There is an old occult maxim which declares that—" Nothing is concealed from him who knows." No Mason is bound to conceal that which he has never learned in the Lodge. All else he receives as he learns any thing, places his own estimate upon its value, and becomes individually responsible for its use. It must be a matter of conscience, and be weighed in the balance of duty, and every one must abide by the result. If Masonry has lost the Royal Secret, or if it never possessed it, or if it was wrenched away in the very name of Religion little more than a century ago, all the same, it belongs to the Craft as the Heir-apparent of the Old Wisdom. But the time has come when no cable-tow can bind it. It now belongs to Humanity equally with the Mason. To this end has it been preserved throughout the centuries.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Raising the Master - Osiris

“Raising the Master” by Giovanni Francesco Barbieri

I make no bones to say that I tend to see the world through mystical eyes, eyes that enjoy looking behind the “veils”.
With that said, every once in a while I come across some little historical item or symbol that seems to draw my attention. This painting by II Guercino, whose real name was Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, really grabbed my eye.
Known as “Raising the Master”, this sketch resides with the Supreme Grand Royal Arch of Scotland. Interestingly historians do not believe the sketch has any ties to Freemasonry.
They are probably right...sure!
What is to follow I my playful attempt to play Dan Brown, of “Da Vinci Code” fame. As with his style it will be up to you to figure out what is true, and what is embellished.

Does this drawing actual exist? A most definite yes, and it is in the care of the Supreme Grand Royal Arch of Scotland.
Who was II Guercino? An Italian painter and draughtsmen, Barbieri Giovanni Fransesco (called Il Guercino), was born in Cento on February 2, 1591(?), and died in Bologna on December 2, 1666(?).
Guercino was an Italian Baroque painter from the region of Emilia, and active in Rome and Bologna. Guercino is Italian for squinter, a nickname that was given to him because he was cross-eyed, ouch.
He is especially noted for his many superb drawings. Guercino completed at least 144 paintings in his life. Most of his paintings were religious, and a vast majority of these were large altarpieces for churches. Was he a Freemason? Of course not remember Freemasonry dates itself to the early seventeen hundreds in England, certainly not the mid-sixteen hundreds in Italy.

Does the drawing “Raising the Master” have anything to do with Freemasonry? According to experts in the work of Guercino, the answer would be no.
Is it a coincidence that the drawing contains a compass, a familiar symbol connected to Freemasonry?
Why not, the compass was a common symbol in some medieval illustrations, the compass being used as a symbol of God's act of creation.
Now how about those three individuals above the wall, look familiar?
It's probably just another coincidence, especially that one individual to the left, what could he possibly be saying?
Please allow me to share a little myth, a myth that just may play a part in Guercino's thinking when he drew the “Raising of the Master”, and maybe not.

Once upon a time there was a Sun God named Osiris, the chief God of the old Egyptian mythology, the husband of Isis, and the father of Horus, who while making his circuit through the heavens is assassinated by the three inferior signs who had placed themselves west, south and east, the regions illuminated by the Sun. These inferior signs of winter were Libra, Scorpio, and Sagittarius.
Sadly Osiris falls dead at the west door, i. e., the sun descends in the west, lying dead at the winter solstice.
Osiris's body is in a state of decay, having lain fourteen days, according to one legend; the body of Osiris was cut into fourteen pieces. To make matters worse for poor old Osiris, he was missing his penis.
But, according to other statements, the body was found on the seventh day; this would allude to the resurrection of the sun, which actually takes place in the seventh month after his passage through the inferior signs, that passage which is called his descent into hell. Who does the search party actually exist of?
None other than the twelve, the zodiac.
Hiram can only be raised by the lion's grip. It is through the instrumentality of Leo, the sign of the lion, the summer solstice, that Osiris is raised; it is when the sun re-enters that sign that he regains his former strength, that his restoration to full life takes place.

Now I'm not insinuating that Guercino had the myth of Osiris in mind when he drew the “Raising of the Master”, it just comes to mind.
But what about that forth gentleman, the one with the rod, or staff?
If we look at some of the various representations of the raising of Lazarus in the Roman catacombs, some show a risen mummy standing in the doorway of the tomb. The figure of the supposed Jesus Christ is in front of the sarcophagus calling upon Lazarus to come forth, whilst touching the mummy with a wand or rod which he holds in his hand.
In the Egyptian Book of the Dead coincidentally you will find, "by which the tomb is opened to the soul and to the shade of the person that he may come forth to day and have the mastery of his feet" (Rit., ch. 92) the deliverer Horus says, "I am Horus who lifteth up his father with his staff." This mode of raising Osiris by Horus with his staff or rod completes the picture of the resurrection of Lazarus. The rod that is waved by Jesus at the raising of Lazarus is the symbolic sceptre in the hand of Horus when he raises the Osiris.

Some may think I'm heading in the right direction, others may disagree, most won't know what the hell I'm talking about, but to this point we have a deceased man, three onlookers which I call the three dark months of winter, and Horus with his staff.
But what about that stone edifice located on the right of the drawing?
I must admit it looks an awful lot like an old burial monument I came across a long time ago, the burial tomb of the King of Tyre, Hiram.

Actual Tomb of Hiram, King of Tyre

1 comment:

  1. Masonry, both operative and speculative, existed long before any Grand Lodge bureaucracy was formed. I've seen research showing that when the monks of Tiron built Kilwinning Abbey in the late 1300s, they hired both lay people and Italian masons, but they didn't have the money to pay them properly. Instead, and I haven't seen anything more than an off-hand mention of this unfortunately, the Vatican approved payment in secrets.

    The rod/staff might, in fact, be a beam compass, or trammel. I've been unable to trace the origin of this tool, but it served the same purpose as the (pair of) compasses, except that you could also trace an ellipse by adding a third point (easier to show than explain). Might these two men be trying to find the measure of the dead man's life? The first figure is obvious to any travelling man, but I can't figure out the second man. He's either carrying something small, or it's just an artifact of the sketch.