Jesus, the Essenes and Freemasonry-Is there a connection?

Who were the Essenes, how are they related to Jesus Christ and how does all of this relate to Freemasonry?

The Essenes are an enigmatic sect of Jews that lived in and around Palestine and according to Josephus, they had as many as four thousand adherents. They lived a holy, peaceful existence and held similar moral ground to the Pythagoreans.

Of the three sects of Jews that existed before the life of Christ, there were the Sadducees, the Pharisees, and the Essenes. It was said that Christ often denounced the Sadducess and the Pharisees, but never mentioned the Essenes. It is also striking to note that the virtues and morals by which the Essenes ascribed to, were much the same of the virtues of Christ himself. They believed in baptism, healing, and assisting the less-fortunate. They believed material wealth was a burden and that there was virtue in being poor and living in the most modest means possible. They abstained from eating meat and saw it as akin to slavery of the flesh.  They were strong adherents to keeping their wisdom secret, except to those of their order. Many of these concepts were attributed to the teachings of Christ as well and this idea of keeping the wisdom secret can be found in the fact that Jesus taught all of his word through parables, so that the commoner could not interpret their hidden meanings.

Masonic ciphers, or books of coded ritual work, have been available to Masons in America for some time. However, there was a time when this was forbidden, even if printed in coded cipher. There were some versions of the ritual that were released under different names so that they could be passed off without scrutiny. One of these “exposes” as many call them, has an Essene related name. It is called “Ecce Oriente; Or Rites and Ceremonies of the Essenes” by M. Wolcott Redding from 1870. It is my personal belief that Freemasonry teaches and promotes much of the original concepts that were embodied in early Christianity as well as other pre-Christian religions. Christianity was influenced by Gnosticism and Hermeticism, both of which are prevalent throughout the Masonic tradition. Check out the following articles for more on this fascinating topic:

 

The Jesus Connection

Jesus An Essene

Jesus and the Essenes

Freemasonry and the Essenes

 

 

 

 

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Memento Mori-Death and the Mysteries

From dust we came and to dust we all must return…

Masonic symbolism and ritual is riddled with images and symbols of our mortality. Why is this? Is it because the fraternity is morbid, or is there a deeper, philosophical reason behind it?

There are very few things that we can all be certain of in this world, but our mortality is not one of them. We all will inevitably come to an end and thus continue the infinite cycle of life. We have always been taught to fear death, ever since we were old enough to understand what it is. But do we really know what it is? The simple answer is “no”. Many mystical traditions teach that death is not the end, but the beginning of a new life. This concept caries through nearly every religious tradition up to the current day.

Death as a symbol is very powerful. It reminds us of the short time that we have here. When we face our mortality it has a profound effect on our consciousness. Not only does it remind us that we should make the most of our short time on earth and to do good in the world, but it also helps us accept that change is inevitable and that we should embrace the unknown. It is also symbolic of the endless cycle of the universe. The universe is constantly dying and being born again. It is this concept that brings us to symbolic death and rebirth.

We see this concept of death and rebirth in the majority of, if not all ancient religious traditions. We see this in the slaying of Osiris by Set and his Resurrection, by Jesus’s death and Resurrection, etc. It is the death of the material and the birth of the spiritual.   It is symbolic of a new start that an individual has after becoming enlightened, or saved. It also serves the reminder that we must do our best to live life to the fullest and not take anything for granted. With this rebirth, after a symbolic death, we are encouraged to start anew, with a new sense of obligation to alleviate the suffering of our fellow creatures.

The symbolism of Freemasonry contains many references to death, or Momento Mori. As previously discussed in my blog, the Chamber of Reflection is a perfect example of Masonic symbolism in which the individual is brought face to face with their own mortality. The Chamber consists of a dark room, lit only by candlelight, a table with various symbolic items including a skull, and an ink well and quill for writing a last will and testament. There is also a bible, or holy book that the candidate must read certain passages from that remind them of the importance of living a virtuous life.

Another instance of death symbolism in masonry is in the Legend of Hiram Abiff. Hiram Abiff is the craftsman that is brought in by King Solomon and Hiram, King of Tyre to adorn Solomon’s Temple. Hiram Abiff is given the keys to the mysteries by King Solomon and is the Master Craftsman of the Temple. He is later accosted by three ruffians who hope to obtain the secrets from him, but he refuses, as they are not ready to receive them yet. They end up taking his life. Hiram Abiff is eventually raised by King Solomon and resurrected, bringing the legend full-circle. It is through this legend as told in the Third Degree that the candidate is taught not to be greedy and to seek what is not entitled to them, but to also understand the virtue in secrecy. They are also taught that they must die a symbolic death, to be reborn as a new, spiritual being.

The trestle board or tracing board (a wooden board with symbols on it) that is used for the Third Degree has a coffin and a skull on it. These symbols are representative of Momento Mori, and of the death of the material that the initiate is to go through on their path to finding Light.

To the casual observer these symbols may be grim, or even frightening, but to the initiate they take on much more positive and reaffirming concepts that can be a constant reminder of the impermanence of life and the importance of living with fervency and zeal and being constantly ready to alleviate the suffering of others in any way possible. In doing so, our existence can be etched into the fabric of time as our charity extends beyond the grave.

3rd Degree Tracing Board

 

Here is another article that I found that relates. Hope you enjoy!

The Skull and Crossbones and it’s Masonic Application

The Masonic Apron

The Masonic apron is one of the most iconic symbols in Freemasonry. It is the first gift that a Brother Mason is presented with after taking their obligation. We are taught that the apron was used by our ancient, operative Brothers who labored in the quarry and served a practical use at that time. In modern Speculative Masonry, it serves a different, symbolic purpose and is to be worn in the lodge setting and is to be placed upon our lifeless physical body as we prepare to move into the next stage of our existence.

We are taught that it is the most noble badge of a Mason and that it should never become soiled or impure and is made of white lambskin. The color and substance of the apron is symbolic of the purity and innocence that we are expected to live in harmony with as a Mason.  Much of the symbolism of the apron is explained to the new Brother Mason in the form of a lecture. However, as with all Masonic symbolism, there is more to it than is originally explained.

The apron is worn in a different manors, depending on which degree the candidate is receiving. Each one is distinct and different and is explained as such in the lectures. One of the more esoteric aspects of apron symbolism is the shapes that the apron consists of. The apron has gone through various incarnation over time, but has mostly consisted of a square with a triangular flap. This is significant in itself as the apron consists of two of the most simplistic, yet important geometric shapes that are used by operative builders. These shapes are also incredibly important in all Masonic teaching. The triangle and square appear time and time again throughout all Masonic symbolism and philosophy.

The serious student of esotericism will also note that the apron is representative of the Pythagorean theorem, which Masons (both operative and speculative) hold dear to their hearts. The triangular flap has three points, the square of the main covering has four points, and when combined, there are five points. These are the four corner points of the square and the point of the triangle as it lays upon the square. This is 3, 4, 5 of the Pythagorean theorem.

The apron is also used to subdue our passions. As the apron is worn at the waist and extends downward over the sex organs, it is a reminder that we must control our lower, sexual nature and not let it rule over us in our daily lives. It is imperative to the spiritual seeker to learn to subdue this lower, animal nature to purify the soul. It is also the location of the Root Chakra that we must all learn to overcome to advance on our spiritual path.

There are many more aspects to the Masonic Apron that can be studied and meditated upon. Check out the following links for further information, and while you’re there, check out some of the other great articles that they each have to offer. Enjoy!

Masonic Apron Symbolism by Greg Stewart of masonicinformation.com

The Symbolism and Design of the Masonic Apron by phoenixmasonry.org

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The Point of a Sharp Instrument-Top 10

Number 1

This is the moment you’ve all be waiting for, right? Many of you may already know which one I am going to choose as the number one post on this blog. I have linked to it multiple times as a kind of over-arching theme and though my studies have revealed some holes in my original ideas, I still stand by it. Hope you all enjoy this one and are enjoying your own journeys as much as I am enjoying mine. Thanks for reading and keep an eye open for new exciting articles coming soon to The Point of a Sharp Instrument!

The War on Human Consciousness

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The Point of a Sharp Instrument-Top 10

Number 2

This post may be my second favorite post that I have made on The Point of a Sharp Instrument, but the event itself is by far my fondest memory. In this post, I recounted and discussed the birth of my daughter, which was done at home. Home-birth is a natural and safe event that has taken place for centuries. It is only in modern times that we have been lead to believe that birth is a dangerous event that must be handled by doctors in a hospital setting. Taking the hospital aspect out of birth allows for less stress for the mother and the baby and in the long run, helps to contribute to the peaceful well being of both individuals. It’s also beneficial for the family as a whole, since the home environment is comfortable and an experience midwife can offer the necessary post-birth health care and support.   Enjoy!

Birth-A Natural, Peaceful Approach

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The Point of a Sharp Instrument-Top 10

Number 3

In this installment, I discuss the mysterious Philosophers Stone. Is the stone a real object, or is it purely symbolic. Check out the article to learn more about this enigmatic topic!

The Philosopher’s Stone-The Key to all of the Mysteries?

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