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The Key to Solomon's Key
Is this the Lost Symbol of Masonry?
By Lon Milo DuQuette
Consortium of Collective ConsciousnessCopyright © 2010 Lon Milo DuQuette
All rights reserved.
I CONFESS — I AM A FREEMASON
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Masonry is a progressive moral science, divided into different degrees; and, as its principles and mystic ceremonies are regularly developed and illustrated, it is intended and hoped that they will make a deep and lasting impression upon your mind.
~From The Fellow Craft Degree
Free & Accepted Masons
I am a Freemason. In 1998, at the age of fifty, I was raised in the same lodge that raised my father fifty years earlier. Masonry claims to make good men better, and although my father had many shortcomings, when all is said and done, he was the most noble and ethical man I have ever known. His morality, as much as I observed, was almost entirely self-imposed. He was not a religious man (confessing only that he believed in a Supreme Being), but he was good for goodness' sake; not in obedience to divine commandments; not out of fear of some deity.
He was extremely proud to be a Mason and, although he didn't remain an active member of his lodge, he always wore his Blue Lodge and Scottish Rite rings and kept his dues scrupulously up-to-date. When I was a child, he enjoyed teasing me about the secret nature of the Craft and would rattle off his titles; Secret Master, Perfect Master, Elu of the Twelve, Prince of Jerusalem, Knight Rose Croix, Knight of the Brazen Serpent, Master of the Royal Secret.
Master of the Royal Secret — that sounded interesting. I had to ask, "What's the Royal Secret?"
"I can't tell you. It's a secret."
"Did you tell Mom?"
"No. I can never tell your mother."
I liked that idea. We both laughed, and I felt like I was already sharing a Masonic secret.
Once when I was about five, he showed me his lambskin apron. He put it on, carefully centering the knot in front so it was concealed by the apron's triangular flap. He gently smoothed it down with both hands, stood at attention and recited from memory;
"A lambskin apron. It is an emblem of innocence and the badge of a Mason; more ancient than the Golden Fleece or the Roman Eagle; more honorable than the Star and Garter, or any distinction that could be conferred upon me, at that or any future period by King, Prince, Potentate, or any other person, and which it was hoped that I would wear with pleasure to myself and honor to the Fraternity."
I was very impressed.
He then smiled and made the most curious announcement, "The next time you see me wearing this apron I'll be dead and lying in a casket at my funeral."
Those were strange words, and a little hard for a five year-old to hear. But Dad was a pretty strange guy. He was right. The next time I saw him in his Masonic apron, was at his funeral less than twenty years later. He lived long enough to see my son born, but not long enough to see me become a Mason. We never became Brothers. We never had the opportunity to discuss the Royal Secret.
A snafu of some sort prevented his lodge brothers from showing up at the funeral to give him the fraternal send off. We were assured a few days later by the Master that the oversight caused 'heads to roll' down at the lodge. Twenty-six years later, when I finally became a Mason, I was appointed Chaplain of that same lodge. One of my first official acts was to arrange a proper Masonic graveside service.
I have to confess I knew quite a lot about the Craft before I joined. For the previous quarter-century, I had enmeshed myself in the studies, practices and intrigues of several initiatory orders and magical societies. Because many of the founders of these esoteric groups were Freemasons, I took it upon myself to become familiar with the history, doctrines and rituals of the Craft, especially those of the York and Scottish Rites. I learned many other very interesting things along the way as well.
By the time I finally joined I wasn't seeking the same sort of esoteric titillation that spiced my initiatory adventures in these other more secret secret societies. I knew from the beginning that I was entering an organization of mostly elderly men with whom I would have little in common except the bonds of fidelity that for centuries have united the fraternity — men who, if they really got to know me, would most likely consider my interests too strange, my studies too occult, my politics too liberal, my morals too permissive, my writings too weird, and my spiritual world-view downright heretical — men who, like my father, choose not to delve too deeply into mysteries that lie beneath the symbols and ceremonies that they and those that came before them so dutifully preserved.
My expectations were low, and so I wasn't at all disappointed. I was welcomed into a lodge that boasted nearly a thousand members whose average age was seventy-two — a lodge whose tiny library contained only a handful of books relating to the esoteric foundations of Masonry, few of which, according to the sign-out sheet, had ever been checked out.
It didn't really bother me. As a matter of fact, it felt kind of good. For the first time in many years, I was the youngster in a group. I quickly grew to love my new brothers and enjoy their company. I came to the comfortable realization that (no matter what else Masonry might be) it was a very big tent, and that if I behaved myself, there was a place in that tent for me.
It didn't matter to me that most of the old fellows could care less about the Eleusinian Mysteries, or the magic of the Babylonians, Egyptians, and Arabs, or the Kabbalah, or Gnosticism, or alchemy, or the suppressed history of Christendom. It didn't bother me when my new Brothers answered my questions by saying things like ... "Oh, that doesn't mean anything ... It's just symbolic."
So what if the Royal Secret was still a mystery to these Princes of the Royal Secret? I was just grateful for the fact that these gentlemen and generations of other dedicated souls had faithfully preserved and guarded the treasure of the Craft; and were now, with shaking hands, delivering it safely to me across the centuries, as if it were sealed in a locked casket for which they had no key.
I was very grateful indeed — because I had the key.CHAPTER 2
I CONFESS — I AM A MAGICIAN
* * *
Much light, it must be confessed, is thrown on many of the mystical names in the higher degrees by the dogmas of magic; and hence magic furnishes a curious and interesting study for the Freemason.
~Albert G. Mackey, M.D. 33°
Nobody speaks for Masonry. Nobody. Indeed, even though I am an active member of my Blue Lodge, Scottish Rite bodies and various Masonic research societies, everything I say in the present work concerning the Craft is based entirely on my own observations and conjectures. So please don't misunderstand me when I make the apparently presumptuous statement that I possess the key to the mysteries of Freemasonry. I'm not claiming that, like some investigative reporter, I have uncovered the true history behind every political, religious, and social intrigue that has (or hasn't) taken place on earth in the last five thousand years. Neither am I suggesting that I've mastered the history, meanings or lessons of every degree of every rite of the Craft. I am saying, however, that regardless the circumstances surrounding Masonry's creation and development — regardless of the past or present motives and activities of its individual leaders and members — the Craft is indeed the custodian of a profound and fundamental secret.
I'm by no means saying that I'm the only person on earth who believes they understand the central mystery of this august fraternity. Nor am I certain that, with key in hand, I possess the courage, wit or wisdom to properly apply this understanding to my own efforts towards spiritual liberation and for the benefit of my fellow human beings.
Whether or not they realized it, millions of men and women, Masons and non-Masons alike, possess this key. It's not a matter of what organization we belong to; it's not a matter of what we know. Rather, it is a matter of what we are that places the key in our hands. As no two people are (or ever can be) the same, it follows that no two individuals become what they are by the same paths. The pathway I happen to have taken is one that has had for centuries a close (if at times, uncomfortable) relationship with Freemasonry. I have chosen the path of magic.
Now, please don't immediately dismiss me as a crackpot, or worse, some kind of devil worshipper. Magic is in the broadest sense of the term simply the Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will. The Will I'm talking about is both the Will of God (as is commonly understood) and the true Will of each of individual, which, if properly realized, can be nothing other than the perfect reflection of the divine Will. In other words, if I seek and discover my true Will — what my place in the universe is — what I came to earth to be and do — then I've discovered (in the only way meaningful and comprehendible to me) God's will for my life.
As a magician, I have for the last thirty-five years, by means both traditional and forbidden, endeavored to cause change to occur in my life in conformity with what I have perceived to be my Will. I say, "perceived to be my Will," because it is not until we have developed a significant level of illumination that we can with any degree of certainty know what our Will truly is.
For me, the ultimate change I would like to effect is my own enlightenment and spiritual liberation. Call it what you like — salvation, redemption, return to Godhead, absorption in the infinite, nirvana, heaven — it's the supreme goal of every spiritual seeker. However, the magician goes about this Great Work very differently than the average Western religious devotee or the Eastern mystic.
The disciplines of the East encourage the aspirant to still the body and mind and go within to deal subjectively with the subtle obstacles that stand in the way of his or her perfect illumination. This approach requires quiet patience and a subtle underlying confidence that all spiritual answers can ultimately be found inside oneself.
Western magic springs from the myths and rich traditions of Babylon, Egypt, Arabia, and Israel. It is a spiritual art form that seems particularly suited to the way the Western psyche is hardwired. Traditionally, the Western mystic's approach has not been as subtle as that of his or her Eastern counterpart. Until relatively recent times, most Western seekers hadn't developed the confidence to explore the possibility that all spiritual answers lie within. For centuries, we've preferred to objectify our subjective issues — deal outwardly with internal matters. For the less adventurous, this has meant submitting to the dictates of a deity that we perceive as existing outside ourselves — outside of nature. Instead of closing our eyes and searching for our own answers, the majority of Westerners have preferred the path of vicarious illumination — relying exclusively upon faith in the outward, visible reality of the authoritative words of some person or scripture.
To a certain degree, this outward introspection is the foundation of the Western magical tradition as well. But the focus of the magician is a little bolder and more personally challenging. The magician dares view himself or herself as being an important and integral link in the divine chain of command of spiritual beings — not a mere observer or helpless victim in need of rescue, but a principal player, a junior partner with God in the great plan of creation.
The modern magician is certainly not alone in holding this point of view. In fact, according to recent statistics, nearly one third of the earth's population currently shares to some degree this spiritual self-image. Prior to the advent of Christianity and Islam, it was a near universally accepted fact of life. But magic is a science and an art form, not a belief system or a religion. Like Freemasonry, magic cares little what one's religious beliefs or opinions are.
That being said, the fact remains that very few Masons are card-carrying magicians, or even have an interest in such things. While in theory, Masonry opens her doors to anyone professing a belief in a Supreme Being, the overwhelming majority of Masons worldwide are Christians or Jews. Bible passages are recited during the Degree ceremonies, and (unless the candidate requests otherwise) the Christian version of the Holy Bible is the default Volume of the Sacred Law upon which candidates for initiation place their hands when swearing their solemn oaths to the fraternity.
Lodge meetings have an overtly religious feel to them. They are opened and closed with prayer, but the prayers are addressed generically to the Great Architect of the Universe, or to the Supreme Grand Master. This custom creates a unique spiritual atmosphere in which the Supreme Deity is elevated above sectarian divisions. We are no longer Methodists praying like Methodists, or Jews praying like Jews, or Moslems praying like Moslems, or Pagans praying the Pagan way. Within the tiled lodge room, we are simply human beings praying to God, because it is the human thing to do.
When you think about it, this seemingly simple custom is in-and-of itself a radical and revolutionary statement of spiritual liberation. It transforms each member into a religion of one — answerable to no one but God — and that is precisely what a magician is.
It is eminently appropriate that the person of King Solomon rises as a central figure in the traditions of both magic and Masonry, for it is written that Solomon was not only a great and wise man of God, he was also the most powerful magician the world had ever known.CHAPTER 3
SOLOMON THE KING
* * *
We read in the Holy Writings that it was decreed in the wisdom and counsels of Deity aforetime, that a house should be built, erected to God and dedicated to His holy name. We also learn from the same sacred source that David, King of Israel, desired to build the house, but that, in consequence of his reign having been one of many wars and much bloodshed, that distinguished privilege was denied him. He was not, however left without hope, for God promised him that out of his loins there should come a man who would be adequate to the performance of so great and glorious an undertaking. That promise was verified in the person and character of Solomon, his son, who ascended the throne ...
~From The Master's Lecture
Free & Accepted Masons
Everything we know about King Solomon comes to us from the pages of the Bible (primarily the First Book of the Kings, the Second Book of the Chronicles) and other Jewish, Islamic, Coptic, and Ethiopian religious literature. The Bible tells us that Solomon came to the throne of Israel after the death of his father, Israel's great warrior-king David.
The story of David, as outlined in the Books of Samuel, could rightly be called the world's first real biography. Never before in literature had a character been so thoroughly exposed, warts and all. The biblical narratives of David and Solomon read like colorful and titillating novels, and represent a remarkable departure in style from other books of the Bible.
The Bible tells us that Solomon inherited a huge and enormously wealthy nation with a massive, well-equipped army. Solomon's Israel was said to be so rich and mighty that none of its powerful neighbors, including its archenemy Egypt, dared remain hostile. Scripture recounts that the rulers of the world courted Solomon's favor and lavished opulent tribute upon the Hebrew King, filling his granaries and treasure houses with riches the like of which the world had never witnessed before. In a submissive act, unprecedented in biblical lore, Egypt's Pharaoh sent his own daughter to become one of the many wives of the wise and powerful Solomon.
It was within this glorious atmosphere of peace and unparalleled prosperity that Solomon fulfilled his father's dream of building a temple worthy to house the tangible presence of the True and Living God Most High. This great temple would be the exclusive center of worship and sacrifice for the children of Israel, and would replace the portable tabernacle that had served to house the sacred Ark of the Covenant since the wilderness-wandering days of Moses.
Excerpted from The Key to Solomon's Key by Lon Milo DuQuette. Copyright © 2010 Lon Milo DuQuette. Excerpted by permission of Consortium of Collective Consciousness.
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