Freemasonry and the Druids
There is a divine and hidden science whose origin
can only be discovered by the wavering lights of tradition, whose doctrines and
purposes are enveloped in sacred mysteries.
No feelings can be compared with those which a
young man feels when, attired in strange array, blind-folded, the dagger
pointed to his naked left breast, he is led through the mystic labyrinth, whose
intricate ways are emblematical of the toilsome wanderings of his soul.
|It is now degenerated into a society of gluttons
and wine-bibbers, who yawn while their Masters expound to them those emblems
which have excited the wonder of the greatest philosophers of the past, and who
deem that the richest gem of freemasonry, is the banquet which closes the labor
of the Lodge.
And yet this order can boast of some learned and
intellectual men, who endeavor to find the key to the hidden language of
symbols, and who appreciate at its true value the high honors which the
initiated are permitted to enjoy.
In spite of the abuses with which it has been
degraded, in spite of the sneers with which the ignorant revile it, this
institution still possesses much that is holy and sublime.
The strains of solemn music-the mysterious
words-the low knock at the portal--the sudden blaze of light--and the strange
sight which await his eyes feeble and fluttering from their long imprisonment.
What awe he feels, as kneeling on his right knee,
his left hand placed upon the Book of the Law, encircled by the Masters in
their robes of office, and the two white wands held over his head in the form
of a cross, he takes the oath of secrecy and faith, "to hail, conceal and
never reveal the hidden mysteries of the fellowship" to which he is now
And what pride flushes in his heart when the secret
signs and key-words are imparted to him, and when the white apron, a badge more
glorious than the fabled Golden Fleece, or the Roman Eagle is tied round his
Surrounded by all those signs and symbols by which
the ancient nations were wont to express the power and presence of God, the
Mason's Lodge resembles a scene of enchantment in the midst of this wilderness
which we call the world. And those who are thus assembled together in mystic
robes, seem spirits of another age, who have returned to hold their hidden
meetings once more in the catacombs of the Egyptian pyramids, or in the
cavern-temple sacred to Mithra, or in the subterranean labyrinths of the holy
The brethren seated in a circle, one of the Masters
arises and advances to the midst. He relates to them a tradition of the origin
of their craft.
"After the destruction of the world, these two
pillars were discovered by Hermes, the son of Shem. Then the craft of masonry
began to flourish, and Nimrod was one of the earliest patrons of the art.
Abraham, the son of Jerah, was skilled in the seven sciences and taught the
Egyptians the science of grammar. Euclid
was his pupil, and instructed them in the art of making mighty walls and
ditches to preserve their houses from the inundations of the Nile,
and by geometry measured out the land, and divided it into partitions so that
each man might ascertain his own property. And he it was who gave masonry the
name of geometry.
"In his days, it came to pass that the
sovereign and lords of the realm had gotten many sons unlawfully by other men's
wives, insomuch that the land was grievously burdened with them. A council was
called but no reasonable remedy was proposed. The king then ordered a
proclamation to be made throughout his realms, that high rewards would be given
to any man who would devise a proper method for maintaining the children.
dispelled the difficulty. He thus addressed the king: 'My noble sovereign, if I
may have order and government of these lord's sons, I will teach them the seven
liberal sciences, whereby they may live honestly like gentlemen, provided that
you will grant me power over them by virtue of your royal commission.'
"This request was immediately complied with,
and Euclid established a Lodge of
This tale is curious as being the earliest account
of an educational institution.
There are various traditions of minor interest
relating to the patriarchal ages and to the wanderings of the Israelites in the
The Freemasons claim descent from that body of
builders who, some from Phnicia, and some from India,
came to Jerusalem to erect the
of Solomon. They also assert that
these masons were governed by the same laws, and united by the same ties as
those of the modern order, and in the initiation of a Master-mason the
following tradition is related respecting the death of the Phnician Hiram
Abiff, the master architect who directed the building of the temple:
"There were fifteen fellow-craftsmen, who
finding that the temple was almost finished, and that they had not received the
master's word because their time was not come, agreed to extort it from their
master, the skilful Hiram Abiff, on the first opportunity, that they might pass
for masters in other countries and have masters' wages. Twelve recanted and the
other three determined to carry out the plot. Their names were Jubela, Jubelo,
and Jubelum. These three crafts knowing that it was always the master's custom
at twelve at noon, when the men were called off to refreshment, to go into the sanctum
sanctorum to pray to the true and living God--they placed themselves at the
three entrances to the temple, viz., at the west, south and east doors. There
was no entrance in the north, because thence the sun darts no rays. Thus they
waited while he made his prayer to the Lord, to have the word or grip as he
came out, or his life. So Hiram came to the east door, and Jubela demanded the
master's word. Hiram told him he did not receive it in such a manner but he
must wait, and time and a little patience would bring him to it, for it was not
in his power to deliver it except the three Grand Masters were together, viz:
Solomon, King of Israel, Hiram, King of Tyre, and Hiram Abiff.
"Jubela struck him across the throat with a
24-inch gauge. He fled thence to the south door where he was accosted in the
same manner by Jubelo to whom he gave a similar answer, and who gave him a blow
with a square upon his left breast. Hiram reeled but recovered himself, and
flew to the west door where Jubelum gave him a heavy blow upon the head with a
common gavel or setting maul which proved his death.
"After this they carried him out of the west
door and hid him in a heap of rubbish till it was twelve at night, when they
found means to bury him in a handsome grave, six feet east and west, and six
feet in height.
"When Hiram was missed, King Solomon made
great inquiry after him, and not hearing anything of him supposed him to be
dead. The twelve crafts that had recanted hearing the said report, and their
consciences pricking them, went and informed King Solomon with white aprons and
gloves as tokens of their innocence. King Solomon forthwith sent them in search
of the three murderers who had absconded, and they agreed to make the pursuit
in four parties, three going north, three south, three east, and three west.
"As one of these parties traveled down to the
sea of Joppa, one of them sitting himself down to rest by the side of a rock,
heard the following lamentations proceed from a cleft within:--
"'O that I had my throat cut across, and my
tongue torn out by the root, and buried in the sands of the sea at low water a
cable length from the shore, where the tide doth regularly ebb and flow twice
in the course of the twenty-four hours, than that I had been concerned in the
death of our master Hiram.'
And then another voice:
"'Oh! that I had my heart torn from under my
naked left breast, and given to the vultures of the air as a prey, rather than
I had been concerned in the death of so good a master.'
"'But oh!' cried Jubelum. I struck him harder
than you both, for I killed him. Oh! that I had had my body severed in two, one
part carried to the south, and the other to the north, my bowels burnt to ashes
and scattered before the four winds of the earth, rather than I had been
concerned in the death of our master Hiram.'
|"After the sun had descended down the seventh
age from Adam before the flood of Noah, there was born unto Methusael, the son
of Mehujael, a man called Lamach who took unto himself two wives. the name of
the one was Adah, of the other Zillah. Now Adah his first wife, bare two
sons--the one named Jabel and the other Jubal. Jabal was the inventor of
geometry and the first who built houses of stone and timber, and Jubal was the
inventor of music and harmony. Zillah, his second wife, bare Tubal Cain, the
instructor of every artificer in brass and iron, and a daughter called Naamah
who was the founder of the weaver's craft.
"All these had knowledge from above, that the
Almighty would take vengeance for sin either by fire or by water, so great was
the wickedness of the world. So they reasoned among themselves how they might
preserve the knowledge of the sciences which they had found, and Jabal said
that there were two different kinds of stone of such virtue that one would not
burn and the other would not sink--the one called marble and the other latres.
They then agreed to write all the science that they had found upon these
"Jubelum's body was severed in two, one part
was carried to the north, the other to the south, his bowels were burnt to
ashes and scattered to the four winds of the earth."
The real secret of Freemasonry, viz., its origin
and purport, as yet remain an enigma and will probably ever remain so.
There are some authors who have fixed the source of
this sacred and mysterious fountain within the oaken groves of the extinguished
order of the Druids.
Who assert that when Druidism was proscribed, its
priests adopted various disguises and carried their learning into various
professions. Some became school-masters and taught science to the youth of Britain,
as they had once done in the forest seminaries of Mona. Some fortune-tellers,
the parents of the tribes of gypsies who still retain a kind of brotherhood
united by oaths and secret signs, and who at one time possessed so strange an
ascendancy over the minds of the vulgar.
And others who formed themselves into a community
resembling, if not in their power, at least in their unanimity, that ancient
body of priests who had once been the sovereigns of Britain.
At first I was inclined to believe that such was
really the case, and that Freemasonry was no more than a reproduction of
Druidism in the Middle Ages. On searching for materials, I met with evidence in
limine which tended to confirm me in this conviction. There was a
manuscript discovered in the Bodleian Library at Oxford
in 1696, which was supposed to have been written about the year 1436. It
purports to be an examination of one of the brotherhood by King Henry VI, and
is allowed by all masonic writers to be genuine.
Its title is as follows: "Certain questions
with answers to the same concerning the mystery of masonry written by King,
Henry the Sixth and faithfully copied by me John Leylande, antiquarian, by
command of his highness."
I give an extract modernizing the English of the
original, which, though quaint, would be unintelligible to all but
"What mote it
be? It is the knowledge of nature, and the power of its various operations;
particularly the skill of reckoning, of weights and measures, of constructing
buildings and dwellings of all kinds, and the true manner of forming all things
for the use of man.
"Where did it
begin ?-it began with the first men of the East, who were before the first men of
the West, and coming with it, it hath brought all comforts to the wild and
"Who brought it
to the West?--the Phoenicians who, being great merchants, came first from the
East into Phoenicia, for the convenience of commerce, both East and West
by the Red and Mediterranean Seas.
"How came it
into England?--Pythagoras, a Grecian, traveled to acquire knowledge in Egypt
and in Syria, and in every other land where the Phoenicians had planted
masonry; and gaining admittance into all lodges of masons, he learned much, and
returned and dwelt in Grecia Magna, growing and becoming mighty wise and
greatly renowned. Here he formed a great lodge at Crotona, and made many masons, some of whom traveled into France, and there made many more, from whence, in process of
time, the art passed into England."
This, I need not remind the reader, is a story very
similar to those current respecting the first planting of Druidism in Britain.
I also discovered as I thought, a key to the
tradition of Hiram Abiff, which I have just related, viz., that it was simply
the story of Osiris (killed by Typhon the Evil Spirit, buried in a coffin and
found by Isis) so corrupted by modern Masons.
In the continuation of the story of Hiram, it is
stated that the twelve crafts on discovering his body were unable to raise it,
and that King Solomon ordered a lodge of master-masons to be summoned and said,
"I will go myself in person and try to raise the body by the master's
grip or the lion's paw.
By means of this grip the Grand-Master Hiram was
Now in a figure painted on a mummy at the Austin
Fryar's of La Place des Victores, representing the death and
resurrection of Osiris, is seen an exact model of the position of the
master-mason as he raises Hiram.
Jubela, Jubelo, Jubelum are merely
variations from the Latin word jubeo, I command. The pretended assassins
are represented as demanding the master's grip and word from Hiram in an
A more satisfactory proof of the truth of this
statement is contained in an astronomical notion of the Hindus, whose Chrisna
is the same as the Osiris of the Egyptians.
The Decans, or Elohim, are the gods
of whom it is said the Almighty created the Universe. They arranged the order
of the zodiac. The Elohim of the summer were gods of a benevolent
disposition: they made the days long, and loaded the sun's head with topaz.
While the three wretches that presided in the winter at the extreme end
of the year, hid in the realms below, were, with the constellation to which
they belonged, cut off from the rest of the zodiac; and as they were missing,
were consequently accused of bringing Chrisna into those troubles which at last
ended in his death.
Even allowing these premises to be true, it does
not necessarily follow that the traditionary account of the building of
Solomon's Temple by masons was also
And indeed there is so much that is purely Hebrew
in ceremonial masonry, that one is almost forced to believe that the Freemasons
of the present day are really descended from a body of architects, who, like
the Dionysiacks of Asia Minor, were united into a fraternal association and who
erected the temple of Solomon.
In these ceremonies, however, and in their emblems
there is much also that is Druidic, and if Freemasonry did not emanate from Druidism,
there can be no doubt that it sprang from the same origin.
I will trace out the affinity between the Masonic
Order of the Present, and the Druid Order of the Past. It shall be for the
reader to decide whether these Masonic usages are vestiges of Druidism, or mere
points of family resemblance.
The initiations of Masons are so similar to those
of the Druids, that any Mason reading my article upon the subject must have
been struck by the resemblance.
The ovade wore a gold chain round his neck. And the
apprentice when initiated has a silk cord, in masonic parlance a cable-tow,
suspended from his throat. Like the ovade, the apprentice is blindfolded, and
as the former was led through the mazes of a labyrinth, the latter is led
backwards and forwards, and in various directions.
Thunder and lightning were counterfeited in the
initiation of a Druid, and in that of the Royal Arch the Companions fire
pistols, clash swords, overturn chairs, and roll cannon balls across the floor.
The tiler stands at the door with a drawn sword.
And tests of fortitude though less severe than in
former times are not unknown among Masons. The following arduous trial was used
in the Female Lodges of Paris:--
"A candidate for admission was usually very
much excited. During a part of the ceremony she was conducted to an eminence,
and told to look down at what awaited her if she faltered in her duty. Beneath
her appeared a frightful abyss in which a double row of iron spikes were
visible. No doubt her mind was in a chaos of fanaticism, for instead of
shrinking at the sight, she exclaimed "I can encounter all," and
sprang forward. At that moment a secret spring was touched, and the candidate
fell not on the spikes, but on a green bed in imitation of a verdant plain. She
fainted but was soon recovered by her friends, when the scene having changed
she was reanimated and soothed by the sweet strains of choral music."
I have already shown, I trust conclusively, that
the Druidic mysteries were founded on those of the Egyptians, and were analogous
to those of Tyre, Persia
and Hindostan; and that their moral doctrines and pristine simplicity of
worship were those of the Hebrew Patriarchs.
It will be easy to show that those of Freemasonry,
if not a mere perpetuation of the Druidic were derived from the same fountains,
and that the secrets of this science and philosophy are hidden from us by the
veil of Isis.
To the Egyptian candidate on his- initiation, the
Hierophant displayed the holy volume of hieroglyphics which he then restored to
So when the eyes of the apprentice are first
released from darkness, he beholds the volume of the sacred law.
During the Persian initiations, the doctrine was
enforced ex cathedra, from the desk or pulpit. So the Grand Master sits on a
throne before which the candidate kneels, pointing a dagger to his naked left
breast and two white wands being crossed above his head.
On the seal of the ancient Abbey of Arbroath in
Scotland, is a representation which bears a curious resemblance to the
engraving on a seal used by the priests of Isis, and which Plutarch describes
in his Essay on Isis and Osiris--a man kneeling, his hands bound, and a
knife at his throat.
In all the ancient mysteries before an aspirant
could claim participation in the higher secrets of the institution, he was
placed within the pastos or bed, or coffin, and was
subjected to a confinement in darkness for a certain time.
|"The brother that heard these sorrowful
lamentations hailed the other two, and they went into the cleft of the rock and
took them and bound them, and brought them before King Solomon, when they owned
what had passed, and what they had done, and did not desire to live, therefore
King Solomon ordered their own sentences to be executed upon them, saying,
'They have signed their own deaths, and let it be upon them as they have said.'
"'Jubela was taken out, and his throat cut
across, and his tongue torn out by the root, and buried in the sands of the sea
at low water, a cable length from the shore, where the tide did regularly ebb
and flow twice in the course of the twenty-four hours.
"Jubelo's heart was torn from under his naked
left breast, and was given to the vultures of the air as a prey.
This I have described to be practiced by the
Druids. In some of their labyrinths, discovered in France, the remains of cells
have been found, and there was a dark cell of probation recently standing near
Maidstone, Kitt's Cotti House--from Ked (or Ceridwen) the British Isis,
and cotti an ark, or chest.
So in the initiation of a Master Mason, the
candidate is in some lodges buried in a coffin to represent the death of the
murdered Hiram Abiff.
The grand festival of Masonry is on Midsummer Day,
which was also the grand festival of the Druids.
The processional movements of the Masons as of the
Druids were mostly circular.
Masons also have a word which they are not allowed
to pronounce except in the presence of a full lodge, and they pay peculiar
reverence to a point within a circle.
Some of the Druidic monuments are simple circles
with a stone standing in the midst, and the boss in the centre of their
circular shields had probably the same signification.
The Masonic Lodge, like all Pagan temples, is built
due east and west. Its form is an oblong square which the ancients believed to
be the shape of the world. In the west are two pillars surmounted by globes.
The one on the left is called Boaz, and is supposed to represent Osiris or the
sun, the other Jachin, the emblem of Isis or the moon.
The floor is mosaic, and the walls are adorned with the various symbols of the
The cross is one of the chief emblems in Masonry as
it was in Druidism, and in all the Pagan religions. The Taw is a badge in Royal Arch Masonry, and almost
all the other varieties of the symbol are used in Masonry.
The key and the cross-keys are also mosaic symbols.
They are supposed to be astronomical signs of Anubis, or the Dog-Star.
An ear-of-corn is a prominent emblem in Masonry,
proving that the order did not confine their intellects and their labors to the
building of houses, but devoted themselves also to agriculture.
A sprig of acacia is one of the emblems revered by
the Masons, and answers to the Egyptian lotus, to the myrtle of Eleusis,
to the golden branch of Virgil and to the Druidic mistletoe. It is curious that
Houzza which Mahomet esteemed an idol--Houzza so honored in the Arabian
works of Ghatfân Koreisch, Kenanah and Salem
should be simply the acacia. Thence was derived the word huzza! in our
language, which was probably at first a religious exclamation like the Evohe!
of the Bacchantes.
The doctrines of Masonry are the most beautiful
that it is possible to conceive. They breathe the simplicity of the earliest
ages animated by the love of a martyred God.
That word which the Puritans translated
"charity," but which is really "love"--love is the
key-stone of the Royal Arch upon which is supported the entire system of this
In the lectures of the French Lodges the whole duty
of a Mason is summed up in this one brief sentence: "Aimez-vous les uns
les autres, instruisez-vous, secourez-vous, voilà tout noire livre, toute noire
loi, toule noire science."
"Love one another, teach one another, help one
another. That is all our doctrine, all our science, all our law."
Ah! rail against us bigoted and ignorant men,
slander us curious and jealous women if you will. Those who obey the precepts
of their masters, and those who listen to the truths which they inculcate can
readily forgive you. It is impossible to be a good Mason without being a good
We have no narrow-minded prejudices; we do not debar
from our society this sect or that sect; it is sufficient for us that a man
worships God, no matter under what name or in what manner, and we admit him.
Christians, Jews, Mahometans, Buddhists are enrolled among us, and it is in the
Mason's Lodge alone that they can kneel down together without feeling hatred,
without professing contempt against their brother worshippers.
Original text by W. Winwood Reade, revised and edited © 2004-2006.
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Freemasonry and the Druids