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Invented Egypt and the "Masters" ?

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  • bri_mue
    In the Masters Revealed Paul writes: IN JANUARY 1886, OLCOTT PROPOSED to HPB that she assist in establishing a collaboration between the Brahmin Theosophist T.
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 8, 2002
      In the Masters Revealed Paul writes:
      IN JANUARY 1886, OLCOTT PROPOSED to HPB that she assist in
      establishing a collaboration between the Brahmin Theosophist T. Subba
      Row and some Masters of the Egyptian brotherhood. This never came to
      fruition, but Olcott's letter is fascinating:

      Subba Row is getting keen on a collation of Indian and Egyptian
      esoteric philosophy and symbolism .... He keeps coming here and
      always asks for books which deal with Egyptian Mythology etc. Now do
      this:through Borj, or Twitit B: or III: or someone, arrange to
      organize at Cairo a couple like Subba Row and Oakley, who would keep
      in regular correspondence with these two, and exchange ideas,
      questions and answers .... Maspero is anxious to make just such a
      correspondence, but he is too thundering busy, If there were an
      Oakley there to go at him, hunt up the books he would indicate, and
      write the letters, enormously good results would follow all around,
      for Maspero would put it all in his books and Reports, and we would
      put it into the Th.and books. Would Gregoire d'Elias be any good? I
      think not. Would Isurenus B. help you?

      This passage gives three now names to investigate in the search for
      the Masters. It is interesting in itself that Olcott refers to
      Hilarion, Tuitit Bey, and Isurenus Bey (who signed Olcott's first
      letter from the Masters as Polydorus Isurenus) in such matter of fact
      terms, But far more useful to researchers are the names of Borj- A
      Borg appears in one of the most important of all Mahatma
      communications, the one K.H. made materialize in Olcott's hand when
      he appeared in his tent outside Lahore in November 1883. It accuses
      Olcott of being overly suspicious, "sometimes cruelly soof Upasika,
      of Borg, of Djual.K.,even of Damodar and D. Nath, whom you love as

      In the diary she kept in New York, HPB referred to someone whose
      name is transcribed as "Boag" from whom she had received mail. The
      entry for 6 December reads, "A letter from Richard and Boag informing
      of the arrival from Russia of a parcel."' Again, questions of
      handwriting confuse the issue, giving thTee spellings of what would
      seem to be the same name. But of the variant spellings it becomes
      apparent that Borg is correct when we examine Nikki Keddie's
      biography of Jamal ad-Din al-Afghani. She writes that "Afghani and a
      group of his followers first joined an Italian lodge in Alexandria,
      but wereinfluenced by English Vice-Consul Ralph Borg to join an
      English lodge, whose numbers reached 300, including many leaders of
      the nationalist movement of 1878-1882.
      (K.Paul Johnson "The Masters Revealed" p.71/72.)

      In fact at first, the Freemasons displayed no interest in Egypt;
      rather, they sought, even in their symbolism, to attach themselves to
      biblical traditions, especially the temple of Solomon, and Hiram, who
      had it built. Nevertheless, in 1728, the seal of the Perfetta Unione
      lodge in Naples already displayed a pyramid and sphinx.

      Masonic usages and symbols were now reinterpreted. There were also
      influences from alchemy, for the stone that the mason symbolically
      worked was also viewed as the Philosopher's Stone. The Freemasons
      also adopted cabala and the teachings of the Rosicrucians, taking
      over the supposed history of the latter.

      They constructed a chain of traditions that led back, via temple
      masters, cabalists, gnostics, and Pythagoreans, to Solomon, whom they
      revered as the ruler of the spirit world, and finally, via Moses, to

      Even Hermes Trismegistus appeared in the name of an early German
      lodge in Landau. Along with him, Moses was already viewed as an
      authority; according to C. Ernst Wiinsch (Horus, 1783), Moses was
      initiated into Hermes' arcana. by the secret priestly society of
      Egypt. The Order of the Strict Observance also made reference to the
      medieval Knights Templar.

      After De Molay's execution in 1314, some of the order's leaders had
      fled to Scotland and introduced their secret lore to the masons' huts
      there; this was also the origin of the system of higher degrees. And
      also forms a part of the same a pseudo-history.

      The Egyptian component was not elaborated until the latter part of
      the eighteenth century, at a time when the origins of all religion
      were often being sought in Egypt. A lasting influence was also
      exerted by the description of an "Egyptian" initiation in the novel
      by Jean Terrasson, a Hellenist at the College de France who also
      translated Diodorus. His novel was published anonymously in 1731,
      after which it was widely reprinted and translated. As a young man of
      sixteen, the hero of the novel is initiated into the Isis mysteries
      inside the Great Pyramid of Giza; midway, he passes through all four
      elements, which are elaborately staged inside the pyramid. This trial
      by the elements renders Sethos worthy of participating in
      the "mysteries" of the great goddess Isis.

      Antoine-Joseph Pernety founded a "Rite hermetique" in Avignon in
      1766; two years later, he was summoned to Potsdam to be the librarian
      of Frederick the Great.The year 1775 saw the appearance in G6ttingen
      of Georg Christoph Meiners' "Versuch Uber die Religionsgeschichte der
      Altesten Voelker besonders der Egyptier" (Attempt at a history of the
      religions of the most ancient peoples, in particular the Egyptians),
      which articulated the growing criticism of Hermetism and paid fresh
      honor to Casaubon.

      Meiners banished Hermes Trismegistus "from the realm of history ...
      into the vast realm of supposedly ancient Egyptian chimeras"; he
      concluded by summarizing the controversial opinions regarding Hermes
      as follows: "I hope that whoever takes all of this together will not
      think ill of me if I sincerely declare that I know nothing of what
      Hermeswas and did, and that I doubt that anyone ever knew or will
      ever find out, and that I therefore hold all attempts on this point
      to be a most irresponsible waste of time." Later, in his Briefen
      iiber die Schweiz (Correspondence regarding Switzerland), Meiners
      became a passionate critic of Cagliostro, and we are also indebted to
      him for his essay on the "Geschichte der hieroglyphischen Schrift"
      (History of the hieroglyphic writing system) in the Goettinger
      historischen Magazin of 1789.

      But Hermetism withstood this blow, as it had Casaubon's late dating
      of the Hermetic texts. Magic, belief in the supernatural, and alchemy
      continued to flourish, even after Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier
      laid the foundations of modern chemistry with his TraW 616mentaire de
      Chimie (Elementary treatise on chemistry, 1789). In 1783, the Leipzig
      physicist Christlieb Benedict Funk had published a work on
      "Natuerliche Magie" (natural magic) that "could be taught by
      professors," and in 18o8, Johann Heinrich Jung-Stilling, whose
      Heimweh will concern usbelow, would write a "Theory of Pneumatology".

      The story "Der Stein der Weisen oder Sylvester und Rosine" (The
      Philosopher's Stone, or Sylvester and Rosina), which appeared in 1786
      in the first volume of Christoph Martin Wieland's collection of tales
      entitled Dschinnistan, is mainly directed against Cagliostro's fraud
      and his proclivity for alchemy and magic. Here, bearing the fantastic
      name of Misfragmutosiris, he appears as an "Egyptian adept from the
      genuine and secret school of the great Hermes"; the depiction on the
      title page shows him wearing a cloak decorated with hieroglyphs and
      a pointed cap crowned by a sphinx. At the court of King Mark of
      Cornwall, he boasts of his adventures in the Great Pyramid of Giza, a
      theme that goes back to the Abb6 Terrasson, though Wieland further
      embellishes it. A hieroglyphic inscription over the entrance to the
      first room explains the pyramid as a tomb of the great Hermes; the
      adept finds the divine old man, guarded by a dragon, lying on a
      magnificent bed in a dome of black jasper."

      Even independently of Cagliostro, Egypt had by now solidly anchored
      itself in Freemasonry. In 1784, the geologist and mineralogist Ignaz
      von Born inaugurated the new Journal fuer Freimaurer with a
      fundamental essay, "Ueber die Mysterien der Aegyptier" (On the
      mysteries of the Egyptians). The year before, in his book Horus, C.
      E. Wunsch had proclaimed that the secret society of the Egyptian
      priests had initiated Moses into its arcana. Karl Leonhard Reinhold
      also stressed Moses' dependence on Egypt in Die Hebrdischen Mysterien
      oder die ae1teste religioese Freimaurerey (The Hebraic mysteries, or
      the most ancient religious Freemasonry, 1788), which he published
      as "Brother Decius"; he had already written several contributions on
      Hebraic and other "mysteries" for von Born's journal. Also indicative
      is the title of a work by Johann Gottfried Bremer, which was issued
      by Karl Philipp Moritz in 1793: Die Symbolische Weisheit der Aegypter
      aus den verborgensten Denkmdlern des Altertums, ein Theil der
      Aegyptischen Maurerey, der zu Rom nicht verbrannt worden (The
      symbolic lore of Egypt from the most hidden monuments of antiquity, a
      part of the Egyptian Masonry that was not burned in Rome). In it, the
      ceremonies of the "Egyptian" mysteries unfold in seven stages.

      Von Born, relying in particular on Apuleius' account, stressed the
      similarities between the initiation of an Egyptian priest and that of
      a Mason.

      In the nineteenth century, Egyptian influence was especially visible
      in the Egyptian style of many lodge rooms, in their architecture as
      well as their decor; we can cite examples from both the Old and the
      New World, from Boston (in Lincolnshire), Brussels, Edinburgh, Paris,
      Philadelphia, and many other places. Egyptian elements were even
      employed in the construction of synagogues and churches, so little
      were they seen as "heathen" at this time. The connections of the
      Freemasons with ancient Egypt were emphatically stressed by Alexandre
      Lenoire (1762-1839); in a work that appeared in 1814, he also
      attempted a "decipherment" of the hieroglyphs and included depictions
      of Terrasson's trials by the elements. Other "Egyptian" rites were
      founded, ncluding one by the archaeologist Alexandre Dumage
      (1780-1862) in Toulouse ("Amis du Desert"), and later by the Ancient
      and Primitive Rite of Memphis and Misraim. In Egypt itself, many
      lodges appeared at this time, which in part aimed at directly taking
      up the tradition of the ancient Egyptian mysteries. And to
      which "Borg" mentioned by Olcott in India (see above) belonged.

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