MASONRY AND ITS SYMBOLS
Harold W. Percival
Life, death and resurrection of Hiram Abiff. The great lesson of Masonry. What Hiram symbolizes. The two triangles. The designs on the trestle-board. The South gate. The workmen. Hiram is restrained from going out. He is slain at the East gate. The immortal body. Jubela, Jubelo, Jubelum. Meanings of these three symbols. The three assaults. The Masonic drama. The fifteen workmen. The Great Twelve. The pairs of triangles forming six-pointed stars. Hiram as the power that makes the round. The finding of the three ruffians. The three burials of Hiram. The raising by King Solomon. The monument at the place of burial. Raising of the candidate. The three columns. The forty-seventh problem of Euclid.
The remaining portion of the initiation is a masonic drama, representing the life, death and resurrection of Hiram Abiff, whose part the candidate is made to take. Hiram was the master builder of King Solomon’s Temple and was slain by workmen for his refusal to impart the Word to them, and after two burials was raised by King Solomon and then buried the third time. This story conceals the great lesson of Masonry.
Hiram is the seminal principle, the generative power, the sex power, not an organ, not the fluid, but the power, invisible and most mysterious. This power lies in the Conscious Light of the Intelligence which is carried by desire and is an extract from the four elements, prepared by the four systems of the body. This power, having therefore something of the seven faculties of the Intelligence, something of the three parts of the Triune Self, and something of the four elements, is to be found only in a human body. This power is concentrated monthly by the inner brain, so becomes the lunar germ, and as such descends along the sympathetic nervous system in the front of the body and gathers Light of the Intelligence as it proceeds. The lunar germ in man is a concentration of the whole power, but one half of the power is checked in its possible development. A man, symbolized according to the language for which the masonic word Geometry stands, by the triangle Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces, has only half the power, and so has a woman, symbolized by the female triangle Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn. The other half in each is dormant or suppressed. The active half develops in the body organs to express itself and is lost through them. With this loss are mingled thoughts of lust, violence, shame, dishonor, disease, love and hate, which are the cable-tow of rebirth. If Hiram is not lost, but is saved, the half of him that is checked will develop in the body and there will build new parts, new organs, new channels. Hiram is the builder.
Hiram, the Master-Builder, the Grand Master, draws his designs on the trestle-board—that is, the lines on the breath-form which is in the sympathetic nervous system— and passes out each day, that is, each life, through the South gate, Libra, of the outer courts of the Temple. That is to say, the monthly germ is lost. It is his usual custom to enter the unfinished Sanctum Sanctorum, that is, the heart and lungs, on the line Cancer to Capricorn. There thinking draws out the lines of his designs upon the trestle-board, whereby the craft pursue their labors, that is, whereby the workmen or elementals in the four systems of the body build according to the lines, the physical state and circumstances in which the body exists.
On one day, that is, in one life, when Hiram, following his usual custom attempts to leave the body at the South gate, the gate of sex, he is hindered and restrained from going out. He turns, seeks to go out at the West gate, Cancer, and is again prevented. Then he seeks the East gate, Capricorn, and there he is slain. This means that the sex power sought to leave by the sex opening and when that was barred, by the opening in the breasts, that is, by emotions, and when that was closed, by a place in the spine, which stands for the brain or intellect, and when that exit, too, was blocked, it died to these mortal expressions of itself. Having so died to mortality and corruption it was raised to build an incorruptible and immortal body.
The three ruffians Jubela, Jubelo and Jubelum, are no ruffians, but are the Junior Warden, Senior Warden and Worshipful Master, the three officers of the lodge, in Masonry, and they stand also for the three parts of the Triune Self, Jubela being the Doer, Jubelo the Thinker, and Jubelum the Knower. Each has a part of the Word. If their parts were combined they would be AUM or AOM or three of the four parts of the Word. But no combination is made, that is, the three parts do not work coordinately.
Hiram has the Word, he is the Word, for he has the Light, that is, the Intelligence powers and the Triune Self powers and the powers of the four elements, and he has them combined. When assaulted by the first ruffian and asked for the Word, Hiram, therefore, says: “Wait until the Temple is completed,” that is, until he has built the immortal body. He says about giving the secrets of the Word: “I cannot; nor can they be given, except in the presence of Solomon, King of Israel (the Knower), and Hiram, King of Tyre (the Thinker), and myself” The Doer (the Light in the sex with feeling-and-desire). This means that the Word cannot be imparted by the sex power since the sex power only builds the immortal body, the Temple. When Hiram as the combined powers of the Light, the Doer and the sexes, has completed the building of the body he can act his own part as Hiram, the Doer of feeling-and-desire. Then together with the Thinker, King of Tyre, and the Knower, Solomon, he is the Word and enters the finished Temple.
Hiram is many things. He is the mysterious creative power hidden in the powers of the sexes, hence he is the builder, the Master Builder; he is the Lost Word, being the Doer which is lost, because it is immersed in flesh and blood and does not know itself in the human being; and he is the combined powers of the Light and of the Triune Self and of the nature powers of the sexes when he has found himself in the ruins of the temple and is conscious of himself as the Triune Self.
Jubela, Jubelo and Jubelum are ruffians in so far as they are not performing the true functions of their offices. They are said to be ruffians because they act as the Doer part in its Thinker and Knower aspects, when it is the false “I.” The three are only the Doer part in the three aspects of its Triune Self. Jubela gives Hiram a blow with the gauge, a tool of the Apprentice, across the throat, according to the ritual. This is a blind for the sex part. Jubelo strikes Hiram with the square, a tool of the Fellow Craft, across the breast, and Jubelum fells him with a setting-maul, the gavel of a Master. The gauge is the line, the square the surface, and the maul the cube.
Hiram has so far gone out of the South gate, his custom in the bodies of the run of human beings. The masonic drama refers to a time when it is discovered that the sex power holds the key to all secrets and to all power. To wrest the key from this power the human being restrains it from going out. Mere restraint does not obtain the secret, but the power, when controlled, rises, passing from the sex functions into the four physical bodies. Then the human being prevents Hiram from leaving by thoughts, at the emotional center. But Hiram does not yield the secret, because the human being practices the restraint from selfish motives to get power, and not to rebuild the Temple, and because the human being is physically and psychically incapable of holding the power. Hiram passes to the East and there meets Jubelum who, though in the true aspect he is the Knower, is in the drama the false “I,” an egotistical aspect of the Doer. To him Hiram cannot impart the Word. Yet, the human being, though from selfish motives, has so far advanced that there is no more physical reproduction. This is symbolized by the slaying of Hiram.
In the conspiracy to obtain the secret of Hiram were fifteen workmen. Twelve recanted and the remaining three, Jubela, Jubelo and Jubelum, carried out the plot. The twelve here are the twelve points on the Zodiac in the body, the three are the double aspects of the Doer, and the body-mind. The twelve represent numbers, that is, twelve ultimate beings and orders of beings.
Everything in the manifested Universe is in some measure representative of the Great Twelve. The human body is their organ. The more a human being develops, the more will he have in him live centers representing and responding to the Great Twelve. King Solomon sends the twelve workmen in the body in search of the ruffians. He sends three East, three North, three South, and three West. He sends Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn to act in the East, Leo, Sagittary and Aries in the North, Aquarius, Gemini and Libra in the South, and Scorpio, Pisces and Cancer in the West. Of these triads, those of Leo, Aries, and Sagittary, and of Gemini, Libra and Aquarius are universal, the first triangle operating through the second. The triad of Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn operates through that of Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces, and both are human. Each pair of triads forms a six-pointed star. There is the universal hexad, the macrocosm, and the human hexad, the microcosm. The universal hexad, composed of the sexless triad, Aries, Leo, Sagittary and the androgynous triad, Gemini, Libra and Aquarius, is God or Supreme Intelligence, and nature. The human hexad is composed of the Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces triad, pointing West, which is man or the male triad, and of Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn, pointing East, which is woman, the female triad.
The macrocosmic and the microcosmic signs are represented in the human body by twelve parts and centers, each having its special character. The human body therefore is potentially a complete universe. The six universal signs are centers at which the six human signs can act if the human signs come together in any one of those six. For instance, if the male and female triads unite at their points of Scorpio and Virgo in Libra, they procreate through the universal gate of sex of the nature triad. But if the male and female triads at their points of Scorpio and Capricorn unite at Sagittary, the sexless gate of the universal triad, they create a thought. Though the twelve powers are represented in a human body, they cannot act freely and fully, but are restrained, paralyzed, half dead, impotent, except the powers represented by Virgo, Scorpio, and Libra, that is, the female in a female body, the male in a male body, and the sex in both bodies.
Hiram is the power that makes the rounds of the twelve centers, that strengthens and empowers them, builds up the twelve centers, makes them alive and fits them so that they can be related to the Great Twelve, and so that the Doer in the body can act with the Great Twelve.
King Solomon’s sending the twelve workmen in search of the three ruffians means that after Hiram is slain, within the meaning of the legend, the Knower part which is in contact with the body commands the twelve powers in the body to locate the three ruffians who have brought about the death of Hiram, who are the false “I” in its three aspects. The three ruffians are found near the body of the slain, that is, the physical suppression of the sex power, and are executed. They are condemned for having tried to get the power from Hiram before they were qualified to receive it.
Hiram was buried three times. First the ruffians buried him in the rubbish of the Temple, that is, the sex power was turned into the foods of the body to build it up. At night they came back to give the body a more decent burial. They carried it West, to the brow of the hill West of Mount Moriah, that is, the sex power was buried in or turned into psychic power. There it was discovered by a party of workmen. After it had been raised by King Solomon himself by the strong grip or lion’s paw—which is the grip identified with a life like that of Jesus, the lion of the Tribe of Judah so-called from the alleged heraldic lion of the Tribe—it was buried near the Sanctum Sanctorum of King Solomon’s Temple, that is, the sex power was turned into the spine.
The raising by Solomon is significant. The body could not be raised by the grip of the Entered Apprentice, nor by that of the Fellow Craft, that is the Doer could not, either with the psychic or its mental aspect raise or transmute the mortal into an immortal body. It required the Knower, here King Solomon himself, to raise Hiram. King Solomon had the assistance of Hiram, King of Tyre, the Thinker, and of the brethren, that is, the powers in the body.
The tradition of Masonry is that a monument was erected to the memory of Hiram, at his place of burial. The monument represents a virgin weeping over a broken column. Before her was an open book, behind her stood Time. It is a reminder of the destruction of the original temple, at which the Boaz column, which represented the female column in the temple of man was broken. The vestige or monument is the sternum, which is all that is left. The virgin is the woman weeping over her own broken column. Time is death, as the continuous passing of the events; and the open book is the breath-form and aia, which bear the record of what happened. The female figure is also the widow, as the broken column, who was the mother of Hiram, weeping for the male power, which she lost when the column was broken. Hiram is the son of a widow; he is unprotected and has had to wander along the labyrinth of the alimentary canal since the column was broken.
The destruction of the temple occurs in every life. Hiram is not allowed to rebuild it. In this sense he is slain in every life. At each life he is resurrected and tries to rebuild the temple beginning with the re-establishment of the column, which is broken. The Monument of the woman with her broken column is a reminder that a Mason must re-establish the broken column in himself as the requisite to rebuild his temple, and he can re-establish the column only by keeping Hiram in the body to rebuild it. Hiram has within him the original plan of the immortal body which, when rebuilt, will be greater than the first temple.
The candidate having been made to take the part of Hiram is finally raised by King Solomon, the Master of the Lodge, by the real grip of a Master Mason, and on the five points of fellowship, or five points of the body. The brethren assist in raising the candidate to a standing position. The hoodwink is slipped off his eyes. After he has received an historical account of the events he passed through as Hiram, the Master explains the various symbols. He uses them as subjects for moral exhortations and rules. The three grand masonic columns or pillars, designated Wisdom, Strength, and Beauty, stand for the three parts of the body. They also stand for parts of the Triune Self. In this connection the pillar of Wisdom is Solomon, the spinal or Jachin column; the pillar of Strength is Hiram, King of Tyre, the sympathetic or Boaz column; and the pillar of Beauty is Hiram Abiff, the bridge or bridge builder, between the two.
The forty-seventh problem of Euclid is more than a moral exhortation. It means that when the male (desire) and the female (feeling) in one physical body work together they build a new body equal to their sum. The new body, the square of the hypotenuse, is the temple rebuilt.
After the candidate has been raised to the degree of Master Mason, he represents the Doer, Thinker, and Knower, each developed to its capacity and coordinated so that they are a trinity, the Triune Self. This trinity is in Masonry represented as a right-angled triangle in the lodge.
Copyright 1980 by The Word Foundation, Inc.