Cause of World Unrest - Nesta Webster

Chapter III
Hebrew Rites and Symbols in Freemasonry

It is now evident how the Revolutionaries worked under the cloak of Freemasonry for the downfall of France. We are therefore driven to consider more closely the nature not indeed of Freemasonry in the English sense, but of those orders of Freemasonry which in various parts of the world are generally associated with political propaganda.

It is commonly supposed—and in our own country and the United States there is sufficient ground for the supposition—that Masonic ritual consists of certain innocent and friendly, though symbolic, ceremonies, which aim at strengthening the noble duties of charity, fraternity, loyalty, and fair-dealing among men who are true citizens of their Empire and whole-hearted believers in Christian morality. "To so high an eminence has the credit of Freemasonry been advanced," says the old English Charge to initiates, "that in every age Monarchs themselves have been promoters of the art, have not thought it derogatory from their dignity to exchange the sceptre for the trowel, have patronized our mysteries and joined in our Assemblies". In 1799 and 1817, the British House of Commons, in specific Acts, recognized the laudable character of the craft and provided for its continuance.

So far, well. The history of Freemasonry, however, though it may start in England with the three orders, or degrees, of "Entered Apprentice, "Fellow Craft," and "Master," by no means ends there, and in the veiled accounts of certain Continental Lodges we come upon forms of ritual and upon dark sayings that are not only foreign to the atmosphere of the "Mother Grand Lodge," but that point to underlying motives which, if they bear any real significance, are significant of evil. Whether or not the successive degrees in revolutionary Masonry constitute a hierarchy, each receiving its orders from the degree immediately above, or are mainly independent societies, it is difficult to say; but it is noteworthy that the higher the degree the more mysterious and disquieting appear its ceremonies. There are at least thirty-three separate degrees, each with a peculiar ritual of its own, based on the alleged history of the Order, and each conducting its observances and deliberations with the utmost secrecy.

In the lower orders the initiate into the secrets of revolutionary Masonry is allowed to hear the words Liberty and Equality only occasionally, but when his ears have grown familiar with them, and after he has learned how to be silent, he is raised to the grade of Master. It is then that he hears for the first time of a Founder, whose murder has to be revenged. The succeeding grades, especially those from the ninth upwards, so accustom him to the idea of vengeance that it finally becomes habitual. Every Master Mason is entrusted with a two-fold commission—first, to seek for the lost word, which he finds in a higher grade to be Jehovah, or natural religion; and, secondly, to revenge the death of Hiram, of which the Master's sign is a constant memorial—a feigned stab with the thumb. In the ninth degree (the Elected Knights of the Nine) a still more emphatic ceremony is observed. According to Albert Pike's Ritual of the Southern Jurisdiction of the U. S. (Scottish Rite), each new entrant and eight already Elected Knights lay aside their Masonic clothing and jewels, and each is armed with a sword and dagger. They enter a room which is lighted only by a single lamp set on the floor, by the side of a couch of leaves, on which is placed a representation of Abairam sleeping.

"'Here is the assassin?' says the Master of Ceremonies. 'Strike boldly at his head and heart, and revenge the death of the Master!' The candidate does so with his dagger, a voice exclaiming 'Nekum!' [Hebrew for revenge]—and the Master of Ceremonies, having with his sword separated the bleeding head from the trunk, gives it to the candidate, who, holding it in his right hand, returns to the chapter-room."

It is in the ninth order, too, that the philosophy of goodwill and benevolence to mankind, inculcated in the lower degrees, is supplemented by an eloquent appeal to destroy Ignorance, Tyranny, and Fanaticism, and it is interesting to notice that in this and the succeeding degrees numerous Hebrew names and associations creep into the rituals. The following striking passage is taken from the ritual of the eleventh degree (the Sublime Knights Elu of the Twelve):

"The Venerable Master: My Brethren, are you willing to take upon yourselves the duties of Governors in Israel, and chiefs over the tribute, with the resolution to discharge those duties faithfully and impartially?

"All: We are. . . .

"The V. M.: Let then our Chancellor write the degree . . . making these twelve our Viceregents, each in his Province, to be obeyed accordingly."

The next three orders are engaged in symbolic rituals dealing with the rebuilding of the Temple of Solomon which are difficult to understand, but considerable light is thrown upon their meaning in the concluding catechism of the 15th degree (the Knights of the East, Sword or Eagle):

"Q.: Of what are the ruins of the walls of the city and the Holy House an emblem?

"A.: Of a country that has lost its liberties, and an Order ruined and proscribed.

"Q.: To what do the seventy lights of the Lodge allude?

" A.: To the seventy years of Hebrew captivity.

"Q.: Of what are the chains of the captives, with their triangular links, an emblem?

"A.: Of the three powers that have in all ages fettered the human intellect and chained the limbs of the people: the Kings, Priests, and Nobles—of Tyranny, Superstition, and Privilege.

"Q.: What art do you profess?

"A.: Freemasonry.

"Q.: What do you build?

"A.: Temples and Tabernacles.

"Q.: Where?

"A.: In the souls of men, and among the nations.

"Q.: Which way do you travel?

"A.: From Babylon to Jerusalem. ..."

It is not difficult to see whither all this symbolism and catechism points. As the candidate becomes more and more initiated into the secrets and inner history of his craft he becomes more and more familiar with the idea of liberty as a basic principle in Masonic life and thought, and to the possibility of himself having, if need be, to offer up his life "in the cause of downtrodden races" and "in defence of free government." Such an ideal sounds noble enough, but let us try to find out what motive lies behind it. We have mentioned that one of the duties of a Master Mason in revolutionary Masonry is to seek for the "lost word." By the time he is fully initiated as a Rosicrucian (18th degree) he has learned that the day on which the word Jehovah was lost is precisely that on which the Son of God died on the Cross.

"As soon as the candidate [says the Abbé Barruel] has proved that he understands the Masonic meaning of the inscription INRI (Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews), the Master [of Ceremonies] exclaims, My dear Brethren, the word is found again, and all present applaud the luminous discovery, that He whose death was the consummation and the grand mystery of the Christian Religion was no more than a common Jew crucified for his crimes. . . . It is on the Gospel and on the Son of Man that the adept is to avenge the brethren, the Pontiffs of Jehovah."

The Knights Templars (27th degree) have again and again been accused of like heretical practices, and it seems clear from the evidence that the charge of denying Christ and defiling the Cross at their Ceremony of Initiation has been firmly established. Step by step are the initiates into the deeper secrets led to abandon belief, not only in Christianity, but in all revealed religion, and by making them out and out materialists the ground is prepared for the seeds of the Jacobinical code of Revolution. When at length the candidate is admitted into the 30th grade, and, after going through terrifying ordeals to test his obedience and secrecy, becomes a Knight Kadosch, he learns that it is no longer Adoniram or Hiram whose death cries for vengeance. The grade of Kadosch commemorates, he is informed, the suppression of the Order of Templars by Pope Clement V. and Philip le Bel, together with the murder of the Grand Commander, Jacques de Molay, who was burned alive by Philip's orders on March n, 1314.

Thus is the mask completely thrown aside, and the hidden designs of the Red Masonic orders made clear. The objects to be pursued and annihilated are the two great institutions of the Christian world, represented by Clement V. and Philip IV., the Church and the State. "The religion which is to be destroyed to recover the word, or the true doctrine, "remarks Barruel with true insight (vol. ii., p. 325), "is the religion of Christ, founded on revelation. This word in its full extent is Liberty and Equality, to be established by the total overthrow of the altar and the throne."

We conclude with a few significant sentences taken from the catechism of the Knights Kadosch degree. (We have been unable to obtain any authentic information on the ritual of the higher degrees.)

"My Brother [the Candidate], you desire to unite yourself to an Order which has laboured in silence and secrecy for more than five hundred years with a single end in view, and hitherto with only partial success. . . The Order of Knights Kadosch has for its mission the avenging of a great crime. . . Do you fully understand that this degree is not, like much of so-called Masonry, a sham that means nothing and amounts to nothing; . . . that what you are now engaged in is real, will require the performance of duty, will exact sacrifice, will expose you to danger; and that this Order means to deal with the affairs of nations and be once more a Power in the world?"

We have seen, so far (1) that Revolution is not a spontaneous combustion of the social order; but that (2) the match is set by some secret agency or "formidable sect"; (3) that this agency conceals itself in the shadowy sanctuaries of certain forms of Freemasonry; and (4) that these subversive forms of Freemasonry have a ritual of hatred for the Cross and veneration for the Temple which suggest a Hebraic origin.

But having got so far, we are faced by another question—if these secret societies instigate revolutions, who or what instigates the secret societies?

And here, as in the case of the Freemasons, we must be careful not to suggest any unfair suspicion of innocent people. If we find a distinctly Jewish ritual in these subversive orders of Freemasons, that is not to suggest that all Jews are Freemasons or are subversive. On the contrary, it is evident that many Jews are good citizens and patriotic British subjects. What is alleged, however—and this allegation we must examine—is that a secret sect of Jews cherish political designs of a subversive nature, and that this sect works for revolution behind a mask of Freemasonry.

Now we have remarked that the ritual, particularly of the Templars, is both Hebraic and suggestive of a design of revenge. It might help us a little, then, to inquire into the origin of this particular Order, with which the "Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite" as practised by the Red Lodges is historically connected.

And, indeed, no less an authority than Augustus Schlegel points the way:

"The Order of the Templars [says Schlegel in his Philosophy of History] has been the bridge over which all that body of mysteries (i.e., of esoteric Freemasonry) has passed into the Occident. . . Through them come the traditions of Solomon and his Temple. . . A society from the breast of which, as from a laboratory where the spirit of destruction forged its arms, came the Albigenses, the Jacobins, and the Carbonari, could not have a tendency truly Christian nor a constitution politically just, nor could it exercise a beneficent influence on humanity in general."

The most eminent specialist on this subject of the history of the Templars is the Comte le Couteulx de Canteleu, whose book 1 on secret societies and sects is founded not upon legend and tradition merely but upon the archives of the Templars themselves in his own possession and elsewhere.

The Count explains how this crusading Order during its long stay of half a century in Palestine formed a close and sinister connection with the Order of Assassins or Hachichiens—a branch of the Ishmaelites of the East, whose members must have been Jewish, since their object was the rebuilding of Solomon's Temple. This secret society infested the mountains round Jerusalem, and carried on a war of brigandage and assassination both against the Saracens and the Crusaders.

"The Templars [says our author], seeing that the Realm of Jerusalem was going swiftly towards its ruin, made alliance and treaty with the Assassins. It appears to be certain that it was Guillaume de Montbard who received from the Old Man of the Mountain the Masonic initiation in a cavern in the Liban, and transmitted it to his companions, who were all initiated in the Masonic cult."

It is certain that when the Templars returned to Europe they were accused of following an unchristian and blasphemous ritual.

Two Masonic—or rather, as they call themselves, "co-Masonic"—writers, A. Bothwell-Gosse and L. J. Dickinson, find in the accounts of this ritual preserved in the famous trial proofs that the Order of the Templars had been initiated into the secrets of Masonry.

"It seems probable," say these two writers in their book on the Templars, "that there was a basis of truth even in the accusations of a horrible or grotesque kind: but it was a truth perverted or misunderstood, distorted by the ignorance of uninitiated observers, who misinterpreted fragments of ritual that they could not comprehend."

In the beginning of the fourteenth century, Philip le Bel, of France, with the more or less reluctant consent of the Pope, Clement V., dispersed the Order and burned many of its leaders—including the famous Jacques de Molay—at the stake.

At the same time Philip drove the Jews out of France.

Now, it is possible—although here again anything in the nature of proof is wanting—that the Templars and the Jews made common cause. What is certain is that the Templars survived as a secret Masonic organization with a ritual inspired by hatred of and vengeance on Church and State.

The execution of Jacques de Molay in the fourteenth century is one of those unhappy far-off things for which no sane man would nourish an active resentment; but revenge for the execution of Jacques de Molay, turned into a ritual against Church, and King is another matter. That ritual was practised on the eve of the French Revolution. When the head of Louis XVI. fell into the sack not only was the death of Jacques de Molay revenged upon a descendant of Philip le Bel, but a proscribed Order—and a proscribed race—were revenged both, and at once, upon Church and State.

And now as to the connection between the Order of the Templars and what is called the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite practised in the Grand Orient and the Lodges of Red Masonry the world over. When Philip le Bel dispersed the Order in France, he advised his brother monarch, Edward II., to follow his example in England. Edward took his advice, although his persecution was more mild and more dilatory than the French King's, and as a result of these two persecutions many of the Knights are said to have been driven into Scotland.

Tradition says that an eminent band of French Templars, disguised as operative Masons, landed on the island of Mull, and were received by the Scottish Grand Master. These Knights, it is said, helped Robert the Bruce to win the Battle of Bannockburn, and with his connivance founded the famous Lodge of Kilwinning, which claims an apostolic succession both in ritual and government. When the Jacobite cause found refuge in France, the Scottish Rite was brought back to the home of its founders, and was accepted by the Grand Orient, as a convenient symbolism for its work of subversion.

The ritual also reached Germany, and in 1762 Frederick the Great, who had taken under his wing the patronage of all German Masonry, promulgated his Grand Constitution, the Constitution being confirmed also at Bordeaux in the same year. In 1786, Frederick's new Constitution of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite delegated his powers to a Council for each nation. And from France, in 1761, one Stephen Morin—probably but not certainly a Jew—was deputed by the Grand Consistory of the Sublime Princes of the Royal Secret, of whom the Duke de Chartres, afterwards the Duke of Orleans, was the one designated to carry the torch to the New World.

Thus a ritual originating among the Ishmaelites and Assassins of Mount Lebanon gradually penetrated Europe and the New World. It is a singular story, but suggests rather than proves the connection between the Hebraic and Masonic secret organizations.

There is, indeed, at least one document which supports this theory. It is quoted in Deschamps' Les Sociitis Secretes et la Societe (vol. iii., Annexe B), and purports to be a letter from a certain Jean Baptiste Simonini written from Florence on the 1st August, 1806, to the Abbe Barruel congratulating him on his book, which Simonini had just read. The Abbe, it will be remembered, had contended in his Memoirs of Jacobinism that the French Revolution had been in great part engineered by certain Masonic organizations. Simonini informs the Abbe that his conclusions are correct but do not go far enough, and that behind the Masons were the Jews. He goes on to tell how during the Revolution he was at Piemont, and for his own safety contrived to persuade certain Jews who were active in the Revolution there that he was himself a Jew by descent. They induced him to become a Mason, and told him, when he had thoroughly won their confidence, that Maues and the Old Man of the Mountains were Jews; that the Freemasons and Illumines were founded by Jews; that all anti-Christian sects emanated from them, that they had many partisans within the Church both in Italy and Spain; that the Bourbons were their hereditary enemies; that they had made themselves masters of Christian wealth, which they were using to promote revolution; and that they promised themselves in less than a century to be masters of the world; to abolish all other sects; themselves to become the Rulers; to make synagogues of the Christian churches; and to reduce the Christian peoples to a state of slavery.

Barruel, who had written his book without any such suspicion, was puzzled what to do with the letter. He did not desire to give publicity to a statement which he could not prove, and he determined to inform the authorities of its contents and give the letter into the keeping of his ecclesiastical superiors (in whose archives it still remains). In the course of his short annotations on the document, however, he suggests that, owing to the double persecution of Philip le Bel, the Jews may have made common cause with the Templars, and that this may be the origin of the Masonic degree of Kadosch.

A remarkable attempt to supplement evidence by argument is made by M. Copin-Albancelli in his book, La Conjuration Juive Contre le Monde Chretien (1909). M. Copin-Albancelli's thesis is that except the Jews there is no race or interest capable of inspiring the continuous hatred of Church and State which he finds in French Freemasonry. Further, that the Jews at one time had a Government; that there is evidence of the existence of this Government after the Dispersion; that it was driven underground by the various persecutions to which the Jews have been subjected; but that it still exists as a secret organization. And he comes to the conclusion, from an elaborate process of argument, that the occult power which works behind Freemasonry is no other than the secret government of the Jewish nation (p. 435).

We do not propose to examine the logical steps—some of them giant strides—by which M. Copin-Albancelli advances to this conclusion. We may point out, however, that there are certain obvious difficulties. One is that Freemasonry in general—both in England and in Germany—was closed to the Jews, at least through the greater part of the eighteenth century, although there is reason to suppose that this exclusion did not apply in certain of the governing or occult orders of Continental Freemasonry.