Allied Masonic Degrees
St. Andrews in America Council Number 1-A
Queen of Life, Queen of Death,
Queen of all that err drew breath;
Guard us through thy sacred night,
To the dawning of the light.
(From: The White Goddess)
A hand was placed upon my shoulder and a brother leaned forward to whisper, “Answer…More Light in Masonry.” Every Mason is prompted with these same words during initiation through the blue degrees. For what purpose? What light is there to be found in Masonry? The answer to finding this illusive light may perhaps be the key to unlocking that other Masonic riddle, “What is the lost Master’s Word?” Every person, in their own way, seeks the answer to this mystery, for it is the secret of highest initiation, the token of the pass and pass, to the eternal union with the divine. Every man who has knelt before the alter and looked upon that great, illuminated G, shinning in the East of the lodge, every person who has knelt before the alter of the soul, has asked this question.
It is explained to every newly made Mason that the G which is conspicuously displayed in our lodges, on our rings, and hanging from our key chains, signifies God, and indeed it does. But then, why all the mystery and secrecy, to what aim the G lecture, and why does this explanation leave some new Masons unsatisfied; Oh…well is that all there is to it? What an anti-climatic revelation to the newly made brother. Of course we know better, as Master Masons, we know that our Masonic allegories and symbols teach and instruct on multiply levels, revealing a little to many, and great wisdom to a few.
And so it is with the G emblazoned on my ring. Those reading this paper, are familiar with the more esoteric interpretation of the G symbolism, that it signifies the Greek word for wisdom which is Gnosis. This is one of the worst kept secrets which our brotherhood has let out of the bag over the centuries. But behind this Greek word, behind this gnosis, there really is a secret, a passage through the light, and towards that Seventh Gate which no man passes without the Master’s Word.
If there is Masonic light to be found, then it is in understanding the true secret of the G symbolism, in understanding the importance of this gnosis.
Gnosis in Greek simply means “deep knowledge,” forming the root of the English word to “know,” and is understood to mean a “deep spiritual understanding.”
When one has achieved a deeper spiritual knowledge through experiential insights, this intuitive knowledge becomes wisdom. Two thousand years ago, at the dawn of the Christian era in the Greco-Roman world, the western world reached the pinnacle of religious-philosophical speculation with the development of an eclectic group of religious teachings which we now loosely group together as Gnosticism.
Gnosticism began to take shape in the cosmopolitan world of the Hellenized Near East, at least two hundred years before the birth of Christ. Gnosticism was not a single religious system or set of beliefs, but rather an eclectic collection of sects which had combined elements from the Jewish Essenes, Greek Neo-Platonic philosophy, Egyptian religions, early Christianity, and even Persian and Indian religions.
These seekers after wisdom, after the lost word, did not refer to themselves as Gnostics but rather as pneumatics, meaning air, breath, or spiritual. What united the various Gnostic sects was a shared belief that knowledge is acquired through an ongoing process of direct experiential revelation.
Once gnosis is experienced, this wisdom is never doubted, it is the real Master’s Word. This direct experiential revelation was aided by a supernatural revealer who helped to awaken people trapped in the spell of darkness. In the Jewish Gnostic Sethian scriptures the revealer is Seth, child of Adam and Eve, whose name means “afterthought” or the “wisdom of the divine.” Within the Christian Gnostic writings of the Valentinian tradition, circa 140-180 A.D., the revealer is Jesus, or “Jesus of Light.” And within the Gnostic pagan traditions, Sophia, “goddess of wisdom,” reveals the truth to humanity.
The Gnostics were religious innovators and reformers; they rebelled against the ridged doctrines of state religions and the traditions of learned elders. As religious rebels, they sought and found, a true rebellion in the mystical past led by their patron deity, Sophia, goddess of wisdom. The myth of Sophia is not to be taken literally; instead it is an allegory, an artistic and metaphorical means of expressing the inexpressible. No person can directly experience truth for another person, so the Gnostics wove an allegorical tale for our understanding of how the universe came into being, and how we became mortal, imperfect beings trapped on the physical plain of existence.
Most of what is known concerning the myth of Sophia is of relatively recent discovery. Tragically, much of the literature of the Gnostic writers was destroyed by the early literalist Christian Church. As late as the fourth century A.D., there were a vast number of Christian, Jewish, and pagan Gnostics, prospering and spreading throughout the Roman world. Indeed, the various Gnostic faiths combined may well have outnumbered the literalist Christians at that time. This all changed with the “conversion” of the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great to literalist Christianity around 314 A.D. Constantine and the church hierarchy which he supported, vigorous enforced and imposed a literal interpretation of a limited number of Christian gospels upon the newly established Roman Catholic Church. No toleration for any other version of the faith would be allowed. Any “deviant” forms of Christianity, which did not adhere to the official version of the faith promulgated at the Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D., would be stamped out.
The newly sanction Christian Church, led by literalist church fathers such as John Chrysostom (347-407 A.D.) demanded that a limited and literal view of the narrative story line of the scriptures be embraced by the church, while consigning all of the allegorical Gnostic wisdom texts to the flames of ignorance.
The Emperor Theodosius ordered the closing of the last Gnostic house of learning in Egypt, the Serapeum, in 389 A.D.
In 391 A.D., the state sponsored persecution of the Gnostics culminated in fiery tragedy when the Catholic Archbishop of Alexandria, Theophilus, incited a mob of angry Christians against the remaining Gnostic population in the city which had sought protection within the Serapeum. The mob burned the institution, including the famous Library of Alexandria, which housed the combined wisdom of the classical world recorded in its irreplaceable ancient books and scrolls.
Some Gnostics were able to resist the power of the organized church-state well into the early Sixth Century. Faced with trials and persecutions, many Gnostic thinkers withdrew into the world of academics, to hide among the well-to-do educated elites of the empire. These Gnostic academics founded the last great classical school of philosophy, Neo-Platonism. Neo-Platonism, founded by the third century Greek philosopher, Plotinus (205-270 A.D.), combined the doctrines of classical Greek philosophy, especially that of Plato, with elements of Gnostic mysticism. The Neo-Platonist asserted “that there is a single source from where all creation emanates and with which the human soul can achieve mystic union.”
Plotinus taught that all reality exists as a structured hierarchical order with everything flowing from the “One,” or the “Good,” which he considered beyond human understanding. It is absolute, without origin, infinite, and beyond space and time. This “One” is the “Light,” from which all other modes of existence manifest due to its expansion and vibration. Plotinus believed that the first emanation from the “One” is the divine “Mind,” a link or intermediary between the “One” and the lower grades of reality. Next in descending order is the “Soul,” which because it is distant from unity with the “One” must create space and time in order to function. All emanations from “Soul” are spatial and temporal. The lowest emanation from “Soul” is “matter,” the physical universe. Plotinus did not see “matter” as evil, as some Gnostics did, but simply as the end result of the creative process. These Neo-Platonic/Gnostic ideas exercised a powerful influence on late Christian writers such as Irenaeus, Augustine, and even in St. Paul’s conception of the mystical union of the individual soul with God. (Ephesians 1:3-10.)
The bloody purges under the Christian Emperor Justinian focused on the last remaining refuge of the Gnostics within the Empire’s academic communities. Around 529 A.D., Justinian ordered the closing of the Neo-Platonic Academy at Athens which “….caused great fear.” The emperor decreed that those who held Hellenic [pagan, Neo-Platonic] beliefs should not hold any state office, whilst those who belonged to the other heresies [Gnostic Christians] were to disappear from the Roman state, after they had been given a period of three months in order to embrace the orthodox faith.”
With the loss of the Alexandrian library, and the closing of the Neo-Platonic Academy, almost all knowledge concerning the Gnostic mysteries was lost.
The only remaining sources concerning the Gnostic movement besides the Neo-Platonic philosopher’s writings, possessed by the western world until recently were the writings of the Gnostic’s arch-enemies, the Orthodox Christian fathers. The Orthodox Christian heresy hunters or heresiologists, obviously hostile sources, attempted to portray the Gnostic teachings as ludicrous fables. However, this began to change at the dawn of the Italian Renaissance with the discovery of the Hermetic text known as the Pimander, (Gk: Poimadres derived from the original Egyptian Peime-n-Re, meaning the “knowledge of Re [or Ra]). This text was discovered in a library in Constantinople around 1460 and was translated into Latin by the famous Hermetic translator Marsilio Ficino, the adopted son of the great Cosimo de’ Medici.
The Poimadres is one of the primary texts within the famed Corpus Hermeticum which is the collection of texts purportedly authored by the demigod Hermes Trismegistus (or Hermes Thrice Greatest) who was the Greek form of the Egyptian god Thoth. This was followed three hundred years later by the eighteenth century discoveries of the “Pistis Sophia” (Gk: Faith-Wisdom) texts and the “Apocryphal of Saint John” (or The Secret Book of Saint John). Lastly, in 1945, a large cache of Gnostic texts were discovered at Nag Hammadi, in Upper Egypt.
The Nag Hammadi texts were written in Coptic, a form of late Egyptian writing with characters modeled on Greek.
These texts, were discovered when an Egyptian farmer clearing his fields unearthed “a large, intact earthenware jar, which when broken open contained thirteen leather-bound papyrus books and a large number of loose papyrus leaves.” The total discovery includes fifty-two separate texts and approximately twelve and a half salvaged codices. These texts include: The Gospel of Philip, The Gospel of Truth, and The Gospel of Thomas. It is believed by some scholars that the Gospel of Thomas actually predates the four canonical Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
Today we can piece together a far more accurate understanding of the early Christian Church with its decidedly Gnostic elements. Each Gnostic sect had its own teachers, including the famous Simon Magus, Marcion, Hippolytus, Basilides, and Valentinus. These teachers wrote Gospels concerning complex religious allegories, myths, and Gnostic cosmologies which included the great allegory about Sophia and her fall into the material realm. The general outline of the Sophian allegory, although often possessing variations depending on the teacher, is a story of the temptation and fall of Grace into the darkness of Chaos and her redemption of mankind from our cycles of rebirth within the material universe.
The Nag Hammadi texts teach that the universe is a co-existent phenomenon, undifferentiated, without dimension, known as the Monad. (Gk: Monos, unit or one) The Monad has been equated to the concept of the Pleroma in Neo-Platonism, the Christian Logos, the Jewish Ain-Soph, which corresponds to Kether in the Kabala, the mind of Brahman in Hinduism, and the Dharmakaya in Buddhism.
According to Hippolytus, two shoots emanate from the Monad without beginning or end. One emanation appears from above and is known as the great power or universal mind, which orders all things, and manifests as male energy. The other great emanation appears from below and is known as the great power of thought, which produces all things, and manifests as female energy. These two great powers act as positive and negative forces dancing in a balanced harmony within a great wave field (without time, space or dimension) known as the Pleroma. According to Simon Magus, as quoted by the heresiologist Irenaeus, in the Philosophumena, these first two emanations are known as nous (Mind)
and Epinoia (Thought) which were then followed by Phone (Voice) or the Logos-Christos (Word-Christ) and Onoma (Name) and a final pair, Logismos (Reason) and Enthumesis (Reflection).
From these emanations emerged the Aeons (Angels) and the lower worlds.
In the Gnostic text, “On the Origin of the World,” Pistis Sophia (Gk: Faith-Wisdom) was created after the immortal Aeons had come forth from the Monad.
Pistis Sophia is the allegorical expression of the first “Light of God.” She is the feminine aspect of God and is therefore mother Goddess, the bride of the Logos-Christ. She is the final emanation from the Monad to exist totally within the perfection of the non-material Pleroma. For unexplained reasons, another Sophia then emerged from the Pleroma; her name is Sophia Zoe (Wisdom-Life), also known as Sophia-Achamoth in Jewish Gnostic texts, who is considered the daughter of Pistis Sophia. Thus flowing forth from wisdom and faith came the lesser wisdom, the wisdom of physical life. Sophia Zoe is created in the Chaos (Gk: Chasm or Abyss, the confused unorganized state of primordial matter before the creation of distinct forms) of dark matter where she can barely perceive a distant light, which she believes to be the light of the Monad shinning through the gloom of the dark matter. She begins to move more and more deeply into the darkness, drawn like a moth to a flame, towards the light which is enveloped in the dark matter of Chaos.
Drawn into the depths of the abyss, Sophia Zoe discovers that the light which she has been drawn to was not the Monad, but only its reflection upon the shadows of darkness.
Sophia Zoe is now ensnared in the unfathomable darkness of Chaos, and she becomes frightened and confused. These strong emotions (this karmic energy-in-motion) moves upon the inert dark matter of Chaos, consisting of the four elements, earth, air, fire, and water, and infuses the dark matter with the fifth element of spirit, known as the divine spark of Gnosis and Psyche (Gk: Soul). In her loneliness, Sophia Zoe longs for a companion and through an act of sheer will power, projects her life force upon the dark cloud of matter around her and creates the first living being composed of both matter and spirit. From the Apocryphal Book of John, we learn that:
because of the invincible power within her…Something came out of her
that was imperfect and different in appearance from her, for she had produced
it without her partner. (Logos-Christ) It did not resemble its mother and was misshapen. When Sophia saw what her desire had produced, it changed
into the figure of a snake with the face of a lion. Its eyes were like flashing
bolts of lightening. She cast it away from her, outside that realm so
that none of the immortals would see it. She had produced it ignorantly.
She surrounded it with a bright cloud and put a throne in the middle
of the cloud so that no one would see it except the Holy Spirit, who is called the mother of the living. (Pistis Sophia) She named her offspring Yaldabaoth.
The name Yaldabaoth, or Ildabaoth, means “Child of Chaos” in Aramaic.
Ilda means child, and Baoth means chaos.
The name Yaldabaoth is closely linked in the Gnostic tradition to the Hebrew name of God, Yahweh, YHWH, the ineffable name of God in Hebrew.
(More on this later) Continuing from the Apocryphal Book of John, from the chapter entitled Yaldabaoth’s World Order we discover that:
Yaldabaoth [who] is the first ruler, who took power from his mother. Then he left her….and took control and created for himself other realms with luminous fire….he mated with the mindlessness in him and produced authorities for himself….[and] Yaldabaoth stationed seven kings, one for each sphere of heaven, to reign over the seven heavens, and five [kings] to reign
over the depths of the abyss.
The lion-faced Yaldabaoth becomes an important figure upon the stage of Gnostic mythology when we recognize that he is in fact the mysterious Leontocephaline, or lion-headed figure found depicted in the mysteries of Mithras.
The Leontocephaline is depicted on many Mithraic temples, statutes, and images, and has always presented something of an enigma to scholars. The Leontocephaline is usually depicted as a human male with the head of a lion, with a snake winding around his body.
He is standing upon a cosmic sphere and holds a key in his right hand. The Leontocephaline is sometimes called the Agathodaimon, the good spirit-friend, when it acts as the cosmic gatekeeper and gate opener.
He is also closely linked in the Mithraic mysteries with the symbolism of a ladder or staircase with seven steps. Each step is associated with one of the Seven Gates of the celestial spheres or planets, through which the soul must pass in the afterlife.
The Leontocephaline is the guardian of this final passage and holds the keys to the realm of fire guarding “the ultimate boundary” between the material universe and the realm of mother Pistis Sophia and the Aeons.
According to Manly P. Hall, candidates who had successfully passed the Mithraic initiations were called “Lions,” and were marked on their foreheads with the Egyptian cross. Hall believed that the image of the Leontocephaline was actually Mithras himself. He argued that the reference to the “Grip of the Lion’s Paw” in the Master Mason’s degree may have had a Mithraic origin.
Hall and others have pointed out that the Leontocephaline is the deity which guards the remote all-surrounding, “fiery atmosphere called the aether, which encircles and embraces the universe on its outer side at an exceedingly lofty altitude…”
The symbolic image of the Leontocephaline standing guard at the boundary between the material universe and the realm of spiritual fire or spiritual light, links the Leontocephaline to Sophia Zoe’s child, Yaldabaoth, who also stands guard at the fiery celestial boundary.
When Sophia Zoe realizes that she has created an imperfect being, she escapes from the material universe and creates a strong barrier or veil of fire between the world of spirit and the world of matter. This veil of fire prevents Yaldabaoth from passing or even seeing into the higher spiritual planes. Blinded by his own ambition and pride, Yaldabaoth begins to believe that he is the highest god, and he begins to fashion the material universe out of the dark matter of Chaos.
He attempts to fashion a man after an image he had seen reflected from the spiritual Pleroma onto the watery void of the material plane. He fails in his attempt to create a living being, and calls upon his mother Sophia for help. Sophia sends a portion of her own divine essence of Gnosis, a divine light which is implanted into the heart of the man, giving him an immortal soul, which now longs to return to the Pleroma.
This man is Adam Kadmon, the archetypal or ideal man. This heavenly Adam is not the earth bound Adam described in Genesis, but rather a divine prototype for the human race. At this point in some Gnostic myths, Yaldabaoth becomes jealous of the spiritual light in Adam Kadmon, and encases Adam Kadmon in the lower elements of matter, making him mortal, and bound to terrestrial existence. This is the origin of the earthly Adam and Eve.
The Gnostic version of Genesis clearly deviated from the orthodox Christian and Jewish version of these events. Indeed, the Gnostics identified Yaldabaoth with their concept of the Demiurge, a Greek term which simply means, “a public worker, a craftsman or fabricator, an artificer,” or alternatively as, “the architect of the universe.” To the Gnostics, the lion-faced Demiurge was known as the “Supreme Artificer of Heaven and Earth.” The Demiurge was believed to be inferior to the original supreme god, the Monad which is beyond all comprehension, nevertheless, it was still believed to be an extremely powerful being controlling the operative forces and harmonies within the physical universe.
As noted above, the Demiurge in his Mithraic Leontocephaline form is sometimes called the Agathodaimon, the “good spirit-friend,” and keeper of the cosmic gate and redeemer of souls.
In some Gnostic systems, including the pagan-Gnostic Mithraic mysteries, the Demiurge was also seen as the positive manifestation of the reason of the Monad, the Logos, Christ, or the Word. As the “good lion-faced friend,” the Demiurge can easily be understood as Christ, the Lion of Judea. He also appears in the Christ-Lion symbolism in the Masonic third degree, and in the literary works of C. S. Lewis.
However, to confuse matters, in other Gnostic systems, primarily Christian Gnosticism, the Demiurge was believed to be the personification of evil, the Satan of the Gnostics. Here the Demiurge became identified with the Old Testament god Jehovah, creator of the “evil physical world,” which he rules. For this reason, many Gnostics rejected the Old Testament and the physical world, believing that all things within this “evil-world,” only serve to enslave the divine spark of Gnosis trapped within our physical bodies.
According to the Christian Gnostic Valentinus, to save these ensnared souls or divine sparks, the supreme good god sent his only son, Christ, an emanation of the supreme good god, and Christ’s consort, Sophia Zoe (or Sophia Achamoth), daughter of the highest Pistis Sophia, to redeem humanity. Valentinus believed that humanity will eventually be divided into three camps. The first, the carnal men, will lose their divine sparks and finally be consumed in the grossness of matter and fire. The second group will eventually rise to a level of existence on a higher plain, neither heaven nor hell, to spend eternity with the Demiurge. The last group will be completely redeemed by Christ and Sophia Zoe, to have their divine sparks or souls, finally reunited within the divine world of light, the Pleroma.
This redemptive process begins as an act of grace by the father God and mother Pistis Sophia, when they sent Sophia Zoe to the Garden of Eden to provide man with a taste of the fruit of knowledge-wisdom; thereby igniting man’s longing to return to his divine state with God in the Pleroma. When man tasted of the fruit of knowledge offered to him by wisdom, the divine spark within his heart was immediately drawn to the great light of Pistis Sophia, like a moth drawn to a flame. Through the intervention of Christ and Sophia Zoe, our redemption is possible, but it is man’s responsibility to embrace the wisdom teachings, understand the nature of his existence, and to long to return to the unified state of being within the light of the father/mother. Christ the bridegroom acts as the redemptive link for Sophia Zoe to re-unite with her “celestial mother.” Because Sophia Zoe is the elemental spark of gnosis within each of our hearts, when she is redeemed by Christ, we are through her, redeemed as well.
The mother, Pistis Sophia acts as our comforter or Holy Spirit, providing a direct link between the higher realms and man.
Pistis Sophia’s identity as the Holy Ghost has been somewhat obscured by literalist western Christianity. In The Apostles’ Creed we find that Jesus was, “conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered, was crucified…..” (Book of Common Prayer, 1662). The earliest Latin version of the Apostles’ Creed is quoted by the second-century Christian literalist, Tertullian, but it is believed that the Creed comes from an earlier Egyptian Gnostic source. “Conceived by the Holy Ghost,” from a Gnostic perspective means that Jesus emanated from God’s Holy Spirit, (Pistis Sophia) who according to Genesis 1: 2, is a female spirit that “moved on the face of the waters.” (waters of chaos) The term Holy Spirit as a masculine term only dates to the use of the Latin word spiritus which is masculine. The Christian Gnostics, who identified the Holy Spirit with Pistis Sophia, introduced her worship to Christian ritual through the sacrament of Baptism. When a new Christian was ceremoniously initiated into the Christian mysteries, they were immersed into the waters of Chaos, to immerge born-again into the light of wisdom though grace.
In the Greek and Russian Orthodox faiths, there is an entire theological discipline, similar to Mariology in Catholicism, known as Sophiology. Some Orthodox Sophiologists hold that Sophia is co-existent with the trinity, and acts as the feminine aspect of God. This contradicts the official Eastern Orthodox view which holds that Sophia is the same being as the Divine Logos, effectively the feminine aspect of Jesus Christ. The concept of Sophia is also found in modern Judaism as the Shekinah, “the Glory of God,” the Kabalistic expression of the feminine aspects of God. She is referred to as Chokhmah, “the Wisdom of God,” in the Old Testament book of Proverbs 8:22-31 and 9:1-6.
In the communion of bread and wine in Proverbs 9:5 we find one source for the communion mysteries in the rites of the Gnostic Christians, in which Holy Sophia has dedicated her Temple of Wisdom and performs the Holy Communion of bread and wine to consecrate the event.
Today, there is a modern resurgence in interest concerning Gnostic beliefs. The modern American Gnostic church, the Ecclesia Gnostic, and the Gnostic Church of France, owe much of their early history to Freemasonry and Martinism. The French Gnostic Church was founded by Dr. Girard Encausse, known by his pseudonym, Papus (1865-1916). Papus was a prominent member of the Martinist Order, who was influenced by the Neo-Gnostic beliefs of Martinez de Pasqually, the esoteric Christian mysticism of Louis-Claude de St. Martin, and by the publication of G.R.S. Mead’s translation of the Pistis Sophia. Drawing upon these esoteric associations, by the mid-1880s Papus and his followers had created a fully functioning Gnostic Church which operated concealed within the Masonic and Martinist fraternities of France. To this day, the Gnostic Church of France maintains a very close relationship with Martinism and Freemasonry. French Gnostic clergy are required to be initiates of Martinist and/or Masonic orders as a pre-condition to ordination into the priesthood.
So to return to the question at the beginning of this paper, to the question which many Masons have pondered, why are we as Freemasons interested in Gnosticism enough to illuminate the letter G in the East of our lodges? Why would membership in Freemasonry be required to be an initiate in the Gnostic Church of France? Let us look once more through the evidence hidden within the pages of this paper. When a newly made Mason is presented the Lion’s Paw, he receives a word, that I dare not print, which is a substitute for the all important Lost Word of a Master Mason. We all remember this word, but it is just a substitute word, what was the actual word? Please, follow me down this rabbit hole.
As we have already noted, the Demiurge’s name is Yaldabaoth, and means, “Child from/of Chaos” in Aramaic, the language of many early Gnostic texts. The name Yaldabaoth is closely linked in Gnostic tradition to the Hebrew name of God, Yahweh. The Egyptian sun god was named Ra or Re, meaning the “most high,” from which comes our term for solar “rays.” The word elion is an old Canaanite rendering of the term “most high,” and is also related to the sun. After the Hebrew tribes left Egypt, they adopted the term el elion, from the Canaanites, meaning “God, the most high” to signify their tribal deity. The name El-Elion has its origin in the Canaanite/Phoenician Elon meaning the sun.
Thus in el elion we find that the Hebrew deity is known as, “God, the most high sun.” As an epithet of deity, Elyon, occurs with El, in Psalms 78:35 with YHWH, and in Ps. 7:18, and Ps. 47:9.
El was the highest god of the Phoenicians, and was co-opted by the early Hebrew prophets. In Hebrew, elion means “most high,” and is not related to lion in Hebrew, which is rendered as labi, (old Semitic origin), and el ale (the lion of God.)
However, the Greco-Egyptian Gnostics, who transcribed their Gnostic texts from Aramaic, to Greek, and finally into the Coptic language, a form of Egyptian with Greek characters, could easily, have confused elion with leon, lion in Greek.
We know that the Greek word leon is of Semitic origin, and is “somehow related to [the] Coptic labia, laboi, meaning lioness. In turn, [the] Coptic labia is borrowed from a Semitic source related to the Hebrew labi’ and Akkadian labbu.”
This connection is reinforced by the association between the sun and the Leo of the zodiac. It therefore appears that in the Coptic-Egyptian mind of the Second Century B.C., the Hebrew El elion, was transformed into the concept “God, the most high solar lion.”
Now, El elion, as we have seen, was also associated with the name Yahweh, and Yahweh became known to the Coptic-Gnostics as Yaldabaoth, the Child from Chaos.
El elion or Yahweh is therefore the leonine solar deity of the Coptic-Gnostics, Yaldabaoth, the lion-faced Demiurge. As we saw earlier, (page 11) the name Yaldabaoth is broken down into three parts, Yald-a-baoth. Yald (child), a (from/of), and baoth (chaos).
The Greeks saw the material world, composed of the four elements, as the realm of Chaos created by the Demiurge. The Demiurge stands guard at the fiery Seventh Gate into the non-physical heavenly realm of the Pleroma. For our Masonic initiation to mean anything at all, every initiate must know the password to go through the final gateway guarded by the lion-faced god. When your days are over, and you are standing before Yaldabaoth, the lion-faced “Child from Chaos,” the god of this physical universe, what word will you give him, what is the real secret password of a Master Mason?
The old Canaanite name El elion and the Coptic-Aramaic name Yaldabaoth both evolved in Egypt, where the Ancient Egyptian cosmic goddess Ma’at, the sister of Thoth or Hermes, was worshipped as the goddess of truth, justice and the order of the universe.
Egyptian Gnostics linked the ancient goddess Ma’at to the Coptic-Egyptian goddess Sophia Zoe, just as they linked their ancient goddess Isis to their Gnostic goddess Pistis Sophia. This is an important point: the Egyptian Gnostics equated Sophia Zoe with their ancient goddess Ma’at, and they equated Pistis Sophia with their ancient goddess Isis.
Now the pronunciation of Ma’at has been reconstructed as Muh-aht, (Collier and Manley pp. 2-4, 154), and like her brother Thoth, Ma’at was seen to represent the Logos.
As the goddess of justice, Ma’at stands near Osiris in the Duat, the Egyptian underworld, for the weighting of the souls of the dead.
A soul which was found unworthy of eternal life would immediately be devoured by Ammit or Ammut, the “lion-like devouress of the dead.”
Ammit, also Ammut, or Ammet was the personification of divine retribution for all the wrongs committed during one’s life. Ammit’s role is reflected in her title which means, “bone eater,” “devourer of the dead,” “devourer of millions,” (Am-heh in Egyptian), “eater of hearts” (souls), and “greatness of death.” She stands near a lake of fire where the hearts of the unworthy were caste.
Ammit the “lion-demon” appears to be the Ancient Egyptian prototype of the Coptic-Egyptian Yaldabaoth, and the Mithraic Leontocephaline. When a soul stood before Osiris, Ma’at, and the Ammit lion-demon, it was expected to declare that it was Meri-Ma’at, beloved of Ma’at, with a good and pure heart, worthy of the after life.
If this was indeed found to be the case, the soul passed beyond the judgment throne into the eternal bliss of the Pleroma.
The phrase Ma’at a baoth, or “Order out of Chaos,” or “Order from Chaos,” should make a pronounce impression upon the ear of the Master Mason.
Sound it out and listen, Ma’at a baoth. It is this writer’s argument, that the Coptic-Egyptian concepts of Ma’at (order/justice) and baoth (Gk. Chaos) became linked sometime between the time of Alexander’s conquest of Egypt in 332-331 B.C., and the appearance of fully developed Coptic-Gnosticism during the first and second centuries A.D. It was during this period that the great Gnostic religious revival spread across the Near East. Ma’at was the Egyptian cosmic goddess of the heavens and the universe, making her the equivalent of the Gnostic Sophia Zoe. (Remember that Isis was seen by the Egyptian-Gnostics as Pistis Sophia). The concepts of the ancient Egyptian lion-demon, Ammit, the Hebrew El elion, and the Mithraic Leontocephaline, all eventually evolved into the Egyptian-Gnostic Yaldabaoth, the “Child from Chaos.” By embracing the concept of “Order” (Ma’at) from “Chaos,” (baoth) the Egyptian-Gnostics sought to describe the redemptive process, by which Sophia, through her divine grace, saves souls and carries them away from the realm of Chaos, beyond the guardian of the fiery Seventh Gate, into the heavenly Pleroma. By rendering the phrase, Ma’at a baoth as “Ma’at/Sophia, deliver us from Chaos,” we begin to understand the true importance of the third degree and the extension of the “Lion’s Paw.”
These words are the words of redemption; Ma’at/Sophia (wisdom), deliver our souls out from Chaos,” and into that final state of perfection, union with the Pleroma. These may indeed be the words one should offer when the lion-faced god extends you his hand.
Now, around the time of the Seventh Crusade (circa 1249 A.D.), European crusaders, including the predominantly French Knights Templar, invaded Egypt and came into close contact with the esoteric traditions of the Egyptian-Coptic Christians. The Coptic Christians, who exist to this day in Egypt, preserved many of the secret teachings of their Gnostic ancestors. It is quite possible that at this time, the crusaders learned about the lion-faced Demiurge, or the Agathodaimon, “the good-friend,” (see earlier, pg 15) of the Egyptian-Gnostics. The Egyptians used the terms Demiurge, Yaldabaoth, and Agathodaimon rather interchangeably. For these thirteen-century Frenchmen, Agathodaimon, “the good-friend,” would be have been interpreted as le bon ami (modern Fr. le bon amie). Our French Templar brothers, hearing the Coptic-Egyptian esoteric expression, Ma’at a baoth, would have interpreted it as Ma’at a(h) bon, substituting the correct meaning of baoth in the name Yaldabaoth, with the common French term, “bon,” good.
As far as the Templar’s were concerned, Yaldabaoth was the same “good-friend,” the “le bon ami,” as the Agathodaimon. Templars being initiated into the Gnostic tradition would have reached for the extended hand of this good lion-friend, as they arose new initiates of the Egyptian mysteries. In my opinion, the
transformation by these medieval Frenchmen, of the term Ma’at a baoth (Ma’at/Sophia, goddess of order, deliver us from chaos) into the medieval French term Ma’at a(h) bon (Ma’at/Sophia, goddess of order, [she is] our good-friend) explains the origin of the current substitute word.
On Friday the Thirteenth, 1307 all members of the Knights Templar within the boundaries of France were arrested upon the order of the King of France, Philip IV. Philip and his chief Minister William de Nogaret launched a massive “investigation” by the French Inquisition into allegations that the Knights Templar were guilty of heresy against the Church. Among the charges of heresy made against the Templars was the accusation that the Templars, “had worshipped a head…or a human skull set in a reliquary,” and that this head was named Baphomet.
Some Templars also confessed under torture to worshipping an idol of a cat.
Now some authors believe that the name Baphomet is a European medieval corruption of Mahomet (meaning Mohammad), but it could also indicate a different error in the Inquisitional transcription of the word.
If the correct transcription for the sounds uttered under torture by the Templars was Baoph ah met, we begin to find real meaning in their confessions. In ritual magic, words are often reversed to conceal their true meaning or power. When we take the three syllables Baoph ah met and reverse their order, we get Met ah Baoph, a likely pronunciation (especially under torture) for Ma’at ah Baoth. If this is the case, then it becomes likely that the Templar prisoners were giving their tormentors the name of the cat idol found in their possession. The cat idol would have been a statue of the lion-faced god, Yaldabaoth, the good friend.
“Ma’at/Sophia, deliver us out of chaos,” should also ring a tone of recognition in the ears of the Christian reader. The Lord’s Prayer is found in two places in the New Testament, in Matthew 6:9-13, and at Luke 11: 2-4. Matthew 6:13 “And lead us not into temptation (of the material world) but deliver us from evil (chaos), and Luke 11: 4 “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, (chaos).” In both Matthew 6:13, and Luke 11: 4, the Greek is τοΰ πουηροΰ, from evil, equated with κάκος, chaos.)
In the Lord’s Prayer, the Christian prayer of redemption, we find the final clue to the identity of the Lost Word. Put simply, the Lost Word is the hidden contextual meaning of the Lord’s Prayer, the prayer which redeems our souls from the material plain of Chaos, to deliver us into the highest realms of the Pleroma. If this is true, then the great mystery hidden by the Templars, the true Holy Grail, is the actual hidden phrase within the Lord’s Prayer, to be spoken to “le bon-ami,” the good-friend, Yaldabaoth upon arrival at the fiery gates of the heaven, “Sophia, lead us not [back] into the material realm of temptation, but deliver us from its evil." Ma’at-ah-Baoth. It is only by her divine grace and wisdom that we are drawn closer to the Light to experience the compassionate intervention of our heavenly mother, Pistis Sophia. She redeems our souls that they may pass through the Seventh Gate, beyond which the lion-faced Demiurge can not pass, to experience the eternal radiance of cosmic ekstasis (ecstasy). This, I believe, was Christ’s true gospel. So mote it be.
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