Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Importance of the Legend of Hiram Abiff

from The legend of "Hiram, the widow's son," is the foundation of Freemasonry's ritualistic drama of the third, or Master's Degree. While it would be improper to reveal the details of the drama as it is presented in the lodge room, or to make public the ritualistic secrets and symbolism which it contains, the story of Hiram is so well known and has been referred to in Masonic writings so frequently that it has become a part of the cultural heritage of civilized men everywhere.

Briefly stated, the Hiramic legend is as follows: When Solomon, King of Israel, under-took the building of the Temple in Jerusalem, he sent to Hiram, King of Tyre, for materials and assistance. In exchange for agricultural products like corn and wine and oil, King Hiram sent Solomon cedar trees cut from the forests of Lebanon and a skilled and cunning worker in metals. These facts may be found in the Old Testament, especially in Chapter 7 of I Kings and Chapter 2 of 11 Chronicles, where the skilled artisan, named Hiram, is referred to as the "son of a widow of the tribe of Naphtali" whose husband was "a man of Tyre."

This much of the Masonic legend of Hiram comes from the Bible; but the story known to Masons has a tragically different development. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Devil's Dictionary

from Ambrose Bierce was published as The Cynic’s Word Book. It was Bierce’s preference that the book — a collection of satirical definitions which he had written for various newspapers “in a desultory way at long intervals” from 1881 to 1906 — be called The Devil’s Dictionary, but publishers had always been nervous about the anti-religious implications of the title. In 1906, American bookshelves were flooded with “a score of ‘cynic’ books — The Cynic’s This, The Cynic’s That, The Cynic’s t’Other,” to name a few.

As far as those other “cynic” books were concerned, Bierce added, “most” were “merely stupid, though some of them added the distinction of silliness. Among them, they brought the word ’cynic’ into disfavor so deep that any book bearing it was discredited in advance of publication.” As Bierce wrote his definitions for various newspapers columns over the years, they had appeared under a variety of names: The Cynic’s Dictionary, The Demon’s Dictionary, The Cynic’s Word Book. But no title was ever as satisfying as the one he finally demanded. One hundred years ago, in 1911, Bierce got his wish when the work was published as The Devil’s Dictionary.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Argos Panoptes – A 100 eye giant or something else?

from Argos Panoptes was one of the primordial giants of the Greek mythology. His epithet ‘Panoptes’ means the one who is all-seeing, which reminds us of the symbol of the ‘all seeing eye’ of God. However, Panoptes was an epithet that was also used for the god Zeus. Argos Panoptes was the son of Arestor, whose wife was Mycene from whom the Mycenaean civilization and the Homeric city of Mycenae got its name. Argos is described as having 100 eyes, according to the Greek mythology.

Probably this was a feature attributed to him in an allegoric way, showing his ability to perceive everything from any angle. Whenever he slept not all of the eyes would be closed, there was always at least one eye open. He is usually depicted with multiple eyes on his body (see image above). As we can see, even if he was mentioned as a ‘monster’ in reality he was a giant, a god, with super abilities.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Complex Life of Giordano Bruno

from Giordano Bruno was a 16th century philosopher, theologian, and monk who was an early supporter of Copernicus’s heliocentric model of the universe. He was also burned at the stake by the Catholic church in 1600 at the age of 42 after being found guilty of heresy by the Roman Inquisition. That combination of circumstances has sometimes led to him being portrayed as the first martyr for modern science at the hands of religion. The somewhat ominous-looking image of the bronze statue of the brooding Bruno that is sited at the location of his execution in Campo de’ Fiori in Rome has become iconic.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Great Matrix of Being

from Understanding Natural Hierarchies:
Our European ancestors once understood the universe to be a Great Chain of Being. All the entities of the world -- animal, vegetable, mineral -- were hierarchically organized. At the bottom were metals, precious metals, and precious stones. Then came plants and trees, followed by wild animals and domesticated animals. Humans were also hierarchically ordered from children to women to men and further into the different ranks of commoners, nobility, princes, and kings. The Great Chain of Being continued up into the celestial realm -- moon, stars, angels, and archangels -- to the very top where God presides over the entire creation. This scala naturae provided humans with a natural order, which they also understood to be a natural human order that structured their societies.
Science, or so the story goes, disrupted this view of the universe and ourselves. Copernicus, Galileo, and Kepler broke the crystalline spheres of Ptolemy and demoted Earth from the center of the universe to an insignificant periphery. Darwin understood plants and animals, including the human animal, to be evolving from common ancestors all the way back into the proverbial primordial slime. Freud showed that rational man was really an unconscious mess and hardly aware of, let alone in control of, his own thoughts and passions.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Melangell: Welsh Patron Saint of Hares

from Mike Williams, Ph. D. We are all probably familiar with Eostre, the Anglo-Saxon Goddess who gave her name to Easter and is often associated with hares – the original Easter bunnies. But today in Wales, we celebrate the feast day a 6th century saint, Melangell, who is the actual patron saint of hares and may be the true inspiration behind those cute Easter bunnies.

Melangell was the beautiful daughter of an Irish king, who determined that she should marry a nobleman of the court to further his royal and political alliances. Not surprisingly, Melangell was less than impressed. In fact, so opposed was she to the wedding that she fled her home and crossed the sea to Wales. Being a fugitive, Melangell moved inland to a secluded valley, now close to the modern village of Llangynog, in my home county of Powys. Here, Melangell lived for 15 years without ever laying her eyes on another man. Back in Ireland, even if her father and her betrothed ever did look for her, they never saw Melangell again. Presumably, the nobleman married another and, one hopes, the king regretted his impetuousness.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

C. G. Jung and the Alchemical Renewal

from The lovely little town of Knittlingen, near the Black Forrest in West Germany, is noted far-and-wide as the original residence of the famed Dr. Johannes Faustus. A plaque in the small but exquisite museum devoted to the facts and legends concerning Dr. Faust tells us that, although alchemy has often been considered a pseudo-science based on the pretense that gold could be made from other metals, it is now known that, in reality, it was a spiritual art having as its aim the psychological transformation of the alchemist himself. 

This public statement, viewed daily by large numbers of visitors, demonstrates most impressively the rehabilitated image alchemy has acquired in recent decades. This positive change is due in large measure to the work of one remarkable man: Carl Gustav Jung.

Read the full article here.