The Temple Legend
17. Freemasonry and Human Evolution I (men only)
23 October 1905, Berlin *
Source for the text.
Shorthand notes by Franz Seiler; newly checked for publication.
I have asked you to attend a short discussion on occult questions, because one must acknowledge that anyone participating in the theosophical movement should be clear not only about the outward things that are dealt with in the programme, but also about the direction in which this theosophical movement can lead. Now those occult streams which are living in the theosophical movement are in fact akin, in a particular respect, to earlier occult currents. The topic we mean to broach today concerns precisely one of these, which still persists to the present day: Freemasonry.
You know that, at least until the late seventeenth century, any kind of female member was, for Freemasonry, strictly taboo. 1 See note 6. At that time, there was a good reason for this. When the reason for the Freemasons having no female members ceases at some point in world evolution to exist, then the time will have come for the work of Freemasonry on the physical plane to be taken over by the work of theosophy. Pro tem, the work of theosophy is preparatory work. Men and women will participate in the theosophical work on the same basis.
If I were now to be permitted to say briefly why women had to be excluded from the activities of Freemasonry, I could only say that one does not exactly give away one's secrets to the opponent; one hardly sends him one's plan of campaign. That is not done in the conduct of any war. And we will see that Freemasonry is in a particular respect in opposition to the female world.
Freemasonry is the continuation of very ancient secret societies and brotherhoods. Such secret societies — at least in the form in which they survive in Freemasonry originated just at the very beginning of our fourth Post-Atlantean epoch, that is to say in the same epoch in which Christianity later began.
You know that the outward compilation of the Bible is rightly ascribed to only a few hundred years before the birth of Christ. 2 This was at the time of the return of the Jews from the Babylonian captivity in the fifth century B.C. by the Hebrew scribe Ezra. But the biblical revelation was a [living] tradition for thousands of years before that. It was not the custom in antiquity to write such things down; they were instead passed on from mouth to mouth. Therefore it can be assumed that the secrets which Moses entrusted to the priesthood were only later written down.
Now in the same period as that when the Bible first made its appearance in world history as a document, what is known as the Freemasonry legend also came to be compiled and to be circulated.
In world evolution it is always to be regarded as a law, that what happened earlier is later briefly recapitulated. Every human being recapitulates, in the maternal womb, the stages through which the [human] race has already passed. Every planet repeats, in its initial stages, the previously completed steps of its evolution. What has already gone before is always briefly recapitulated. So is it with the races, too. Hence, the first, second and third Post-Atlantean races [epochs] are the recapitulation of earlier earthly conditions, only in a specific higher realm.
What began with Lemuria, developed itself throughout Atlantis, and was recapitulated in our three cultural epochs in a specific higher realm. So that we thus have a recapitulation of what occurred earlier, in Lemurian times, in a less-developed realm. Before the system of two sexes originated, there was a kind of bisexuality, a single [combined] sex, in so far as in each individual both sexes were represented. For the separation into two sexes only came later; only then did male-female become male and female. On a spiritual level something similar is recapitulated in our epoch. Actually, that kind of knowledge and wisdom which pertained to pre-Vedic ancient India had a male-female quality, and thereby, at the same time, something quite unconnected with any kind of duality or with any kind of outward principle. Then came the civilisation of the second cultural epoch; this was pre-eminently a spiritual culture having two sexes. Dualism then appeared — Ormuzd and Ahriman, Good and Evil. All this now merged with man's cognition.
Now we want to clarify how that came about. It came about thus: in the beginning, before there was a separate male and female sex, there was a twofold sexuality within each single individual. We must now ask: What was it that could become fertilised, and what was it that did the fertilising, in the one single individual? In ancient Greek mythology Zeus is portrayed with ample female breasts. 3 There is a Zeus type, several examples of which are still preserved in Asia Minor, in which the upper part of the body is covered by a number of breasts or humps similar to the famous statue of Artemis Ephesia: e.g., relief sculpture of the ‘Stratios Zeus’ and the figures on coins, among which is the ‘Labrandeus Zeus’ from daria. A truth expresses itself therein, which was known in the old mysteries and which we also learn from the records, that the sex — if I may call it that — which immediately preceded our own, outwardly and physically resembled not the male but the female gender. So that, before the outward separation, we have thus both sexes in one individual that outwardly — in physical expression and in all perceptions and being — was female. Therefore at the beginning of the human race, we have to do with a bisexual individual tending towards the female. Only later did the male sex follow. Now we must be clear that in this individual, which had both sexes in it, a fertilising agent, or male seed, was also present. Woman contained man within her. When we have grasped the fact that the woman had the male principle within her, then we can conceive, with our ordinary scientific concepts, that reproduction was ensured. We want to bear in mind that at this time this happened via the woman.
Now came the time when things had to go their separate ways. What character did the fertilising principle in the woman then have, which on the physical plane would fertilise the female nature? What worked in the female [body] as a seed, was the male; and that was the spiritual, the wisdom. Woman contributed the substance; the spirit gave [it] form. Any structuring of the physical plane is a realisation of wisdom. Wisdom worked in the female. Now the two differentiated themselves, in that the two things which had previously worked as one now appeared as two separated poles. What was previously united in a single human organ, divided itself, whereby a duality in human development originated. This duality came about thus: first, the fertility — the ability of the female egg to fertilise itself — within the one individual, ceased [to function]. The female egg lost the possibility of becoming fertilised from its own body. So we are now dealing with a female which has become infertile and, above everything, the spiritual. The division of the two sexes came about through the separation of the physical organs, and the other sex was now endowed with the possibility of fertilisation. Two individuals appeared, one with physical femininity and the other with physical masculinity. With the man, wisdom has a female character, with the woman, it has a male character.
The separation is a very definite event, that one can follow; we will now have to be satisfied, however, with [just] indications. We are dealing, then, with male-tinged wisdom in the woman and female-tinged wisdom in the man. This female-tinged wisdom is passive, suited to receiving, listening, watching — to taking in from the surroundings. The male-tinged wisdom, the active wisdom, [is suited to] being productive. Thus we have a two-fold wisdom; the female wisdom that is active and that naturally will also be transferred to the men. So that there may indeed be plenty of men who take over the female wisdom, the race [propagates] itself below [on the physical plane]; and above, we are dealing with an active intuition stemming from women, and with a passive cognition, decidedly male in character.
This figures in the old mystery teaching as the antithesis between the Sons of Abel, or Sons of God, and the Sons of Cain, or Sons of Man. Abel represents the female, active intuition. Therefore he is unable to take hold of anything from the outside world which needs to be worked upon. He takes up the divine, which streams through him, that flows into his intuitiveness. The ‘Herdsman’ symbolises that. He tends and nurtures life, while intuition nurtures the divine life of wisdom. Cain has the male wisdom that receives the outward. This [wisdom] espouses the earth in order to till it; the material is outside [himself]. He is the ‘Field-builder’ [Literal meaning of German der Ackerbauer = ‘agriculturalist’]. What does the wisdom of Cain now achieve? This science of Cain's that, being a passive science, only receives — what does it accomplish?
Now there is a very interesting and important legend in which these truths are symbolically expressed for the Freemasons. That is the Temple Legend. And the reason for it is as follows:
The Bible itself, the Old Testament, derives from the female, the intuitive wisdom, and bears its stamp. The Old Testament is female wisdom. Male wisdom was not able to attain to intuition. It confined itself to building and work. It took stones and constructed buildings. It took metals and made implements. The Temple Legend puts it thus:
One of the Elohim impregnated Eve and Cain was born. Afterwards, another of the Elohim, Jehovah, also known as Adonai, created Adam. And Adam begat Abel by Eve. This legend counterposed the wisdom of Cain and the Biblical wisdom, so that, by the beginning of the fourth Post-Atlantean epoch, we have two opposing currents: the Bible, representing womanly wisdom, and the Temple wisdom as its opposing male counterpart. Already, in pre-Christian times, what the man [male wisdom?] wanted stood in opposition to the female wisdom. Moreover, Cain slew his brother Abel. That too comes into the Temple Legend. Jehovah caused strife between the race of Cain and the race of Abel, and Cain killed Abel. That means nothing else ... [Some very obscure sentences follow here in the (German) transcript.]
What was the consequence of the appearance of this Cain wisdom? The outcome of it all was that the fruitfulness that propagated itself through its own wisdom was killed. By killing Abel the male knowledge in Cain killed the possibility of self-propagation, that had been brought into being by the gods. That means it is because knowledge has been transferred to the man, that the Abel in man has been killed.
That is a process in man himself. 4 See in this connection the later descriptions which Rudolf Steiner gave in: The Effects of Occult Development Upon the Sheaths of Man. (Rudolf Steiner Publishing Company, London, and Anthroposophic Press, New York, 1945). Through male knowledge the creative force, the Abel [within], has been killed. There now stand in hostile opposition to one another, the descendants of Cain and the race of those who were put in the place of Abel, the descendants of Seth. The descendants of Cain are those who use their masculine wisdom to build up the external world; the passive wisdom is applied to external construction. The divine wisdom does not stream down into it. Out of what is free, it must build in the world. It has no divine intuition. Through trial, through experience, results the harmonising of the purely mineral products of the earth. Thus Tubal-Cain is born out of the race of Cain and thus, later on, will Hiram-Abiff or Adon-Hiram be born from the same lineage.
I have reserved to myself …[See note]. 5
The shorthand report is unclear at this
point. The conclusion of the sentence has two possible
1. ‘I have reserved to myself confessing (erzihlen) a bias (eine Neigung) about those of Abel's race and those of Cain's race.’
2. ‘I have reserved to myself achieving (erzielen) a unification (eine Einigung) between those of Abel is race and those of Cain's race.’
Among the Abelites, you find the strongest representative in Solomon. During the third cultural epoch all the representatives of the Abel line were priests. The ancient priestly wisdom was the intuitive wisdom which formerly worked in woman as the power of fertilisation, but was then transformed, at a higher level, to spiritual wisdom. Out of this priestly wisdom came the Bible; in this way the Bible came to be a feminine wisdom. This feminine wisdom is able to make great revelations about the Divine; and to say how this relates to the angels and spirits. The business of the Sons of Cain is to shape the earth. Thus the original father of all smiths is indeed Tubal-Cain. Therefore Solomon had to send for Hiram-Abiff, who could build the Temple for him. He built it for King Solomon, the inheritor of the ancient priestly wisdom; for him, for Solomon, who transformed this priestly wisdom into external power. Kingship, as an outward institution, derives from the rule of the priests.
Thus Solomon sent for Hiram-Abiff. And thus Solomon's Temple was built. But now the Queen of Sheba came to Solomon's court and a kind of betrothal was celebrated there between the two. Now the temple was shown to the queen, and she desired to be introduced to the builder of this marvelous temple. When she was introduced to Hiram-Abiff, something quite special happened in her. A glance from Hiram-Abiff fell on her, and that worked in her like fire. And then a second thing happened, as follows: She wanted to see the workers and to be shown how all this was accomplished on the physical plane, so Hiram-Abiff took the Tau Symbol, held it aloft and the workers all came streaming together like ants. Through this she [was so impressed that she] deserted Solomon [for Hiram]. Some of Hiram's apprentices, whom he had refused to make into Masters, came to Solomon's aid. Now they sought to spoil Hiram's masterpiece, the casting of the Molten Sea. Instead of it coming out as a work of art, streams of fire spurted out in every direction. Hiram-Abiff tried to quench it all with water, but all he achieved by this was a complete wreck. A rain of fire sprayed down on everything, including Hiram-Abiff. A voice called to him, however, not to be afraid, for out of this would come his greatest success. Then he was led by a figure to the centre of the earth. There he met Cain himself, to whom he had been led by Tubal-Cain, who founded the art of metal-working. Here an important wisdom was revealed to him. He was told: Now know the true Jehovah, who is the cause of your being here. Jehovah hates the Sons of Fire, and wants to destroy them; he wants to destroy his own creation. But you need have nothing to fear. To you will be born a son, whom you will not yourself see, but from whom shall spring a race, out of which a new fire worship will develop on the earth. — With the hammer which Tubal-Cain gave him, he was able to complete the projected Molten Sea, thereby rising still further in the Queen of Sheba's affections. During a walk, a bird appeared in the air, showing her the mystical Tau sign. From this the Queen's nurse realised that the wisdom of the future was hidden under this sign of the Tau. During a feast, at which Solomon became intoxicated, the Queen of Sheba took the betrothal ring back from his hand. Hiram-Abiff was however set upon by the apprentices and killed. He was only just able to write the secret word on a golden triangle and hide it. It was later retrieved and enclosed in a stone shaped in the form of a cube. The Ten Commandments are inscribed on this stone that conceals the hidden word.
That is the temple wisdom, which male science has counterposed to the female wisdom. These are things that need only to be clarified, to be examined as to their occult meaning, for their deep significance to be recognised.
Consider that Hiram-Abiff was brought before the original father of his race. He was told that Jehovah was the enemy of the Sons of Fire. Who are the Sons of Fire? They are those who could only come into existence after the separation of the sexes, through the penetration of a physical female by a physical male. Fire is the active principle in the male semen. In male semen lives fire, in the occult sense. Jehovah had to create this basic force, so that the race could propagate itself. Jehovah created the Sons of Fire, which was only possible on the basis of this [occult] fire. Hence he is the opponent of change. He it was, who cherished [?] the old kind of propagation. For it was an expedient [?] which had been created, and therefore he turned again to the priests and made them into his preachers. He caused the power and the glory of his own wisdom to be proclaimed through the priestly wisdom; through the priestly wisdom, Jehovah's wisdom came to be made known.
Hiram-Abiff is thus appointed to undertake the Molten Sea, which means the transformation of mineral kingdom through art. He was also told that a son would be born to him, who — even though he would not himself be able to see him — would bring forth a new race. This son is nothing else than the new race which will one day take the place of the old, the present one; the new race for whom it will no longer be necessary for two sexes to unite with one another, but will again be able to bring about propagation through the one human individual. This refers to a far distant future. The old female culture will be relieved by a male culture. The female, as a physical form, will die out. The male must then have the power in itself to produce another individual out of itself. And where is this power located?
Male and female used to be in one individual. And when these two separated themselves, an unfolding of today's individual took place. The upper part [of the human being] was formed. What [today] is the upper part was at that time combined with the sexual organs. The sexual organs of today are only half of the then [procreative] force. The power in the larynx is indeed the other half. Speech is not as yet creative, today. It has to be penetrated by the wisdom of Cain first, and then it must produce. When man has attained the power for his larynx so to develop that his word will be creative, so that he will produce his own kind through the Word, then the whole of the productive force will be transferred to the male. Then [the work of creation] which was once done by the gods, will be given over to man. When did the word come to be lost? When the system of two sexes originated. It was buried, hidden. The Sons of Cain had it only through the original father of their race. Hiram-Abiff was at least to have received the prophecy about it. However, he was killed immediately afterwards.
The Word lies buried, but it is still there. If it were not buried, man would be self-creative, just as the Elohim are self-creative. Therefore the ‘Word,’ of present-day Freemasonry is not the true Word but the false one. The true Word is concealed. The Ten Commandments are inscribed on the stone which contains the hidden Word. What are the Ten Commandments? They are the laws of the moral world order. They regulate the outer intercourse [of mankind], just as it now is — subject to the influence of a race having two sexes. Such laws will not be needed, when there are no longer two sexes. They are that human code which originated in the context of two sexes.
Thus we have, in Freemasonry, the preservation of the remembrance of the Lost Word, that those who work in Freemasonry must strive for, and which can only be gained when the passive male wisdom awakens activity in itself. The Freemasons therefore say: Everything which does not arise out of that generalised knowledge about the world, and proper to it, must then stem from the female priestly rule of ancient times. Rather than contenting ourselves with merely taking this over [conquering it?], we actually want to start on a new spiral of existence; we ourselves must give intuition to the male wisdom of Cain. That would be impossible if one took the female into the secret, which would take man's power from him. It would all be useless, the instant it was discussed in front of women.
It thus became necessary for the whole female sex to be excluded from Freemasonry. This hangs together with the link between the organ of speech and gender or sexuality. Therefore the man changes when he reaches puberty. The change [of voice] is nothing else than the expression of the former connection between the organs of speech and of sexuality. Now you too can grasp what the Freemason is saying: It is only the man who is appointed to utter the Lost Word at all and to re-establish it; only the male form of the larynx is in a position to say, to know, what can be regained through the Lost Word. When we grasp it in this way, one will understand why woman was not permitted to let the new pass her lips. — It is comic to see scholars give as the reason for this that women were not admitted because they blabbered out everything. The female larynx has remained, as a rudiment. It is the male larynx which will however form the organ of the future.
You see that deep and meaningful relationships are involved, and that the expression ‘Mason’ has to be taken as literally as possible. That is why the masons of Greek and Roman times were the builders of things made to express beauty. Cathedrals, temples and other significant buildings were built by these master builders.
The matter rests thus, that a part of what came to be accomplished by the Order of Freemasons had naturally to be taken over again from the old priestly wisdom. So, once again, we have an intermingling of womanly wisdom and male striving. In essence, the secret of Freemasonry is something which has not yet been revealed, which is not even there yet, so that it cannot be revealed, precisely because it does not yet exist. It is something which will be uttered when the word is once more imbued with productive force.
Those are a few words which will clarify the thinking of Freemasonry for the occultist. Up to the eighteenth century it was known that things were so. Only when the connection with higher worlds was lost did the consciousness of what was lost fade from Freemasonry too. And yet again, not so. One watered Freemasonry down, one said that one no longer knew its meaning. One must be clear, however, that everything which existed as symbols, was derived from the old priestly wisdom and that what is implanted therein, in the symbols, must still first come into the open. The true female wisdom is gradually becoming quite lost. Because of that, the so-called Higher Degrees of Freemasonry, which preserved the female wisdom, have been allowed to vanish. All that is still left is what is called Craft Masonry, which only concerns itself with worldly things, and only understands a little about them, in any case.
But that is, after all, quite natural; as materialism developed itself, then the priestly wisdom did indeed have to fade away. What can happen now? The old wisdom has gone away. We have to live in the external. What follows from that? This — that something better can come along again, only when a wisdom arrives which is again asexual, which is connected neither with the male nor with the female wisdom, neither with the female Bible, nor with the male Temple Legend. We find this wisdom in theosophy. In this wisdom both sexes understand each other. In it, the man that is in woman is at work on woman, and what is once more asexual is working on man. Male and female meet each other there in the knowledge of higher planes. It is therefore quite natural that the proper occult basis has come about in Freemasonry, and that a new start has been made. Something such as this is called a ‘vortex:’
In our time these things are thus intertwining in their influence. We must therefore think of them as interacting. Thus, theosophy has relied neither on the Biblical legend, nor on the Temple Legend, but asexually seeks the kernel of wisdom, that has to be restored again, in everything. Now you see how theosophy is the bringer of peace, the harmoniser.
How does this work together in our Root Race? Our Root Race recapitulates what already was there before. It brings the antithesis of what was already there in Lemurian times to meaningful expression in the spiritual realm. An opposition had therefore to come about, because the female sex was there originally, and follows a falling curve, whereas the male sex is in a rising curve, and is seeking in itself the procreative force which the female already has. When we remain in lower spheres, we have to make an exact distinction, through occultism: Whoever is racially an Atlantean man, need not also be Atlantean in his soul [qualities]. Hence, the soul is not tied to [a particular] sex either. The souls of the female gender work themselves through [this] until they can live equally with men in the bodies the latter have made out of and for themselves, and there will [then] be one sex on earth.
As long as men still stood in opposition to the female, they had to
hold their tongues. The founding of the Adoption Lodges in the
eighteenth century paved the way for the sexes to come together. 6 In Secret Societies of
all Ages and Countries by Charles William Heckethorn (Book 8,
Section 2 1) we learn that:
‘According to one of the fundamental laws of Masonry — and a rule prevailing in the greater mysteries of antiquity — women cannot be received into the order ...
‘But we have seen that Cagliostro admitted women to the Egyptian Rite; and when at the beginning of the eighteenth century several associations sprang up in France, which in their external aspect resembled Freemasonry, but did not exclude women, the ladies naturally were loud in their praise of such institutions, so that the masonic brotherhood, seeing it was becoming unpopular, had recourse to the stratagem of establishing “adoptive” lodges of women, so called because every such lodge had finally to be adopted by some regular masonic lodge. The Grand Orient of France framed laws for their government, and the first lodge of adoption was opened in Paris in 1775 ...
‘Similar lodges spread over Europe, Great Britain excepted; but they soon declined and are at present confined to the place of their origin.’ The first of these was founded in 1775. A Freemasonry was practised in them, which had different symbols from the male Freemasonry. However, the induction of women in such Adoption Lodges of the male Freemasons did pave the way for the sexes to come together. The founder of our Society was indeed a [female] member of such an Adoption Lodge. 7 This refers to H.P. Blavatsky (1831–1891) who was awarded the highest adoption degree of the Memphis-Misraim Freemasonry in 1888 by John Yarker (see note 16 to lecture 9 of 16th December 1904) after she had published her first great work: Isis Unveiled. What must be pointed to as the beginning of theosophy did indeed thus play a part in the matter. So, theosophy is a world task, connected with occult currents, and must take over where Freemasonry left off. Freemasonry could indeed still be reawakened, and could help us.
But the more profound thought is this: these one-sided male endeavours must be vanquished in theosophical circles. Throughout the Middle Ages there was a sublime preparation for spiritually engendering the opposite sex in man. Man developed in himself, by concentrating, at first as a thought, what had to become a reality in him later on. Therefore, as a preparation for this, the Cult of Mary resulted during the Middle Ages. This is nothing else than concentrating to engender the female in the male, while for the female the Cult of Jesus served the parallel purpose. The Cult of Mary had its origin in this foundation.
You will now see what confusion must result when an Order arose which broke with all this and sought to regain the female wisdom. It is world dominion which is at stake in this; if anyone wants to leave the old wisdom as it is, he will have to conquer the world for the old powers. There is such an Order: it is the Jesuit Order. It has consciously set itself this task. That is why the Jesuits and the Freemasons confront each other so sourly.