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.
Monday, December 10, 2012
The Zohar & Freemasonry - A Connection?
It is the author's personal belief that the Freemasonry we have today may be a byproduct of the events we are about to explore, with much of its esoteric symbolism borrowed from the ideas of the cast and characters you are about to encounter, names that time is beginning to forget.
I assure you that what you are about to read is nonfiction, facts that any individual should be able to validate with a little research. Although many of the individuals you are about to meet are rarely discussed in today's history classes, just a few centuries ago these individuals were giants.
Now the story.
Christian Knorr von Rosenroth's intentions may have been honorable but those in power would see to it that what was contained within the book would be suppressed, even if those that were doing the suppressing knew nothing of the subject. All they knew was that the content of the book were rumored to be dangerous, an affront against commonly held christian beliefs.
Although the wrath of the Parliament would leave the translator unscathed, the circle of thinkers that assisted and advised him in his work would not escape the closed minds of a State that was still controlled by a ignorant religious majority.
Little did Parliament foresee that because of the actions they were about to set in motion ramifications would ripple through the very fabric of time, one of these waves surfacing a century later causing the Masonic Founding Fathers across the pond in America to make sure State did not have to answer to religion, ever, while respecting the religion of one's choice, not something the Church of England or the Mother church at the time of this story would of even considered.
A more immediate result of Parliament's action I believe would be the creation of the largest secret society the world was to ever see, a tradition your neighbor is possibly a member of, but because of a strange twist of that very same fabric of time has no idea it's hidden purpose or message.
It's purpose will be revealed, but first we need to look back to a time when a rare minority dared to venture into the mystery.
Meet Christian Knorr von Rosenroth, born July 15,1636, a German Hebraist, a specialist in Hebrew and Hebraic studies, a specialty that would assist him in translating the mysterious text that he was about to introduce to the West, with the help of some of the biggest names of the Enlightenment.
He was born at Alt-Raudten, today Stara Rudna, a village in the administrative district of Gmina Rudna, in Lower Silesian Voivodeship, in south-western Poland, not an area most today would be familiar with.
Christian was the son of a protestant minister, Abraham Benedikt von Rosenroth, a gentleman who raised his family in the German speaking section of Poland, also the home of Jakob Böhme, the mystic who would deeply influence much of the path Christian would take and subsequently influence everything you are about to read.
Although Knorr's father had never intended his son pursue a path into the what some would labeled the mysteries, but he did.
Yet before the spiritual bug bit, Christian, with the encouragement of his father entered the Latin school in Fraustadt in 1648 and in 1652 enrolled in the Paedagogium at Stettin where he studied theology, law, history, philosophy and both classical and modern languages, all subjects that would guarantee him a position in the court as his father wished.
In continuance of his education he enrolled at the University of Leipzig where he earned a baccalaureate in 1659 and a Masters degree in 1660, presenting his thesis on ancient numismatics. The same year he became a member of the Collegium Anthologicum, a learned society formed from the three higher faculties, which explored theology, philosophy, antiquities, history and science. It was during this time Christian would discover the highly esoteric work of Jakob Böhme, the mystic shoemaker of Görlitz.
As for what he would learn about Jakob Böhme and how it would influence Christian's path; it was rumored that Böhme had a series of mystical experiences throughout his youth, culminating in a vision in 1600 that he claimed to have received through a beam of light. Two of these mystical experiences were described in depth by a visionary two and a half centuries later, Dr. Richard Maurice Bucke(1), the first occurring in Böhme"s twenty fifth year:
"Sitting one day in his room his eyes fell upon a burnished pewter dish, which reflected the sunshine with such marvellous splendor that he fell into an inward ecstasy, and it seemed to him as if he could now look into the principles and deepest foundations of things. He believed that it was only a fancy, and in order to banish it from his mind he went out upon the green. But here he remarked that he gazed into the very heart of things, the very herbs and grass, and that actual nature harmonized with what he had inwardly seen. He said nothing of this to anyone, but praised and thanked God in silence."
He believed this vision revealed to him the spiritual structure of the world, as well as the relationship between good and evil, an issue that he would eventually address in future writings. "For it cannot be said of God that He is this or that, evil or good, or that He has distinctions in Himself. For He has no tendency to anything, for there is nothing before Him to which He could tend, neither evil nor good. ... There is no quality or pain in Him ... [He] is a single will in which the world and the whole creation lies. ... He is neither light nor darkness, neither love nor wrath, but the Eternal One." You can only sense the ire the all controlling church would of felt of Böhme's definition of God.
Here we find in Böhme's description of God a type of Pantheism(2) where God is an eternal unity; an eternal nothing; an abyss without time or space. He needs no habitation, for he is without and within the world equally alike; eternal nature the All of the universe. He fills all things, and is in all things. 'The being of God is like a wheel in which many wheels are made one in another, upwards, downwards, crossways, and yet continually all of them turn together.' The whole of nature; heaven, earth and above the heavens is the body of God. The powers of the stars are the fountain veins in this natural body, which is the world or universe. Böhme's description of God very much parallels descriptions used by Eastern philosophers, minus the word God or gender references.
Surely Böhme knew better than to speak aloud such thoughts on deity remembering the burning of Giordano Bruno because of his unorthodox beliefs, including the idea that the universe was infinite.
For the time being, he chose not to not speak of this experience.
Ten years later Böhme has his second experience, one that causes Böhme to rethink his silence:
"The gate was opened to me that in one quarter of an hour I saw and knew more than if I had been many years together at a university...For I saw and knew the being of all beings...I saw in myself all the three worlds, namely the divine...the dark...and the external and visible world..And I saw and knew the whole working essence, in the evil and the good and the original and the existence of each of them..."
It was after this mystical experience Böhme began writing his first treatise, Aurora.
Aurora was circulated in manuscript form until a copy fell into the hands of Gregorious Richter, the chief pastor of Görlitz, an ill mannered, intolerant and jealous Soul. He despised Böhme on one hand and feared the shoemaker on the other.
The manuscript being circulated ruffled him into a self-righteous passion, and hurrying to the City Council he demanded that Böhme be banished. The Council was afraid to refuse, Böhme the humble shoemaker was exiled from his native town.
With a guilty conscious the Council reconvened the next day, what a difference a night shame can make, it's members realizing they had banished a citizen of such good report, and one, who regularly attended church, recalled him at once on condition that he should write no more.
The attention thrown in the direction of Böhme was not without consequence, in the following year he changed his occupation, the attention of his controversial writings caused his business to decline, having sold the shop he journeyed to the larger cities selling woolen gloves.
But after a while it was no longer possible for him to disobey the inner command that he should give to men his revelations, and in the last ten years of his life he willfully disobeyed the old Council's censorship.
In this short period, Böhme produced an enormous amount of writing, including his major works De Signatura Rerum, The Signature of All Things, and Misterium Magnum (Latin for The Great Mystery).
Allow me to share a little paragraph taken from The Signature of All Things, a paragraph that should resonate with the initiates of the mysteries school spoken of earlier, which Böhme himself may of had an indirect influence in its creation; "There was a poor soul that had wandered out of paradise, and come into the kingdom of this world; where the devil met with it, and said to it, "Whither dost thou go, thou soul that art half blind?" Initiates are routinely blindfolded, symbolic of our condition of ignorance.
It was during this time Böhme attracted a following throughout Europe, where his followers were known as Behmenists. One of Jacob's close associates was a traveling doctor named Balthasar Walther, a Paracelsian(3), Kabbalist, Weigelian(4), religious heretic, and distributor of magical manuscripts, whose personal networks extended across Europe and beyond. There can no doubt Walther influenced some of Böhme's Christianized Kabbalah. In 1598-1599, Walther undertook a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in order to learn about the intricacies of the Kabbalah from groups in Safed(5), surely Dr. Walther spoke of his findings to Böhme.
With the publication of Böhme's first printed book, "Way to Christ", caused another scandal.
The chief concern of Böhme's writing was the nature of sin, evil, and redemption. Böhme preached that humanity had fallen from a state of divine grace to a state of sin and suffering, that the forces of evil included fallen angels who had rebelled against God, and that God's goal was to restore the world to a state of grace.
Where Böhme appeared to depart from accepted theology was in his description of the Fall as a necessary stage in the evolution of the universe.
It should come as no surprise that Böhme's writing contains both alchemical and Kabbalistic concepts, considering his close relationship with Balthasar Walther.
Böhme describes the absolute nature of God as the abyss, the nothing and the all, the primordial depths from which the creative will struggles forth to find manifestation and self-consciousness. The Father, who is groundless Will (In the Kabbalah - Keter the first principle is identified with Will), issues forth the Son, who is Love.
In Böhme's cosmology, it was necessary for humanity to depart from God in order for creation to evolve to a new state of redeemed harmony that would be more perfect than the original state of innocence, allowing God to achieve a new self-awareness by interacting with a creation that was both part of, and distinct from, Himself. Thus, free will was the most important gift God gave humanity, allowing us to seek divine grace as a deliberate choice while still allowing us to remain individuals. Böhme saw the incarnation of Christ not as a sacrificial offering to cancel out human sins, but as an offering of love for humanity, showing God's willingness to bear the suffering that had been a necessary aspect of creation. He also believed the incarnation of Christ conveyed the message that a new state of harmony is possible. This was somewhat at odds with the dogma of the Christian church, and his suggestion that God would have been somehow incomplete without the Creation was even more controversial, as was his emphasis on faith and self-awareness rather than strict adherence to dogma or scripture.
Böhme's writing shows the influence of Neoplatonist and alchemical writers such as Paracelsus, while remaining firmly within a Christian tradition.
Böhme spent the last year of his life in exile in Dresden, returning to Görlitz only to die. In a strange twist of fate the son of Böhme's chief antagonist, the pastor primarius of Görlitz Gregorius Richter, edited a collection of extracts from his writings, which were afterwards published complete at Amsterdam in the year 1682. Böhme's full works were first printed in 1730.
Gregorius Richter, driven by jealous conviction would haunt Böhme till the end of his life, eventually he was denounced from the pulpit. "Will ye have the words of Jesus Christ or the words of a shoemaker?", the disgraced prelate asked those that removed him from authority, only to hear from Böhme the humble shoemaker, "Not I, the I that I am, knows these things, but God knows them in me."
Böhme and Richter both died in 1624. No doubt Richter died as he had lived, angry and bitter, especially knowing that his son had become an adherent of Böhme.
The seed had been planted, sadly Christian would not be entering the court system as his father had hoped, his interests lay elsewhere, the esoteric, the often unspoken world of the mystic.
After his time in the Collegium Knorr's interests turned more toward the sciences, alchemy, hermetic literature and the Kabbalah, all subjects Böhme would of felt right at home with.
In 1663 he undertook a three year academic pilgrimage to study in the Netherlands, France and England.
While in Amsterdam he was engaged as an interpreter for an Armenian prince, Christian August, who shared his mystical interests, and at the same time became interested in oriental languages. In Holland he also met Francis Mercury van Helmont, a Flemish alchemist, and Kabbalist, a gentleman that would guide Christian's sojourn to England where he would begin his work under the tutelage of the Cambridge philosopher and theologian Henry More.
Time to Introduce the Book.
In October 1670 Henry More was visited at Cambridge by Francis Mercury van Helmont, an avid student of Jewish Kabbalah. While visiting Henry More asked van Helmont, a doctor, if we would visit fellow philosopher and friend Lady Anne Conway, in hope that he attempt to treat the incessant debilitating headache which had troubled her for many years, and which had defeated every other medical practitioner. As a result of meeting Anne, van Helmont became her resident physician and mentor.
At the same time we find Christian Knorr von Rosenroth begining to translate the mystical book of the Jews, known as the Zohar, the Book of the Concealed Mystery, into Latin, no easy task and one that would require the assistance More, the Viscountess Anne Conway, van Helmont, and their close associates.
As for what was the history of this mysterious text?
History tells us it was in the Tannaic period,100 BCE to 200 CE, that the Zohar, the most famous text of Kabbalah, was committed to writing by Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai.
The rabbi lived in a perilous time, a time when the Roman government was executing all the great Torah teachers. Because of this he himself had to flee Roman persecution and hid in a cave with his son, Rabbi Elazar, for thirteen years. During this time, he was said to receive Divine Inspiration and merited the revelation of Elijah the Prophet and composed the sacred Zohar.
To protect the secrets of the universe that were revealed to him, Rav Shimon called upon one student, Rav Abba, to commit his teachings to written word. Rav Abba had an extraordinary gift for writing in the abstract language of metaphor and parable. Thus, the secrets would be safe, deftly concealed inside abstruse stories, making it difficult for the wicked and unworthy to grasp and misuse this ancient power and the Zohar (the intuitive Freemason should be able to see the similarities, in Freemasonry it's esoteric philosophy is concealed within allegory and symbolism).
By a weird twist of fate the Zohar disappeared for centuries when in the year 1270 C.E. the Zohar reappeared, discovered by Rav Moses Deleon in Spain. Moses De Leon is credited as making Zohar booklets for distribution for certain circles.
As for the Kabbalist writer who penned the manuscripts Christian was about to translate, meet Rav Isaac Luria, the most influential Kabbalist in history.
Rav Isaac Luria was considered a brilliant scholar by age 13, he was called "The Ari," which means "The Holy Lion." The Ari had the gift to explore the innermost depths of the Zohar, which he did living as a hermit for 13 years, probing into its mysteries.
History has it that was not unusual for the Ari to meditate upon one verse of the Zohar for many months, until the hidden meaning was revealed to him.
It was the followers of Rav Isaac Luria that informed and instructed Balthasar Walther in the mystical tradition of the Zohar.
It didn't take long for a circle of the curious to form around Christian and his copy of the Zohar. The circle now consisted of Henry More the philosopher, Viscountess Anne Conway the philosopher, Francis Mercury van Helmont the alchemist, John Locke the philosopher and Freemason, Hon. Robert Boyle philosopher and chemist, and none other than the great Sir Isaac Newton himself.
Yet the Pre-Enlightenment attempt to bring Kabbalism out of its primarily Jewish domain was about to end with disaster.
The Viscountess Conway so excited with the revelations put forth in the book she penned a treatise, "Principles of the Most Ancient and Modern Philosophy", which is saturated with Kabbalistic ideas.
It is essentially a monistic system in which all things are made of "spirit", and she criticizes during the course of it not only the materialism of Hobbes and Spinoza, but also the dualism of Descartes, the dominant and accepted philosophy of the time. According to Conway, there is only one substance in created reality. This substance contains both matter and spirit. A purely material or spiritual substance is, she argues, an impossibility.
Parliament wasn't happy, and it made it's displeasure known.
Conway's treatise was branded heresy by the college that “claimed” her, Cambridge, and effectively condemned her work "Indexed as Prohibited". The philosophical career of Viscountess Conway was for all intent and purpose over.
The Viscountess was not about to go down easy, Van Helmont who had become interested in Quakerism introduced Anne to a number of leading Quakers, including George Fox, Robert Barclay, George Keith, and William Penn (Freemason). Evidently the Quakers favoured the Kabbalah and Anne. The Viscountess in a bold and very public move converted to Quakerism. In England at that time the Quakers were generally disliked and feared, and suffered persecution and even imprisonment. Conway's decision to convert, to make her house a centre for Quaker activity, and to proselytize actively was thus particularly bold and courageous.
Fueled by fear the Parliament summoned Locke and Newton to appear before them and charged two of the giants of the Enlightenment with heresy, largely because they refused to take Christian vows, but also because of their known association with Viscountess Conway, who's heretical Kabbalist treatise was published in London the previous year.
The issue in front of Parliament became Newton and Locke's non-trinitarianism, which rejects the Christian doctrine of the Trinity, namely, the teaching that God is three distinct apostasies or persons and yet co-eternal, co-equal, and indivisibly united in one essence.
Locke escaped punishment by penning "The Reasonableness of Christianity, as Delivered in the Scriptures”, yet what was strangely missing from this text was any reference to the Holy Trinity, one of the hotbed issues that also brought Locke and Newton in front of Parliament.
Newton was embarrassed by the charges on him, abdicated his Lucasian Chair at Cambridge as well as resigning his position as accountant to Parliament, also in order to protect his reputation among scholars. The heresy charges on Newton were dropped about the time of Conway's formal prohibition, which made one of the key pieces of evidence against him inadmissible in court. Clearly, the world outside Judaism was not ready for Kabbalism in the 17th century, or maybe it would be better pursued in secrecy, away from the prying eyes religiously controlled government.
What better way to one up 'big brother' than to create a mystery school exposing a select few to a centuries old philosophy free from imposed dogma and ignorance, with its truths hidden within allegory and symbolism.
Did Christian Knorr von Rosenroth's translation of the Zohar, named Kabbala Denudata, influence the design of Freemasonry? That can only be answered once one delves into the esoteric symbolism contained within Freemasonry.
It is the author's contention that many of the modern Freemasons of the early seventeen hundreds were members of Newton's inner circle, individuals that refused to bow to a church with a judgmental God that made no sense.
Many suspect that Newton was so strongly influenced by Kabbalism that his theory of the mutual property of gravitation may well have been derived from Zohar. He spent the last three decades of his life in relative seclusion in order to try to solve hidden codes and messages in the Bible, suggested by his reading of von Rosenroth's translation.
The concept of separating church and state is often credited to the writings of English philosopher John Locke. According to his principle of the social contract, Locke argued that the government lacked authority in the realm of individual conscience, as this was something rational people could not cede to the government for it or others to control. For Locke, this created a natural right in the liberty of conscience, which he argued must therefore remain protected from any government authority. These views on religious tolerance and the importance of individual conscience, along with his social contract, became particularly influential in the American colonies and the drafting of the United States Constitution. Could it be because of Parliaments action against him and Newton that Locke envisioned a state separate from church? I believe so.
Even the great mathematician and philosopher Leibniz, who invented calculus and, in turn, those tiresome math classes we endured in high school and college, was profoundly influenced by Kabbalah.
Maybe, just maybe, of one looks closely the Kabbalah of Freemasonry may reveal itself.
As for Henry More...we rarely here his name.
(1) Cosmic Consciousness, by Richard Maurice Bucke, , Chapter 10, Jacob Behmen (called The Teutonic Theosopher).
(2) Pantheism is a word derived from the Greek roots pan (meaning "all") and theos (meaning "God"). It is the belief that everything composes an all-encompassing, immanent God, or that the Universe (or Nature) is identical with divinity.
(3) A movement that followed the works of Auroleus Phillipus Theostratus Bombastus von Hohenheim, immortalized as "Paracelsus," was born in 1493. He was a German-Swiss Renaissance physician, botanist, alchemist, astrologer, and occultist.
(4) Weigelians were a small group of individuals that promoted the ideas of Valentin Weigel (1553-1588), a mystical writer who drew upon Paracelsus and his alchemical ideas. His ideas influenced Jacob Boehme, and other German Protestant mystics of the 17th century. Most of his writings were published after his death, when a small group of Weigelians promoted his ideas, and some texts were issued in his name, pseudonymously.
(5) Safed is a city in the Northern District of Israel. Safed has been considered one of Judaism's Four Holy Cities, along with Jerusalem, Hebron and Tiberias, and since that time, the city has remained a center of Kabbalah.