Stolen Legacy, by George G. M. James, , at sacred-texts.com
The earliest theory of salvation is the Egyptian theory. The Egyptian Mystery System had as its most important object, the deification of man, and taught that the soul of man if liberated from its bodily fetters, could enable him to become godlike and see the Gods in this life and attain the beatific vision and hold communion with the Immortals (Ancient Mysteries, C. H. Vail, P. 25).
Plotinus defines this experience as the liberation of the mind from its finite consciousness, when it becomes one and is identified with the Infinite. This liberation was not only freedom of the soul from bodily impediments, but also from the wheel of reincarnation or rebirth. It involved a process of disciplines or purification both for the body and the soul. Since the Mystery System offered the salvation of the soul it also placed great emphasis upon its immortality. The Egyptian Mystery System, like the modern University, was the centre of organized culture, and candidates entered it as the leading source of ancient culture. According to Pietschmann, the Egyptian Mysteries had three grades of students (1) The Mortals i.e., probationary students who were being instructed, but who had not yet experienced the inner vision. (2) The Intelligences, i.e., those who had attained the inner vision, and had received mind or nous and (3) The Creators or Sons of Light, who had become identified with or united with the Light (i.e., true spiritual consciousness). W. Marsham Adams, in the "Book of the Master", has described those grades as the equivalents of Initiation,
Illumination and Perfection. For years they underwent disciplinary intellectual exercises, and bodily asceticism with intervals of tests and ordeals to determine their fitness to proceed to the more serious, solemn and awful process of actual Initiation.
Their education consisted not only in the cultivation of the ten virtues, which were made a condition to eternal happiness, but also of the seven Liberal Arts which were intended to liberate the soul. There was also admission to the Greater Mysteries, where an esoteric philosophy was taught to those who had demonstrated their proficiency. (Ancient Mysteries C. H. Vail P. 24–25). Grammar, Rhetoric, and Logic were disciplines of moral nature by means of which the irrational tendencies of a human being were purged away, and he was trained to become a living witness of the Divine Logos. Geometry and Arithmetic were sciences of transcendental space and numeration, the comprehension of which provided the key not only to the problems of one's being; but also to those physical ones, which are so baffling today, owing to our use of the inductive methods. Astronomy dealt with the knowledge and distribution of latent forces in man, and the destiny of individuals, laces and nations. Music (or Harmony) meant the living practice of philosophy i.e., the adjustment of human life into harmony with God, until the personal soul became identified with God, when it would hear and participate in the music of the spheres. It was therapeutic, and was used by the Egyptian Priests in the cure of diseases. Such was the Egyptian theory of salvation, through which the individual was trained to become godlike while on earth, and at the same time qualified for everlasting happiness. This was accomplished through the efforts of the individual, through the cultivation of the Arts and Sciences on the one hand, and a life of virtue on the other. There was no mediator between man and his salvation, as we find in the Christian theory. Reference will again be made to these subjects, as part of the Curriculum of the Egyptian Mystery System.
Now that we have outlined the Egyptian theory of salvation and its purpose, let us examine Greek philosophy and its purpose in order to discover whether there is an agreement between the two systems, or not.
A. The Indictment and Prosecution of Greek Philosophers.
The indictment and prosecution of Greek philosophers is a circumstance which is familiar to us all. Several philosophers, one after another, were indicted by the Athenian Government, on the common charge of introducing strange divinities. Anaxagoras, Socrates, and Aristotle received similar indictments for a similar offence. The most famous of these was that against Socrates which reads as follows. "Socrates commits a crime by not believing in the Gods of the city, and by introducing other new divinities. He also commits a crime by corrupting the youth". Now, in order to find out what these new divinities were, we must go back to the popular opinion which Aristophanes (423 B.C.) in the Clouds, aroused against him. It runs as follows: "Socrates is an evildoer, who busies himself with investigating things beneath the earth and in the sky, and who makes the worse appear the better reason, and who teaches others these same things (Plato's Apology C. 1–10; Aristophanes' Frogs, 1071; Apology 18 B.C., 19 C. Apology 24 B).
It is clear then that Socrates offended the Athenian government simply because he pursued the study of astronomy and probably that of geology; and that the other philosophers were persecuted for the same reason. But the study of science was a required condition to membership in the Egyptian Mystery System, and its purpose was the liberation of the Soul from the ten bodily fetters, and if the Greek philosophers studied the sciences, then they were fulfilling a required condition to membership in the Egyptian Mystery System
and its purpose; either through direct contact with Egypt or its schools or lodges outside its territory.
B. A Life of Virtue was a Condition Required by the Egyptian Mysteries as Elsewhere Mentioned.
The virtues were not mere abstractions or ethical sentiments, but were positive valours and virility of the soul. Temperance meant complete control of the passional nature. Fortitude meant such courage as would not allow adversity to turn us away from our goal. Prudence meant the deep insight that befits the faculty of Seership. Justice meant the unswerving righteousness of thought and action.
Furthermore, when we compare the two ethical systems, we discover that the greater includes the less, and that it also suggests the origin of the latter. In the Egyptian Mysteries the Neophyte was required to manifest the following soul attributes:—
(1) Control of thought and (2) Control of action, the combination of which, Plato called Justice (i.e., the unswerving righteousness of thought and action). (3) Steadfastness of purpose, which was equivalent to Fortitude. (4) Identity with spiritual life or the higher ideals, which was equivalent to Temperance an attribute attained when the individual had gained conquest over the passional nature. (5) Evidence of having a mission in life and (6) Evidence of a call to spiritual Orders or the Priesthood in the Mysteries: the combination of which was equivalent to Prudence or a deep insight and graveness that befitted the faculty of Seership.
Other requirements in the ethical system of the Egyptian Mysteries were:—
(7) Freedom from resentment, when under the experience of persecution and wrong. This was known as courage. (8) Confidence in the power of the master (as Teacher), and (9) Confidence in one's own ability to learn; both attributes being known as Fidelity. (10) Readiness or preparedness for initiation. There has always been this principle of the Ancient
[paragraph continues] Mysteries of Egypt: "When the pupil is ready, then the master will appear". This was equivalent to a condition of efficiency at all times for less than this pointed to a weakness. It is now quite clear that Plato drew the four Cardinal virtues from the Egyptian ten; also that Greek philosophy is the offspring of the Egyptian Mystery System.
C. (i) There was a Grand Lodge in Egypt which had associated Schools and Lodges in the ancient world.
There were mystery schools, or what we would commonly call lodges in Greece and other lands, outside of Egypt, whose work was carried on according to the Osiriaca, the Grand Lodge of Egypt. Such schools have frequently been referred to as private or philosophic mysteries, and their founders were Initiates of the Egyptian Mysteries; the Ionian temple at Didyma; the lodge of Euclid at Megara; the lodge of Pythagoras at Crotona; and the Orphic temple at Delphi, with the schools of Plato and Aristotle. Consequently we make a mistake when we suppose that the so-called Greek philosophers formulated new doctrines of their own; for their philosophy had been handed down by the great Egyptian Hierophants through the Mysteries. (Ancient Mysteries C. H. Vail P. 59). In addition to the control of the mysteries, the Grand Lodge permitted an exchange of visits between the various lodges, in order to ensure the progress of the brethren in the secret science.
We are told in the Timaeus of Plato, that aspirants for mystical wisdom visited Egypt for initiation and were told by the priests of Sais, "that you Greeks are but children" in the Secret Doctrine, but were admitted to information enabling them to promote their spiritual advancement. Likewise, we are told by Jamblichus of a correspondence between Anebo and Porphyry, dealing with the fraternal relations, existing between the various schools or lodges of instructions in different lands, how their members visited, greeted and assisted one another in the secret science, the more advanced being obliged to afford assistance and instruction to their brethren
in the inferior Orders. (Jamblichus: correspondence between Anebo and Porphyry) (Plato's Timaeus) (W. L. Wilmshurst on meaning of Masonry).
Having stated that the Grand Lodge of ancient mysteries was situated in Egypt, with jurisdiction over all lodges and schools of the ancient world, it now remains to show that such a Grand Lodge, did actually and physically exist. In doing so, two things are necessary: first, a description of the Egyptian temple, of which our modern mystery lodges (called by different names) are copies, and second, a description of the actual remains of the Grand and Sublime Lodge of Ancient Egypt.
C. (ii) A description of the Egyptian temple.
Here I quote two authorities on the Egyptian temple, the first, C. H. Vail, on Ancient Mysteries P. 159 who says "that the Egyptian temples were surrounded with pillars recording the number of the constellations and the signs of the Zodiac or the cycles of the planets. And each temple was supposed to be a microcosm or a symbol of the temple of the Universe or of the starry vault called temple". The next authority is Max Muller, who in his Egyptian Mythology P. 187–193, has described Egyptian temples as follows:—
"Egyptian temples were made of stone, the outer courts of mud bricks. Wide roads led to the temples for the convenience of processions, while the immediate entrance was lined with statues, consisting of sphinxes and other animals. The front wall formed two high tower like buildings, called pylons, before which stood two granite obelisks. Immediately behind the pylons came a large court where the congregation assembled and watched the sacrifices. Immediately next to the hall of the congregation, came the hall of priests, and immediately following the hall of the priests came the final chamber, called the Adytum, i.e., the Holy of Holies, which was entered only by the high Priest. This was the place of the shrine and the abode of the God. Each temple was a reproduction
of the world. The ceilings were painted to represent the sky and the stars, while the floor was green and blue like the meadows. Ceremonial cleanliness was at all times imperative, and the people before entering the temple must carefully purify themselves in a nearby stream. In later times, this became a ceremony of sprinkling with holy water before entrance into the temple".
It is clear from the foregoing description that not only the modern masonic lodges, are copies of the Egyptian temple, but also the ancient ones, for there is complete identity in their internal decoration. But the minor or lower lodges including those outside of Egypt, must have had a governing body, and so now, I proceed to quote C. H. Vail, who in his Ancient Mysteries, pages 182 and 183, describes fully the location and remains of the famous Grand Lodge of Luxor, as follows:—
C. (iii) The location of the Masonic Grand Lodge of Antiquity.
"At a short distance from Danderah, now called Upper Egypt, is the most extraordinary group of architectural ruins presented in any part of the world, known as the Temples of the ancient city of Thebes. Thebes in its prime occupied a large area on both sides of the Nile. This city was the centre of a great commercial nation of Upper Egypt ages before Memphis was the capital of the second nation in Lower Egypt; and however grand the architectural monuments of the latter may have been those of the former surpassed them. The portrayal by pencil or brush can convey but a faint idea of the perfected city. As the city stands today, it is like a city of giants, who after a long conflict have been destroyed, leaving the ruins of their various temples, as the only proof of their existence
"The Temple of Luxor (it was in this temple that the Grand Lodge of Initiates always met), stands on a raised platform of brickwork covering more than two thousand feet in length and one thousand feet in breadth (note the oblong shape, which became the pattern for all lodges and churches in the
ancient world). It is the one that interests the members of all Ancient Orders, especially so, all the members of those Orders that worshipped at the Shrine of the Secret Fire, more than perhaps any other, and stands on the eastern bank of the Nile. It is in a very ruined state; but records say the stupendous scale of its proportions almost takes away the sense of its incompleteness. Up to about a quarter of a century ago, the greater part of its columns in the interior and outer walls had been removed, after falling, for use elsewhere. This temple was founded by the Pharaoh Amenothis III, who constructed the southern part, including the heavy colonnade overlooking the river; but destruction unfortunately conceals this fact. The chief entrance to the Temple looked to the east; while the Holy Chambers at the upper end of the plain approached the Nile. As mighty as the Temple of Luxor was, it was exceeded in magnitude and grandeur by that of Carnak. The distance between these two great structures was a mile and a half. Along this avenue was a double row of Sphinxes, placed twelve feet apart, and the width of the avenue was sixty feet. When in perfect state this avenue presented the most extraordinary entrance that the world has ever seen. If we had the power to picture from the field of imagination the grand processions of Neophytes constantly passing through and taking part in the ceremonies of Initiation, we would be powerless to produce the grandeur of the surroundings, and the imposing sight of colour and magnificent trappings of those who took part. Neither can we produce the music that kept the vast number of people in steady marching order. Crude it might have been to the cultivated ear of the 20th century. But could not the palpitating strain sung by massed voices on the lapse of time, whose history launches the profoundest aspirations of the human heart, like the trend of a mighty river, because the grand currents of Universal Law, imparting the desire to that Shadowy Past, as it steps forth from the pages of history, dim with age? Egypt must have been, when these Temples were built, a martial nation for
records of her warlike deeds are perpetuated in deeply engraved tablets which even now, excite the admiration of the best Judges of archaeological remains. She was also a highly civilized nation, and of a nature that could bear the expenditure which always attends the culture of the Arts. She surpassed in her astonishing architecture, all other nations that have existed upon the earth."
I am fully convinced by these references and quotations that an Egyptian Grand Lodge of Ancient Mysteries actually existed some five thousand years ago or more, on the banks of the Nile in the city of Thebes, and that it was the only Grand Lodge of the Ancient World whose ruins have been found in Egypt, and that it was the governing body which necessarily controlled the Ancient Mysteries together with the philosophical Schools and minor Lodges wherever they happened to have been organized.
C. (iv) The rebuilding of the temple of Delphi.
The temple of Delphi was burnt down in 548 B.C. and it was King Amasis of Egypt, who rebuilt it for the brethren, by donating three times as much as was needed, in the sum of one thousand talents, and 50,000 lbs. of alum. According to information at hand, the temple had organized its members into an amphictyonic league for protection against political and other forms of violence; but they were too poor to raise sufficient funds from the membership, and they decided upon a public contribution from the citizens of Greece.
Accordingly they wandered throughout the land soliciting aid, but failed in their efforts. Having decided to visit the brethren in Egypt, they approached King Amasis, who as Grand Master, unhesitatingly offered to rebuild the Temple, and donated more than three times as much as was needed for the purpose.
N.B. Here it would be well to note that
(1) The Greeks regarded the Temple of Delphi as a foreign institution, hence
(2) They were unsympathetic towards it and for the same reason destroyed it by fire.
(3) Clearly, the Temple of Delphi was a branch of the Egyptian Mystery System, projected in Greece. Sandford's Mediterranean World p. 135; 139.
John Kendrick's Ancient Egypt Bk. II. P. 363.
From the conquest of Egypt by Alexander the Great, the Greeks, who were always attracted by the mysterious worship of the Nile-land, began to imitate the Egyptian religion in its entirety; and during the Roman occupation, the Egyptian religion spread not only to Italy: but throughout the Roman Empire, including Brittany.
This assimilation of the Egyptian religion was confined to the Gods of the Osirian cycle and the Graeco-Egyptian Serapis, and aimed at a close imitation of the ancient traditions of the Nile-land. Owing to the splendour of architecture, the hieroglyphs of the temples, the obelisks and sphinxes before the shrines, the linen vestments and the shaven heads and faces of the priests, the endless and obscure ritual, filled the Greeks with awe, and wonderful mysteries were consequently believed to have underlain these incomprehensibles, and the Egyptian religion stood in the way of the rising Christianity.
The success of the Egyptian religion was due no doubt, on the one hand to its conservatism; while on the other to the shadowy philosophical abstractions which constituted Graeco-Roman religion, so that the staunch faith of the Egyptians, together with their mysterious forms of worship, led to the universal conviction among the Ancients, that Egypt was not only the Holy Land but the Holiest of lands or countries, and that indeed, the Gods dwelt there.
The Nile became a centre for pilgrimages in the ancient world, and the pilgrims who went there and experienced the marvellous revelations and spiritual blessings which it afforded
them, returned home with the conviction that the Nile was the home of the most profound religious knowledge.
The Greeks failed to imitate Egyptian conservatism and not only in Egyptian cities, with large Greek population, but in Europe, Egyptian divinities were corrupted with Greek and Asiatic names and mythologies and reduced to vague pantheistic personalities, so that Isis and Osiris had retained very little of their Egyptian origin. (Max Muller p. 241–43; Egyptian Mythology). Consequently, as they failed to advance Egyptian Philosophy, so they also failed to advance Egyptian religion.
During the first four centuries of the Christian era, the religion of Egypt continued unabated and uninterrupted, but after the Edict of Theodosius at the end of the fourth century A.D., ordering the close of Egyptian temples, Christianity began to spread more rapidly and both the religion of Egypt and that of Greece began to die. In the island of Philae, in the first cataract of the Nile, however, the Egyptian religion was continued by its inhabitants, the Blemmyans and Nobadians, who refused to accept Christianity and the Roman government fearing a rebellion, paid tribute to them as an appeasement.
During the sixth century A.D., however, Justinian issued a second edict which suppressed this remnant of Egyptian worshippers and propagated Christianity among the Nubians. With the death of the last priest, who could read and interpret "the writings of the words of the Gods" (the hieroglyphics) the Egyptian faith sank into oblivion. It was only in popular magic that some practices lingered on as traces of a faith that became a universal religion, or the survival of a statue of Isis and Horus, which were regarded as the Madonna and Child.
A sentiment of admiration and awe for this strangest of all religions still survived, but the information from classical writers concerning this faith has been incomplete. Napoleon's invasion of Egypt brought a revival of interest from the West to decipher her inscriptions and papyri with a view to an understanding and appreciation of this most ancient of civilizations.
[paragraph continues] (Mythology of Egypt by Max Muller C. XIII p. 241–245; The Mediterranean World by Sandford, p. 508, 548, 552–558, 568).
We learn the following facts from the above quotations:—(i) The Egyptian Mysteries had become the Ancient World Religion, spreading throughout the Roman Empire and including Italy, Greece, Asia Minor, and various parts of Europe including Brittany. This continued under different names, long after Justinian's Edict of toleration granted to the Christians. (ii) Egypt was the Holy Land of the ancient world, that pilgrimages were made to that land because of the marvellous revelations and spiritual blessings which it afforded the ancient peoples, and because of the universal conviction among the Ancients that Egypt was the land of the Gods. (iii) The Edicts of Theodosius in the fourth century A. D,. and that of Justinian in the sixth century A.D. abolished alike not only the Mystery system of Egypt, but also its philosophical schools, located in Greece and elsewhere, outside Egypt.
(iv) The abolition of the Egyptian Mysteries was to create an opportunity for the adoption of Christianity. This was the problem: the Roman government felt that Egypt was now conquered in arms and reduced to her knees, but in order to make the conquest complete, it would be necessary to abolish the Mysteries which still controlled the religious mind of the ancient world. There must be a New World Religion to take the place of the Egyptian religion. This New Religion, which should take the place of the Mysteries, must be equally powerful and universal, and consequently everything possible must be done in order to promote its interests. This explains the rapid growth of Christianity following Justinian's Edict of toleration.
(v) Since the Edicts of Theodosius and Justinian abolished both the Mysteries of Egypt and the schools of Greek philosophy alike, it shows that the nature of the Egyptian Mysteries and Greek philosophy was identical and that Greek philosophy grew out of the Egyptian Mysteries.
As mentioned elsewhere, the Egyptian Mysteries and the philosophical schools of Greece were closed by the edicts of Theodosius in the 4th century A.D. and that of Justinian in the 6th century A.D. (i.e., 529); and as a consequence, intellectual darkness spread over Christian Europe and the Graeco-Roman world for ten centuries; during which time, knowledge had disappeared. As stated elsewhere, the Greeks showed no creative powers, and were unable to improve upon the knowledge which they had received from the Egyptians (Hist. of Science by Sedgwick and Tyler p. 141; 153; Zeller's Hist. of Phil. Introduction p. 31).
During the Persian, Greek and Roman invasions, large numbers of Egyptians fled not only to the desert and mountain regions, but also to adjacent lands in Africa, Arabia and Asia Minor, where they lived, and secretly developed the teachings which belonged to their mystery system. In the 8th century A.D. the Moors, i.e., natives of Mauritania in North Africa, invaded Spain and took with them, the Egyptian culture which they had preserved. Knowledge in the ancient days was centralized i.e., it belonged to a common parent and system, i.e., the Wisdom Teaching or Mysteries of Egypt, which the Greeks used to call Sophia.
As such, the people of North Africa were the neighbours of the Egyptians, and became the custodians of Egyptian culture, which they spread through considerable portions of Africa, Asia Minor and Europe. During their occupation of Spain, the Moors displayed with considerable credit, the grandeur of African culture and civilization. The schools and libraries which they established became famous throughout the Mediaeval world; Science and learning were cultivated and taught; the schools of Cordova, Toledo, Seville and Saragossa attained such celebrity, that they, like their parent Egypt, attracted students from all parts of the Western world; and from them arose the most famous African professors that the
world has ever known, in medicine, surgery, astronomy and mathematics. But these people from North Africa did more than merely distinguish themselves in Spain. They were really the recognized custodians of African culture, to whom the world looked for enlightenment. Consequently, through the medium of the ancient Arabic language, philosophy and the various branches of science were disseminated: (a) all the so-called works of Aristotle in Metaphysics, moral philosophy and natural science (b) translations by Leonardo Pisano in Arabic mathematical science (c) translation by Gideo a Monk of Arezzo in musical notation. (Sedgwick and Tyler's Hist. of Science C. IX.)
In addition, the Moors kept up constant contact with mother Egypt: for they had established Caliphates not only at Baghdad and Cordova, but also at Cairo in Egypt. (Europe in the Middle Ages by Ault p. 216–219). Just here it would be well to mention that all the great leaders of the great religions of antiquity were Initiates of the Egyptian Mystery System: from Moses, who was an Egyptian Hierogrammat, down to Christ.
It should also be of interest to know that European scientists like Roger Bacon, Johann Kepler, Copernicus and others obtained their science through Arab or Berber sources. It is also noteworthy that throughout the Middle Ages, European knowledge of medicine came from these same sources.
(History of The Arabs, by Hitti pages 370, 629, 665 and 572).
(Philo; Esoteric Christianity by Annie Besant p. 107; 128–129; Ancient Mysteries by C. H. Vail p. 59; 61; 74–75; 109).