality, that is the sure thing; not in human nature, not in individual nature. What these need, is man’s great help to God.
The difficulty is, that no proper beginning, at the beginning, has been made. You have seen boys at play spring up and catch at some round in a ladder above their heads, and swing there for a while, and then, from inability to go higher or remain where they were, drop off, back to just the place from which they started; while one began at the foot and went up the right way, regularly, step by step, – though he was behind in the outset, though he must go creeping at a pace the other despised, – yet quietly and safely and easily has reached the top. It is so with the spirituality of many. It consists in a series of violent leaps to reach that which is above them, for which they have made no manner of preparation. They cannot hold where they are. They have nothing on which to stand. They must fall after a little, and be just where they were, with exhausted energies, depressed spirits, and a corresponding unwillingness to renew the trial.
It is astonishing how many really earnest persons omit this matter of beginning, and how slow they are to see its necessity, or to recognize in the neglect the cause of failure, when the very first question they would ask a mechanic whom they saw bungling in his work would be if he knew about first principles, if he had ever begun his trade. Thorough, systematic training in the elements, down among the roots, is the secret to success in every calling; and without it, failure. Beginnings secure endings. The spiritual life is no exception. It is amenable to universal law.
There may be various causes exciting one to a better life. They will be different in different persons. It may be fear of the consequence of sin; it may be love to the Father; it may be admiration of the Son; it may be one; it may be several things combined. They are not the beginning. They give the point at which to place the ladder: they are not the ladder. They give the place from which to start: they do not give the spirit in which to start. I think that, as the first act of the awakening Jacob was to consecrate ourselves, so that our hearts may become Bethel, the house of God. This is beginning at the beginning; a conscious, hearty, unreserved surrender to the self, and the setting it apart to the service of God.
Sure of the first round, and the foot firmly planted on it, the active work begins. Self-consecration is the inward act; but the beginning is not established until this is supplemented by actual endeavor. You must not merely find, and put your foot on, the first round, but make it the support of the next step. You cannot stay there. You cannot step back. You must go forward, – do something to prove the life of your inward act. The way is narrow, and it is up. It is climbing along a heavenly way in which we must go, – a way which has no short cuts, a way Christ was forced to go, the only truly royal way. The step must be taken cautiously. Have you not seen a laborer, with his burden upon his back, pause, ere he started on his tedious way, rightly to poise his load; then, with firm grasp, holding to one round after another, as he slowly drew himself up, every now and then pausing to be sure of his position and his hold, never periling life and limb by rash haste, by overstepping the regular, appointed bound? Just such wise caution needs the Christian laborer, – to be sure of his first step, and then to be willing to go on from that slowly, regularly advance trusting in the end to reach that bright place whose effulgence, shed from the open above upon every ascending round, is the guide and cheering of the way.
Just what the next step will be shall depend upon individual condition, temperament, want; and must be decided by one’s special knowledge of himself. Spirituality is not a cast or mold into whose fixed angles and proportions you must run your spirit; but Spirituality is plastic and pliant, now finishing a Paul, and now a John, according to native endowment. Also Paul was made a Christian one way, and John another; each wholly unlike the other, but each Christian. The same process could not fit both. So with us all: the special steps and the special sequence must be our individual selection, according to individual need. And this demands some knowledge of one’s self, too often the last thing one has any knowledge of.
Our poet Longfellow has written a striking poem upon the idea of St. Augustine, that we may frame a ladder for our heavenly ascent out of the evil deeds we have repented of. Do you know it? If not get it and read it. The thought is valuable just here. The start of many is encumbered and delayed by the memory of shortcomings and sins, which, though heartily repented of, cast a threatening shadow from behind upon the work before. Now, a repented sin may sometimes be the best help we can have, give us the next lift. Our very follies and sins, truly repented of, wisely used become means of spiritual progress, rounds in the ladder of heavenly ascent. Every one must feel, that his past outgrown, repented sins are not mere curses, clogs, but that they give a certain ease, a certain capacity of rising; that upon their ruins he has made his first sure step toward heaven. It is not worth while to sin in order to secure that aid, for there is another excellent way; but having sinned, that aid comes, an angel of cheering, born out of darkness.
Life is not merely a narrow, but it is an upward way. It is climbing a ladder whose foot is on earth, whose top pierces the sky. From that opening above streams a divine light; and out of it comes the voice of God, speaking to our slumbering ear; rousing us to the great truth, that however desolate, however hard our lot, however dark the night, however cheerless and solitary the way, surely God is with us. Let us awake, arise, consecrate ourselves, and go on our way; putting beneath us the vanities, the weaknesses, and the sins of the past, piling one upon another those remnants of a sinful life, – slowly, step by step, round by round, lifting ourselves out of all unworthiness, standing on what too long we bore,” – till, rising on past wrecks, we shall have reached the point from which we may begin to climb along the ascent of actual virtues. The way is clear, then. It is long, it is weary, it is narrow, it is steep; but it is the only way. No man need miss it. It is like the patriarch’s ladder set up on the earth in darkness; but its top reaches to heaven, and there is light!
Last night I knelt where Hiram knelt and took my obligation.
Today I’m closer to my God and I’m a Master Mason.
Tho’ heretofore my fellowmen seemed each one like the other,
today I search each one apart I’m looking for my Brother.
And as I feel his friendly grip it fills my heart with pride,
I know that while I’m on the Square, that he is on my side.
His footsteps on my errand go, if I should such require,
his prayers in my behalf,
if I should so desire.
My words are safe within his breast, as tho’ within my own,
his hand forever at my back, warns to help me safely home.
Good council whispers in my ear and warns of any danger,
by square and compasses Brother now who would once call me a Stranger.
I might have lived a moral life and risen to distinction
without my brothers helping hand and fellowship of Masons.
But God who knows how hard it is to resist life’s temptations,
knows why I knelt where Hiram knelt and took that Obligation.
Learn about Freemasonry with these books available on AMAZON:
The Hiram Key: Pharaohs, Freemasons, and the Discovery of the Secret Scrolls of Jesus
Imagine if we received a letter from God. What would it say? The following is what I believe my letter would read; my letter from God.
MY DEAR CHILD,
Only your faith can limit the works of my hand. Look not at circumstances, but look unto me for I will make a way for you. None has never sought me in vain. I wait with a hungry longing for you to call upon me, I have already seen your heart’s need and I am already preparing the answer. My anticipatory love is a thing that mortals seldom realize.
Dwell on this thought and it will explain much to you.
Dismiss from your mind the thoughts that I must be petitioned with sighs and tears. Your thoughts of me need revolutionizing. Try to see that my love fro you is so great that as plans unfold which I have made… it means much to me to be understood. And understanding my love for you will bring great joy to you… for I am the One, the Father, who loves you like no other.
Each tick of the clock of time brings you closer to the fulfillment I have destined for you. I shall never forsake you, my precious child. Lo, I am with you always. Gently, let me remind you that I care about you, and about your needs. You are my glorious creation and handiwork. Yield yourself to my spirit and I will release the forces to clear away road blocks. For it is my desire and purpose to restore Love and break down barriers before you, saith me. Realize your high privilege in that you are my loved child.
ALL MY BLESSINGS,
God is creating an unusual dream and goal within us, with the express purpose of bringing it to pass.
In a chariot of LIGHT from the regions of the day,
The Goddess of LIBERTY came;
Ten thousand celestials directed the way,
And hither conducted the dame.
A fair budding branch from the gardens above,
Where millions with millions agree,
She brought in her hand as a pledge of her love,
And the plant she named LIBERTY TREE.
- Thomas Paine
Dear Grand Architect of the Universe:
Remove the have nots, the can nots, and the do nots that I have in my mind.
Erase the will nots, may nots, and might nots that may find a home in my heart. Release me from the could nots, would nots, and should nots that obstruct my life.
And most of all, Dear God, I ask that you remove from my mind, my heart, and my life all of the “am nots” that I have allowed to hold me back, especially the thought that I am not good enough.
Ben Franklin was a printer and published many pamphlets and booklets during his career. Here is one of his favorites. Thirteen subjects to live by.
FRANKLIN’S THIRTEEN SUBJECTS
- Temperance – Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.
- Silence – Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.
- Order – Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.
- Resolution – Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.
- Frugality – Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing.
- Industry – Lose no time; be always employed in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.
- Sincerity – Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly.
- Justice – Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.
- Moderation – Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they desire.
- Cleanliness – Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, clothes, or habitation.
- Tranquility – Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.
- Chastity – Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.
- Humility – Imitate Jesus or Socrates