FREEMASONRY AND THE HERMETIC DOCTRINE (PART 1)
By: Carlos Antonio Martinez, Jr.
It is well known and profoundly explicated by great authors, that aside from being the one Initiatic Order that has endured and survived until the present time, Freemasonry is the purest inheritor of the Metaphysics and Symbology of the Hermetic Tradidtion.
The word ³Hermetism² derives from Hermes Trismegistus, the ³Thrice Great One², the legendary personage to whom the Egyptians gave the name ³Thoth², and who divulged the Perpetual Philosophy and Esoteric Sciences to the Western World. The Greeks assimilated him as the God ³Hermes², and the Romans as ³Mercury², messenger of the Gods and transmitter of the primordial teachings that have remained semi-intact until our very days, thanks to the Mystery Schools of which, we Freemasons, are direct descendants. History relates that all these profound knowledge had been transmitted and entrusted to the Grand Hierophants, ancient Egyptian Priests who, in the interior of a cavern, by means of rituals very similar to ³ours², used to initiate the Pharaohs and Wise Sages whom, in turn, were responsible for guarding and legating such an Infinite Wisdom to the future generations.
As it is related in the Torah and/or Old Testament, in the Book of Genesis, chapter 41, verses 1 thru 57, Joseph, son of Jacob, succeeded in earning the Pharaoh¹s appreciation due to his knowledge and esoteric abilities; So did the High Priests of the Twelve Tribes of Israel, before their enslavement, and, of course, Moses, the Egyptian Prince, Architect and Hierophant who became the Emancipator and Law-Giver of the Jews. They all drank from the Sacred Science of the Egyptian High Priests, thus enhancing and complementing the Hebrew Esoteric Tradition. It is also well known, that a vast number of Wise Men and Sages, such as Pythagoras, that took active/vital parts during the ³Golden Century² of Greek Culture, were also initiated by Egyptian Priests. This Hermetic Knowledge was also acquired and later disseminated by posterior Pythagoreans such as: Socrates, Plato, Timaeus and Appolonius of Tyana, thus building the solid foundation of Occidental Culture and Tradition. Accordingly, therefore, we can assert that these teachings, principles and practices were not manifested solely in Egypt, but, in other ancient civilizations and cultures as well; And, furthermore, these other ancient civilizations have already beheld their share of personages whom, have also been syncretised with the character of Hermes, and the writings attributed to these mythological beings have likewise become part of the Universal Hermetic Books. In fact, the planet Mercury and the Sun, respectively deified by the ancient northern hindues as ³Budha², by the Nordics as ³Odin², ³Woden² or ³Wotan², by the Incas as ³Viracocha², and by the Aztecs as ³Quetzalcoatl², have attributes and characteristics similar to those of Hermes. In the Islamic Tradition the Prophet Idris is also compared with Hermes, as well as with Noah and Elias, all three elevated to the heavens without having passed through the realm of death; And, in the Jewish Tradition, Hermes is compared to the Archangels Raphael and Michael, whom, per the Kabbalah , are likewise represented by Mercury and the Sun.
All these comparisons are not mere coincidences, but, on the contrary, they are one more fundamental proof that all cultures take their symbols and beliefs from a Primeval Tradition, a common stock in all of them. All this Knowledge, Understanding and Skills had already been revealed to the Old Civilizations of the East, presented under different apparel, physiognomy and path. And, in like manner, they had also been unveiled to those of the Old European Continent and our Pre-Columbine Nations of America.
Moreover, it is important to remark that all these cognitions and teachings were also manifested in the Occidental Hemisphere, through the science expressed in the myths and symbols of the Greeks, Romans, Gnostic Christians and Arabs, constituting a symbiosis from which the Hermetic Tradition is properly derived, and that gives shape to the primary and unanimous tradition which, in its most internal and esoteric aspects, were transmitted to the neophyte by way of the rituals and lessons implemented and taught at the Initiatic Schools, precursors of our Order.
In the 3rd century of our era, the city of Alexandria became the place where the True Synthesis of all this Wisdom was produced; in an amazing manner, there were assembled innovating ideas and personages originating from different times and places; there, in that Great Metropolis, the First Christians lived together with the Gnostics and the Neo-Platonic Greek Thinkers, and blended their traditions with those of the Jews, the Hindus, and the Chinese Taoists. This fortunate convergence made possible the formation of a True Synthetic Doctrine that began to expand toward different directions of the globe. In addition, to clarify and counter the misconceptions and mal-intentioned predications of our days, we should mention the expansion of Islamism which, had a determining influence upon the Sciences and Arts of the Middle Ages, an epoch during which Hermetism reached its maximum splendor. In this period, much Importance, Dedication and Enthusiasm was given to the development and/or augmentation of the Esoteric and Hermetic Sciences, such as: Numerology, Geometry, Architecture, Astrology, Alchemy and Kabbalah, all of them ³connections between heaven and earth², vehicles of knowledge and cosmological royal art. Later on, when the Middle Ages entered their period of decadence, and the vast majority of Wise Men and Sages started to be persecuted, all these sciences had to go underground and became, once again, ³Occult², or, ³Hidden² within a number of Iniatic Orders, such as ³The Mystics of Munich² and ³The Faithful of Love² to, which, the Masters Ekhart and Dante belonged. In the subsequent Renaissance, our sciences became active participants of this ³Rebirth², adopting a few new facets; But, it is, then, from that very period in time, when the seeds of the posterior Rationalism and present Materialism were planted, and, so, all these Sciences and Arts started to slowly be cast into oblivion, and substituted by technical and empirical sciences, though conserving intact their centers of initiations which, in time became the foundation of Free-Masonry, as we know it in its genuine form.
The Masonic Adept must firmly believe that, in order to comprehend the true sense of the Hermetic Tradition and the Reason of Being of our Order, it is necessary to overpower and surpass the prejudices of the modern mentality. The studious Free-Mason can no longer ignore that, in its remote beginnings, our Fraternity was essentially operative, but, dedicated and devoted to the study and experimenting of these Hermetic Secrets, Principles and Disciplines which, constituted its reason of being and gave it the necessary strength to fulfill its objectives.
Just as we are told by Bro:. Oswald Wirth ³ True Masonic Initiation is Active Initiation ². Initiation is not sought after solely to learn, but, to work, to learn to work. According to the symbolic language utilized by every Initiatic School, Labor has as its objective the transmutation of led into gold (Alchemy), and the construction of the Temple of Universal Concord (Free-Masonry).
Fortunately, my Brothers, there are still in our August Order, true Freemasons studious of Metaphysical Principles and Hermetic Symbology, and who manage to safeguard the purity of the rituals and initiatic practice, through which, we conserve that Spiritual Influx that shall enable our Institution to comply with the noble and sublime mission for which it was created, and to which we all belong wholeheartedly in conformity with the will of The Great Architect Of The Universe.