The Life and Philosophy of Pythagoras


WHILE Mnesarchus, the father of Pythagoras, was in the city of Delphi on matters pertaining to his business as a merchant, he and his wife, Parthenis, decided to consult the oracle of Delphi as to whether the Fates were favorable for their return voyage to Syria. When the Pythoness (prophetess of Apollo) seated herself on the golden tripod over the yawning vent of the oracle, she did not answer the question they had asked, but told Mnesarchus that his wife was then with child and would give birth to a son who was destined to surpass all men in beauty and wisdom, and who throughout the course of his life would contribute much to the benefit of mankind. Mnesarchus was so deeply impressed by the prophecy that he changed his wife’s name to Pythasis, in honor of the Pythian priestess. When the child was born at Sidon in Phœnicia, it was–as the oracle had said–a son. Mnesarchus and Pythasis named the child Pythagoras, for they believed that he had been predestined by the oracle.

Many strange legends have been preserved concerning the birth of Pythagoras. Some maintained that he was no mortal man: that he was one of the gods who had taken a human body to enable him to come into the world and instruct the human race. Pythagoras was one of the many sages and saviors of antiquity for whom an immaculate conception is asserted. In his Anacalypsis, Godfrey Higgins writes: “The first striking circumstance in which the history of Pythagoras agrees with the history of Jesus is, that they were natives of nearly the same country; the former being born at Sidon, the latter at Bethlehem, both in Syria. The father of Pythagoras, as well as the father of Jesus, was prophetically informed that his wife should bring forth a son, who should be a benefactor to mankind. They were both born when their mothers were from home on journeys, Joseph and his wife having gone up to Bethlehem to be taxed, and the father of Pythagoras having travelled from Samos, his residence, to Sidon, about his mercantile concerns. Pythais [Pythasis], the mother of Pythagoras, had a connexion with an Apolloniacal spectre, or ghost, of the God Apollo, or God Sol, (of course this must have been a holy ghost, and here we have the Holy Ghost) which afterward appeared to her husband, and told him that he must have no connexion with his wife during her pregnancy–a story evidently the same as that relating to Joseph and Mary. From these peculiar circumstances, Pythagoras was known by the same title as Jesus, namely, the son of God; and was supposed by the multitude to be under the influence of Divine inspiration.”

This most famous philosopher was born sometime between 600 and 590 B.C., and the length of his life has been estimated at nearly one hundred years.

The teachings of Pythagoras indicate that he was thoroughly conversant with the precepts of Oriental and Occidental esotericism. He traveled among the Jews and was instructed by the Rabbins concerning the secret traditions of Moses, the lawgiver of Israel. Later the School of the Essenes was conducted chiefly for the purpose of interpreting the Pythagorean symbols. Pythagoras was initiated into the Egyptian, Babylonian, and Chaldean Mysteries. Although it is believed by some that he was a disciple of Zoroaster, it is doubtful whether his instructor of that name was the God-man now revered by the Parsees. While accounts of his travels differ, historians agree that he visited many countries and studied at the feet of many masters.

“After having acquired all which it was possible for him to learn of the Greek philosophers and, presumably, become an initiate in the Eleusinian mysteries, he went to Egypt, and after many rebuffs and refusals, finally succeeded in securing initiation in the Mysteries of Isis, at the hands of the priests of Thebes. Then this intrepid ‘joiner’ wended his way into Phoenicia and Syria where the Mysteries of Adonis were conferred upon him, and crossing to the valley of the Euphrates he tarried long enough to become versed in, the secret lore of the Chaldeans, who still dwelt in the vicinity of Babylon. Finally, he made his greatest and most historic venture through Media and Persia into Hindustan where he remained several years as a pupil and initiate of the learned Brahmins of Elephanta and Ellora.” (See Ancient Freemasonry, by Frank C. Higgins, 32°.) The same author adds that the name of Pythagoras is still preserved in the records of the Brahmins as Yavancharya, the Ionian Teacher.

Pythagoras was said to have been the first man to call himself a philosopher; in fact, the world is indebted to him for the word philosopher. Before that time the wise men had called themselves sages, which was interpreted to mean those who know. Pythagoras was more modest. He coined the word philosopher, which he defined as one who is attempting to find out.

After returning from his wanderings, Pythagoras established a school, or as it has been sometimes called, a university, at Crotona, a Dorian colony in Southern Italy. Upon his arrival at Crotona he was regarded askance, but after a short time those holding important positions in the surrounding colonies sought his counsel in matters of great moment. He gathered around him a small group of sincere disciples whom he instructed in the secret wisdom which had been revealed to him, and also in the fundamentals of occult mathematics, music, and astronomy, which he considered to be the triangular foundation of all the arts and sciences.

When he was about sixty years old, Pythagoras married one of his disciples, and seven children resulted from the union. His wife was a remarkably able woman, who not only inspired him during the years of his life but after his assassination continued to promulgate his doctrines.

As is so often the case with genius, Pythagoras by his outspokenness incurred both political and personal enmity. Among those who came for initiation was one who, because Pythagoras refused to admit him, determined to destroy both the man and his philosophy. By means of false propaganda, this disgruntled one turned the minds of the common people against the philosopher. Without warning, a band of murderers descended upon the little group of buildings where the great teacher and his disciples dwelt, burned the structures and killed Pythagoras.

Accounts of the philosopher’s death do not agree. Some say that he was murdered with his disciples; others that, on escaping from Crotona with a small band of followers, he was trapped and burned alive by his enemies in a little house where the band had decided to rest for the night. Another account states that, finding themselves trapped in the burning structure, the disciples threw themselves into the flames, making of their own bodies a bridge over which Pythagoras escaped, only to die of a broken heart a short time afterwards as the result of grieving over the apparent fruitlessness of his efforts to serve and illuminate mankind.

His surviving disciples attempted to perpetuate his doctrines, but they were persecuted on every hand and very little remains today as a testimonial to the greatness of this philosopher. It is said that the disciples of Pythagoras never addressed him or referred to him by his own name, but always as The Master or That Man. This may have been because of the fact that the name Pythagoras was believed to consist of a certain number of specially arranged letters with great sacred significance. The Word magazine has printed an article by T. R. Prater, showing that Pythagoras initiated his candidates by means of a certain formula concealed within



From Historia Deorum Fatidicorum.

During his youth, Pythagoras was a disciple of Pherecydes and Hermodamas, and while in his teens became renowned for the clarity of his philosophic concepts. In height he exceeded six feet; his body was as perfectly formed as that of Apollo. Pythagoras was the personification of majesty and power, and in his presence a felt humble and afraid. As he grew older, his physical power increased rather than waned, so that as he approached the century mark he was actually in the prime of life. The influence of this great soul over those about him was such that a word of praise from Pythagoras filled his disciples with ecstasy, while one committed suicide because the Master became momentarily irritate over something he had dome. Pythagoras was so impressed by this tragedy that he never again spoke unkindly to or about anyone.

the letters of his own name. This may explain why the word Pythagoras was so highly revered.

After the death of Pythagoras his school gradually disintegrated, but those who had benefited by its teachings revered the memory of the great philosopher, as during his life they had reverenced the man himself. As time went on, Pythagoras came to be regarded as a god rather than a man, and his scattered disciples were bound together by their common admiration for the transcendent genius of their teacher. Edouard Schure, in his Pythagoras and the Delphic Mysteries, relates the following incident as illustrative of the bond of fellowship uniting the members of the Pythagorean School:

“One of them who had fallen upon sickness and poverty was kindly taken in by an innkeeper. Before dying he traced a few mysterious signs (the pentagram, no doubt) on the door of the inn and said to the host, ‘Do not be uneasy, one of my brothers will pay my debts.’ A year afterwards, as a stranger was passing by this inn he saw the signs and said to the host, ‘I am a Pythagorean; one of my brothers died here; tell me what I owe you on his account.'”

Frank C. Higgins, 32°, gives an excellent compendium of the Pythagorean tenets in the following outline:

“Pythagoras’ teachings are of the most transcendental importance to Masons, inasmuch as they are the necessary fruit of his contact with the leading philosophers of the whole civilized world of his own day, and must represent that in which all were agreed, shorn of all weeds of controversy. Thus, the determined stand made by Pythagoras, in defense of pure monotheism, is sufficient evidence that the tradition to the effect that the unity of God was the supreme secret of all the ancient initiations is substantially correct. The philosophical school of Pythagoras was, in a measure, also a series of initiations, for he caused his pupils to pass through a series of degrees and never permitted them personal contact with himself until they had reached the higher grades. According to his biographers, his degrees were three in number. The first, that of ‘Mathematicus,’ assuring his pupils proficiency in mathematics and geometry, which was then, as it would be now if Masonry were properly inculcated, the basis upon which all other knowledge was erected. Secondly, the degree of ‘Theoreticus,’ which dealt with superficial applications of the exact sciences, and, lastly, the degree of ‘Electus,’ which entitled the candidate to pass forward into the light of the fullest illumination which he was capable of absorbing. The pupils of the Pythagorean school were divided into ‘exoterici,’ or pupils in the outer grades, and ‘esoterici,’ after they had passed the third degree of initiation and were entitled to the secret wisdom. Silence, secrecy and unconditional obedience were cardinal principles of this great order.” (See Ancient Freemasonry.)


The study of geometry, music, and astronomy was considered essential to a rational understanding of God, man, or Nature, and no one could accompany Pythagoras as a disciple who was not thoroughly familiar with these sciences. Many came seeking admission to his school. Each applicant was tested on these three subjects, and if found ignorant, was summarily dismissed.

Pythagoras was not an extremist. He taught moderation in all things rather than excess in anything, for he believed that an excess of virtue was in itself a vice. One of his favorite statements was: “We must avoid with our utmost endeavor, and amputate with fire and sword, and by all other means, from the body, sickness; from the soul, ignorance; from the belly, luxury; from a city, sedition; from a family, discord; and from all things, excess.” Pythagoras also believed that there was no crime equal to that of anarchy.

All men know what they want, but few know what they need. Pythagoras warned his disciples that when they prayed they should not pray for themselves; that when they asked things of the gods they should not ask things for themselves, because no man knows what is good for him and it is for this reason undesirable to ask for things which, if obtained, would only prove to be injurious.

The God of Pythagoras was the Monad, or the One that is Everything. He described God as the Supreme Mind distributed throughout all parts of the universe–the Cause of all things, the Intelligence of all things, and the Power within all things. He further declared the motion of God to be circular, the body of God to be composed of the substance of light, and the nature of God to be composed of the substance of truth.

Pythagoras declared that the eating of meat clouded the reasoning faculties. While he did not condemn its use or totally abstain therefrom himself, he declared that judges should refrain from eating meat before a trial, in order that those who appeared before them might receive the most honest and astute decisions. When Pythagoras decided (as he often did) to retire into the temple of God for an extended period of time to meditate and pray, he took with his supply of specially prepared food and drink. The food consisted of equal parts of the seeds of poppy and sesame, the skin of the sea onion from which the juice had been thoroughly extracted, the flower of daffodil, the leaves of mallows, and a paste of barley and peas. These he compounded together with the addition of wild honey. For a beverage he took the seeds of cucumbers, dried raisins (with seeds removed), the flowers of coriander, the seeds of mallows and purslane, scraped cheese, meal, and cream, mixed together and sweetened with wild honey. Pythagoras claimed that this was the diet of Hercules while wandering in the Libyan desert and was according to the formula given to that hero by the goddess Ceres herself.

The favorite method of healing among the Pythagoreans was by the aid of poultices. These people also knew the magic properties of vast numbers of plants. Pythagoras highly esteemed the medicinal properties of the sea onion, and he is said to have written an entire volume on the subject. Such a work, however, is not known at the present time. Pythagoras discovered that music had great therapeutic power and he prepared special harmonies for various diseases. He apparently experimented also with color, attaining considerable success. One of his unique curative processes resulted from his discovery of the healing value of certain verses from the Odyssey and the Iliad of Homer. These he caused to be read to persons suffering from certain ailments. He was opposed to surgery in all its forms and also objected to cauterizing. He would not permit the disfigurement of the human body, for such, in his estimation, was a sacrilege against the dwelling place of the gods.

Pythagoras taught that friendship was the truest and nearest perfect of all relationships. He declared that in Nature there was a friendship of all for all; of gods for men; of doctrines one for another; of the soul for the body; of the rational part for the irrational part; of philosophy for its theory; of men for one another; of countrymen for one another; that friendship also existed between strangers, between a man and his wife, his children, and his servants. All bonds without friendship were shackles, and there was no virtue in their maintenance. Pythagoras believed that relationships were essentially mental rather than physical, and that a stranger of sympathetic intellect was closer to him than a blood relation whose viewpoint was at variance with his own. Pythagoras defined knowledge as the fruitage of mental accumulation. He believed that it would be obtained in many ways, but principally through observation. Wisdom was the understanding of the source or cause of all things, and this could be secured only by raising the intellect to a point where it intuitively cognized the invisible manifesting outwardly through the visible, and thus became capable of bringing itself en rapport with the spirit of things rather than with their forms. The ultimate source that wisdom could cognize was the Monad, the mysterious permanent atom of the Pythagoreans.

Pythagoras taught that both man and the universe were made in the image of God; that both being made in the same image, the understanding of one predicated the knowledge of the other. He further taught that there was a constant interplay between the Grand Man (the universe) and man (the little universe).

Pythagoras believed that all the sidereal bodies were alive and that the forms of the planets and stars were merely bodies encasing souls, minds, and spirits in the same manner that the visible human form is but the encasing vehicle for an invisible spiritual organism which is, in reality, the conscious individual. Pythagoras regarded the planets as magnificent deities, worthy of the adoration and respect of man. All these deities, however, he considered subservient to the One First Cause within whom they all existed temporarily, as mortality exists in the midst of immortality.

The famous Pythagorean Υ signified the power of choice and was used in the Mysteries as emblematic of the Forking of the Ways. The central stem separated into two parts, one branching to



To the five symmetrical solids of the ancients is added the sphere (1), the most perfect of all created forms. The five Pythagorean solids are: the tetrahedron (2) with four equilateral triangles as faces; the cube (3) with six squares as faces; the octahedron (4) with eight equilateral triangles as faces; the icosahedron (5) with twenty equilateral triangles as faces; and the dodecahedron (6) with twelve regular pentagons as faces.

the right and the other to the left. The branch to the right was called Divine Wisdom and the one to the left Earthly Wisdom. Youth, personified by the candidate, walking the Path of Life, symbolized by the central stem of the Υ, reaches the point where the Path divides. The neophyte must then choose whether he will take the left-hand path and, following the dictates of his lower nature, enter upon a span of folly and thoughtlessness which will inevitably result in his undoing, or whether he will take the right-hand road and through integrity, industry, and sincerity ultimately regain union with the immortals in the superior spheres.

It is probable that Pythagoras obtained his concept of the Υ from the Egyptians, who included in certain of their initiatory rituals a scene in which the candidate was confronted by two female figures. One of them, veiled with the white robes of the temple, urged the neophyte to enter into the halls of learning; the other, bedecked with jewels, symbolizing earthly treasures, and bearing in her hands a tray loaded with grapes (emblematic of false light), sought to lure him into the chambers of dissipation. This symbol is still preserved among the Tarot cards, where it is called The Forking of the Ways. The forked stick has been the symbol of life among many nations, and it was placed in the desert to indicate the presence of water.

Concerning the theory of transmigration as disseminated by Pythagoras, there are differences of opinion. According to one view, he taught that mortals who during their earthly existence had by their actions become like certain animals, returned to earth again in the form of the beasts which they had grown to resemble. Thus, a timid person would return in the form of a rabbit or a deer; a cruel person in the form of a wolf or other ferocious animal; and a cunning person in the guise of a fox. This concept, however, does not fit into the general Pythagorean scheme, and it is far more likely that it was given in an allegorical rather than a literal sense. It was intended to convey the idea that human beings become bestial when they allow themselves to be dominated by their own lower desires and destructive tendencies. It is probable that the term transmigration is to be understood as what is more commonly called reincarnation, a doctrine which Pythagoras must have contacted directly or indirectly in India and Egypt.

The fact that Pythagoras accepted the theory of successive reappearances of the spiritual nature in human form is found in a footnote to Levi’s History of Magic: “He was an important champion of what used to be called the doctrine of metempsychosis, understood as the soul’s transmigration into successive bodies. He himself had been (a) Aethalides, a son of Mercury; (b) Euphorbus, son of Panthus, who perished at the hands of Menelaus in the Trojan war; (c) Hermotimus, a prophet of Clazomenae, a city of Ionia; (d) a humble fisherman; and finally (e) the philosopher of Samos.”

Pythagoras also taught that each species of creatures had what he termed a seal, given to it by God, and that the physical form of each was the impression of this seal upon the wax of physical substance. Thus each body was stamped with the dignity of its divinely given pattern. Pythagoras believed that ultimately man would reach a state where he would cast off his gross nature and function in a body of spiritualized ether which would be in juxtaposition to his physical form at all times and which might be the eighth sphere, or Antichthon. From this he would ascend into the realm of the immortals, where by divine birthright he belonged.

Pythagoras taught that everything in nature was divisible into three parts and that no one could become truly wise who did not view every problem as being diagrammatically triangular. He said, “Establish the triangle and the problem is two-thirds solved”; further, “All things consist of three.” In conformity with this viewpoint, Pythagoras divided the universe into three parts, which he called the Supreme World, the Superior World, and the Inferior World. The highest, or Supreme World, was a subtle, interpenetrative spiritual essence pervading all things and therefore the true plane of the Supreme Deity itself, the Deity being in every sense omnipresent, omniactive, omnipotent, and omniscient. Both of the lower worlds existed within the nature of this supreme sphere.

The Superior World was the home of the immortals. It was also the dwelling place of the archetypes, or the seals; their natures in no manner partook of the material of earthiness, but they, casting their shadows upon the deep (the Inferior World), were cognizable only through their shadows. The third, or Inferior World, was the home of those creatures who partook of material substance or were engaged in labor with or upon material substance. Hence, this sphere was the home of the mortal gods, the Demiurgi, the angels who labor with men; also the dæmons who partake of the nature of the earth; and finally mankind and the lower kingdoms, those temporarily of the earth but capable of rising above that sphere by reason and philosophy.

The digits 1 and 2 are not considered numbers by the Pythagoreans, because they typify the two supermundane spheres. The Pythagorean numbers, therefore, begin with 3, the triangle, and 4, the square. These added to the 1 and the 2, produce the 10, the great number of all things, the archetype of the universe. The three worlds were called receptacles. The first was the receptacle of principles, the second was the receptacle of intelligences, and the third, or lowest, was the receptacle of quantities.

“The symmetrical solids were regarded by Pythagoras, and by the Greek thinkers after him, as of the greatest importance. To be perfectly symmetrical or regular, a solid must have an equal number of faces meeting at each of its angles, and these faces must be equal regular polygons, i. e., figures whose sides and angles are all equal. Pythagoras, perhaps, may be credited with the great discovery that there are only five such solids.* * *

‘Now, the Greeks believed the world [material universe] to be composed of four elements–earth, air, fire, water–and to the Greek mind the conclusion was inevitable that the shapes of the particles of the elements were those of the regular solids. Earth-particles were cubical, the cube being the regular solid possessed of greatest stability; fire-particles were tetrahedral, the tetrahedron being the simplest and, hence, lightest solid. Water-particles were icosahedral for exactly the reverse reason, whilst air-particles, as intermediate between the two latter, were octahedral. The dodecahedron was, to these ancient mathematicians, the most mysterious of the solids; it was by far the most difficult to construct, the accurate drawing of the regular pentagon necessitating a rather elaborate application of Pythagoras’ great theorem. Hence the conclusion, as Plato put it, that ‘this (the regular dodecahedron) the Deity employed in tracing the plan of the Universe.’ (H. Stanley Redgrove, in Bygone Beliefs.)

Mr. Redgrove has not mentioned the fifth element of the ancient Mysteries, that which would make the analogy between the symmetrical solids and the elements complete. This fifth element, or ether, was called by the Hindus akasa. It was closely correlated with the hypothetical ether of modern science, and was the interpenetrative substance permeating all of the other elements and acting as a common solvent and common denominator of them. The twelve-faced solid also subtly referred to the Twelve Immortals who surfaced the universe, and also to the twelve convolutions of the human brain–the vehicles of those Immortals in the nature of man.

While Pythagoras, in accordance with others of his day, practiced divination (possibly arithmomancy), there is no accurate information concerning the methods which he used. He is believed to have had a remarkable wheel by means of which he could predict future events, and to have learned hydromancy from the Egyptians. He believed that brass had oracular powers, because even when everything was perfectly still there was always a rumbling sound in brass bowls. He once addressed a prayer to the spirit of a river and out of the water arose a voice, “Pythagoras, I greet thee.” It is claimed for him that he was able to cause dæmons to enter into water and disturb its surface, and by means of the agitations certain things were predicted.

After having drunk from a certain spring one day, one of the Masters of Pythagoras announced that the spirit of the water had just predicted that a great earthquake would occur the next day–a prophecy which was fulfilled. It is highly probable that Pythagoras possessed hypnotic power, not only over man but also over animals. He caused a bird to change the course of its flight, a bear to cease its ravages upon a community, and a bull to change its diet, by the exercise of mental influence. He was also gifted with second sight, being able to see things at a distance and accurately describe incidents that had not yet come to pass.


Iamblichus gathered thirty-nine of the symbolic sayings of Pythagoras and interpreted them. These have been translated from the Greek by Thomas Taylor. Aphorismic statement was one of the favorite methods of instruction used in the Pythagorean university of Crotona. Ten of the most representative of these aphorisms are reproduced below with a brief elucidation of their concealed meanings.

  1. Declining from the public ways, walk in unfrequented paths. By this it is to be understood that those who desire wisdom must seek it in solitude.



Pythagoras taught that the dot symbolized the power of the number 1, the line the power of the number 2, the surface the power of the number 3, and the solid the power of the number 4.

  1. Govern your tongue before all other things, following the gods. This aphorism warns man that his words, instead of representing him, misrepresent him, and that when in doubt as to what he should say, he should always be silent.

III. The wind blowing, adore the sound. Pythagoras here reminds his disciples that the fiat of God is heard in the voice of the elements, and that all things in Nature manifest through harmony, rhythm, order, or procedure the attributes of the Deity.

  1. Assist a man in raising a burden; but do not assist him in laying it down. The student is instructed to aid the diligent but never to assist those who seek to evade their responsibilities, for it is a great sin to encourage indolence.
  2. Speak not about Pythagoric concerns without light. The world is herein warned that it should not attempt to interpret the mysteries of God and the secrets of the sciences without spiritual and intellectual illumination.
  3. Having departed from your house, turn not back, for the furies will be your attendants. Pythagoras here warns his followers that any who begin the search for truth and, after having learned part of the mystery, become discouraged and attempt to return again to their former ways of vice and ignorance, will suffer exceedingly; for it is better to know nothing about Divinity than to learn a little and then stop without learning all.

VII. Nourish a cock, but sacrifice it not; for it is sacred to the sun and moon. Two great lessons are concealed in this aphorism. The first is a warning against the sacrifice of living things to the gods, because life is sacred and man should not destroy it even as an offering to the Deity. The second warns man that the human body here referred to as a cock is sacred to the sun (God) and the moon (Nature), and should be guarded and preserved as man’s most precious medium of expression. Pythagoras also warned his disciples against suicide.

VIII. Receive not a swallow into your house. This warns the seeker after truth not to allow drifting thoughts to come into his mind nor shiftless persons to enter into his life. He must ever surround himself with rationally inspired thinkers and with conscientious workers.

  1. Offer not your right hand easily to anyone. This warns the disciple to keep his own counsel and not offer wisdom and knowledge (his right hand) to such as are incapable of appreciating them. The hand here represents Truth, which raises those who have fallen because of ignorance; but as many of the unregenerate do not desire wisdom they will cut off the hand that is extended in kindness to them. Time alone can effect the redemption of the ignorant masses
  2. When rising from the bedclothes, roll them together, and obliterate the impression of the body. Pythagoras directed his disciples who had awakened from the sleep of ignorance into the waking state of intelligence to eliminate from their recollection all memory of their former spiritual darkness; for a wise man in passing leaves no form behind him which others less intelligent, seeing, shall use as a mold for the casting of idols.

The most famous of the Pythagorean fragments are the Golden Verses, ascribed to Pythagoras himself, but concerning whose authorship there is an element of doubt. The Golden Verses contain a brief summary of the entire system of philosophy forming the basis of the educational doctrines of Crotona, or, as it is more commonly known, the Italic School. These verses open by counseling the reader to love God, venerate the great heroes, and respect the dæmons and elemental inhabitants. They then urge man to think carefully and industriously concerning his daily life, and to prefer the treasures of the mind and soul to accumulations of earthly goods. The verses also promise man that if he will rise above his lower material nature and cultivate self-control, he will ultimately be acceptable in the sight of the gods, be reunited with them, and partake of their immortality. (It is rather significant to note that Plato paid a great price for some of the manuscripts of Pythagoras which had been saved from the destruction of Crotona. See Historia Deorum Fatidicorum, Geneva, 1675.)


According to Pythagoras, the position of each body in the universe was determined by the essential dignity of that body. The popular concept of his day was that the earth occupied the center of the solar system; that the planets, including the sun and moon, moved about the earth; and that the earth itself was flat and square. Contrary to this concept, and regardless of criticism, Pythagoras declared that fire was the most important of all the elements; that the center was the most important part of every body; and that, just as Vesta’s fire was in the midst of every home, so in the midst of the universe was a flaming sphere of celestial radiance. This central globe he called the Tower of Jupiter, the Globe of Unity, the Grand Monad, and the Altar of Vesta. As the sacred number 10 symbolized the sum of all parts and the completeness of all things, it was only natural for Pythagoras to divide the universe into ten spheres, symbolized by ten concentric circles. These circles began at the center with the globe of Divine Fire; then came the seven planers, the earth, and another mysterious planet, called Antichthon, which was never visible.

Opinions differ as to the nature of Antichthon. Clement of Alexandria believed that it represented the mass of the heavens; others held the opinion that it was the moon. More probably it was the mysterious eighth sphere of the ancients, the dark planet which moved in the same orbit as the earth but which was always concealed from the earth by the body of the sun, being in exact opposition to the earth at all times. Is this the mysterious Lilith concerning which astrologers have speculated so long?

Isaac Myer has stated:

“The Pythagoreans held that each star was a world having its own atmosphere, with an immense extent surrounding it, of aether.” (See The Qabbalah.)

The disciples of Pythagoras also highly revered the planet Venus, because it was the only planet bright enough to cast a shadow. As the morning star, Venus is visible before sunrise, and as the evening star it shines forth immediately after sunset. Because of these qualities, a number of names have been given to it by the ancients. Being visible in the sky at sunset, it was called vesper, and as it arose before the sun, it was called the false light, the star of the morning, or Lucifer, which means the light-bearer. Because of this relation to the sun, the planet was also referred to as Venus, Astarte, Aphrodite, Isis, and The Mother of the Gods. It is possible that: at some seasons of the year in certain latitudes the fact that Venus was a crescent could be detected without the aid of a telescope. This would account for the crescent which is often seen in connection with the goddesses of antiquity, the stories of which do not agree with the phases of the moon. The accurate knowledge which Pythagoras possessed concerning astronomy he undoubtedly secured in the Egyptian temples, for their priests understood the true relationship of the heavenly bodies many thousands of years before that knowledge was revealed to the uninitiated world. The fact that the knowledge he acquired in the temples enabled him to make assertions requiring two thousand years to check proves why Plato and Aristotle so highly esteemed the profundity of the ancient Mysteries. In the midst of comparative scientific ignorance, and without the aid of any modern instruments, the priest-philosophers had discovered the true fundamentals of universal dynamics.

An interesting application of the Pythagorean doctrine of geometric solids as expounded by Plato is found in The Canon.

“Nearly all the old philosophers,” says its anonymous author, “devised an harmonic theory with respect to the universe, and the practice continued till the old mode of philosophizing died out. Kepler (1596), in order to demonstrate the Platonic doctrine, that the universe was formed of the five regular solids, proposed the following rule. ‘The earth is a circle, the measurer of all. Round it describe a dodecahedron; the circle inclosing this will be Mars. Round Mars describe a tetrahedron; the sphere inclosing this will be Jupiter. Describe a cube round Jupiter; the sphere containing this will be Saturn. Now inscribe in the earth an icosahedron; the circle inscribed in it will be Venus. Inscribe an octahedron in Venus; the circle inscribed in it will be Mercury’ (Mysterium Cosmographicum, 1596). This rule cannot be taken seriously as a real statement of the proportions of the cosmos, fox it bears no real resemblance to the ratios published by Copernicus in the beginning of the sixteenth century. Yet Kepler was very proud of his formula, and said he valued it more than the Electorate of Saxony. It was also approved by those two eminent authorities, Tycho and Galileo, who evidently understood it. Kepler himself never gives the least hint of how his precious rule is to be interpreted.”

Platonic astronomy was not concerned with the material constitution or arrangement of the heavenly bodies, but considered the stars and planers primarily as focal points of Divine intelligence. Physical astronomy was regarded as the science of “shadows,” philosophical astronomy the science of “realities.”



Theon of Smyrna declares that the ten dots, or tetractys of Pythagoras, was a symbol of the greatest importance, for to the discerning mind it revealed the mystery of universal nature. The Pythagoreans bound themselves by the following oath: “By Him who gave to our soul the tetractys, which hath the fountain and root of ever-springing nature.”



By connecting the ten dots of the tetractys, nine triangles are formed. Six of these are involved in the forming of the cube. The same triangles, when lines are properly drawn between them, also reveal the six-pointed star with a dot in the center. Only seven dots are used in forming the cube and the star. Qabbalistically, the three unused corner dots represent the threefold, invisible causal nature of the universe, while the seven dots involved in the cube and the star are the Elohim–the Spirits of the seven creative periods. The Sabbath, or seventh day, is the central dot.


Pythagorean Mathematics

CONCERNING the secret significance of numbers there has been much speculation. Though many interesting discoveries have been made, it may be safely said that with the death of Pythagoras the great key to this science was lost. For nearly 2500 years philosophers of all nations have attempted to unravel the Pythagorean skein, but apparently none has been successful. Notwithstanding attempts made to obliterate all records of the teachings of Pythagoras, fragments have survived which give clues to some of the simpler parts of his philosophy. The major secrets were never committed to writing, but were communicated orally to a few chosen disciples. These apparently dated not divulge their secrets to the profane, the result being that when death sealed their lips the arcana died with diem.

Certain of the secret schools in the world today are perpetuations of the ancient Mysteries, and although it is quite possible that they may possess some of the original numerical formulæ, there is no evidence of it in the voluminous writings which have issued from these groups during the last five hundred years. These writings, while frequently discussing Pythagoras, show no indication of a more complete knowledge of his intricate doctrines than the post-Pythagorean Greek speculators had, who talked much, wrote little, knew less, and concealed their ignorance under a series of mysterious hints and promises. Here and there among the literary products of early writers are found enigmatic statements which they made no effort: to interpret. The following example is quoted from Plutarch:

“The Pythagoreans indeed go farther than this, and honour even numbers and geometrical diagrams with the names and titles of the gods. Thus they call the equilateral triangle head-born Minerva and Tritogenia, because it may be equally divided by three perpendiculars drawn from each of the angles. So the unit they term Apollo, as to the number two they have affixed the name of strife and audaciousness, and to that of three, justice. For, as doing an injury is an extreme on the one side, and suffering one is an extreme on the on the one side, and suffering in the middle between them. In like manner the number thirty-six, their Tetractys, or sacred Quaternion, being composed of the first four odd numbers added to the first four even ones, as is commonly reported, is looked upon by them as the most solemn oath they can take, and called Kosmos.” (Isis and Osiris.)

Earlier in the same work, Plutarch also notes:

“For as the power of the triangle is expressive of the nature of Pluto, Bacchus, and Mars; and the properties of the square of Rhea, Venus, Ceres, Vesta, and Juno; of the Dodecahedron of Jupiter; so, as we are informed by Eudoxus, is the figure of fifty-six angles expressive of the nature of Typhon.” Plutarch did not pretend to explain the inner significance of the symbols, but believed that the relationship which Pythagoras established between the geometrical solids and the gods was the result of images the great sage had seen in the Egyptian temples.

Albert Pike, the great Masonic symbolist, admitted that there were many points concerning which he could secure no reliable information. In hisSymbolism, for the 32° and 33°, he wrote: “I do not understand why the 7 should be called Minerva, or the cube, Neptune.” Further on he added: “Undoubtedly the names given by the Pythagoreans to the different numbers were themselves enigmatical and symbolic-and there is little doubt that in the time of Plutarch the meanings these names concealed were lost. Pythagoras had succeeded too well in concealing his symbols with a veil that was from the first impenetrable, without his oral explanation * * *.”

This uncertainty shared by all true students of the subject proves conclusively that it is unwise to make definite statements founded on the indefinite and fragmentary information available concerning the Pythagorean system of mathematical philosophy. The material which follows represents an effort to collect a few salient points from the scattered records preserved by disciples of Pythagoras and others who have since contacted his philosophy.


The first step in obtaining the numerical value of a word is to resolve it back into its original tongue. Only words of Greek or Hebrew derivation can be successfully analyzed by this method, and all words must be spelled in their most ancient and complete forms. Old Testament words and names, therefore, must be translated back into the early Hebrew characters and New Testament words into the Greek. Two examples will help to clarify this principle.

The Demiurgus of the Jews is called in English Jehovah, but when seeking the numerical value of the name Jehovah it is necessary to resolve the name into its Hebrew letters. It becomes יהוה, and is read from right to left. The Hebrew letters are: ה, He; ו, Vau; ה, He; י, Yod; and when reversed into the English order from left to right read: Yod-He-Vau-He. By consulting the foregoing table of letter values, it is found that the four characters of this sacred name have the following numerical significance: Yod equals 10. He equals 5, Vau equals 6, and the second He equals 5. Therefore, 10+5+6+5=26, a synonym of Jehovah. If the English letters were used, the answer obviously would not be correct.

The second example is the mysterious Gnostic pantheos Abraxas. For this name the Greek table is used. Abraxas in Greek is Ἀβραξας. Α = 1, β = 2, ρ = 100, α = 1, ξ =60, α = 1, ς = 200, the sum being 365, the number of days in the year. This number furnishes the key to the mystery of Abraxas, who is symbolic of the 365 Æons, or Spirits of the Days, gathered together in one composite personality. Abraxas is symbolic of five creatures, and as the circle of the year actually consists of 360 degrees, each of the emanating deities is one-fifth of this power, or 72, one of the most sacred numbers in the Old Testament of the Jews and in their Qabbalistic system. This same method is used in finding the numerical value of the names of the gods and goddesses of the Greeks and Jews.

All higher numbers can be reduced to one of the original ten numerals, and the 10 itself to 1. Therefore, all groups of numbers resulting from the translation of names of deities into their numerical equivalents have a basis in one of the first ten numbers. By this system, in which the digits are added together, 666 becomes 6+6+6 or 18, and this, in turn, becomes 1+8 or 9. According to Revelation, 144,000 are to be saved. This number becomes 1+4+4+0+0+0, which equals 9, thus proving that both the Beast of Babylon and the number of the saved refer to man himself, whose symbol is the number 9. This system can be used successfully with both Greek and Hebrew letter values.

The original Pythagorean system of numerical philosophy contains nothing to justify the practice now in vogue of changing the given name or surname in the hope of improving the temperament or financial condition by altering the name vibrations.

There is also a system of calculation in vogue for the English language, but its accuracy is a matter of legitimate dispute. It is comparatively modern and has no relationship either to the Hebrew Qabbalistic system or to the Greek procedure. The claim made by some that it is Pythagorean is not supported by any tangible evidence, and there are many reasons why such a contention is untenable. The fact that Pythagoras used 10 as the basis of calculation, while this system uses 9–an imperfect number–is in itself almost conclusive. Furthermore, the arrangement of the Greek and Hebrew letters does not agree closely enough with the English to permit the application of the number sequences of one language to the number sequences of the others.



From Higgins’ Celtic Druids.

1 Names of the Hebrew letters.
2 Samaritan Letters.
3 Hebrew and Chaldean letters.
4 Numerical equivalents of the letters.
5 Capital and small Greek letters.
6 The letters marked with asterisks are those brought to Greece from Phœnicia by Cadmus.
7 Name of the Greek letters.
8 Nearest English equivalents to the Hebrew, Greek, and Samaritan Letters.

NOTE. When used at the end of a word, the Hebrew Tau has the numerical value 440, Caph 500, Mem 600, Nun 700, Pe 800, Tzadi 900. A dotted Alpha and a dashed Aleph have the value of 1,000.

Further experimentation with the system may prove profitable, but it is without basis in antiquity. The arrangement of the letters and numbers is as follows:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

The letters under each of the numbers have the value of the figure at: the top of the column. Thus, in the word man, M = 4, A = 1, N = 5: a total of 10. The values of the numbers are practically the same as those given by the Pythagorean system.



(The following outline of Pythagorean mathematics is a paraphrase of the opening chapters of Thomas Taylor’s Theoretic Arithmetic, the rarest and most important compilation of Pythagorean mathematical fragments extant.)

The Pythagoreans declared arithmetic to be the mother of the mathematical sciences. This is proved by the fact that geometry, music, and astronomy are dependent upon it but it is not dependent upon them. Thus, geometry may be removed but arithmetic will remain; but if arithmetic be removed, geometry is eliminated. In the same manner music depends upon arithmetic, but the elimination of music affects arithmetic only by limiting one of its expressions. The Pythagoreans also demonstrated arithmetic to be prior to astronomy, for the latter is dependent upon both geometry and music. The size, form, and motion of the celestial bodies is determined by the use of geometry; their harmony and rhythm by the use of music. If astronomy be removed, neither geometry nor music is injured; but if geometry and music be eliminated, astronomy is destroyed. The priority of both geometry and music to astronomy is therefore established. Arithmetic, however, is prior to all; it is primary and fundamental.

Pythagoras instructed his disciples that the science of mathematics is divided into two major parts. The first is concerned with the multitude, or the constituent parts of a thing, and the second with the magnitude, or the relative size or density of a thing.

Magnitude is divided into two parts–magnitude which is stationary and magnitude which is movable, the stationary pare having priority. Multitude is also divided into two parts, for it is related both to itself and to other things, the first relationship having priority. Pythagoras assigned the science of arithmetic to multitude related to itself, and the art of music to multitude related to other things. Geometry likewise was assigned to stationary magnitude, and spherics (used partly in the sense of astronomy) to movable magnitude. Both multitude and magnitude were circumscribed by the circumference of mind. The atomic theory has proved size to be the result of number, for a mass is made up of minute units though mistaken by the uninformed for a single simple substance.

Owing to the fragmentary condition of existing Pythagorean records, it is difficult to arrive at exact definitions of terms. Before it is possible, however, to unfold the subject further some light must he cast upon the meanings of the words number, monad, and one.

The monad signifies (a) the all-including ONE. The Pythagoreans called the monad the “noble number, Sire of Gods and men.” The monad also signifies (b) the sum of any combination of numbers considered as a whole. Thus, the universe is considered as a monad, but the individual parts of the universe (such as the planets and elements) are monads in relation to the parts of which they themselves are composed, though they, in turn, are parts of the greater monad formed of their sum. The monad may also be likened (c) to the seed of a tree which, when it has grown, has many branches (the numbers). In other words, the numbers are to the monad what the branches of the tree are to the seed of the tree. From the study of the mysterious Pythagorean monad, Leibnitz evolved his magnificent theory of the world atoms–a theory in perfect accord with the ancient teachings of the Mysteries, for Leibnitz himself was an initiate of a secret school. By some Pythagoreans the monad is also considered (d) synonymous with the one.

Number is the term applied to all numerals and their combinations. (A strict interpretation of the term number by certain of the Pythagoreans excludes 1 and 2.) Pythagoras defines number to be the extension and energy of the spermatic reasons contained in the monad. The followers of Hippasus declared number to be the first pattern used by the Demiurgus in the formation of the universe.

The one was defined by the Platonists as “the summit of the many.” The one differs from the monad in that the term monad is used to designate the sum of the parts considered as a unit, whereas the one is the term applied to each of its integral parts.

There are two orders of number: odd and even. Because unity, or 1, always remains indivisible, the odd number cannot be divided equally. Thus, 9 is 4+1+4, the unity in the center being indivisible. Furthermore, if any odd number be divided into two parts, one part will always be odd and the other even. Thus, 9 may be 5+4, 3+6, 7+2, or 8+1. The Pythagoreans considered the odd number–of which the monad was the prototype–to be definite and masculine. They were not all agreed, however, as to the nature of unity, or 1. Some declared it to be positive, because if added to an even (negative) number, it produces an odd (positive) number. Others demonstrated that if unity be added to an odd number, the latter becomes even, thereby making the masculine to be feminine. Unity, or 1, therefore, was considered an androgynous number, partaking of both the masculine and the feminine attributes; consequently both odd and even. For this reason the Pythagoreans called it evenly-odd. It was customary for the Pythagoreans to offer sacrifices of an uneven number of objects to the superior gods, while to the goddesses and subterranean spirits an even number was offered.

Any even number may be divided into two equal parts, which are always either both odd or both even. Thus, 10 by equal division gives 5+5, both odd numbers. The same principle holds true if the 10 be unequally divided. For example, in 6+4, both parts are even; in 7+3, both parts are odd; in 8+2, both parts are again even; and in 9+1, both parts are again odd. Thus, in the even number, however it may be divided, the parts will always be both odd or both even. The Pythagoreans considered the even number-of which the duad was the prototype–to be indefinite and feminine.

The odd numbers are divided by a mathematical contrivance–called “the Sieve of Eratosthenes”–into three general classes: incomposite, composite, andincomposite-composite.

The incomposite numbers are those which have no divisor other than themselves and unity, such as 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17, 19, 23, 29, 31, 37, 41, 43, 47, and so forth. For example, 7 is divisible only by 7, which goes into itself once, and unity, which goes into 7 seven times.

The composite numbers are those which are divisible not only by themselves and unity but also by some other number, such as 9, 15, 21, 25, 27, 33, 39, 45, 51, 57, and so forth. For example, 21 is divisible not only by itself and by unity, but also by 3 and by 7.

The incomposite-composite numbers are those which have no common divisor, although each of itself is capable of division, such as 9 and 25. For example, 9 is divisible by 3 and 25 by 5, but neither is divisible by the divisor of the other; thus they have no common divisor. Because they have individual divisors, they are called composite; and because they have no common divisor, they are called in, composite. Accordingly, the term incomposite-composite was created to describe their properties.

Even numbers are divided into three classes: evenly-even, evenly-odd, and oddly-odd.

The evenly-even numbers are all in duple ratio from unity; thus: 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, 256, 512, and 1,024. The proof of the perfect evenly-even number is that it can be halved and the halves again halved back to unity, as 1/2 of 64 = 32; 1/2 of 32 = 16; 1/2 of 16 = 8; 1/2 of 8 = 4; 1/2 of 4 = 2; 1/2 of 2 = 1; beyond unity it is impossible to go.

The evenly-even numbers possess certain unique properties. The sum of any number of terms but the last term is always equal to the last term minus one. For example: the sum of the first and second terms (1+2) equals the third term (4) minus one; or, the sum of the first, second, third, and fourth terms (1+2+4+8) equals the fifth term (16) minus one.

In a series of evenly-even numbers, the first multiplied by the last equals the last, the second multiplied by the second from the last equals the last, and so on until in an odd series one number remains, which multiplied by itself equals the last number of the series; or, in an even series two numbers remain, which multiplied by each other give the last number of the series. For example: 1, 2, 4, 8, 16 is an odd series. The first number (1) multiplied by the last number (16) equals the last number (16). The second number (2) multiplied by the second from the last number (8) equals the last number (16). Being an odd series, the 4 is left in the center, and this multiplied by itself also equals the last number (16).

The evenly-odd numbers are those which, when halved, are incapable of further division by halving. They are formed by taking the odd numbers in sequential order and multiplying them by 2. By this process the odd numbers 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11 produce the evenly-odd numbers, 2, 6, 10, 14, 18, 22. Thus, every fourth number is evenly-odd. Each of the even-odd numbers may be divided once, as 2, which becomes two 1’s and cannot be divided further; or 6, which becomes two 3’s and cannot be divided further.

Another peculiarity of the evenly-odd numbers is that if the divisor be odd the quotient is always even, and if the divisor be even the quotient is always odd. For example: if 18 be divided by 2 (an even divisor) the quotient is 9 (an odd number); if 18 be divided by 3 (an odd divisor) the quotient is 6 (an even number).

The evenly-odd numbers are also remarkable in that each term is one-half of the sum of the terms on either side of it. For example:



Redrawn from Taylor’s Theoretic Arithmetic.

This sieve is a mathematical device originated by Eratosthenes about 230 B.C. far the purpose of segregating the composite and incomposite odd numbers. Its use is extremely simple after the theory has once been mastered. All the odd numbers are first arranged in their natural order as shown in the second panel from the bottom, designated Odd Numbers. It will then be seen that every third number (beginning with 3) is divisible by 3, every fifth number (beginning with 5;) is divisible by 5, every seventh number (beginning with 7) is divisible by 7, every ninth number (beginning with 9) is divisible by 9, every eleventh number (beginning with 11) is divisible by 11, and so on to infinity. This system finally sifts out what the Pythagoreans called the “incomposite” numbers, or those having no divisor other than themselves and unity. These will be found in the lowest panel, designated Primary and Incomposite Numbers. In his History of Mathematics, David Eugene Smith states that Eratosthenes was one of the greatest scholars of Alexandria and was called by his admirers “the second Plato.” Eratosthenes was educated at Athens, and is renowned not only for his sieve but for having computed, by a very ingenious method, the circumference and diameter of the earth. His estimate of the earth’s diameter was only 50 miles less than the polar diameter accepted by modern scientists. This and other mathematical achievements of Eratosthenes, are indisputable evidence that in the third century before Christ the Greeks not only knew the earth to be spherical in farm but could also approximate, with amazing accuracy, its actual size and distance from both the sun and the moon. Aristarchus of Samos, another great Greek astronomer and mathematician, who lived about 250 B.C., established by philosophical deduction and a few simple scientific instruments that the earth revolved around the sun. While Copernicus actually believed himself to be the discoverer of this fact, he but restated the findings advanced by Aristarchus seventeen hundred years earlier.


10 is one-half of the sum of 6 and 14; 18 is one-half the sum of 14 and 22; and 6 is one-half the sum of 2 and 10.

The oddly-odd, or unevenly-even, numbers are a compromise between the evenly-even and the evenly-odd numbers. Unlike the evenly-even, they cannot be halved back to unity; and unlike the evenly-odd, they are capable of more than one division by halving. The oddly-odd numbers are formed by multiplying the evenly-even numbers above 2 by the odd numbers above one. The odd numbers above one are 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, and so forth. The evenly-even numbers above 2 are 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, and soon. The first odd number of the series (3) multiplied by 4 (the first evenly-even number of the series) gives 12, the first oddly-odd number. By multiplying 5, 7, 9, 11, and so forth, by 4, oddly-odd numbers are found. The other oddly-odd numbers are produced by multiplying 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, and so forth, in turn, by the other evenly-even numbers (8, 16, 32, 64, and so forth). An example of the halving of the oddly-odd number is as follows: 1/2 of 12 = 6; 1/2 of 6 = 3, which cannot be halved further because the Pythagoreans did not divide unity.

Even numbers are also divided into three other classes: superperfect, deficient, and perfect.

Superperfect or superabundant numbers are such as have the sum of their fractional parts greater than themselves. For example: 1/2 of 24 = 12; 1/4 = 6; 1/3 = 8; 1/6 = 4; 1/12 = 2; and 1/24 = 1. The sum of these parts (12+6+8+4+2+1) is 33, which is in excess of 24, the original number.

Deficient numbers are such as have the sum of their fractional parts less than themselves. For example: 1/2 of 14 = 7; 1/7 = 2; and 1/14 = 1. The sum of these parts (7+2+1) is 10, which is less than 14, the original number.

Perfect numbers are such as have the sum of their fractional parts equal to themselves. For example: 1/2 of 28 = 14; 1/4 = 7; 1/7 = 4; 1/14 = 2; and 1/28 = 1. The sum of these parts (14+7+4+2+1) is equal to 28.

The perfect numbers are extremely rare. There is only one between 1 and 10, namely, 6; one between 10 and 100, namely, 28; one between 100 and 1,000, namely, 496; and one between 1,000 and 10,000, namely, 8,128. The perfect numbers are found by the following rule: The first number of the evenly-even series of numbers (1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, and so forth) is added to the second number of the series, and if an incomposite number results it is multiplied by the last number of the series of evenly-even numbers whose sum produced it. The product is the first perfect number. For example: the first and second evenly-even numbers are 1 and 2. Their sum is 3, an incomposite number. If 3 be multiplied by 2, the last number of the series of evenly-even numbers used to produce it, the product is 6, the first perfect number. If the addition of the evenly-even numbers does not result in an incomposite number, the next evenly-even number of the series must be added until an incomposite number results. The second perfect number is found in the following manner: The sum of the evenly-even numbers 1, 2, and 4 is 7, an incomposite number. If 7 be multiplied by 4 (the last of the series of evenly-even numbers used to produce it) the product is 28, the second perfect number. This method of calculation may be continued to infinity.

Perfect numbers when multiplied by 2 produce superabundant numbers, and when divided by 2 produce deficient numbers.

The Pythagoreans evolved their philosophy from the science of numbers. The following quotation from Theoretic Arithmetic is an excellent example of this practice:

“Perfect numbers, therefore, are beautiful images of the virtues which are certain media between excess and defect, and are not summits, as by some of the ancients they were supposed to be. And evil indeed is opposed to evil, but both are opposed to one good. Good, however, is never opposed to good, but to two evils at one and the same time. Thus timidity is opposed to audacity, to both [of] which the want of true courage is common; but both timidity and audacity are opposed to fortitude. Craft also is opposed to fatuity, to both [of] which the want of intellect is common; and both these are opposed to prudence. Thus, too, profusion is opposed to avarice, to both [of] which illiberality is common; and both these are opposed to liberality. And in a similar manner in the other virtues; by all [of] which it is evident that perfect numbers have a great similitude to the virtues. But they also resemble the virtues on another account; for they are rarely found, as being few, and they are generated in a very constant order. On the contrary, an infinite multitude of superabundant and diminished numbers may be found, nor are they disposed in any orderly series, nor generated from any certain end; and hence they have a great similitude to the vices, which are numerous, inordinate, and indefinite.”


(The following outline of the Pythagorean numbers is a paraphrase of the writings of Nicomachus, Theon of Smyrna, Proclus, Porphyry, Plutarch, Clement of Alexandria, Aristotle, and other early authorities.)

Monad–1–is so called because it remains always in the same condition–that is, separate from multitude. Its attributes are as follows: It is called mind, because the mind is stable and has preeminence; hermaphrodism, because it is both male and female; odd and even, for being added to the even it makes odd, and to the odd, even; God, because it is the beginning and end of all, but itself has neither beginning nor end; good, for such is the nature of God; the receptacle of matter, because it produces the duad, which is essentially material.

By the Pythagoreans monad was called chaos, obscurity, chasm, Tartarus, Styx, abyss, Lethe, Atlas, Axis, Morpho (a name for Venus), and Tower or Throne of Jupiter, because of the great power which abides in the center of the universe and controls the circular motion of the planers about itself. Monad is also called germinal reason, because it is the origin of all the thoughts in the universe. Other names given to it were: Apollo, because of its relation to the sun; Prometheus, because he brought man light; Pyralios, one who exists in fire; geniture, because without it no number can exist; substance, because substance is primary; cause of truth; and constitution of symphony: all these because it is the primordial one.

Between greater and lesser the monad is equal; between intention and remission it is middle; in multitude it is mean; and in time it is now, because eternity knows neither past nor future. It is called Jupiter, because he is Father and head of the gods; Vesta, the fire of the home, because it is located in the midst of the universe and remains there inclining to no side as a dot in a circle; form, because it circumscribes, comprehends, and terminates; love, concord, and piety, because it is indivisible. Other symbolic names for the monad are ship, chariot, Proteus (a god capable of changing his form), Mnemosyne, and Polyonymous (having many names).

The following symbolic names were given to the duad–2–because it has been divided, and is two rather than one; and when there are two, each is opposed to the other: genius, evil, darkness, inequality, instability, movability, boldness, fortitude, contention, matter, dissimilarity, partition between multitude and monad, defect, shapelessness, indefiniteness, indeterminate ness, harmony, tolerance, root, feet of fountain-abounding idea, top, Phanes, opinion, fallacy, alterity, diffidence, impulse, death, motion, generation, mutation, division, longitude, augmentation, composition, communion, misfortune, sustentation, imposition, marriage, soul, and science.

In his book, Numbers, W. Wynn Westcott says of the duad: “it was called ‘Audacity,’ from its being the earliest number to separate itself from the Divine One; from the ‘Adytum of God-nourished Silence,’ as the Chaldean oracles say.”

As the monad is the father, so the duad is the mother; therefore, the duad has certain points in common with the goddesses Isis, Rhea (Jove’s mother), Phrygia, Lydia, Dindymene (Cybele), and Ceres; Erato (one of the Muses); Diana, because the moon is forked; Dictynna, Venus, Dione, Cytherea; Juno, because she is both wife and sister of Jupiter; and Maia, the mother of Mercury.

While the monad is the symbol of wisdom, the duad is the symbol of ignorance, for in it exists the sense of separateness–which sense is the beginning of ignorance. The duad, however, is also the mother of wisdom, for ignorance–out of the nature of itself–invariably gives birth to wisdom.

The Pythagoreans revered the monad but despised the duad, because it was the symbol of polarity. By the power of the duad the deep was created in contradistinction to the heavens. The deep mirrored the heavens and became the symbol of illusion, for the below was merely a reflection of the above. The below was called maya, the illusion, the sea, the Great Void, and to symbolize it the Magi of Persia carried mirrors. From the duad arose disputes and contentions, until by bringing the monad between the duad, equilibrium was reestablished by the Savior-God, who took upon Himself the form of a number and was crucified between two thieves for the sins of men.

The triad–3–is the first number actually odd (monad not always being considered a number). It is the first equilibrium of unities; therefore, Pythagoras said that Apollo gave oracles from a tripod, and advised offer of libation three times. The keywords to the qualities of the triad are friendship, peace, justice, prudence, piety, temperance, and virtue. The following deities partake of the principles of the triad: Saturn (ruler of time), Latona, Cornucopiæ, Ophion (the great serpent), Thetis, Hecate, Polyhymnia (a Muse), Pluto, Triton, President of the Sea, Tritogenia, Achelous, and the Faces, Furies, and Graces. This number is called wisdom, because men organize the present, foresee the future, and benefit by the experiences of the fast. It is cause of wisdom and understanding. The triad is the number of knowledge–music, geometry, and astronomy, and the science of the celestials and terrestrials. Pythagoras taught that the cube of this number had the power of the lunar circle.

The sacredness of the triad and its symbol–the triangle–is derived from the fact that it is made up of the monad and the duad. The monad is the symbol of the Divine Father and the duad of the Great Mother. The triad being made of these two is therefore androgynous and is symbolic of the fact that God gave birth to His worlds out of Himself, who in His creative aspect is always symbolized by the triangle. The monad passing into the duad was thus capable of becoming the parent of progeny, for the duad was the womb of Meru, within which the world was incubated and within which it still exists in embryo.

The tetrad–4–was esteemed by the Pythagoreans as the primogenial number, the root of all things, the fountain of Nature and the most perfect number. All tetrads are intellectual; they have an emergent order and encircle the world as the Empyreum passes through it. Why the Pythagoreans expressed God as a tetrad is explained in a sacred discourse ascribed to Pythagoras, wherein God is called the Number of Numbers. This is because the decad, or 10, is composed of 1, 2, 3, and 4. The number 4 is symbolic of God because it is symbolic of the first four numbers. Moreover, the tetrad is the center of the week, being halfway between 1 and 7. The tetrad is also the first geometric solid.

Pythagoras maintained that the soul of man consists of a tetrad, the four powers of the soul being mind, science, opinion, and sense. The tetrad connects all beings, elements, numbers, and seasons; nor can anything be named which does not depend upon the tetractys. It is the Cause and Maker of all things, the intelligible God, Author of celestial and sensible good, Plutarch interprets this tetractys, which he said was also called the world, to be 36, consisting of the first four odd numbers added to the first four even numbers, thus:

1 + 3 +5 +7 = 16
2 + 4 + 6 + 8 = 20

Keywords given to the tetrad are impetuosity, strength, virility, two-mothered, and the key keeper of Nature, because the universal constitution cannot be without it. It is also called harmony and the first profundity. The following deities partook of the nature of the tetrad: Hercules, Mercury, Vulcan, Bacchus, and Urania (one of the Muses).

The triad represents the primary colors and the major planets, while the tetrad represents the secondary colors and the minor planets. From the first triangle come forth the seven spirits, symbolized by a triangle and a square. These together form the Masonic apron.

The pentad–5–is the union of an odd and an even number (3 and 2). Among the Greeks, the pentagram was a sacred symbol of light, health, and vitality. It also symbolized the fifth element–ether–because it is free from the disturbances of the four lower elements. It is called equilibrium, because it divides the perfect number 10 into two equal parts.

The pentad is symbolic of Nature, for, when multiplied by itself it returns into itself, just as grains of wheat, starting in the form of seed, pass through Nature’s processes and reproduce the seed of the wheat as the ultimate form of their own growth. Other numbers multiplied by themselves produce other numbers, but only 5 and 6 multiplied by themselves represent and retain their original number as the last figure in their products.

The pentad represents all the superior and inferior beings. It is sometimes referred to as the hierophant, or the priest of the Mysteries, because of its connection with the spiritual ethers, by means of which mystic development is attained. Keywords of the pentad are reconciliation, alternation, marriage, immortality, cordiality, Providence, and sound. Among the deities who partook of the nature of the pentad were Pallas, Nemesis, Bubastia (Bast), Venus, Androgynia, Cytherea, and the messengers of Jupiter.

The tetrad (the elements) plus the monad equals the pentad. The Pythagoreans taught that the elements of earth, fire, air, and water were permeated by a substance called ether–the basis of vitality and life. Therefore, they chose the five-pointed star, or pentagram, as the symbol of vitality, health, and interpenetration.

It was customary for the philosophers to conceal the element of earth under the symbol of a dragon, and many of the heroes of antiquity were told to go forth and slay the dragon. Hence, they drove their sword (the monad) into the body of the dragon (the tetrad). This resulted in the formation of the pentad, a symbol of the victory of the spiritual nature over the material nature. The four elements are symbolized in the early Biblical writings as the four rivers that poured out of Garden of Eden. The elements themselves are under the control of the composite Cherubim of Ezekiel.

The Pythagoreans held the hexad–6–to represent, as Clement of Alexandria conceived, the creation of the world according to both the prophets and the ancient Mysteries. It was called by the Pythagoreans the perfection of all the parts. This number was particularly sacred to Orpheus, and also to the Fate, Lachesis, and the Muse, Thalia. It was called the form of forms, the articulation of the universe, and the maker of the soul.

Among the Greeks, harmony and the soul were considered to be similar in nature, because all souls are harmonic. The hexad is also the symbol of marriage, because it is formed by the union of two triangles, one masculine and the other feminine. Among the keywords given to the hexad are: time, for it is the measure of duration; panacea, because health is equilibrium, and the hexad is a balance number; the world, because the world, like the hexad, is often seen to consist of contraries by harmony; omnisufficient, because its parts are sufficient for totality (3 +2 + 1 = 6); unwearied, because it contains the elements of immortality.

By the Pythagoreans the heptad–7–was called “worthy of veneration.” It was held to be the number of religion, because man is controlled by seven celestial spirits to whom it is proper for him to make offerings. It was called the number of life, because it was believed that human creatures born in the seventh month of embryonic life usually lived, but those born in the eighth month often died. One author called it the Motherless Virgin, Minerva, because it was nor born of a mother but out of the crown, or the head of the Father, the monad. Keywords of the heptad are fortune, occasion, custody, control, government, judgment, dreams, voices, sounds, and that which leads all things to their end. Deities whose attributes were expressed by the heptad were Ægis, Osiris, Mars, and Cleo (one of the Muses).

Among many ancient nations the heptad is a sacred number. The Elohim of the Jews were supposedly seven in number. They were the Spirits of the Dawn, more commonly known as the Archangels controlling the planets. The seven Archangels, with the three spirits controlling the sun in its threefold aspect, constitute the 10, the sacred Pythagorean decad. The mysterious Pythagorean tetractys, or four rows of dots, increasing from 1 to 4, was symbolic of the stages of creation. The great Pythagorean truth that all things in Nature are regenerated through the decad, or 10, is subtly preserved in Freemasonry through these grips being effected by the uniting of 10 fingers, five on the hand of each person.

The 3 (spirit, mind, and soul) descend into the 4 (the world), the sum being the 7, or the mystic nature of man, consisting of a threefold spiritual body and a fourfold material form. These are symbolized by the cube, which has six surfaces and a mysterious seventh point within. The six surfaces are the directions: north, east, south, west, up, and down; or, front, back, right, left, above, and below; or again, earth, fire, air, water, spirit, and matter. In the midst of these stands the 1, which is the upright figure of man, from whose center in the cube radiate six pyramids. From this comes the great occult axiom: “The center is the father of the directions, the dimensions, and the distances.”

The heptad is the number of the law, because it is the number of the Makers of Cosmic law, the Seven Spirits before the Throne.

The ogdoad–8–was sacred because it was the number of the first cube, which form had eight corners, and was the only evenly-even number under 10 (1-2-4-8-4-2-1). Thus, the 8 is divided into two 4’s, each 4 is divided into two 2’s, and each 2 is divided into two 1’s, thereby reestablishing the monad. Among the keywords of the ogdoad are love, counsel, prudence, law, and convenience. Among the divinities partaking of its nature were Panarmonia, Rhea, Cibele, Cadmæa, Dindymene, Orcia, Neptune, Themis, and Euterpe (a Muse).

The ogdoad was a mysterious number associated with the Eleusinian Mysteries of Greece and the Cabiri. It was called the little holy number. It derived its form partly from the twisted snakes on the Caduceus of Hermes and partly from the serpentine motion of the celestial bodies; possibly also from the moon’s nodes.

The ennead–9–was the first square of an odd number (3×3). It was associated with failure and shortcoming because it fell short of the perfect number 10 by one. It was called the called the number of man, because of the nine months of his embryonic life. Among its keywords are ocean and horizon, because to the ancients these were boundless. The ennead is the limitless number because there is nothing beyond it but the infinite 10. It was called boundary and limitation, because it gathered all numbers within itself. It was called the sphere of the air, because it surrounded the numbers as air surrounds the earth, Among the gods and goddesses who partook in greater or less degree of its nature were Prometheus, Vulcan, Juno, the sister and wife of Jupiter, Pæan, and Aglaia, Tritogenia, Curetes, Proserpine, Hyperion, and Terpsichore (a Muse).

The 9 was looked upon as evil, because it was an inverted 6. According to the Eleusinian Mysteries, it was the number of the spheres through which the consciousness passed on its way to birth. Because of its close resemblance to the spermatozoon, the 9 has been associated with germinal life.

The decad–10–according to the Pythagoreans, is the greatest of numbers, not only because it is the tetractys (the 10 dots) but because it comprehends all arithmetic and harmonic proportions. Pythagoras said that 10 is the nature of number, because all nations reckon to it and when they arrive at it they return to the monad. The decad was called both heaven and the world, because the former includes the latter. Being a perfect number, the decad was applied by the Pythagoreans to those things relating to age, power, faith, necessity, and the power of memory. It was also called unwearied, because, like God, it was tireless. The Pythagoreans divided the heavenly bodies into ten orders. They also stated that the decad perfected all numbers and comprehended within itself the nature of odd and even, moved and unmoved, good and ill. They associated its power with the following deities: Atlas (for it carried the numbers on its shoulders), Urania, Mnemosyne, the Sun, Phanes, and the One God.

The decimal system can probably be traced back to the time when it was customary to reckon on the fingers, these being among the most primitive of calculating devices and still in use among many aboriginal peoples.


The Human Body in Symbolism

THE oldest, the most profound, the most universal of all symbols is the human body. The Greeks, Persians, Egyptians, and Hindus considered a philosophical analysis of man’s triune nature to be an indispensable part of ethical and religious training. The Mysteries of every nation taught that the laws, elements, and powers of the universe were epitomized in the human constitution; that everything which existed outside of man had its analogue within man. The universe, being immeasurable in its immensity and inconceivable in its profundity, was beyond mortal estimation. Even the gods themselves could comprehend but a part of the inaccessible glory which was their source. When temporarily permeated with divine enthusiasm, man may transcend for a brief moment the limitations of his own personality and behold in part that celestial effulgence in which all creation is bathed. But even in his periods of greatest illumination man is incapable of imprinting upon the substance of his rational soul a perfect image of the multiform expression of celestial activity.

Recognizing the futility of attempting to cope intellectually with that which transcends the comprehension of the rational faculties, the early philosophers turned their attention from the inconceivable Divinity to man himself, with in the narrow confines of whose nature they found manifested all the mysteries of the external spheres. As the natural outgrowth of this practice there was fabricated a secret theological system in which God was considered as the Grand Man and, conversely, man as the little god. Continuing this analogy, the universe was regarded as a man and, conversely, man as a miniature universe. The greater universe was termed the Macrocosm–the Great World or Body–and the Divine Life or spiritual entity controlling its functions was called the Macroprosophus. Man’s body, or the individual human universe, was termed the Microcosm, and the Divine Life or spiritual entity controlling its functions was called the Microprosophus. The pagan Mysteries were primarily concerned with instructing neophytes in the true relationship existing between the Macrocosm and the Microcosm–in other words, between God and man. Accordingly, the key to these analogies between the organs and functions of the Microcosmic man and those of the Macrocosmic Man constituted the most prized possession of the early initiates.

In Isis Unveiled, H. P. Blavatsky summarizes the pagan concept of man as follows:

“Man is a little world–a microcosm inside the great universe. Like a fetus, he is suspended, by all his three spirits, in the matrix of the macrocosmos; and while his terrestrial body is in constant sympathy with its parent earth, his astral soul lives in unison with the sidereal anima mundi. He is in it, as it is in him, for the world-pervading element fills all space, and is space itself, only shoreless and infinite. As to his third spirit, the divine, what is it but an infinitesimal ray, one of the countless radiations proceeding directly from the Highest Cause–the Spiritual Light of the World? This is the trinity of organic and inorganic nature–the spiritual and the physical, which are three in one, and of which Proclus says that ‘The first monad is the Eternal God; the second, eternity; the third, the paradigm, or pattern of the universe;’ the three constituting the Intelligible Triad.”

Long before the introduction of idolatry into religion, the early priests caused the statue of a man to be placed in the sanctuary of the temple. This human figure symbolized the Divine Power in all its intricate manifestations. Thus the priests of antiquity accepted man as their textbook, and through the study of him learned to understand the greater and more abstruse mysteries of the celestial scheme of which they were a part. It is not improbable that this mysterious figure standing over the primitive altars was made in the nature of a manikin and, like certain emblematic hands in the Mystery schools, was covered with either carved or painted hieroglyphs. The statue may have opened, thus showing the relative positions of the organs, bones, muscles, nerves, and other parts. After ages of research, the manikin became a mass of intricate hieroglyphs and symbolic figures. Every part had its secret meaning. The measurements formed a basic standard by means of which it was possible to measure all parts of cosmos. It was a glorious composite emblem of all the knowledge possessed by the sages and hierophants.

Then came the age of idolatry. The Mysteries decayed from within. The secrets were lost and none knew the identity of the mysterious man who stood over the altar. It was remembered only that the figure was a sacred and glorious symbol of the Universal Power, and it: finally came to be looked upon as a god–the One in whose image man was made. Having lost the knowledge of the purpose for which the manikin was originally constructed, the priests worshiped this effigy until at last their lack of spiritual understanding brought the temple down in ruins about their heads and the statue crumbled with the civilization that had forgotten its meaning.

Proceeding from this assumption of the first theologians that man is actually fashioned in the image of God, the initiated minds of past ages erected the stupendous structure of theology upon the foundation of the human body. The religious world of today is almost totally ignorant of the fact that the science of biology is the fountainhead of its doctrines and tenets. Many of the codes and laws believed by modern divines to have been direct revelations from Divinity are in reality the fruitage of ages of patient delving into the intricacies of the human constitution and the infinite wonders revealed by such a study.

In nearly all the sacred books of the world can be traced an anatomical analogy. This is most evident in their creation myths. Anyone familiar with embryology and obstetrics will have no difficulty in recognizing the basis of the allegory concerning Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden, the nine degrees of the Eleusinian Mysteries, and the Brahmanic legend of Vishnu’s incarnations. The story of the Universal Egg, the Scandinavian myth of Ginnungagap (the dark cleft in space in which the seed of the world is sown), and the use of the fish as the emblem of the paternal generative power–all show the true origin of theological speculation. The philosophers of antiquity realized that man himself was the key to the riddle of life, for he was the living image of the Divine Plan, and in future ages humanity also will come to realize more fully the solemn import of those ancient words: “The proper study of mankind is man.”

Both God and man have a twofold constitution, of which the superior part is invisible and the inferior visible. In both there is also an intermediary sphere, marking the point where these visible and invisible natures meet. As the spiritual nature of God controls His objective universal form-which is actually a crystallized idea–so the spiritual nature of man is the invisible cause and controlling power of his visible material personality. Thus it is evident that the spirit of man bears the same relationship to his material body that God bears to the objective universe. The Mysteries taught that spirit, or life, was anterior to form and that what is anterior includes all that is posterior to itself. Spirit being anterior to form, form is therefore included within the realm of spirit. It is also a popular statement or belief that man’s spirit is within his body. According to the conclusions of philosophy and theology, however, this belief is erroneous, for spirit first circumscribes an area and then manifests within it. Philosophically speaking, form, being a part of spirit, is within spirit; but: spirit is more than the sum of form, As the material nature of man is therefore within the sum of spirit, so the Universal Nature, including the entire sidereal system, is within the all-pervading essence of God–the Universal Spirit.

According to another concept of the ancient wisdom, all bodies–whether spiritual or material–have three centers, called by the Greeks the upper center, the middlecenter, and the lower center. An apparent ambiguity will here be noted. To diagram or symbolize adequately abstract mental verities is impossible, for the diagrammatic representation of one aspect of metaphysical relationships may be an actual contradiction of some other aspect. While that which



From Böhme’s Libri Apologetici.

The Tetragrammaton, or four-lettered Name of God, is here arranged as a tetractys within the inverted human heart. Beneath, the name Jehovah is shown transformed into Jehoshua by the interpolation of the radiant Hebrew letter סה, Shin. The drawing as a whole represents the throne of God and His hierarchies within the heart of man. In the first book of his Libri Apologetici, Jakob Böhme thus describes the meaning of the symbol: “For we men have one book in common which points to God. Each has it within himself, which is the priceless Name of God. Its letters are the flames of His love, which He out of His heart in the priceless Name of Jesus has revealed in us. Read these letters in your hearts and spirits and you have books enough. All the writings of the children of God direct you unto that one book, for therein lie all the treasures of wisdom. * * * This book is Christ in you.”

is above is generally considered superior in dignity and power, in reality that which is in the center is superior and anterior to both that which is said to be above and that which is said to be below. Therefore, it must be said that the first–which is considered as being above–is actually in the center, while both of the others (which are said to be either above or below) are actually beneath. This point can be further simplified if the reader will consider above as indicating degree of proximity to source and below as indicating degree of distance from source, source being posited in the actual center and relative distance being the various points along the radii from the center toward the circumference. In matters pertaining to philosophy and theology, up may be considered as toward the center and down as toward the circumference. Center is spirit; circumference is matter. Therefore, up is toward spirit along an ascending scale of spirituality; down is toward matter along an ascending scale of materiality. The latter concept is partly expressed by the apex of a cone which, when viewed from above, is seen as a point in the exact center of the circumference formed by the base of the cone.

These three universal centers–the one above, the one below, and the link uniting them-represent three suns or three aspects of one sun–centers of effulgence. These also have their analogues in the three grand centers of the human body, which, like the physical universe, is a Demiurgic fabrication.

“The first of these [suns],” says Thomas Taylor, “is analogous to light when viewed subsisting in its fountain the sun; the second to the light immediately proceeding from the sun; and the third to the splendour communicated to other natures by this light.”

Since the superior (or spiritual) center is in the midst of the other two, its analogue in the physical body is the heart–the most spiritual and mysterious organ in the human body. The second center (or the link between the superior and inferior worlds) is elevated to the position of greatest physical dignity–the brain. The third (or lower) center is relegated to the position of least physical dignity but greatest physical importance–the generative system. Thus the heart is symbolically the source of life; the brain the link by which, through rational intelligence, life and form are united; and the generative system–or infernal creator–the source of that power by which physical organisms are produced. The ideals and aspirations of the individual depend largely upon which of these three centers of power predominates in scope and activity of expression. In the materialist the lower center is the strongest, in the intellectualist the higher center; but in the initiate the middle center–by bathing the two extremes in a flood of spiritual effulgence–controls wholesomely both the mind and the body.

As light bears witness of life-which is its source-so the mind bears witness of the spirit, and activity in a still lower plane bears witness of intelligence. Thus the mind bears witness of the heart, while the generative system, in turn, bears witness of the mind. Accordingly, the spiritual nature is most commonly symbolized by a heart; the intellectual power by an opened eye, symbolizing the pineal gland or Cyclopean eye, which is the two-faced Janus of the pagan Mysteries; and the generative system by a flower, a staff, a cup, or a hand.

While all the Mysteries recognized the heart as the center of spiritual consciousness, they often purposely ignored this concept and used the heart in its exoteric sense as the symbol of the emotional nature, In this arrangement the generative center represented the physical body, the heart the emotional body, and the brain the mental body. The brain represented the superior sphere, but after the initiates had passed through the lower degrees they were instructed that the brain was the proxy of the spiritual flame dwelling in the innermost recesses of the heart. The student of esotericism discovers ere long that the ancients often resorted to various blinds to conceal the true interpretations of their Mysteries. The substitution of the brain for the heart was one of these blinds.

The three degrees of the ancient Mysteries were, with few exceptions, given in chambers which represented the three great centers of the human and Universal bodies. If possible, the temple itself was constructed in the form of the human body. The candidate entered between the feet and received the highest degree in the point corresponding to the brain. Thus the first degree was the material mystery and its symbol was the generative system; it raised the candidate through the various degrees of concrete thought. The second degree was given in the chamber corresponding to the heart, but represented the middle power which was the mental link. Here the candidate was initiated into the mysteries of abstract thought and lifted as high as the mind was capable of penetrating. He then passed into the third chamber, which, analogous to the brain, occupied the highest position in the temple but, analogous to the heart, was of the greatest dignity. In the brain chamber the heart mystery was given. Here the initiate for the first time truly comprehended the meaning of those immortal words: “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” As there are seven hearts in the brain so there are seven brains in the heart, but this is a matter of superphysics of which little can be said at the present time.

Proclus writes on this subject in the first book of On the Theology of Plato:

“Indeed, Socrates in the (First) Alcibiades rightly observes, that the soul entering into herself will behold all other things, and deity itself. For verging to her own union, and to the centre of all life, laying aside multitude, and the variety of the all manifold powers which she contains, she ascends to the highest watch-tower offerings. And as in the most holy of the mysteries, they say, that the mystics at first meet with the multi form, and many-shaped genera, which are hurled forth before the gods, but on entering the temple, unmoved, and guarded by the mystic rites, they genuinely receive in their bosom [heart] divine illumination, and divested of their garments, as they would say, participate of a divine nature; the same mode, as it appears to me, takes place in the speculation of wholes. For the soul when looking at things posterior to herself, beholds the shadows and images of beings, but when she converts herself to herself she evolves her own essence, and the reasons which she contains. And at first indeed, she only as it were beholds herself; but, when she penetrates more profoundly into the knowledge of herself, she finds in herself both intellect, and the orders of beings. When however, she proceeds into her interior recesses, and into the adytum as it were of the soul, she perceives with her eye closed [without the aid of the lower mind], the genus of the gods, and the unities of beings. For all things are in us psychically, and through this we are naturally capable of knowing all things, by exciting the powers and the images of wholes which we contain.”

The initiates of old warned their disciples that an image is not a reality but merely the objectification of a subjective idea. The image, of the gods were nor designed to be objects of worship but were to be regarded merely as emblems or reminders of invisible powers and principles. Similarly, the body of man must not be considered as the individual but only as the house of the individual, in the same manner that the temple was the House of God. In a state of grossness and perversion man’s body is the tomb or prison of a divine principle; in a state of unfoldment and regeneration it is the House or Sanctuary of the Deity by whose creative powers it was fashioned. “Personality is suspended upon a thread from the nature of Being,” declares the secret work. Man is essentially a permanent and immortal principle; only his bodies pass through the cycle of birth and death. The immortal is the reality; the mortal is the unreality. During each period of earth life, reality thus dwells in unreality, to be liberated from it temporarily by death and permanently by illumination.



From an old print, courtesy of Carl Oscar Borg.

Upon the twelve phalanges of the fingers, appear the likenesses of the Apostles, each bearing its own appropriate symbol. In the case of those who suffered martyrdom the symbol signifies the instrument of death. Thus, the symbol of St. Andrew is a cross; of St. Thomas, a javelin or a builder’s square; of St. James the Less, a club; of St Philip, a cross; of St. Bartholomew, a large knife or scimitar; of St. Matthew, a sword or spear (sometimes a purse); of St. Simon, a club or saw; of St. Matthias, an axe; and of St. Judas, a halbert. The Apostles whose symbols do not elate to their martyrdom are St. Peter, who carries two crossed keys, one gold and one silver; St. James the Great, who bears a pilgrim’s staff and an escalop shell; and St. John, who holds a cup from which the poison miraculously departed in the form of a serpent. (See Handbook of Christian Symbolism.) The figure of Christ upon the second phalange of the thumb does not follow the pagan system of assigning the first Person of the Creative Triad to this Position. God the Father should occupy the second Phalange, God the Son the first phalange, while to God the Holy Spirit is assigned the base of the thumb.–Also, according to the Philosophic arrangement, the Virgin should occupy the base of the thumb, which is sacred to the moon.

While generally regarded as polytheists, the pagans gained this reputation not because they worshiped more than one God but rather because they personified the attributes of this God, thereby creating a pantheon of posterior deities each manifesting a part of what the One God manifested as a whole. The various pantheons of ancient religions therefore actually represent the catalogued and personified attributes of Deity. In this respect they correspond to the hierarchies of the Hebrew Qabbalists. All the gods and goddesses of antiquity consequently have their analogies in the human body, as have also the elements, planets, and constellations which were assigned as proper vehicles for these celestials. Four body centers are assigned to the elements, the seven vital organs to the planets, the twelve principal parts and members to the zodiac, the invisible parts of man’s divine nature to various supermundane deities, while the hidden God was declared to manifest through the marrow in the bones.

It is difficult for many to realize that they are actual universes; that their physical bodies are a visible nature through the structure of which countless waves of evolving life are unfolding their latent potentialities. Yet through man’s physical body not only are a mineral, a plant, and an animal kingdom evolving, but also unknown classifications and divisions of invisible spiritual life. just as cells are infinitesimal units in the structure of man, so man is an infinitesimal unit in the structure of the universe. A theology based upon the knowledge and appreciation of these relationships is as profoundly just as it is profoundly true.

As man’s physical body has five distinct and important extremities–two legs, two arms, and a head, of which the last governs the first four–the number 5 has been accepted as the symbol of man. By its four corners the pyramid symbolizes the arms and legs, and by its apex the head, thus indicating that one rational power controls four irrational corners. The hands and feet are used to represent the four elements, of which the two feet are earth and water, and the two hands fire and air. The brain then symbolizes the sacred fifth element–æther–which controls and unites the other four. If the feet are placed together and the arms outspread, man then symbolizes the cross with the rational intellect as the head or upper limb.

The fingers and toes also have special significance. The toes represent the Ten Commandments of the physical law and the fingers the Ten Commandments of the spiritual law. The four fingers of each hand represent the four elements and the three phalanges of each finger represent the divisions of the element, so that in each hand there are twelve parts to the fingers, which are analogous to the signs of the zodiac, whereas the two phalanges and base of each thumb signify the threefold Deity. The first phalange corresponds to the creative aspect, the second to the preservative aspect, and the base to the generative and destructive aspect. When the hands are brought together, the result is the twenty-four Elders and the six Days of Creation.

In symbolism the body is divided vertically into halves, the right half being considered as light and the left half as darkness. By those unacquainted with the true meanings of light and darkness the light half was denominated spiritual and the left half material. Light is the symbol of objectivity; darkness of subjectivity. Light is a manifestation of life and is therefore posterior to life. That which is anterior to light is darkness, in which light exists temporarily but darkness permanently. As life precedes light, its only symbol is darkness, and darkness is considered as the veil which must eternally conceal the true nature of abstract and undifferentiated Being.

In ancient times men fought with their right arms and defended the vital centers with their left arms, on which was carried the protecting shield. The right half of the body was regarded therefore as offensive and the left half defensive. For this reason also the right side of the body was considered masculine and the left side feminine. Several authorities are of the opinion that the present prevalent right-handedness of the race is the outgrowth of the custom of holding the left hand in restraint for defensive purposes. Furthermore, as the source of Being is in the primal darkness which preceded light, so the spiritual nature of man is in the dark part of his being, for the heart is on the left side.

Among the curious misconceptions arising from the false practice of associating darkness with evil is one by which several early nations used the right hand for all constructive labors and the left hand for only those purposes termed unclean and unfit for the sight of the gods. For the same reason black magic was often referred to as the left-hand path, and heaven was said to be upon the right and hell upon the left. Some philosophers further declared that there were two methods of writing: one from left to right, which was considered the exoteric method; the other from right to left, which was considered esoteric. The exoteric writing was that which was done out or away from the heart, while the esoteric writing was that which–like the ancient Hebrew–was written toward the heart.

The secret doctrine declares that every part and member of the body is epitomized in the brain and, in turn, that all that is in the brain is epitomized in the heart. In symbolism the human head is frequently used to represent intelligence and self-knowledge. As the human body in its entirety is the most perfect known product of the earth’s evolution, it was employed to represent Divinity–the highest appreciable state or condition. Artists, attempting to portray Divinity, often show only a hand emerging from an impenetrable cloud. The cloud signifies the Unknowable Divinity concealed from man by human limitation. The hand signifies the Divine activity, the only part of God which is cognizable to the lower senses.

The face consists of a natural trinity: the eyes representing the spiritual power which comprehends; the nostrils representing the preservative and vivifying power; and the mouth and ears representing the material Demiurgic power of the lower world. The first sphere is eternally existent and is creative; the second sphere pertains to the mystery of the creative breach; and the third sphere



Redrawn from Gichtel’s Theosophia Practica.

Johann Georg Gichtel, a profound Philosopher and mystic, the most illumined of the disciples of Jakob Böhme, secretly circulated the above diagrams among a small group of devoted friends and students. Gichtel republished the writings of Böhme, illustrating them with numerous remarkable figures. According to Gichtel, the diagrams above, represent the anatomy of the divine (or inner) man, and graphically set forth its condition during its human, infernal, and divine states. The plates in the William Law edition of Böhme’s works are based apparently upon Gichtel’s diagrams, which they follow in all essentials. Gichtel gives no detailed description of his figures, and the lettering on the original diagrams here translated out of the German is the only clue to the interpretation of the charts.

The two end figures represent the obverse and reverse of the same diagram and are termed Table Three. They are “designed to show the Condition of the whole Man, as to all his three essential Parts, Spirit, Soul, and Body, in his Regenerated State.” The third figure from the left is called the Second Table, and sets forth “the Condition of Man in his old, lapsed, and corrupted State; without any respect to, or consideration of his renewing by regeneration.” The third figure, however, does not correspond with the First Table of William Law. The First Table presumably represents the condition of humanity before the Fall, but the Gichtel plate pertains to the third, or regenerated, state of mankind. William Law thus describes the purpose of the diagrams, and the symbols upon them: “These three tables are designed to represent Man in his different Threefold State: the First before his Fall, in Purity, Dominion, and Glory: the Second after his Fall, in Pollution and Perdition: and the Third in his rising from the Fall, or on the Way of regeneration, in Sanctification and Tendency to his last Perfection.” The student of Orientalism will immediately recognize in the symbols upon the figures the Hindu chakras, or centers of spiritual force, the various motions and aspects of which reveal the condition of the disciple’s internal divine nature.

to the creative word. By the Word of God the material universe was fabricated, and the seven creative powers, or vowel sounds–which had been brought into existence by the speaking of the Word–became the seven Elohim or Deities by whose power and ministration the lower world was organized. Occasionally the Deity is symbolized by an eye, an ear, a nose, or a mouth. By the first, Divine awareness is signified; by the second, Divine interest; by the third, Divine vitality; and by the fourth, Divine command.

The ancients did not believe that spirituality made men either righteous or rational, but rather that righteousness and rationality made men spiritual. The Mysteries taught that spiritual illumination was attained only by bringing the lower nature up to a certain standard of efficiency and purity. The Mysteries were therefore established for the purpose of unfolding the nature of man according to certain fixed rules which, when faithfully followed, elevated the human consciousness to a point where it was capable of cognizing its own constitution and the true purpose of existence. This knowledge of how man’s manifold constitution could be most quickly and most completely regenerated to the point of spiritual illumination constituted the secret, or esoteric, doctrine of antiquity. Certain apparently physical organs and centers are in reality the veils or sheaths of spiritual centers. What these were and how they could be unfolded was never revealed to the unregenerate, for the philosophers realized that once he understands the complete working of any system, a man may accomplish a prescribed end without being qualified to manipulate and control the effects which he has produced. For this reason long periods of probation were imposed, so that the knowledge of how to become as the gods might remain the sole possession of the worthy.

Lest that knowledge be lost, however, it was concealed in allegories and myths which were meaningless to the profane but self-evident to those acquainted with that theory of personal redemption which was the foundation of philosophical theology. Christianity itself may be cited as an example. The entire New Testament is in fact an ingeniously concealed exposition of the secret processes of human regeneration. The characters so long considered as historical men and women are really the personification of certain processes which take place in the human body when man begins the task of consciously liberating himself from the bondage of ignorance and death.

The garments and ornamentations supposedly worn by the gods are also keys, for in the Mysteries clothing was considered as synonymous with form. The degree of spirituality or materiality of the organisms was signified by the quality, beauty, and value of the garments worn. Man’s physical body was looked upon as the robe of his spiritual nature; consequently, the more developed were his super-substantial powers the more glorious his apparel. Of course, clothing was originally worn for ornamentation rather than protection, and such practice still prevails among many primitive peoples. The Mysteries caught that man’s only lasting adornments were his virtues and worthy characteristics; that he was clothed in his own accomplishments and adorned by his attainments. Thus the white robe was symbolic of purity, the red robe of sacrifice and love, and the blue robe of altruism and integrity. Since the body was said to be the robe of the spirit, mental or moral deformities were depicted as deformities of the body.

Considering man’s body as the measuring rule of the universe, the philosophers declared that all things resemble in constitution–if not in form–the human body. The Greeks, for example, declared Delphi to be the navel of the earth, for the physical planet was looked upon as a gigantic human being twisted into the form of a ball. In contradistinction to the belief of Christendom that the earth is an inanimate thing, the pagans considered not only the earth but also all the sidereal bodies as individual creatures possessing individual intelligences. They even went so far as to view the various kingdoms of Nature as individual entities. The animal kingdom, for example, was looked upon as one being–a composite of all the creatures composing that kingdom. This prototypic beast was a mosaic embodiment of all animal propensities and within its nature the entire animal world existed as the human species exists within the constitution of the prototypic Adam.

In the same manner, races, nations, tribes, religions, states, communities, and cities were viewed as composite entities, each made up of varying numbers of individual units. Every community has an individuality which is the sum of the individual attitudes of its inhabitants. Every religion is an individual whose body is made up of a hierarchy and vast host of individual worshipers. The organization of any religion represents its physical body, and its individual members the cell life making up this organism. Accordingly, religions, races, and communities–like individuals–pass through Shakespeare’s Seven Ages, for the life of man is a standard by which the perpetuity of all things is estimated.

According to the secret doctrine, man, through the gradual refinement of his vehicles and the ever-increasing sensitiveness resulting from that refinement, is gradually overcoming the limitations of matter and is disentangling himself from his mortal coil. When humanity has completed its physical evolution, the empty shell of materiality left behind will be used by other life waves as steppingstones to their own liberation. The trend of man’s evolutionary growth is ever toward his own essential Selfhood. At the point of deepest materialism, therefore, man is at the greatest distance from Himself. According to the Mystery teachings, not all the spiritual nature of man incarnates in matter. The spirit of man is diagrammatically shown as an equilateral triangle with one point downward. This lower point, which is one-third of the spiritual nature but in comparison to the dignity of the other two is much less than a third, descends into the illusion of material existence for a brief space of time. That which never clothes itself in the sheath of matter is the Hermetic Anthropos–the Overman– analogous to the Cyclops or guardiandæmon of the Greeks, the angel of Jakob Böhme, and the Oversoul of Emerson, “that Unity, that Oversoul, within which every man’s particular being is contained and made one with all other.”

At birth only a third part of the Divine Nature of man temporarily dissociates itself from its own immortality and takes upon itself the dream of physical birth and existence, animating with its own celestial enthusiasm a vehicle composed of material elements, part of and bound to the material sphere. At death this incarnated part awakens from the dream of physical existence and reunites itself once more with its eternal condition. This periodical descent of spirit into matter is termed the wheel of life and death, and the principles involved are treated at length by the philosophers under the subject of metempsychosis. By initiation into the Mysteries and a certain process known as operative theology, this law of birth and death is transcended, and during the course of physical existence that part of the spirit which is asleep in form is awakened without the intervention of death–the inevitable Initiator–and is consciously reunited with the Anthropos, or the overshadowing substance of itself. This is at once the primary purpose and the consummate achievement of the Mysteries: that man shall become aware of and consciously be reunited with the divine source of himself without tasting of physical dissolution.




From Law’s Figures of Jakob Böhme.

Just as the diagram representing the front view of man illustrates his divine principles in their regenerated state, so the back view of the same figure sets forth the inferior, or “night,” condition of the sun. From the Sphere of the Astral Mind a line ascends through the Sphere of reason into that of the Senses. The Sphere of the Astral Mind and of the Senses are filled with stars to signify the nocturnal condition of their natures. In the sphere of reason, the superior and the inferior are reconciled, Reason in the mortal man corresponding to Illumined Understanding in the spiritual man.




From Law’s Figures of Jakob Böhme.

A tree with its roots in the heart rises from the Mirror of the Deity through the Sphere of the Understanding to branch forth in the Sphere of the Senses. The roots and trunk of this tree represent the divine nature of man and may be called his spirituality; the branches of the tree are the separate parts of the divine constitution and may be likened to the individuality; and the leaves–because of their ephemeral nature–correspond to the personality, which partakes of none of the permanence of its divine source.

The Hiramic Legend

WHEN Solomon–the beloved of God, builder of the Everlasting House, and Grand Master of the Lodge of Jerusalem–ascended the throne of his father David he consecrated his life to the erection of a temple to God and a palace for the kings of Israel. David’s faithful friend, Hiram, King of Tyre, hearing that a son of David sat upon the throne of Israel, sent messages of congratulation and offers of assistance to the new ruler. In his History of the Jews, Josephus mentions that copies of the letters passing between the two kings were then to be seen both at Jerusalem and at Tyre. Despite Hiram’s lack of appreciation for the twenty cities of Galilee which Solomon presented to him upon the completion of the temple, the two monarchs remained the best of friends. Both were famous for their wit and wisdom, and when they exchanged letters each devised puzzling questions to test the mental ingenuity of the other. Solomon made an agreement with Hiram of Tyre promising vast amounts of barley, wheat, corn, wine, and oil as wages for the masons and carpenters from Tyre who were to assist the Jews in the erection of the temple. Hiram also supplied cedars and other fine trees, which were made into rafts and floated down the sea to Joppa, whence they were taken inland by Solomon’s workmen to the temple site.

Because of his great love for Solomon, Hiram of Tyre sent also the Grand Master of the Dionysiac Architects, CHiram Abiff, a Widow’s Son, who had no equal among the craftsmen of the earth. CHiram is described as being “a Tyrian by birch, but of Israelitish descent,” and “a second Bezaleel, honored by his king with the title of Father.” The Freemason’s Pocket Companion (published in 1771) describes CHiram as “the most cunning, skilful and curious workman that ever lived, whose abilities were not confined to building alone, but extended to all kinds of work, whether in gold, silver, brass or iron; whether in linen, tapestry, or embroidery; whether considered as an architect, statuary [sic]; founder or designer, separately or together, he equally excelled. From his designs, and under his direction, all the rich and splendid furniture of the Temple and its several appendages were begun, carried on, and finished. Solomon appointed him, in his absence, to fill the chair, as Deputy Grand-Master; and in his presence, Senior Grand-Warden, Master of work, and general overseer of all artists, as well those whom David had formerly procured from Tyre and Sidon, as those Hiram should now send.” (Modem Masonic writers differ as to the accuracy of the last sentence.)

Although an immense amount of labor was involved in its construction, Solomon’s Temple–in the words of George Oliver–“was only a small building and very inferior in point of size to some of our churches.” The number of buildings contiguous to it and the vast treasure of gold and precious stones used in its construction concentrated a great amount of wealth within the temple area. In the midst of the temple stood the Holy of Holies, sometimes called the Oracle. It was an exact cube, each dimension being twenty cubits, and exemplified the influence of Egyptian symbolism. The buildings of the temple group were ornamented with 1,453 columns of Parian marble, magnificently sculptured, and 2,906 pilasters decorated with capitals. There was a broad porch facing the east, and the sanctum sanctorum was upon the west. According to tradition, the various buildings and courtyards could hold in all 300,000 persons. Both the Sanctuary and the Holy of Holies were entirely lined with solid gold plates encrusted with jewels.

King Solomon began the building of the temple in the fourth year of his reign on what would be, according to modern calculation, the 21st day of April, and finished it in the eleventh year of his reign on the 23rd day of October. The temple was begun in the 480th year after the children of Israel had passed the Red Sea. Part of the labor of construction included the building of an artificial foundation on the brow of Mount Moriah. The stones for the temple were hoisted from quarries directly beneath Mount Moriah and were trued before being brought to the surface. The brass and golden ornaments for the temple were cast in molds in the clay ground between Succoth and Zeredatha, and the wooden parts were all finished before they reached the temple site. The building was put together, consequently, without sound and without instruments, all its parts fitting exactly “without the hammer of contention, the axe of division, or any tool of mischief.”

Anderson’s much-discussed Constitutions of the Free-Masons, published in London in 1723, and reprinted by Benjamin Franklin in Philadelphia in 1734, thus describes the division of the laborers engaged in the building of the Everlasting House:

“But Dagon’s Temple, and the finest structures of Tyre and Sidon, could not be compared with the Eternal God’s Temple at Jerusalem, * * * there were employed about it no less than 3,600 Princes, or Master-Masons, to conduct the work according to Solomon’s directions, with 80,000 hewers of stone in the mountain, or Fellow Craftsmen, and 70,000 labourers, in all 153,600 besides the levy under Adoniram to work in the mountains of Lebanon by turns with the Sidonians, viz., 30,000, being in all 183,600.”

Daniel Sickels gives 3,300 overseers, instead of 3,600, and lists the three Grand Masters separately. The same author estimates the cost of the temple at nearly four thousand millions of dollars.

The Masonic legend of the building of Solomon’s Temple does not in every particular parallel the Scriptural version, especially in those portions relating to CHiram Abiff. According to the Biblical account, this Master workman returned to his own country; in the Masonic allegory he is foully murdered. On this point A. E. Waite, in his New Encyclopædia of Freemasonry, makes the following explanatory comment:

“The legend of the Master-Builder is the great allegory of Masonry. It happens that his figurative story is grounded on the fact of a personality mentioned in Holy Scripture, but this historical background is of the accidents and not the essence; the significance is in the allegory and not in any point of history which may lie behind it.”

CHiram, as Master of the Builders, divided his workmen into three groups, which were termed Entered Apprentices, Fellow-Craftsmen, and Master Masons. To each division he gave certain



From an early hand-painted Masonic apron.

While the mystic symbolism of Freemasonry decrees that the apron shall be a simple square of white lambskin with appropriate flap, Masonic aprons are frequently decorated with curious and impressive figures. “When silk cotton, or linen is worn,” writes Albert Pike, “the symbolism is lost. Nor is one clothed who blots, defaces, and desecrates the white surface with ornamentation, figuring, or colors of any kind.” (See Symbolism.)

To Mars, the ancient plane of cosmic energy, the Atlantean and Chaldean “star gazers” assigned Aries as a diurnal throne and Scorpio as a nocturnal throne. Those not raised to spiritual life by initiation are described as “dead from the sting of a scorpion,” for they wander in the night side of divine power. Through the mystery of the Paschal Lamb, or the attainment of the Golden Fleece, these soul are raised into the constructive day Power of Mars in Aries–the symbol of the Creator.

When worn over the area related to the animal passions, the pure lambskin signifies the regeneration of the procreative forces and their consecration to the service of the Deity. The size of the apron, exclusive of the flap, makes it the symbol of salvation, for the Mysteries declare that it must consist of 144 square inches.

The apron shown above contains a wealth of symbolism: the beehive, emblematic of the Masonic lodge itself, the trowel, the mallet, and the trestleboad; the rough and trued ashlars; the pyramids and hills of Lebanon; the pillars, the Temple, and checkerboard floor; and the blazing star and tools of the Craft. The center of the apron is occupied by the compass and square, representative of the Macrocosm an the microcosm, and the alternately black and white serpent of astral light. Below is an acacia branch with seven sprigs, signifying the life Centers of the superior and the inferior man. The skull and cross bones are a continual reminder that the spiritual nature attains liberation only after the philosophical death of man’s sensuous personality.

passwords and signs by which their respective excellence could be quickly determined. While all were classified according to their merits some were dissatisfied, for they desired a more exalted position than they were capable of filling. At last three Fellow-Craftsmen, more daring than their companions, determined to force CHiram to reveal to them the password of the Master’s degree. Knowing that CHiram always went into the unfinished sanctum sanctorum at high noon to pray, these ruffians–whose names were Jubela, Jubelo, and Jubelum–lay in wait for him, one at each of the main gates of the temple. CHiram, about to leave the temple by the south gate, was suddenly confronted by Jubela armed with a twenty-four-inch gauge. Upon CHiram’s refusal to reveal the Master’s Word, the ruffian struck him on the throat with the rule, and the wounded Master then hastened to the west gate, where Jubelo, armed with a square, awaited him and made a similar demand. Again CHiram was silent, and the second assassin struck him on the breast with the square. CHiram thereupon staggered to the east gate, only to be met there by Jubelum armed with a maul. When CHiram, refused him the Master’s Word, Jubelum struck the Master between the eyes with the mallet and CHiram fell dead.

The body of CHiram was buried by the murderers over the brow of Mount Moriah and a sprig of acacia placed upon the grave. The murderers then sought to escape punishment for their crime by embarking for Ethiopia, but the port was closed. All three were finally captured, and after admitting their guilt were duly executed. Parties of three were then sent out by King Solomon, and one of these groups discovered the newly made grave marked by the evergreen sprig. After the Entered Apprentices and the Fellow-Craftsmen had failed to resurrect their Master from the dead he was finally raised by the Master Mason with the “strong grip of a Lion’s Paw.”

To the initiated Builder the name CHiram Abiff signifies “My Father, the Universal Spirit, one in essence, three in aspect.” Thus the murdered Master is a type of the Cosmic Martyr–the crucified Spirit of Good, the dying god–whose Mystery is celebrated throughout the world. Among the manuscripts of Dr. Sigismund Bastrom, the initiated Rosicrucian, appears the following extract from von Welling concerning the true philosophic nature of the Masonic CHiram:

“The original word חירם, CHiram, is a radical word consisting of three consonants ח ר and ם i. e. Cheth, Resh and Mem. (1) ח, Cheth, signifiesChamah, the Sun’s light, i. e. the Universal, invisible, cold fire of Nature attracted by the Sun, manifested into light and sent down to us and to every planetary body belonging to the solar system. (2) ר, Resh, signifies ריח Ruach, i. e. Spirit, air, wind, as being the Vehicle which conveys and collects the light into numberless Foci, wherein the solar rays of light are agitated by a circular motion and manifested in Heat and burning Fire. (3) ם, or מMem, signifies majim, water, humidity, but rather the mother of water, i. e. Radical Humidity or a particular kind of condensed air. These three constitute the Universal Agent or fire of Nature in one word, חירם, CHiram, not Hiram.”

Albert Pike mentions several forms of the name CHiram: Khirm, Khurm, and Khur-Om, the latter ending in the sacred Hindu monosyllable OM, which may also be extracted from the names of the three murderers. Pike further relates the three ruffians to a triad of stars in the constellation of Libra and also calls attention to the fact that the Chaldean god Bal–metamorphosed into a demon by the Jews–appears in the name of each of the murderers, Jubela, Jubelo, and Jubelum. To interpret the Hiramic legend requires familiarity with both the Pythagorean and Qabbalistic systems of numbers and letters, and also the philosophic and astronomic cycles of the Egyptians, Chaldeans, and Brahmins. For example, consider the number 33. The first temple of Solomon stood for thirty-three years in its pristine splendor. At the end of that time it was pillaged by the Egyptian King Shishak, and finally (588 B.C.) it was completely destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar and the people of Jerusalem were led into captivity to Babylon. (See General History of Freemasonry, by Robert Macoy.) Also King David ruled for thirty-three years in Jerusalem; the Masonic Order is divided into thirty-three symbolic degrees; there are thirty-three segments in the human spinal column; and Jesus was crucified in the thirty-third year of His life.

The efforts made to discover the origin of the Hiramic legend show that, while the legend in its present form is comparatively modem, its underlying principles run back to remotest antiquity. It is generally admitted by modem Masonic scholars that the story of the martyred CHiram is based upon the Egyptian rites of Osiris, whose death and resurrection figuratively portrayed the spiritual death of man and his regeneration through initiation into the Mysteries. CHiram is also identified with Hermes through the inscription on the Emerald Table. From these associations it is evident that CHiram is to be considered as a prototype of humanity; in fact he is Plato’s Idea (archetype) of man. As Adam after the Fall symbolizes the Idea of human degeneration, so CHiram through his resurrection symbolizes the Idea of human regeneration.

On the 19th day of March, 1314, Jacques de Molay, the last Grand Master of the Knights Templars, was burned on a pyre erected upon that point of the islet of the Seine, at Paris, where afterwards was erected the statue of King Henry IV. (See The Indian Religions, by Hargrave Jennings.)

“It is mentioned as a tradition in some of the accounts of the burning,” writes Jennings, “that Molay, ere he expired, summoned Clement, the Pope who had pronounced the bull of abolition against the Order and had condemned the Grand Master to the flames, to appear, within forty days, before the Supreme Eternal judge, and Philip [the king] to the same awful tribunal within the space of a year. Both predictions were fulfilled.”

The close relationship between Freemasonry and the original Knights Templars has caused the story of CHiram to be linked with the martyrdom of Jacques de Molay. According to this interpretation, the three ruffians who cruelly slew their Master at the gates of the temple because he refused to reveal the secrets of his Order represent the Pope, the king, and the executioners. De Molay died maintaining his innocence and refusing to disclose the philosophical and magical arcana of the Templars.

Those who have sought to identify CHiram with the murdered King Charles the First conceive the Hiramic legend to have been invented for that purpose by Elias Ashmole, a mystical philosopher, who was probably a member of the Rosicrucian Fraternity. Charles was dethroned in 1647 and died on the block in 1649, leaving the Royalist party leaderless. An attempt has been made to relate the term “the Sons of the Widow” (an appellation frequently applied to members of the Masonic Order) to this incident in English history, for by the murder of her king England became a Widow and all Englishmen Widow’s Sons.

To the mystic Christian Mason, CHiram. represents the Christ who in three days (degrees) raised the temple of His body from its earthly sepulcher. His three murderers were Cæsar’s agent (the state), the Sanhedrin (the church), and the incited populace (the mob). Thus considered, CHiram becomes the higher nature of man and the murderers are ignorance, superstition, and fear. The indwelling Christ can give expression to Himself in this world only through man’s thoughts, feelings, and actions. Right thinking, right feeling, and right action–these are three gates through which the Christ power passes into the material world, there to labor in the erection of the Temple of Universal Brotherhood. Ignorance, superstition, and fear are three ruffians through whose agencies the Spirit of Good is murdered and a false kingdom, controlled by wrong thinking, wrong feeling, and wrong action, established in its stead. In the material universe evil appears ever victorious.

“In this sense,” writes Daniel Sickels, “the myth of the Tyrian is perpetually repeated in the history of human affairs. Orpheus was murdered, and his body thrown into the Hebrus; Socrates was made to drink the hemlock; and, in all ages, we have seen Evil temporarily triumphant, and Virtue and Truth calumniated, persecuted, crucified, and slain. But Eternal justice marches surely and swiftly through the world: the Typhons, the children of darkness, the plotters of crime, all the infinitely varied forms of evil, are swept into oblivion; and Truth and Virtue–for a time laid low–come forth, clothed with diviner majesty, and crowned with everlasting glory!” (See General Ahiman Rezon.)

If, as there is ample reason to suspect, the modern Freemasonic Order was profoundly influenced by, if it is not an actual outgrowth of, Francis Bacon’s secret society, its symbolism is undoubtedly permeated with Bacon’s two great ideals: universal education and universal democracy. The deadly enemies of universal education are ignorance, superstition, and fear, by which the human soul is held in bondage to the lowest part of its own constitution. The arrant enemies of universal democracy have ever been the crown, the tiara, and the torch. Thus CHiram symbolizes that ideal state of spiritual, intellectual, and physical emancipation which has ever been sacrificed upon the altar of human selfishness. CHiram is the Beautifier of the Eternal House. Modern utilitarianism, however, sacrifices the beautiful for the practical, in the same breath declaring the obvious lie that selfishness, hatred, and discord are practical.

Dr. Orville Ward Owen found a considerable part of the first



From Montfaucon’s Antiquities.

A hand covered with numerous symbols was extended to the neophytes when they entered into the Temple of Wisdom. An understanding of the embossed upon the surface of the hand brought with it Divine power and regeneration Therefore, by means of these symbolic hands the candidate was said to be raised from the dead.

thirty-two degrees of Freemasonic ritualism hidden in the text of the First Shakespeare Folio. Masonic emblems are to be observed also upon the title pages of nearly every book published by Bacon. Sir Francis Bacon considered himself as a living sacrifice upon the altar of human need; he was obviously cut down in the midst of his labors, and no student of his New Atlantis can fail to recognize the Masonic symbolism contained therein. According to the observations of Joseph Fort Newton, the Temple of Solomon described by Bacon in that utopian romance was not a house at all but the name of an ideal state. Is it not true that the Temple of Freemasonry is also emblematic of a condition of society? While, as before stated, the principles of the Hiramic legend are of the greatest antiquity, it is not impossible that its present form may be based upon incidents in the life of Lord Bacon, who passed through the philosophic death and was raised in Germany.

In an old manuscript appears the statement that the Freemasonic Order was formed by alchemists and Hermetic philosophers who had banded themselves together to protect their secrets against the infamous methods used by avaricious persons to wring from them the secret of gold-making. The fact that the Hiramic legend contains an alchemical formula gives credence to this story. Thus the building of Solomon’s Temple represents the consummation of the magnum opus, which cannot be realized without the assistance of CHiram, the Universal Agent. The Masonic Mysteries teach the initiate how to prepare within his own soul a miraculous powder of projection by which it is possible for him to transmute the base lump of human ignorance, perversion, and discord into an ingot of spiritual and philosophic gold.

Sufficient similarity exists between the Masonic CHiram and the Kundalini of Hindu mysticism to warrant the assumption that CHiram may be considered a symbol also of the Spirit Fire moving through the sixth ventricle of the spinal column. The exact science of human regeneration is the Lost Key of Masonry, for when the Spirit Fire is lifted up through the thirty-three degrees, or segments of the spinal column, and enters into the domed chamber of the human skull, it finally passes into the pituitary body (Isis), where it invokes Ra (the pineal gland) and demands the Sacred Name. Operative Masonry, in the fullest meaning of that term, signifies the process by which the Eye of Horus is opened. E. A. Wallis Budge has noted that in some of the papyri illustrating the entrance of the souls of the dead into the judgment hall of Osiris the deceased person has a pine cone attached to the crown of his head. The Greek mystics also carried a symbolic staff, the upper end being in the form of a pine cone, which was called the thyrsus of Bacchus. In the human brain there is a tiny gland called the pineal body, which is the sacred eye of the ancients, and corresponds to the third eye of the Cyclops. Little is known concerning the function of the pineal body, which Descartes suggested (more wisely than he knew) might be the abode of the spirit of man. As its name signifies, the pineal gland is the sacred pine cone in man–the eye single, which cannot be opened until CHiram (the Spirit Fire) is raised through the sacred seals which are called the Seven Churches in Asia.

There is an Oriental painting which shows three sun bursts. One sunburst covers the head, in the midst of which sits Brahma with four heads, his body a mysterious dark color. The second sunburst–which covers the heart, solar plexus, and upper abdominal region–shows Vishnu sitting in the blossom of the lotus on a couch formed of the coils of the serpent of cosmic motion, its seven-hooded head forming a canopy over the god. The third sunburst is over the generative system, in the midst of which sits Shiva, his body a grayish white and the Ganges River flowing out of the crown of his head. This painting was the work of a Hindu mystic who spent many years subtly concealing great philosophical principles within these figures. The Christian legends could be related also to the human body by the same method as the Oriental, for the arcane meanings hidden in the teachings of both schools are identical.

As applied to Masonry, the three sunbursts represent the gates of the temple at which CHiram was struck, there being no gate in the north because the sun never shines from the northern angle of the heavens. The north is the symbol of the physical because of its relation to ice (crystallized water) and to the body (crystallized spirit). In man the light shines toward the north but never from it, because the body has no light of its own but shines with the reflected glory of the divine life-particles concealed within physical substance. For this reason the moon is accepted as the symbol of man’s physical nature. CHiram is the mysterious fiery, airy water which must be raised through the three grand centers symbolized by the ladder with three rungs and the sunburst flowers mentioned in the description of the Hindu painting. It must also pass upward by means of the ladder of seven rungs-the seven plexuses proximate to the spine. The nine segments of the sacrum and coccyx are pierced by ten foramina, through which pass the roots of the Tree of Life. Nine is the sacred number of man, and in the symbolism of the sacrum and coccyx a great mystery is concealed. That part of the body from the kidneys downward was termed by the early Qabbalists the Land of Egypt into which the children of Israel were taken during the captivity. Out of Egypt, Moses (the illuminated mind, as his name implies) led the tribes of Israel (the twelve faculties) by raising the brazen serpent in the wilderness upon the symbol of the Tau cross. Not only CHiram but the god-men of nearly every pagan Mystery ritual are personifications of the Spirit Fire in the human spinal cord.

The astronomical aspect of the Hiramic legend must not be overlooked. The tragedy of CHiram is enacted annually by the sun during its passage through the signs of the zodiac.

“From the journey of the Sun through the twelve signs,” writes Albert Pike, “come the legend of the twelve labors of Hercules, and the incarnations of Vishnu and Buddha. Hence came the legend of the murder of Khurum, representative of the Sun, by the three Fellow-Crafts, symbols of the Winter signs, Capricornus, Aquarius, and Pisces, who assailed him at the three gates of Heaven and slew him at the Winter Solstice. Hence the search for him by the nine Fellow-Crafts, the other nine signs, his finding, burial, and resurrection.” (See Morals and Dogma.)

Other authors consider Libra, Scorpio, and Sagittarius as the three murderers of the sun, inasmuch as Osiris was murdered by Typhon, to whom were assigned the thirty degrees of the constellation of Scorpio. In the Christian Mysteries also Judas signifies the Scorpion, and the thirty pieces of silver for which he betrayed His Lord represent the number of degrees in that sign. Having been struck by Libra (the state), Scorpio (the church), and Sagittarius (the mob), the sun (CHiram) is secretly home through the darkness by the signs of Capricorn, Aquarius, and Pisces and buried over the brow of a hill (the vernal equinox). Capricorn has for its symbol an old man with a scythe in his hand. This is Father Time–a wayfarer–who is symbolized in Masonry as straightening out the ringlets of a young girl’s hair. If the Weeping Virgin be considered a symbol of Virgo, and Father Time with his scythe a symbol of Capricorn, then the interval of ninety degrees between these two signs will be found to correspond to that occupied by the three murderers. Esoterically, the urn containing the ashes of CHiram represents the human heart. Saturn, the old man who lives at the north pole, and brings with him to the children of men a sprig of evergreen (the Christmas tree), is familiar to the little folks under the name of Santa Claus, for he brings each winter the gift of a new year.

The martyred sun is discovered by Aries, a Fellow-Craftsman, and at the vernal equinox the process of raising him begins. This is finally accomplished by the Lion of Judah, who in ancient times occupied the position of the keystone of the Royal Arch of Heaven. The precession of the equinoxes causes various signs to play the rôle of the murderers of the sun during the different ages of the world, but the principle involved remains unchanged. Such is the cosmic story of CHiram, the Universal Benefactor, the Fiery Architect: of the Divine House, who carries with him to the grave that Lost Word which, when spoken, raises all life to power and glory. According to Christian mysticism, when the Lost Word is found it is discovered in a stable, surrounded by beasts and marked by a star. “After the sun leaves Leo,” writes Robert Hewitt Brown, “the days begin to grow unequivocally shorter as the sun declines toward the autumnal equinox, to be again slain by thethree autumnal months, lie dead through the three winter ones, and be raised again by the three vernal ones. Each year the great tragedy is repeated, and the glorious resurrection takes place.” (See Stellar Theology and Masonic Astronomy.)

CHiram is termed dead because in the average individual the cosmic creative forces are limited in their manifestation to purely physical–and correspondingly materialistic–expression. Obsessed by his belief in the reality and permanence of physical existence, man does not correlate the material universe with the blank north wall of the temple. As the solar light symbolically is said to die as it approaches the winter solstice, so the physical world may be termed



From Montfaucon’s Antiquities.

Crowned with a triple tower-like tiara and her form adorned with symbolic creatures representative of her spiritual powers, Diana stood for the source of that imperishable doctrine which, flowing from the bosom of the Great Multimammia, is the spiritual food of those aspiring men and women who have consecrated their lives to the contemplation of reality. As the physical body of man receives its nutriment from the Great Earth Mother, so the spiritual nature of man is fed from the never failing fountains of Truth pouring outward from the invisible worlds.

the winter solstice of the spirit. Reaching the winter solstice, the sun apparently stands still for three days and then, rolling away the stone of winter, begins its triumphal march north towards the summer solstice. The condition of ignorance may be likened to the winter solstice of philosophy; spiritual understanding to the summer solstice. From this point of view, initiation into the Mysteries becomes the vernal equinox of the spirit, at which time the CHiram in man crosses from the realm of mortality into that of eternal life. The autumnal equinox is analogous to the mythological fall of man, at which time the human spirit descended into the realms of Hades by being immersed in the illusion of terrestrial existence.

In An Essay on the Beautiful, Plotinus describes the refining effect of beauty upon the unfolding consciousness of man. Commissioned to decorate the Everlasting House, CHiram Abiff is the embodiment of the beautifying principle. Beauty is essential to the natural unfoldment of the human soul. The Mysteries held that man, in part at least, was the product of his environment. Therefore they considered it imperative that every person be surrounded by objects which would evoke the highest and noblest sentiments. They proved that it was possible to produce beauty in life by surrounding life with beauty. They discovered that symmetrical bodies were built by souls continuously in the presence of symmetrical bodies; that noble thoughts were produced by minds surrounded by examples of mental nobility. Conversely, if a man were forced to look upon an ignoble or asymmetrical structure it would arouse within him a sense of ignobility which would provoke him to commit ignoble deeds. If an ill-proportioned building were erected in the midst of a city there would be ill-proportioned children born in that community; and men and women, gazing upon the asymmetrical structure, would live inharmonious lives. Thoughtful men of antiquity realized that their great philosophers were the natural products of the æsthetic ideals of architecture, music, and art established as the standards of the cultural systems of the time.

The substitution of the discord of the fantastic for the harmony of the beautiful constitutes one of the great tragedies of every civilization. Not only were the Savior-Gods of the ancient world beautiful, but each performed a ministry of beauty, seeking to effect man’s regeneration by arousing within him the love of the beautiful. A renaissance of the golden age of fable can be made possible only by the elevation of beauty to its rightful dignity as the all-pervading, idealizing quality in the religious, ethical, sociological, scientific, and political departments of life. The Dionysiac Architects were consecrated to the raising of their Master Spirit–Cosmic Beauty–from the sepulcher of material ignorance and selfishness by erecting buildings which were such perfect exemplars of symmetry and majesty that they were actually magical formulæ by which was evoked the spirit of the martyred Beautifier entombed within a materialistic world.

In the Masonic Mysteries the triune spirit of man (the light Delta) is symbolized by the three Grand Masters of the Lodge of Jerusalem. As God is the pervading principle of three worlds, in each of which He manifests as an active principle, so the spirit of man, partaking of the nature of Divinity, dwells upon three planes of being: the Supreme, the Superior, and the Inferior spheres of the Pythagoreans. At the gate of the Inferior sphere (the underworld, or dwelling place of mortal creatures) stands the guardian of Hades–the three–headed dog Cerberus, who is analogous to the three murderers of the Hiramic legend. According to this symbolic interpretation of the triune spirit, CHiram is the third, or incarnating, part–the Master Builder who through all ages erects living temples of flesh and blood as shrines of the Most High. CHiram comes forth as a flower and is cut down; he dies at the gates of matter; he is buried in the elements of creation, but–like Thor–he swings his mighty hammer in the fields of space, sets the primordial atoms in motion, and establishes order out of Chaos. As the potentiality of cosmic power within each human soul, CHiram lies waiting for man by the elaborate ritualism of life to transmute potentiality into divine potency. As the sense perceptions of the individual increase, however, man gains ever greater control over his various parts, and the spirit of life within gradually attains freedom. The three murderers represent the laws of the Inferior world–birth, growth, and decay–which ever frustrate the plan of the Builder. To the average individual, physical birch actually signifies the death of CHiram, and physical death the resurrection of CHiram. To the initiate, however, the resurrection of the spiritual nature is accomplished without the intervention of physical death.

The curious symbols found in the base of Cleopatra’s Needle now standing in Central Park, New York, were interpreted as being of first Masonic significance by S. A. Zola, 33° Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Egypt. Masons’ marks and symbols are to be found on the stones of numerous public buildings not only in England and on the Continent but also in Asia. In his Indian Masons’ Marks of the Moghul Dynasty, A. Gorham describes scores of markings appearing on the walls of buildings such as the Taj Mahal, the Jama Masjid, and that: famous Masonic structure, the Kutab Minar. According to those who regard Masonry as an outgrowth of the secret society of architects and builders which for thousands of years formed a caste of master craftsmen, CHiram Abiff was the Tyrian Grand Master of a world-wide organization of artisans, with headquarters in Tyre. Their philosophy consisted of incorporating into the measurements and ornamentation of temples, palaces, mausoleums, fortresses, and other public buildings their knowledge of the laws controlling the universe. Every initiated workman was given a hieroglyphic with which he marked the stones he trued to show to all posterity that he thus dedicated to the Supreme Architect of the Universe each perfected product of his labor. Concerning Masons’ marks, Robert Freke Gould writes:

“It is very remarkable that these marks are to be found in all countries–in the chambers of the Great Pyramid at Gizeh, on the underground walls of Jerusalem, in Herculaneum and Pompeii, on Roman walls and Grecian temples, in Hindustan, Mexico, Peru, Asia Minor–as well as on the great ruins of England, France, Germany, Scotland, Italy, Portugal and Spain.” (See A Concise History of Freemasonry.)

From this viewpoint the story of CHiram may well represent the incorporation of the divine secrets of architecture into the actual parts and dimensions of earthly buildings. The three degrees of the Craft bury the Grand Master (the Great Arcanum) in the actual structure they erect, after first having killed him with the builders’ tools, by reducing the dimensionless Spirit of Cosmic Beauty to the limitations of concrete form. These abstract ideals of architecture can be resurrected, however, by the Master Mason who, by meditating upon the structure, releases therefrom the divine principles of architectonic philosophy incorporated or buried within it. Thus the physical building is actually the tomb or embodiment of the Creative Ideal of which its material dimensions are but the shadow.

Moreover, the Hiramic legend may be considered to embody the vicissitudes of philosophy itself. As institutions for the dissemination of ethical culture, the pagan Mysteries were the architects of civilization. Their power and dignity were personified in CHiram Abiff–the Master Builder–but they eventually fell a victim to the onslaughts of that recurrent trio of state, church, and mob. They were desecrated by the state, jealous of their wealth and power; by the early church, fearful of their wisdom; and by the rabble or soldiery incited by both state and church. As CHiram when raised from his grave whispers the Master Mason’s Word which was lost through his untimely death, so according to the tenets of philosophy the reestablishment or resurrection of the ancient Mysteries will result in the rediscovery of that secret teaching without which civilization must continue in a state of spiritual confusion and uncertainty.

When the mob governs, man is ruled by ignorance; when the church governs, he is ruled by superstition; and when the state governs, he is ruled by fear. Before men can live together in harmony and understanding, ignorance must be transmuted into wisdom, superstition into an illumined faith, and fear into love. Despite statements to the contrary, Masonry is a religion seeking to unite God and man by elevating its initiates to that level of consciousness whereon they can behold with clarified vision the workings of the Great Architect of the Universe. From age to age the vision of a perfect civilization is preserved as the ideal for mankind. In the midst of that civilization shall stand a mighty university wherein both the sacred and secular sciences concerning the mysteries of life will be freely taught to all who will assume the philosophic life. Here creed and dogma will have no place; the superficial will be removed and only the essential be preserved. The world will be ruled by its most illumined minds, and each will occupy the position for which he is most admirably fitted.

The great university will be divided into grades, admission to which will be through preliminary tests or initiations. Here mankind will be instructed in the most sacred, the most secret, and the most enduring of all Mysteries–Symbolism. Here the initiate will be taught that every visible object, every abstract thought, every emotional reaction is but the symbol of an eternal principle. Here mankind will learn that CHiram (Truth) lies buried in every atom of Kosmos; that every form is a symbol and every symbol the tomb of an eternal verity. Through education–spiritual, mental, moral, and physical–man will learn to release living truths from their lifeless coverings. The perfect government of the earth must be patterned eventually after that divine government by which the universe is ordered. In that day when perfect order is reestablished, with peace universal and good triumphant, men will no longer seek for happiness, for they shall find it welling up within themselves. Dead hopes, dead aspirations, dead virtues shall rise from their graves, and the Spirit of Beauty and Goodness repeatedly slain by ignorant men shall again be the Master of Work. Then shall sages sit upon the seats of the mighty and the gods walk with men.

The Pythagorean Theory of Music and Color

HARMONY is a state recognized by great philosophers as the immediate prerequisite of beauty. A compound is termed beautiful only when its parts are inharmonious combination. The world is called beautiful and its Creator is designated the Good because good perforce must act in conformity with its own nature; and good acting according to its own nature is harmony, because the good which it accomplishes is harmonious with the good which it is. Beauty, therefore, is harmony manifesting its own intrinsic nature in the world of form.

The universe is made up of successive gradations of good, these gradations ascending from matter (which is the least degree of good) to spirit (which is the greatest degree of good). In man, his superior nature is the summum bonum. It therefore follows that his highest nature most readily cognizes good because the good external to him in the world is in harmonic ratio with the good present in his soul. What man terms evil is therefore, in common with matter, merely the least degree of its own opposite. The least degree of good presupposes likewise the least degree of harmony and beauty. Thus deformity (evil) is really the least harmonious combination of elements naturally harmonic as individual units. Deformity is unnatural, for, the sum of all things being the Good, it is natural that all things should partake of the Good and be arranged in combinations that are harmonious. Harmony is the manifesting expression of the Will of the eternal Good.


It is highly probable that the Greek initiates gained their knowledge of the philosophic and therapeutic aspects of music from the Egyptians, who, in turn, considered Hermes the founder of the art. According to one legend, this god constructed the first lyre by stretching strings across the concavity of a turtle shell. Both Isis and Osiris were patrons of music and poetry. Plato, in describing the antiquity of these arts among the Egyptians, declared that songs and poetry had existed in Egypt for at least ten thousand years, and that these were of such an exalted and inspiring nature that only gods or godlike men could have composed them. In the Mysteries the lyre was regarded as the secret symbol of the human constitution, the body of the instrument representing the physical form, the strings the nerves, and the musician the spirit. Playing upon the nerves, the spirit thus created the harmonies of normal functioning, which, however, became discords if the nature of man were defiled.

While the early Chinese, Hindus, Persians, Egyptians, Israelites, and Greeks employed both vocal and instrumental music in their religious ceremonials, also to complement their poetry and drama, it remained for Pythagoras to raise the art to its true dignity by demonstrating its mathematical foundation. Although it is said that he himself was not a musician, Pythagoras is now generally credited with the discovery of the diatonic scale. Having first learned the divine theory of music from the priests of the various Mysteries into which he had been accepted, Pythagoras pondered for several years upon the laws governing consonance and dissonance. How he actually solved the problem is unknown, but the following explanation has been invented.

One day while meditating upon the problem of harmony, Pythagoras chanced to pass a brazier’s shop where workmen were pounding out a piece of metal upon an anvil. By noting the variances in pitch between the sounds made by large hammers and those made by smaller implements, and carefully estimating the harmonies and discords resulting from combinations of these sounds, he gained his first clue to the musical intervals of the diatonic scale. He entered the shop, and after carefully examining the tools and making mental note of their weights, returned to his own house and constructed an arm of wood so that it: extended out from the wall of his room. At regular intervals along this arm he attached four cords, all of like composition, size, and weight. To the first of these he attached a twelve-pound weight, to the second a nine-pound weight, to the third an eight-pound weight, and to the fourth a six-pound weight. These different weights corresponded to the sizes of the braziers’ hammers.

Pythagoras thereupon discovered that the first and fourth strings when sounded together produced the harmonic interval of the octave, for doubling the weight had the same effect as halving the string. The tension of the first string being twice that of the fourth string, their ratio was said to be 2:1, or duple. By similar experimentation he ascertained that the first and third string produced the harmony of the diapente, or the interval of the fifth. The tension of the first string being half again as much as that of the third string, their ratio was said to be 3:2, or sesquialter. Likewise the second and fourth strings, having the same ratio as the first and third strings, yielded a diapente harmony. Continuing his investigation, Pythagoras discovered that the first and second strings produced the harmony of the diatessaron, or the interval of the third; and the tension of the first string being a third greater than that of the second string, their ratio was said to be 4:3, or sesquitercian. The third and fourth strings, having the same ratio as the first and second strings, produced another harmony of the diatessaron. According to Iamblichus, the second and third strings had the ratio of 8:9, or epogdoan.

The key to harmonic ratios is hidden in the famous Pythagorean tetractys, or pyramid of dots. The tetractys is made up of the first four numbers–1, 2, 3, and 4–which in their proportions reveal the intervals of the octave, the diapente, and the diatessaron. While the law of harmonic intervals as set forth above is true, it has been subsequently proved that hammers striking metal in the manner



From Stanley’s The History of Philosophy.

In the Pythagorean concept of the music of the spheres, the interval between the earth and the sphere of the fixed stars was considered to be a diapason–the most perfect harmonic interval. The allowing arrangement is most generally accepted for the musical intervals of the planets between the earth and the sphere of the fixed stars: From the sphere of the earth to the sphere of the moon; one tone; from the sphere of the moon to that of Mercury, one half-tone; from Mercury to Venus, one-half; from Venus to the sun, one and one-half tones; from the sun to Mars, one tone; from Mars to Jupiter, one-half tone; from Jupiter to Saturn, one-half tone; from Saturn to the fixed stars, one-half tone. The sum of these intervals equals the six whole tones of the octave.



From Fludd’s De Musica Mundana.

This diagrammatic sector represents the major gradations of energy and substance between elemental earth and absolute unconditioned force. Beginning with the superior, the fifteen graduated spheres descend in the following order: Limitless and Eternal Life; the superior, the middle, and the inferior Empyrean; the seven planets; and the four elements. Energy is symbolized by Fludd as a pyramid with its base upon the concave surface of the superior Empyrean, and substance as another Pyramid with its base upon the convex surface of the sphere (not planet) of earth. These pyramids demonstrate the relative proportions of energy and substance entering into the composition of the fifteen planes of being. It will be noted that the ascending pyramid of substance touches but does not pierce the fifteenth sphere–that of Limitless and Eternal Life. Likewise, the descending pyramid of energy touches but does not pierce the first sphere–the grossest condition of substance. The plane of the sun is denominated the sphere of equality, for here neither energy nor substance predominate. The mundane monochord consists of a hypothetical string stretched from the base of the pyramid of energy to the base of the pyramid of substance.

described will not produce the various tones ascribed to them. In all probability, therefore, Pythagoras actually worked out his theory of harmony from the monochord–a contrivance consisting of a single string stretched between two pegs and supplied with movable frets.

To Pythagoras music was one of the dependencies of the divine science of mathematics, and its harmonies were inflexibly controlled by mathematical proportions. The Pythagoreans averred that mathematics demonstrated the exact method by which the good established and maintained its universe. Number therefore preceded harmony, since it was the immutable law that governs all harmonic proportions. After discovering these harmonic ratios, Pythagoras gradually initiated his disciples into this, the supreme arcanum of his Mysteries. He divided the multitudinous parts of creation into a vast number of planes or spheres, to each of which he assigned a tone, a harmonic interval, a number, a name, a color, and a form. He then proceeded to prove the accuracy of his deductions by demonstrating them upon the different planes of intelligence and substance ranging from the most abstract logical premise to the most concrete geometrical solid. From the common agreement of these diversified methods of proof he established the indisputable existence of certain natural laws.

Having once established music as an exact science, Pythagoras applied his newly found law of harmonic intervals to all the phenomena of Nature, even going so far as to demonstrate the harmonic relationship of the planets, constellations, and elements to each other. A notable example of modern corroboration of ancient philosophical reaching is that of the progression of the elements according to harmonic ratios. While making a list of the elements in the ascending order of their atomic weights, John A. Newlands discovered at every eighth element a distinct repetition of properties. This discovery is known as the law of octaves in modern chemistry.

Since they held that harmony must be determined not by the sense perceptions but by reason and mathematics, the Pythagoreans called themselves Canonics, as distinguished from musicians of the Harmonic School, who asserted taste and instinct to be the true normative principles of harmony. Recognizing, however, the profound effect: of music upon the senses and emotions, Pythagoras did not hesitate to influence the mind and body with what he termed “musical medicine.”

Pythagoras evinced such a marked preference for stringed instruments that he even went so far as to warn his disciples against allowing their ears to be defiled by the sounds of flutes or cymbals. He further declared that the soul could be purified from its irrational influences by solemn songs sung to the accompaniment of the lyre. In his investigation of the therapeutic value of harmonics, Pythagoras discovered that the seven modes–or keys–of the Greek system of music had the power to incite or allay the various emotions. It is related that while observing the stars one night he encountered a young man befuddled with strong drink and mad with jealousy who was piling faggots about his mistress’ door with the intention of burning the house. The frenzy of the youth was accentuated by a flutist a short distance away who was playing a tune in the stirring Phrygian mode. Pythagoras induced the musician to change his air to the slow, and rhythmic Spondaic mode, whereupon the intoxicated youth immediately became composed and, gathering up his bundles of wood, returned quietly to his own home.

There is also an account of how Empedocles, a disciple of Pythagoras, by quickly changing the mode of a musical composition he was playing, saved the life of his host, Anchitus, when the latter was threatened with death by the sword of one whose father he had condemned to public execution. It is also known that Esculapius, the Greek physician, cured sciatica and other diseases of the nerves by blowing a loud trumpet in the presence of the patient.

Pythagoras cured many ailments of the spirit, soul, and body by having certain specially prepared musical compositions played in the presence of the sufferer or by personally reciting short selections from such early poets as Hesiod and Homer. In his university at Crotona it was customary for the Pythagoreans to open and to close each day with songs–those in the morning calculated to clear the mind from sleep and inspire it to the activities of the coming day; those in the evening of a mode soothing, relaxing, and conducive to rest. At the vernal equinox, Pythagoras caused his disciples to gather in a circle around one of their number who led them in song and played their accompaniment upon a lyre.

The therapeutic music of Pythagoras is described by Iamblichus thus: “And there are certain melodies devised as remedies against the passions of the soul, and also against despondency and lamentation, which Pythagoras invented as things that afford the greatest assistance in these maladies. And again, he employed other melodies against rage and anger, and against every aberration of the soul. There is also another kind of modulation invented as a remedy against desires.” (See The Life of Pythagoras.)

It is probable that the Pythagoreans recognized a connection between the seven Greek modes and the planets. As an example, Pliny declares that Saturn moves in the Dorian mode and Jupiter in the Phrygian mode. It is also apparent that the temperaments are keyed to the various modes, and the passions likewise. Thus, anger–which is a fiery passion–may be accentuated by a fiery mode or its power neutralized by a watery mode.

The far-reaching effect exercised by music upon the culture of the Greeks is thus summed up by Emil Nauman: “Plato depreciated the notion that music was intended solely to create cheerful and agreeable emotions, maintaining rather that it should inculcate a love of all that is noble, and hatred of all that is mean, and that nothing could more strongly influence man’s innermost feelings than melody and rhythm. Firmly convinced of this, he agreed with Damon of Athens, the musical instructor of Socrates, that the introduction of a new and presumably enervating scale would endanger the future of a whole nation, and that it was not possible to alter a key without shaking the very foundations of the State. Plato affirmed that music which ennobled the mind was of a far higher kind than that which merely appealed to the senses, and he strongly insisted that it was the paramount duty of the Legislature to suppress all music of an effeminate and lascivious character, and to encourage only s that which was pure and dignified; that bold and stirring melodies were for men, gentle and soothing ones for women. From this it is evident that music played a considerable part in the education of the Greek youth. The greatest care was also to be taken in the selection of instrumental music, because the absence of words rendered its signification doubtful, and it was difficult to foresee whether it would exercise upon the people a benign or baneful influence. Popular taste, being always tickled by sensuous and meretricious effects, was to be treated with deserved contempt. (See The History of Music.)

Even today martial music is used with telling effect in times of war, and religious music, while no longer developed in accordance with the ancient theory, still profoundly influences the emotions of the laity.


The most sublime but least known of all the Pythagorean speculations was that of sidereal harmonics. It was said that of all men only Pythagoras heard the music of the spheres. Apparently the Chaldeans were the first people to conceive of the heavenly bodies joining in a cosmic chant as they moved in stately manner across the sky. Job describes a time “when the stars of the morning sang together,” and in The Merchant of Venice the author of the Shakesperian plays



From Fludd’s De Musica Mundana.

In this chart is set forth a summary of Fludd’s theory of universal music. The interval between the element of earth and the highest heaven is considered as a double octave, thus showing the two extremes of existence to be in disdiapason harmony. It is signifies that the highest heaven, the sun, and the earth have the same time, the difference being in pitch. The sun is the lower octave of the highest heaven and the earth the lower octave of the sun. The lower octave (Γ to G) comprises that part of the universe in which substance predominate over energy. Its harmonies, therefore, are more gross than those of the higher octave (G to g) wherein energy predominates over substance. “If struck in the more spiritual part,” writes Fludd, “the monochord will give eternal life; if in the more material part, transitory life.” It will be noted that certain elements, planets, and celestial spheres sustain a harmonic ratio to each other, Fludd advanced this as a key to the sympathies and antipathies existing between the various departments of Nature.

writes: “There’s not the smallest orb which thou behold’st but in his motion like an angel sings.” So little remains, however, of the Pythagorean system of celestial music that it is only possible to approximate his actual theory.

Pythagoras conceived the universe to be an immense monochord, with its single string connected at its upper end to absolute spirit and at its lower end to absolute matter–in other words, a cord stretched between heaven and earth. Counting inward from the circumference of the heavens, Pythagoras, according to some authorities, divided the universe into nine parts; according to others, into twelve parts. The twelvefold system was as follows: The first division was called theempyrean, or the sphere of the fixed stars, and was the dwelling place of the immortals. The second to twelfth divisions were (in order) the spheres of Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, the sun, Venus, Mercury, and the moon, and fire, air, water, and earth. This arrangement of the seven planets (the sun and moon being regarded as planets in the old astronomy) is identical with the candlestick symbolism of the Jews–the sun in the center as the main stem with three planets on either side of it.

The names given by the Pythagoreans to the various notes of the diatonic scale were, according to Macrobius, derived from an estimation of the velocity and magnitude of the planetary bodies. Each of these gigantic spheres as it rushed endlessly through space was believed to sound a certain tone caused by its continuous displacement of the æthereal diffusion. As these tones were a manifestation of divine order and motion, it must necessarily follow that they partook of the harmony of their own source. “The assertion that the planets in their revolutions round the earth uttered certain sounds differing according to their respective ‘magnitude, celerity and local distance,’ was commonly made by the Greeks. Thus Saturn, the farthest planet, was said to give the gravest note, while the Moon, which is the nearest, gave the sharpest. ‘These sounds of the seven planets, and the sphere of the fixed stars, together with that above us [Antichthon], are the nine Muses, and their joint symphony is called Mnemosyne.'” (See The Canon.)This quotation contains an obscure reference to the ninefold division of the universe previously mentioned.

The Greek initiates also recognized a fundamental relationship between the individual heavens or spheres of the seven planets, and the seven sacred vowels. The first heaven uttered the sound of the sacred vowel Α (Alpha); the second heaven, the sacred vowel Ε (Epsilon); the third, Η (Eta); the fourth, Ι (Iota); the fifth, Ο (Omicron); the sixth, Υ (Upsilon); and the seventh heaven, the sacred vowel Ω (Omega). When these seven heavens sing together they produce a perfect harmony which ascends as an everlasting praise to the throne of the Creator. (See Irenæus’ Against Heresies.) Although not so stated, it is probable that the planetary heavens are to be considered as ascending in the Pythagorean order, beginning with the sphere of the moon, which would be the first heaven.

Many early instruments had seven Strings, and it is generally conceded that Pythagoras was the one who added the eighth string to the lyre of Terpander. The seven strings were always related both to their correspondences in the human body and to the planets. The names of God were also conceived to be formed from combinations of the seven planetary harmonies. The Egyptians confined their sacred songs to the seven primary sounds, forbidding any others to be uttered in their temples. One of their hymns contained the following invocation: “The seven sounding tones praise Thee, the Great God, the ceaseless working Father of the whole universe.” In another the Deity describes Himself thus: “I am the great indestructible lyre of the whole world, attuning the songs of the heavens. (See Nauman’sHistory of Music.)

The Pythagoreans believed that everything which existed had a voice and that all creatures were eternally singing the praise of the Creator. Man fails to hear these divine melodies because his soul is enmeshed in the illusion of material existence. When he liberates himself from the bondage of the lower world with its sense limitations, the music of the spheres will again be audible as it was in the Golden Age. Harmony recognizes harmony, and when the human soul regains its true estate it will not only hear the celestial choir but also join with it in an everlasting anthem of praise to that Eternal Good controlling the infinite number of parts and conditions of Being.

The Greek Mysteries included in their doctrines a magnificent concept of the relationship existing between music and form. The elements of architecture, for example, were considered as comparable to musical modes and notes, or as having a musical counterpart. Consequently when a building was erected in which a number of these elements were combined, the structure was then likened to a musical chord, which was harmonic only when it fully satisfied the mathematical requirements of harmonic intervals. The realization of this analogy between sound and form led Goethe to declare that “architecture is crystallized music.”

In constructing their temples of initiation, the early priests frequently demonstrated their superior knowledge of the principles underlying the phenomena known as vibration. A considerable part of the Mystery rituals consisted of invocations and intonements, for which purpose special sound chambers were constructed. A word whispered in one of these apartments was so intensified that the reverberations made the entire building sway and be filled with a deafening roar. The very wood and stone used in the erection of these sacred buildings eventually became so thoroughly permeated with the sound vibrations of the religious ceremonies that when struck they would reproduce the same tones thus repeatedly impressed into their substances by the rituals.

Every element in Nature has its individual keynote. If these elements are combined in a composite structure the result is a chord that, if sounded, will disintegrate the compound into its integral parts. Likewise each individual has a keynote that, if sounded, will destroy him. The allegory of the walls of Jericho falling when the trumpets of Israel were sounded is undoubtedly intended to set forth the arcane significance of individual keynote or vibration.


“Light,” writes Edwin D. Babbitt, “reveals the glories of the external world and yet is the most glorious of them all. It gives beauty, reveals beauty and is itself most beautiful. It is the analyzer, the truth-teller and the exposer of shams, for it shows things as they are. Its infinite streams measure off the universe and flow into our telescopes from stars which are quintillions of miles distant. On the other hand it descends to objects inconceivably small, and reveals through the microscope objects fifty millions of times less than can be seen by the naked eye. Like all other fine forces, its movement is wonderfully soft, yet penetrating and powerful. Without its vivifying influence, vegetable, animal, and human life must immediately perish from the earth, and general ruin take place. We shall do well, then, to consider this potential and beautiful principle of light and its component colors, for the more deeply we penetrate into its inner laws, the more will it present itself as a marvelous storehouse of power to vitalize, heal, refine, and delight mankind.” (See The Principles of Light and Color.)

Since light is the basic physical manifestation of life, bathing all creation in its radiance, it is highly important to realize, in part at least, the subtle nature of this divine substance. That which is called light is actually a rate of vibration causing certain reactions upon the optic nerve. Few realize how they are walled in by the limitations



From Fludd’s De Musica Mundana.

In this diagram two interpenetrating pyramids are again employed, one of which represents fire and the other earth. It is demonstrated according to the law of elemental harmony that fire does not enter into the composition of earth nor earth into the composition of fire. The figures on the chart disclose the harmonic relationships existing between the four primary elements according to both Fludd and the Pythagoreans. Earth consists of four parts of its own nature; water of three parts of earth and one part of fire. The sphere of equality is a hypothetical point where there is an equilibrium of two parts of earth and two parts of fire. Air is composed of three parts of fire and one part of earth; fire, of four parts of its own nature. Thus earth and water bear to each other the ratio of 4 to 3, or the diatessaron harmony, and water and the sphere of equality the ratio of 3 to 2, or the diapente harmony. Fire and air also bear to each other the ratio of 4 to 3, or the diatessaron harmony, and air and the sphere of equality the ratio of 3 to 2, or the diapente harmony. As the sum of a diatessaron and a diapente equals a diapason, or octave, it is evident that both the sphere of fire and the sphere of earth are in diapason harmony with the sphere of equality, and also that fire and earth are in disdiapason harmony with each other.

of the sense perceptions. Not only is there a great deal more to light than anyone has ever seen but there are also unknown forms of light which no optical equipment will ever register. There are unnumbered colors which cannot be seen, as well as sounds which cannot be heard, odors which cannot be smelt, flavors which cannot be tasted, and substances which cannot be felt. Man is thus surrounded by a supersensible universe of which he knows nothing because the centers of sense perception within himself have not been developed sufficiently to respond to the subtler rates of vibration of which that universe is composed.

Among both civilized and savage peoples color has been accepted as a natural language in which to couch their religious and philosophical doctrines. The ancient city of Ecbatana as described by Herodotus, its seven walls colored according to the seven planets, revealed the knowledge of this subject possessed by the Persian Magi. The famous zikkurat or astronomical tower of the god Nebo at Borsippa ascended in seven great steps or stages, each step being painted in the key color of one of the planetary bodies. (See Lenormant’s Chaldean Magic.) It is thus evident that the Babylonians were familiar with the concept of the spectrum in its relation to the seven Creative Gods or Powers. In India, one of the Mogul emperors caused a fountain to be made with seven levels. The water pouring down the sides through specially arranged channels changed color as it descended, passing sequentially through all shades of the spectrum. In Tibet, color is employed by the native artists to express various moods. L. Austine Waddell, writing of Northern Buddhist art, notes that in Tibetan mythology,

“White and yellow complexions usually typify mild moods, while the red, blue, and black belong to fierce forms, though sometimes light blue, as indicating the sky, means merely celestial. Generally the gods are pictured white, goblins red, and devils black, like their European relative.” (SeeThe Buddhism of Tibet.)

In Meno, Plato, speaking through Socrates, describes color as “an effluence of form, commensurate with sight, and sensible.” In Theætetus he discourses more at length on the subject thus:

“Let us carry out the principle which has just been affirmed, that nothing is self-existent, and then we shall see that every color, white, black, and every other color, arises out of the eye meeting the appropriate motion, and that what we term the substance of each color is neither the active nor the passive element, but something which passes between them, and is peculiar to each percipient; are you certain that the several colors appear to every animal–say a dog–as they appear to you?”

In the Pythagorean tetractys–the supreme symbol of universal forces and processes–are set forth the theories of the Greeks concerning color and music. The first three dots represent the threefold White Light, which is the Godhead containing potentially all sound and color. The remaining seven dots are the colors of the spectrum and the notes of the musical scale. The colors and tones are the active creative powers which, emanating from the First Cause, establish the universe. The seven are divided into two groups, one containing three powers and the other four a relationship also shown in the tetractys. The higher group–that of three–becomes the spiritual nature of the created universe; the lower group–that of four–manifests as the irrational sphere, or inferior world.

In the Mysteries the seven Logi, or Creative Lords, are shown as streams of force issuing from the mouth of the Eternal One. This signifies the spectrum being extracted from the white light of the Supreme Deity. The seven Creators, or Fabricators, of the inferior spheres were called by the Jews the Elohim. By the Egyptians they were referred to as the Builders (sometimes as the Governors) and are depicted with great knives in their hands with which they carved the universe from its primordial substance. Worship of the planets is based upon their acceptation as the cosmic embodiments of the seven creative attributes of God. The Lords of the planets were described as dwelling within the body of the sun, for the true nature of the sun, being analogous to the white light, contains the seeds of all the tone and color potencies which it manifests.

There are numerous arbitrary arrangements setting forth the mutual relationships of the planets, the colors, and the musical notes. The most satisfactory system is that based upon the law of the octave. The sense of hearing has a much wider scope than that of sight, for whereas the ear can register from nine to eleven octaves of sound the eye is restricted to the cognition of but seven fundamental color tones, or one tone short of the octave. Red, when posited as the lowest color tone in the scale of chromatics, thus corresponds to do, the first note of the musical scale. Continuing the analogy, orange corresponds to re, yellow to mi, green to fa, blue to sol, indigo to la, and violet to si (ti). The eighth color tone necessary to complete the scale should be the higher octave of red, the first color tone. The accuracy of the above arrangement is attested by two striking facts: (1) the three fundamental notes of the musical scale–the first, the third, and the fifth–correspond with the three primary colors–red, yellow, and blue; (2) the seventh, and least perfect, note of the musical scale corresponds with purple, the least perfect tone of the color scale.

In The Principles of Light and Color, Edwin D. Babbitt confirms the correspondence of the color and musical scales: “As C is at the bottom of the musical scale and made with the coarsest waves of air, so is red at the bottom of the chromatic scale and made with the coarsest waves of luminous ether. As the musical note B [the seventh note of the scale] requires 45 vibrations of air every time the note C at the lower end of the scale requires 24, or but little over half as many, so does extreme violet require about 300 trillions of vibrations of ether in a second, while extreme red requires only about 450 trillions, which also are but little more than half as many. When one musical octave is finished another one commences and progresses with just twice as many vibrations as were used in the first octave, and so the same notes are repeated on a finer scale. In the same way when the scale of colors visible to the ordinary eye is completed in the violet, another octave of finer invisible colors, with just twice as many vibrations, will commence and progress on precisely the same law.”

When the colors are related to the twelve signs of the zodiac, they are arranged as the spokes of a wheel. To Aries is assigned pure red; to Taurus, red-orange; to Gemini, pure orange; to Cancer, orange-yellow; to Leo, pure yellow; to Virgo, yellow-green; to Libra, pure green; to Scorpio, green-blue; to Sagittarius, pure blue; to Capricorn, blue-violet; to Aquarius, pure violet; and to Pisces, violet-red.

In expounding the Eastern system of esoteric philosophy, H. P, Blavatsky relates the colors to the septenary constitution of man and the seven states of matter as follows:

Violet Chaya, or Etheric Double Ether
Indigo Higher Manas, or Spiritual Intelligence Critical State called Air
Blue Auric Envelope Steam or Vapor
Green Lower Manas, or Animal Soul Critical State
Yellow Buddhi, or Spiritual Soul Water
Orange Prana, or Life Principle Critical State
Red Kama Rupa, or Seat of Animal Life Ice

This arrangement of the colors of the spectrum and the musical notes of the octave necessitates a different grouping of the planets in order to preserve their proper tone and color analogies. Thus do becomes Mars; re, the sun; mi, Mercury; fa, Saturn; sol, Jupiter; la, Venus; si (ti) the moon. (See The E. S. Instructions.)



From Fludd’s De Musica Mundana.

In this diagram Fludd has divided each of the four Primary elements into three subdivisions. The first division of each element is the grossest, partaking somewhat of the substance directly inferior to itself (except in the case of the earth, which has no state inferior to itself). The second division consists of the element in its relatively pure state, while the third division is that condition wherein the element partakes somewhat of the substance immediately superior to itself. For example the lowest division of the element of water is sedimentary, as it contains earth substance in solution; the second division represents water in its most common state–salty–as in the case of the ocean; and the third division is water in its purest state–free from salt. The harmonic interval assigned to the lowest division of each element is one tone, to the central division also a tone, but to the higher division a half-tone because it partakes of the division immediately above it. Fludd emphasizes the fact that as the elements ascend in series of two and a half tones, the diatessaron is the dominating harmonic interval of the elements.


Top Ten American Triangles”

By: Twilight Language

As a renamed documentary, The Bridgewater Triangle will make its national television debut on Saturday, September 5, 2015, at 10:00 PM Eastern Time, on the cable network Destination America. The channel will be airing a condensed broadcast hour (42 minute) cut of the film, under their newly created title, America’s Bermuda Triangle. The repeats will exist for years, and the awareness of the Bridgewater Triangle will expand.

The renaming of the documentary for the shorter version occurred weeks ago, perhaps even months before Wednesday, August 26, 2015’s major media eruption of the name “Bridgewater,” in conjunction with the first ever, on air, live shooting of two journalists. It was not lost on me that the shooting event happened at the Bridgewater Plaza in Virginia.

Bridgewaters, wherever they are, needless to say, have had a history of strange happenings and phenomena. In the 1830s, in Bridgewater, Pennsylvania, a small Bigfoot was confronted by a man picking berries; the creature ran off when chased. In December 1969, and then again in March-April 1970, near Bridgewater, Massachusetts, in the midst of the future named Bridgewater Triangle, many sightings of a Bigfoot, including by a police officer, took place. In the summer 1976, near Bridgewater, New Jersey, three teens saw a Bigfoot while they were playing in the woods and then found three-toed footprints. On July 27, 2015, a UFO sighting occurred in Bridgewater, New Jersey. There are also reports of a blond ghost around Bridgewater, New Jersey.

Bridgewater – a bridge over a body of water – evokes the challenge of the terrestrial over the aquatic.

America’s Bermuda Triangle

Of course, the new name given to the documentary by the cable network is relatively silly.

The actual coining of the term “Bermuda Triangle” seems to point to Vincent Gaddis, a Fortean friend of Ivan T. Sanderson. In the February 1964 issue of Argosy, Vincent Gaddis’ article “The Deadly Bermuda Triangle” used the phrase widely for the first time. Sanderson wrote the well-known followup article, “The Twelve Devil’s Graveyards Around the World,” in 1972, for Saga magazine.

The real Bermuda Triangle is partially in America, since Florida makes up part of the eastern side of that “triangle,” so why change the perfectly good name from The Bridgewater Triangle to America’s Bermuda Triangle? The moniker does acknowledge this is a new edit, and not the directors’ cut.

Destination America is also referring to what they feel is the better known “Bermuda Triangle” name, although they might be surprised how many people know about the Bridgewater Triangle, nowadays. Plus, most of the other “Triangles” have been labeled with those names because I began this practice in the 1970s, with the Bridgewater Triangle.

Therefore, since they gave The Bridgewater Triangle the name America’s Bermuda Triangle, let’s switch this back around a bit and look at

America’s Bridgewater Triangles

#1. Bridgewater Triangle, Massachusetts

The Bridgewater Triangle was coined in the late 1970s (probably 1976) by yours truly, Loren Coleman, who published the phrase for the first time in the April 1980 article of the same name inBoston Magazine, and in the 1983 book, Mysterious America (Faber and Faber, 1983; now in a completely revised 2007 edition). A local newspaper published the name “The Bridgewater Triangle” after I gave a library lecture using the phrase in the late 1970s, in the Bridgewater area.

The Bridgewater Triangle is the focus of decades of weird activity (UFO sightings; cattle mutilations; Hell Hound encounters; Black Panther accounts; Giant Snake tales; strange people disappearances; little creature folklore, plus the 1969-1970s Bigfoot activity mentioned above) in a 200-square-mile area in southeastern Massachusetts. The Bridgewater Triangle is roughly defined by the towns of Abington in the north, Freetown in the southeast, and Rehoboth in the southwest, an area that encompasses the Hockomock Swamp and the “infamous” Freetown/Fall River State Forest. (See at bottom for more information on The Bridgewater Triangle.)

#2. The Bennington Triangle, Vermont

The Bennington Triangle was coined by writer Joseph A. Citro in 1992. According to Citro, the area shares characteristics with the Bridgewater Triangle in neighboring Massachusetts, and so he used a similar name.

This Vermont location has many of the same phenomena found in the Bridgewater Triangle. Citro related the disappearances of Middie Rivers (1945), Paula Weldon (1946), James Tedford (1949), Paul Jepson (1950), and Frieda Langer (1950), to the Bennington Triangle.

One of the more bizarre legends associated with this Vermont site is the man-eating stone of Glastonbury Mountain, which made its first appearance in Citro’s book The Vermont Monster Guide(2009). The man-eating stone is exactly what it sounds like…a rock that eats people.

A Wikipedia editor rather harshly noted that “precisely what area is encompassed in this hypothetical ‘mystery triangle’ is not clear.”

But Citro is rather clear about where The Bennington Triangle is. It is centered on Glastenbury Mountain and includes some or most of the area of the towns immediately surrounding it, especially Bennington, Woodford, Shaftsbury, and Somerset. Glastenbury and its neighboring township Somerset were both once moderately thriving logging and industrial towns, but began declining toward the late 19th century and are now essentially ghost towns, unincorporated by an act of the state legislature in 1937.

#3. The Coudersport Triangle, Pennsylvania

Thunderbirds have been seen in northern Pennsylvania, in an area known as the “Coudersport Triangle,” which overlaps with the spooky Black Forest of the same location. Most of the Thunderbird sightings come from the Black Forest region of Clinton, Potter, Lycoming, Tioga, Cameron, and McKean counties, sparsely populated areas of mainly state forests and gamelands. Besides the Thunderbirds, tales of Black Panthers are part of the traditions here.

The major chronicler of the variously named Coudersport Triangle, Black Forest, or Forbidden Land accounts is the late Pennsylvania writer Robert Lyman, who penned a series of volumes in hisAmazing Indeed, Strange Events in the Black Forest series.

In 2004, I traveled to the Coudersport Triangle, on location for an episode of a Discovery program for young people on the Black Forest’s Thunderbird reports. Other programs have dealt with the same topic.

The Animal X program on the Black Forest contains eyewitness accounts from the Coudersport Triangle, but then drifts into showing the “Chief John Huffer” footage from Illinois of what appears to be turkey vultures (but acts like they are from Pennsylvania).

#4. The Virginia Triangle, Virginia and North Carolina

In Weird Virginia: Your Travel Guide to Virginia’s Local Legends and Best Kept Secrets (Sterling, 2007), I wrote of the “Virginia Triangle.” I penned this paragraph on page 37:

The Great Dismal Swamp is a marshy wetland that goes from Norfolk, located on the Elizabeth River, through southeastern Virginia’s Coast Plain into northeastern North Carolina. It has been known as a miniversion of the Bermuda Triangle, on the level of other states’ mystery triangles, like the Coudersport Triangle (linked to the Black Forest) in Pennsylvania or the Bridgewater Triangle (aligned with the Hockomock Swamp) in Massachusetts. Reports of ancient mysteries, as well as sighting of giant snakes and Bigfoot, have been associated with the Great Dismal Swamp.

Lake Drummond, a 3,100-acre lake, is located in the heart of the swamp, and only one of two natural lakes in Virginia. It was discovered in 1655, by former Scottish indentured servant William Drummond. Drummond went on to be governor of North Carolina, and was later hanged in Virginia. Lake Drummond is almost a perfect circle, and some thought has been given to it having been formed by a meteorite, a peat fire, or a tectonic shift. Native American tradition talks of “the Fire Bird” creating the freshwater lake.

#5. The Great Lakes Triangle and Michigan Triangle, Wisconsin, Michigan, Canada

Jay Gourley’s book The Great Lakes Triangle first appeared on May 12, 1977. The focus was the disappearance of planes and ships throughout the entire region of the Great Lakes, as shown on the map below. The area was too large for it to be seen as a popular topic for research discussions by the mainstream media.

On the television program In Search Of…, the late Leonard Nimoy narrated the episode entitled “The Great Lakes Triangle,” which aired on November 2, 1978.

As noted in the Skeptoid,
Author Hugh Cochrane thanks Jay Gourley in his own book, Gateway To Oblivion: The Great Lakes’ Bermuda Triangle. And from there, he expands upon the idea that the Great Lakes are host to vile vortices, UFO hotspots, Earth energies, and an entire catalog of unproven phenomena.
The Michigan Triangle, where many planes, ships, and people go missing, stretches from the town of Ludington to Benton Harbor in Michigan; another links from Benton Harbor to Manitowoc, Wisconsin; the final side connects Manitowoc back to Ludington. The Michigan Triangle is an extension of Jay Gourley’s original idea, earlier, of The Great Lakes Triangle.

The Lake Michigan Triangle has been mentioned on Willian Shatner’s Weird or What?, it has a place entry on the Atlas Obscura, and the Travel Channel’s Mysteries at the Museum reported on it.

#6. The Big Lick Triangle, Indiana and Kentucky

In 2013, a clever blogger named Ben did his homework, and came up with this:

Children, have you ever heard of “The Bridgewater Triangle?”
Go and google it … I’ll wait.
OK, as we all now know, “The Bridgewater Triangle” refers to this vague geographic area in southeast Massachusetts. Weighing in at about 200 square miles, the Bridgewater Triangle is claimed to be a hotbed of paranormal activity — like every X-File you can image: UFOs, ghosts of all kind, Bigfoot, Thunderbirds, cattle mutilation, satanic activity, black helicopters, phantom pumas …
Back in the 1980s, a paranormal researcher was looking at a map and noticed that a lot of his ghost, Bigfeet and flying saucer reports happened in southern Mass, a few hundred miles around a town called Bridgewater. So he got his magic marker / sharpie, drew the rough borders on the map, and BAM! Instant paranormal fame.

Well, since that Fortean researcher was me (Loren Coleman) and I didn’t use a magic marker in the 1970s (not the 1980s), I am honored by this cute passage, anyway.

Ben* goes on to notice the strange coincidences of his own area’s phenomena – in a rough shape configured with three towns named Lick on each corner. Then he coined the name The Big Lick Triangle.

His body of linking evidence shows he had fun, especially since his area is “roughly 2269.9 square miles of weird” compared to 200 square miles of the Bridgewater Triangle. He surprisingly found much more that was strange in this Triangle that he reckoned for, and he appears to have been overjoyed with his discoveries.

My personal favorite in The Big Lick Triangle – and one that I have mentioned in my books – is the green, 10-foot-tall monster with glowing red eyes, seen in March 1965, by teenagers in the woods south of French Lick, Indiana. It grew to be called “Fluorescent Freddie.” Unfortunately, it never became as famous as that other local tall native – Larry Bird.

*Update: “Ben” read this selection and got in contact. He identifies himself as Ben Schneider, and pointed out the fact “The Big Lick Triangle” has a curious name game to note. There is a “Bridgewater” name inside the configured area. It’s the Bridgewater Cemetery in Scottsburg, Indiana, a town near the northern border of the Big Lick Triangle. Quoting from Ben’s blog, the Bridgewater Cemetery is “haunted by an entity called ‘Old Red Eyes.’ It is often seen glowing at the back of the cemetery. A black form or object will often circle around cars, and handprints will appear on the windows. A white phantom horse sometimes chases gawkers away at night, and there is also the glowing tombstone of a man who awakens at night and guards the front gate.”

Ben’s comedic relief is apparent in his creation of this Triangle, but there’s no reason to leave it off the list of Triangles, even if we know he’s somewhat doing this exercise with his tongue firming in his cheek. He may have been hiding his Fortean wit behind his sarcasm, but the end result was pure satisfaction and enjoyment.

#7. The Nevada Triangle, Nevada and California

The disappearance of maverick aviator and daredevil entrepreneur Steve Fossett in 2007 brought into focus an area called The Nevada Triangle. Observers have documented more than 2,000 planes having crashed there in the past 60 years, including reports of UFOs and alien abduction, in the area that emcompasses Reno, Fresno, China Lake, Las Vegas, and Groom Lake, a/k/a Area 51. Any location with Area 51 appears destined to be an enigmatic area, right?

The Mystery of the Nevada Triangle was a 2010 Channel 4 (UK) production about the location and the disappearance of Steve Fossett. Several news outlets, such as Fox News, reported on The Nevada Triangle in 2010.

#8. The Alaska Triangle, Alaska

The Alaska Triangle is also called Alaska’s Devil’s Graveyard, because so many ships and airplanes have disappeared in there.
Planes go down, hikers go missing and Alaskan residents and tourists seem to vanish into the largely untouched backdrop.

The so-called Alaska Triangle slices through four of the state’s regions, from the southeastern wilderness and fjords to the interior tundra and up to the arctic mountain ranges. Its points include the large swath of land from Juneau and Yakutat in the southeast, the Barrow mountain range in the north, and Anchorage in the center of the state.

#9. The Little Egypt Triangle, Illinois

The Southern Triangle of Illinois forms an area also given the name “Little Egypt” or “Egypt.” The Triangle forms nicely from the southern third of the state of Illinois. With the area code 618, the southern part of Illinois is geographically, culturally, and economically distinct from the rest of the state. The region is bordered by the most voluminous rivers in the United States: the Wabash and Ohio rivers to the east and south, and the Mississippi River and its connecting Missouri River to the west.

Southern Illinois’ most populated city is currently Belleville (see The Bell Name) at 44,478. Other principal cities include Alton, Centralia, Collinsville, Edwardsville, O’Fallon, Harrisburg, Mt. Vernon, Marion, and Carbondale, where the main campus of Southern Illinois University is located. It also has a campus at Edwardsville. Residents travel to amenities in St. Louis and Cape Girardeau, Missouri; Memphis, Tennessee; Evansville, Indiana; and Paducah, Kentucky. The region is also home to a major military installation, Scott Air Force Base.

I completed my undergraduate studies in anthropology/zoology at SIU-C. While there, and often not going to classes, I would investigate many Fortean and cryptozoological wonders in this area, from Black Panthers (Shawnee National Forest) to small red apes (swamps around Mt. Vernon and other towns), large birds (especially in the Alton area) to stone walls (across the Triangle). Several passages in my books, especially in Mysterious America, are about the cases in The Little Egypt Triangle.
The name game is strong in Little Egypt, with Thebes, Karnak, New Memphis, Dongola, and Cairo having lexilinks to ancient Egypt. SIU-C’s students attending Little Egypt’s leading university readThe Daily Egyptian and call their athletic teams “The Salukis” (Egyptian hunting dogs). In nearby states are West Memphis and Memphis. Some have related these names to the strong Egyptian influences in the Supreme Council, 33°, Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, Southern Jurisdiction, which had a sway over this area, technically south of the Mason/Dixon Line.
Little Egypt’s Fayville (see the Fayette Factor), Illinois, is an unincorporated community in Alexander County, Illinois, located along the Mississippi River south of Thebes.

#10. The Ossipee Triangle, New Hampshire

First appearing in print as “The Ossipee Triangle” in Info Journal, Vol 12-13, 1987, the label was inspired by The Bridgewater Triangle. The name was coined by investigator Ken Moak. The Ossipee Triangle includes most of Carrol County in eastern New Hampshire, and at the center is Ossipee Lake. The Ossipee Triangle is the home of Mystery Pond (now called Snake Pond), UFOs, Indian mounds, ghost stories, disappearances of boats and planes, and other oddities.


More on The Bridgewater Triangle/America’s Bermuda Triangle.

Triangle Documentary to See National Audience

In October of 2013, The Bridgewater Triangle documentary premiered to a sell-out crowd of over 750 people at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. One year later, the exclusive US broadcast rights to the film were licensed to Discovery Communications’ Destination America network. The channel will air a 42-minute (broadcast hour) version of the documentary under the title, America’s Bermuda Triangle, a name which they hope will help to draw-in a broader national audience. The film will broadcast on Saturday September 5th at 10:00 PM Eastern Time. Viewers are encouraged to check with their local cable and satellite providers for availability and channel number. To celebrate the occasion, a free viewing party will be held that same night at Christopher’s Lounge at 1285 Broadway in Raynham, Massachusetts. The event is open to the public and will begin at 8:00 PM with a screening of the original 90-minute directors’ cut of The Bridgewater Triangle. At 10:00 PM, Christopher’s many televisions will be tuned in to Destination America as The Bridgewater Triangle(airing as America’s Bermuda Triangle) makes its debut on national television. A number of the film’s cast and crew members will be present at the event.

First named and defined, in 1978, by world-renown cryptozoologist and author Loren Coleman, the 200-square-mile Bridgewater Triangle sits within the Southeastern portion of Massachusetts, and includes a number of locations known for unexplained occurrences; the most prominent of which include the legendary Hockomock Swamp and the infamous Freetown-Fall River State Forest. The triangle’s traditional boarders are revealed by connecting the dots between the town of Abington to the North, the town of Freetown to the Southeast, and the town of Rehoboth to the Southwest. The area hosts an unusually high volume of reports involving strange happenings, baffling mysteries and sinister deeds. From ghostly hauntings and cryptid animal sightings, to UFO encounters and evidence of satanic ritual sacrifice, the Bridgewater Triangle serves as one of the world’s most diverse hotspots for paranormal activity. The first-ever feature-length documentary on the subject,The Bridgewater Triangle explores the history of this fascinating region. The film features a number of local residents providing first-hand accounts of unexplained occurrences. In addition, an all-star assembly of paranormal researchers, folklorists and authors provide expert analysis regarding the many mysteries of the triangle. Among the film’s on-screen personalities are Loren Coleman, and Ghost Adventures writer and author Jeff Belanger.

During its twenty-two month long run, the independently produced documentary, which was filmed entirely in Massachusetts, has been featured on the nationally-syndicated Coast to Coast AM radio show, on WCVB’s Chronicle, on Fox 25’s Zip Trips, and in a segment on WJAR in Providence. The film has also been covered in a number of publications including the nationally-distributed Rue Morgue magazine and the Boston Globe. On the festival circuit, the documentary received the Audience Award at the 2014 Terror Con Film Festival, in Providence, won Best Documentary at the Winter 2015 Macabre Faire Film Festival on Long Island, New York, and won Best Local at the 2015 Granite State Film Festival, in Manchester, New Hampshire. Reviews of the movie have been positive, including eight favorable write-ups from independent critics, and an 8.0 out of 10 stars rating on the Internet Movie Database. In late 2014, The Bridgewater Triangle became available on UltraFlix, NanoTech Entertainment’s 4k movie streaming service.

The film’s producers hope that a successful run on Destination America will lead to additional opportunities, including a chance to be shown on Discovery Communications’ flagship network, the Discovery Channel, and the possibility of generating an international interest in The Bridgewater Triangle with overseas broadcast and distribution deals. The producers will also retain the film’s exclusive Blu-ray, DVD and Internet On-Demand distribution rights, and the original 90-minute feature will remain available through their website.

This early 2000s map of the Bridgewater Triangle was created for a Boston Globe article about the area, and gave a decidedly more humanlike slant to the traditions.

Do you know of more “Bridgewater Triangles” in America? If so, let me know.
In the meantime…watch….

The Meaning of Shape


Shapes…points, angles, lines, or curves, are necessary before most things can be constructed and one of the characteristics most symbols have in common is that each is constructed of one or more basic shapes.  Through time secular and sacred meaning have been given to these shapes.

The use of shape symbolism is especially popular among the Jewish, Muslim, and Christian religions in which idolatry is strictly forbidden.


The Point or Dot

The beginning of any visual symbol is the dot or point.  Before anything else can be created a dot must be made.  The self, beginnings, endings, and focus.  It is an illustration of the act of creation, because the creation of the dot itself is the act of creating something in a space which previously contained nothing.

  • Egyptian:  Rarely used in hieroglyphic writing and when they were, they either meant “grains of sand” or “grains of corn”.

Water and rain.


The line is a symbol of boundary and division.    A straight line represents infinity because it can continue in either direction indefinitely.  A vertical line represents the spiritual world and a horizontal line the temporal world.

The horizontal line represents the path of birth to death, beginning to end, and the dual nature of man…left and right, good and evil, and male and female.  The feminine principle.

A vertical line symbolizes man, the body, the spine, self, the tree of life, and the path from earth to heaven…the realm of the spirit.  The masculine principle.


Renewal, cycles, and life.  Life giving rain, water, water snakes, and abundance.  Usually seen as a repetitive pattern…not just one single line.

  •  Chinese: Clouds and rolling thunder.
  • Greek:  The Greek key pattern is another version of a meander.


Fertility, birth, death, transformation, growth, the soul, and expansion.  Spiritual journey…inner journey to the center of one’s soul or being.  Cycles…of time, life, the seasons, ect.  The spiral has been one of the most used shapes in religious and magical symbolism.  This may be because the spiral occurs often in nature…animal horns, the human ear, snail shells, fern fronds. The spiral represents anything that expands and contracts…the rising and setting Sun, waxing and waning of the Moon, the seasons, and life and death. It symbolizes the movement of consciousness towards the inner understanding of the oneness of the all.

A spiral moving in a clockwise direction represents the focusing and projection of an intention, like a prayer.  Associated with water and power.  The counter-clockwise moving spiral represents fulfillment of an intention, god’s answer.  A loosely wound counter- clockwise spiral was used to represent the large summer sun, and a tightly woven clockwise spiral signified the shrinking winter sun.

  • Celtic:  The Sun, feminine energy, the continuous creation and dissolution, growth, the endless circle of life, and a doorway to life or death.  Reaching the soul and so also God.
  • Egyptian:  A cow’s womb, an attribute of Meshhenet, the goddess of childbirth.
  • European:  The walls of the entrances to the ancient megalithic burial chambers are decorated with spirals, most likely symbolizing the journey of the soul into the chamber. the womb of the Goddess where the soul would be reborn.
  • Greek:  Double spiral represented water or the sea.
  • Hopi:  Represents the number of rounds a clan or tribe has made as has it journeyed though time toward its ultimate goal, the sacred Center of the World,  Tuuwanasavi.  The Hopi also drew or carved spirals, known aspotave’yta,  to show there was a water source nearby.

Double spirals have been used to symbolize opposing forces, the personification of opposites blending to make a whole, and androgyny.  They have also been used to represent the equinoxes, when day and night are of equal length.

  • Celtic: Unity of mind, body, and spirit.  Life, birth and death.  Past, present, and future.  The sky, earth, and sea. The interdependence of all existence. The Triple Goddess…mother, maiden, and crone.  Known as the spiral of life.
  • Christian:  The Trinity…Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.


     God, protection, the sky, home, shelter, the womb, and a tomb.

  • Buddhist:   The garbha, which means ‘womb’ or ‘container.’   The primordial, creative waters.  Associated with the element of water.
  • Christian:  Heaven.
  • Islamic:  A bridge between the earthly (linear) world and the divine (circular) realm.


Power, protection, creation, reincarnation, unity, wholeness, eternity, harmony, and infinity.  Many scholars believe it was most likely man’s first symbol.  The circle divides the known from the unknown, God and man, and therefore represents a protected and/or sacred place .  Time, perfection, motion, fulfillment, and all cycles: the seasons, life and death, the movement of the planets; the self, eternity, God—“God is a circle whose center is everywhere and circumference is nowhere…”Hermes Trismegistus—, the universe, timelessness, protection, gold or money, and nothing.  The circle has been part of our social and spiritual beliefs from the beginning…man has built their homes, hearths, animal pens, wells, villages, and religious and magical sites in circular shapes.  Great stone circles can be found around the world.  These ancient stone circles were believed to contain the powers of the Earth and many rituals and ceremonies were performed within them.

The circle with the square inside represents the sephirah Chesed.

  • Buddhist:  An empty circle represents enlightenment, wholeness, and totality.
  • Celtic:  A magical boundary that can not be crossed.
  • Christian:  Three overlapping circles represent the Trinity.
  • Greek:  The ancient Greeks considered the circle the most perfect of all shapes.
  • Humanist:  God in his perfect form.
  • Islamic:  The most perfect shape.  The divine and spiritual world. The circle dance of the Mevlevi, Whirling Dervishes, was created to follow the circular motion of the universe and all life within it, the motion of the planets around the Sun, and the search for God
  • Norse-Germanic:  The Sun.
  • Pythagorean:  Eternity…it’s “centre is everywhere and the circumference nowhere.”

God.  Represents the sephirah Binah.

The Sun, the eye of God, and corresponds with the sephirah Kether.

  • Alchemic:  Gold.
  • Christian:  Early Christian symbol of the eye of God.
  • Huichol:  Eye of God…”Ojo de dios”.
  • Masonic:  Control of passions.
  • Native American:  Spirit (Chippewa).

Past, present, and future, or any other triplicities.

Crossroads, thunder, power, respect, and growth.  The union of opposites. The four directions, elements, ect.  The calendar and the four holy days of the year…the equinoxes and solstices.  Also known as the Sun cross.  The earth.  Represents the sephirah Chokmah.

  • Alchemic:  Copper.
  • Astronomical: The Earth.
  • Catholic:  At the opening of a church the bishop, using blessed water or oil, draws the wheel cross at 12 different places on the church walls.
  • Greek:  Globe or sphere.
  • Nordic: Odin’s cross.

The cosmos.  Cycle of life.  Cyclical movement of life and death, the stars, the seasons, ect.  Reincarnation.  Winged wheel is a symbol of progress.

  • Celtic:  Arianrhod was known as the “Goddess of the Silver Wheel” (the stars).
  • Etruscan:  The Wheel-goddess was Vortumna, known as “She Who Turns the Year.”
  • Heraldry:  Fortune.
  • Hindu:  Law.  Dharma, which signifies the underlying order in nature  and life (human or other) considered to be in accord with that order.  Kali rules the Wheel of Time (Kalacakra), where all the life-breath of the world is fixed “as the spokes of a wheel are held fast in the hub.”  The Hindu idea of the universe is shown as a gigantic chariot carrying all gods and creatures on its wheels through an eternal round.
  • Judeo-Christian:  The Hebrew scriptures refers to the angels of the galaxy gelor “wheels,” whose revolutions mean revelations.
  • Roman:  Fortuna was the goddess whose constantly turning heavenly wheel marked all the seasons and the fates of men.  She ruled the kyklos geneseon, the wheel of rebirth.

Borromean Rings

Strength in unity.

  • Christian:  The trinity.
  • Shinto:  The interconnectedness of the three realms: heaven (the land of gods), earth (the land of man), and the underworld (land of the dead).

Lemniscate (Infinity)

Infinity, the future, and the harmonious interaction between the conscious and unconscious.  That which has no end.  The Magician card of the Tarot…balance of forces.

  • Buddhist:  Long life and eternity.
  • Egyptian:  Thoth’s celestial “city of eight.”  The destination of souls after death where the soul re-ascends and merges with Osiris and God.
  • Hindu:  The Yajur Veda (c. 1200-900 BC) states, “if you remove a part from infinity or add a part to infinity, still what remains is infinity.”
  • Jain:  The Jains recognized five types of infinity…the infinite in one and two directions (both one dimensional), the infinite in area (two dimensions), the infinite everywhere (three dimensions),  and infinite perpetually (infinite number of dimensions).
  • Roman:  The word infinity comes from the Latin infinitus, meaning unboundless.  Lemniscate comes form the Latin lemniscus, meaning ribbon.

Mobius Strip    

A mathematician confided… That a Möbius band is one-sided, And you’ll get quite a laugh, If you cut one in half, For it stays in one piece when divided.

A mobius strip is a continuous loop with only one side and one edge.  Change, regeneration, wonder, new ideas, oddity, and cycles.


Egg, the womb, and a seed.  From the Latin ovum meaning “egg”.  Also nothing and zero.


Completeness, unity, equality, honor, perfection, and acceptance.  No point of the sphere is nearer or farther from the center than any other point on the sphere.

Vesica Piscis

Connection, fertility, and the fusion of opposites.  Fish.  The joining of God and Goddess.  The vesica piscis is the almond shaped area created by two intersecting circles.  Mandorla is the Italian word for almond.  The Oxford English Dictionary defines the vesica piscis (Latin for “vessel of the fish” or “fish’s bladder”) as “a pointed oval figure, the sides of which are properly parts of two equal circles passing through each other at their centres.”   When the vesica piscis is shown horizontally it is  a symbol of the birth passage, the womb…the life giving force.  The vulva of the goddess.  The Divine Feminine.  When shown vertically it is a symbol of the eye, the mirror of the soul.

  • Astrological:  Pisces.
  • Christian:  Jesus Christ.  A medieval hymn calls Jesus “the little fish in the Virgin’s fountain.”  The vesica piscis shown vertically, the mandorla forms the shape of a fish. The word “fish” translates into Greek as “ichthys”, which is an acronym for “Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior.”  The early Christians used the fish symbol as a secret code to identify themselves to one another and avoid persecution.
  • Pythagorean:   The dyad.  Theintersection of the divine world with the world of matter and the beginning of creation.


Unity, harmony, completion, wholeness, poetry, healing, creative energy, power, and spirituality.  The union and tension of opposites.  The sacred androgyne.  The embryo enclosed in the uterus.  The joining of God and Goddess to create offspring.  A mandorla is formed by two circles coming together, overlapping one another, and forming an almond shape in the middle.  The grail.  The place between…between God or Goddess and individual, life and death, male and female, dreaming and waking, light and darkness, heaven and earth, yin and yang, ect.

  • Christian:  The coming together of heaven and earth, the divine and human.  A bridge between heaven and earth.  Mary’s womb.  Early Christianswould scratch a circle in the earth and the other added theirs to complete the mandorla as a way of identifying each other.   In early Christian art, the Christ child is often shown in a mandorla, superimposed over Mary’s abdomen.
  • Roman:  Venus.


Strength, warning, strength and all things or concepts of a triple nature.  The downward pointing triangle is a feminine symbol, the upward pointing triangle a phallic masculine symbol.  Associated with Saturn, the fire element, and black.  The number and all trinities.  Equilateral triangles symbolize harmony and perfection.

  • Alchemic:  The heart and fire.  The three angles represent the Three Alchemical Principles of Nature…mercury, sulphur, and salt.
  • Hindu:  A triangle with the point down represents the womb.

Pyramid or Tetrahedron

Inspiration and passion.  One of the five Platonic Solids, the tetrahedron has four triangular faces, four vertices, and six edges.  The four corners rising and converging at the top symbolize unity.  The fire element.  The solar plexus chakra.  Used for health and manifestation.  Red.

  • Alchemic:  Each face is a triangle which represents fire.
  • Golden Dawn:  The “pyramid of fire”.


Stability, equality, honesty, justice, shelter and safety, limitation, security, endurance, strength, and permanence.  The four sides of the square represent quaternary concepts: the elements—air, fire, water, and earth; the seasons—spring, summer, winter, fall; the motions—linear, vibratory, rotary, mixed; four-letter names of God; the archangels—Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, Auriel; the directions—north, south, east, west; ect.

  • Buddhist:  A square within the circle represents the relationship of the human and divine.
  • Christian:  In Christian art, the square is frequently found as a nimbus (halo), symbolizing  a saintly person who was still living at the time the artwork was created.
  • Islamic:  The earth and material world.
  • Qaballah:  Chesed, the fourth Sephirah.

Cube or Hexahedron    

Stability.  One of the five Platonic Solids, the hexahedron has six square faces, eight vertices, and twelve edges.  Truth, knowledge, perfection, completion, eternity, and stability.  The earth element.  The root chakra.  Used for grounding.  Green and black.

  • Greek: Kingship and stability.


The cross is one of the oldest symbols in the world. It is a universal symbol of life giving power of the Sun, eternity, infinity, immortality, transformation, and movement.  The vertical line of the cross is symbolic of the intellect, the active, the male principle, and the spiritual dimension.  The horizontal line of the cross symbolizes intuition, the passive, the feminine principle, and the earthly dimension.  The center of the cross is the place where heaven and Earth meet, where man and God co-exist.  Since the cross contains the four directions radiating from the center it is associated with the number four, and is also used to symbolize the four directions, elements, winds, seasons, phases of the Moon, ect.

Equilateral crosses symbolize balance, twins and couples, and the union of opposites.

  • Celtic:  The four roads of the four corners of the earth…the predecessors of latitude and longitude.  The center of the cross represented center of the world body, the summit of the world mountain, and “X marks the spot”.
  • Chinese: The Earth, Heaven and Earth joined, time and space, and the umbilical cord of the universe.
  • Christian:  The crucifixion and resurrection of Christ, eternal life, redemption, love, blessing, compassion, and faith.
  • Egyptian:  The tau cross symbolized life.  The ankh was a symbol of resurrection, eternal life, and fertility in Egypt.  Egyptian art shows the gods and goddesses holding an ankh to a person’s head or lips which symbolized the giving of life.  The oval on top of the ankh represents the rising Sun, the crossbar represents the horizon, and the vertical line below the crossbar represents the Sun’s path…the light of the Sun shining down on the Nile.  It was a symbol of the life-giving powers of the Nile.  The crossbar symbolized the east and west, life and death, and the sunrise and sunset.  As an amulet it was believed to bestow on the wearer long life, power, wisdom, and prosperity.
  • Greek:  The four elements of creation.


Life, the microcosm, truth, transfiguration, perfection, protection, wholeness, health, good fortune, and mystery.  Also known as the Star of Knowledge, Pentalpha, Pentacle, Witch’s Cross, Wizard’s Star, Endless Knot, and Goblin’s Cross.    Although its origins are uncertain, it can be found in ancient art and ruins all over the world, including China, India, and many countries in North and South America and Africa.  The earliest known record of the pentagram can be traced back to ancient Mesopotamia, approximately 3500 B.C., where it was used as a protective symbol on tools, cooking pots, ect. It was not considered an evil or Satanic symbol until the Inquisition, during the purge of witch’s.  The pentagram has long been a symbol of man, and is associated with the number 5, and the planets Venus and Mars.

Each of the points of a pentagram has its own meanings: the head corresponds to the element of spirit, the color white, the middle finger, the sense of sight, man, and the Archangel Raphael; the left arm corresponds to the air, yellow, the little finger, intellect and imagination, smell, plant life, and the Archangel Gabriel; the right arm corresponds to water, blue, intuition, emotion, the index finger, taste, fish, and the Archangel Michael; the left leg corresponds to the Earth, black, the thumb, touch, crystals, the material world, the Archangel Sandalphon; and the right leg corresponds to fire, red, the ring finger, hearing, animal life, and the Archangel Haniel, life’s energy.  The five points are also associated with the five virtues of knights: chivalry, courtesy, generosity, chastity, and piety.

A double pentagram represents the goddess in her five phases of a woman’s life: birth, menarche, maternity, menopause, and death.

  • Alchemic:  The four elements…flatus, ignus, aqua, and terra…superseded by divine energy, symbolized creation…Fiat Lux, or, “let there be light.”
  • Babylonian:  Protection.  Found in ancient Babylonian drawings, where it represents the pattern the planet Venus makes on its travels, and is therefore a secret symbol of the Goddess Ishtar.
  • Celtic:  The pentagram was known as the witch’s foot, represented the Morrigan, and was believed to be strong protection from evil.  The upright pentagram was a symbol of summer and an inverted pentagram a symbol of winter.  The pentagram represented the five virtues of a knight: generosity, courtesy, chastity, chivalry, and godliness.  The Druids, Celtic holy men and women, wore a pentagram on their sandals as a symbol of God.  The first mention of a pentagram in English appearedIn the legend of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (1380 ), stanzas 27-28 where Gawain carries a shield “…shining gules, With the Pentangle in pure gold depicted thereon…”

It is a symbol which Solomon conceived once
To betoken holy truth, by its intrinsic right,
For it is a figure which has five points,
And each line overlaps and is locked with another;
And it is endless everywhere, and the English call it,
In all the land, I hear, the Endless Knot.

  • Christian:  The five wounds of Christ, creation, and truth.  It was used by the early popes as a sigil and by the early Christians as a symbol of Epiphany.  It is said that the “sign of the cross” was adapted from the pagan practice of invoking the pentagram for protection.
  • Druid:  The Godhead.
  • Egyptian:  Underground womb.  The pentagram had the phonetic value ofdwA (dwa) and represented the word praise
  • German:  Called adruttenfuss, which originally meant “druid’s foot”, but over time has become corrupted to mean ‘witch’s foot’.
  • Gnostic:  The mysteries of night.  Called “the blazing star”.
  • Greek:  Perfection.  Called the Pentalpha because, geometrically, it is formed of five A’s.  Pythagoras saw it as a bridge between the heavens and the Earth, a way to join man with god. Followers of Pythagoras called ithugieia, meaning health.  They placed the Greek letters U,G,I,EI, and A on the pentagram counterclockwise from the top, spelling out hugieia.  Pentagram comes from the Greek word πεντάγραμμον (pentagrammon), a noun form of πεντάγραμμος (pentagrammos), πεντέγραμμος (pentegrammos) a word meaning  “five-lined” or “five lines”.
  • Judaic:  Used by ancient Jews, along with the Star of David, to symbolize life, humankind, truth, and wisdom.  The five books of the Torah: 1) Genesis  (בראשית,Bereshit: “In the beginning…”), 2) Exodus (שמות, Shemot: “Names”), 3) Leviticus (ויקרא, Vayyiqra: “And he called…”), 4) Numbers  (במדבר, Bamidbar: “In the desert/wilderness…”), and 5) Deuteronomy (דברים, Devarim: “Words”, “Discourses”, or “Things”).  Sometimes it is called the “Seal of Solomon”, as is the “Star of David.
  • Kaballah:  Geburah, the fifth sephirah.
  • Masonic:  In medieval times freemasons regarded the pentragram as a symbol of widsom.
  • Mesopotamian:  Royalty.  Used in royal inscriptions representing imperial power extending out to ‘the four corners of the world’.
  • Pythagorean:  Perfection and a human being.  Seen as a perfect shape because it embodied the natural harmony of the universe that could be expressed mathematically. The Pythagoreans called the pentagram ύγιειαHugieia (“health”).  The five points were also used to represent the five elements: ύδωρ, Hudor, water; Γαια, Gaia earth; ίδέα, Idea or ίερόν, Hieron “a divine thing” έιλή, Heile, heat (fire); and άήρ, Aer, air.   The five elements that make up man: fire, water, air, earth, and psyche…(energy, fluid, breath, matter, and mind; liquid, gas, solid, plasma and aethyr).


The womb, defense, preservation, and resistance.


Unity, balance, harmony, community, wisdom, and wholeness.  The union of opposites…the yin-yang of western civilization.  Sacred marriage of masculine and feminine energies.  A symbol of the macrocosm and of the relationship between the macrocosm and the microcosm.  The upward-pointing triangle represents the yearning  to return to the Divine, the downward-pointing triangle represents the descent of the Divine into matter, and where the two meet is a union of beauty and harmony…a divine balance. The downward pointing triangle represents female sexuality and the upward pointing triangle male sexuality.  Also known as the Star of David and Seal of Solomon, the hexagram is another symbol that has been used since ancient times.  Long before it became the symbol of Judaism it was a symbol of the joining and the balance of opposites.  It was also considered a powerful good luck amulet.

The hexagram is composed of two interlaced triangles, one pointed upward and the other pointing downward.  The upward triangle, associated with the element of fire and masculine energy, combines with the downward triangle, which is associated with the element of water and feminine energy.  The base of each triangle intersects just under the peak of the other and forms the symbols of the air and earth elements. Each of the points of the hexagram has several meanings, including but not limited to: the first point corresponds to the color yellow, vibratory motion, the sense of sight, the head, the apple tree, and the music of a trumpet; the second point corresponds to red, linear motion, hearing, the right leg, the yew tree, and the drum; the third point corresponds to green, circular motion, taste, the left arm, the birch tree, and the guitar; the fourth point corresponds to orange, linear motion, smell, the right arm, the oak tree, and the organ; the fifth point corresponds to blue, circular motion, touch, the left leg, the elm tree, and the bass; and the sixth point corresponds to purple, vibratory motion, motion (sense), the sexual organs, the willow tree, and the violin.

There are five other forms of the hexagram used in magic. The first is the unicursal, so-named because it can be made with a single unbroken line. The second type is two triangles superimposed on each other, both in an upward position, and the top of one slightly higher than the other.  The third type is the upside down version of the second type.  In the fourth form one triangle is pointed upward and the other downward with their bases touching. The fifth form has one triangle pointing upward and the other inverted on its tip.

  • Alchemic:  The union of water and heat in perfect harmony.  Medieval Alchemists called the hexagram the “Philosopher’s stone,” and added a tiny dot on the upper right hand point to represent the presence of God and guidance of the Divine Spirit.
  • Buddhism:  In Tibetan Buddhism, man’s position between the Earth and the sky.  In Tibetan it is called the origin of phenomenon (chos-kyi ‘byung-gnas).
  • Christian Kabbalah: The divine union of male and female energy, the male is represented by the upper triangle (referred to as the “blade”) and the female by the lower one (referred to as the “chalice”).
  • Egyptian:  Time, eternity, and never-ending cycles.
  • Hindu:  Creation…the union of Shiva, the masculine, and the upward pointing triangle, and Shakti, the feminine, the downward pointing triangle.  The union of the two triangles represents Creation, which occurs through the divine union of male and female.  The two triangles are calledOm and Hrim in Sanskrit, and symbolize man’s position between earth and the sky.  Kartikeya, the six-faced child of Shiva and Shakti.  The Nara-Narayana, the perfect meditative state of balance achieved between God and man.  If this state is maintained it will result in Nirvana (release from the bounds of the earthly world and its material trappings).  A sign of Vishnu.
  • The upward pointing triangle symbolizes all that is good in the universe and the downward triangle symbolizes all that is evil in the universe.
  • Islamic:  This symbol is known in Arabic as نجمة داوود, Najmat Dawuud(Star of David).
  • Judaic:  A symbol of Judaism and Jewish identity.  The Magen David,Shield of David.  Also known as the Seal of Solomon, the magical signet ring King Solomon used to control spirits and demons.  The Star of David inspired victory and was painted on the shields of early Jewish warriors.  The Kabbalah states the Ark of the Covenant contains, besides the tablets of the 10 commandments, a hexagram representing the intimate embrace of a man and a woman.
  • Mormon:  The tribes of Israel, friendship, and the Mormon’s kinship with the Jewish people.


Perfection, balance, strength, warmth, and nurturing.  It is the shape bees choose to make their honeycombs in.

  • Kaballah:  Tiphareth, the sixth sephirah.


Balance, energy, and health. The heptagram is also known as the Star of Venus, the Witch’s Star, and Star of the Astrologer’s.  The heptagram is used in magic to link the powers of the planets to the Earth.  The acute heptagram is also known as the Elven Star or the Fairy Star.  It is a symbol of magickal power and wiccan religions.  An obtuse heptagram is known as the Seal or Star of Babylon.   Each point of an acute hexagram corresponds to a day of the week and a planet.  The bottom left point Sunday and the Sun, the topmost point Monday and the Moon, the bottom right point Tuesday and Mars, the left above point Wednesday and Mercury, the right below point Thursday and Jupiter, the left below point Friday and Venus, and the right above point Saturday and Saturn.

  • Christian:  The seven days of creation.


Symbolic of the love inside…the love we hold, deep religious belief, infatuation, a restrained feeling, and the forming of God in our own image. Associated with Venus and Neptune.

  • Kaballah:  Netzach, the seventh sephirah.


Protection, spiritual enlightenment, resurrection, rebirth, infinity, and abundance.  Balance between spirit and matter, the inner and outer bodies, and male and female.  The octagram has been associated with the Star of the Magi, and is a symbol of hope and communication.   Associated with Venus.

There are two forms of octagram: the unicursal octagram is made with one continuous line, it is a symbol of harmony, knowledge, the future, and the natural world; and the bicursal octagram which is made with two squares, symbolizing conflict and separation.

  • Egyptian:  The Ogdoad, which was 4 pairs of gods, each pair representing the male and female parts of a different aspect of chaos out of which the cosmos was created. These gods were Nun and Nunet (primeval water), Kek and Keket (darkness), Heh and Hehet (infinity) and Amun and Amaunet (hiddenness). The gods were shown as men with the heads of frogs, the goddesses as women with heads of snakes.
  • Gnostic:  Creation.
  • Nordic:  Protection.


Individuality, intellect, intuition, and regeneration.


Balance and expansion.  One of the five Platonic Solids, eight triangular faces, six vertices, and twelve edges.  The air element.  The heart and throat chakra.  Used for spiritual development and manifesting peace and love.  Yellow.


Represents completion, stability, fulfillment, attainment, intuition, creativity, kundalini power, and the power of dreams and illusions.  The points are associated with all groups of nine, for example: the nine internal and external senses…memory, meditation, imagination, common sense, hearing, smell, sight, taste, and touch; and the nine muses. Calliope-poetry, Clio-history, Melpomene-tragedy, Euterpe-music, Terpsichore-dancing, Urania-astronomy, Thalia-comedy, Polyhymnia-eloquence.

  • Christian: The fruits of the Spirit (Latin and English):  charitas/love, gaudium/joy, pax/peace, longanimitas/patience, benignitas/kindness, bonitus/goodness, fides/faithfulness, mansuetudo/gentleness and continentia/self-control.
  • Egyptian:  The ennead is a group of nine deities, most often used in Egyptian Mythology.  There were many enneads in ancient Egypt, the most important one was the Greater Ennead.  This group consisted of Atum, who was the first god, his children, Tefnut and Shu, and their children, Nuit, Geb, Isis and Osiris.
  • Hindu:  The Universe.
  • Taoism:  The nine Taoist kanji (psychic centers), which are similar to the Hindu chakras: Chu (“pillar”) at the base of the spine, Shen (“body”) at the genitals, Kai (“open”) at the Hara point (two inches below the navel), Tai (“belt”) at the navel, Sha (“to die”) at the solar plexus, Jen (“man”) at the throat, Tung (“understand”) at the third-eye, Hua (“flower”) at the top of the head, and Tao (“path” or “way”) in the aura.


Divine creation.  One of the five Platonic Solids, twelve pentagonal faces, twenty vertices, and thirty edges.  The Universe.  Associated with the Higher Self.  Used for focus and meditation.  Gold.


Movement and change.  One of the five Platonic Solids, twenty triangular faces, twelve vertices, and thirty edges.  The water element.  The sacral chakra.  Transformation, sexuality, and accessing the emotions.  Blue.