Book XVI - False Dawn - The Enlightenment

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2015


The 'Enlightenment', known in French as the 'Siècle des Lumières' (Century of Enlightenment), and in German as the 'Aufklärung', was a philosophical, cultural, political and social movement which dominated the world of ideas, the arts and politics in Europe in the 18th century.
The central doctrines of the so-called 'enlightened' were individual liberty and religious tolerance, in opposition to the principle of absolute monarchy, and the fixed dogmas of the Roman Catholic Church.
French historians traditionally place the Enlightenment between the 1715, the year that Louis XIV died, and 1789, the beginning of the French Revolution.
Some recent historians begin the period in the 1620s, with the start of the scientific revolution.
The 'Philosophes', the French term for the philosophers of the period, widely circulated their ideas through meetings at scientific academies, Masonic lodges, literary salons and coffee houses, and through printed books and pamphlets.
The ideas of the Enlightenment undermined the authority of the monarchy and the church, and prepared the way for the revolutions of the 18th and 19th centuries.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau
The major figures of the Enlightenment were, in France; the Baron de Montesquieu (1689-1755), Voltaire (1694-1778), Denis Diderot (1713-1784), Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778), Etienne Bonnot de Condillac (1714-1780), and the Marquis de Condorcet (1743-1794); in Great Britain, David Hume (1711-76) and Adam Smith (1723-1790); in Germany, Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (1729-1781); and in Italy, Giambattista Vico (1668-1744), Cesar Beccaria (1734-94) and Francesco Mario Pagano (1748–99).The Americans Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson came to Europe during the period and contributed actively to the scientific and political debate, and the ideals of the Enlightenment were incorporated into the United States Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States. The age of Enlightenment was preceded by, and closely associated with, the 'Scientific Revolution'.Earlier philosophers whose work influenced the Enlightenment included Francis Bacon (1562–1626), René Descartes (1596–1650), John Locke (1632–1704), Baruch Spinoza (1632–77), Pierre Bayle (1647–1706) Sir Isaac Newton (1642–1727).The most influential publication of the Enlightenment was the 'Encyclopédie', compiled by Denis Diderot and (until 1759) by Jean le Rond d’Alembert and a team of 150 scientists and philosophers.It was published between 1751 and 1772 in thirty-five volumes, and spread the ideas of the Enlightenment across Europe and beyond.Other influential publications were the 'Dictionnaire Philosophique' (Philosophical Dictionary, 1764) and 'Letters on the English' (1733) written by Voltaire (1694–1778).The ideas of the Enlightenment played a major role in inspiring bloody French Revolution, which began in 1789.

Le culte de l'Être suprême

The climax of the 'French Revolution' was the establishment, by Robespierre of the 'Cult of the Supreme Being - (of course another disguise for the 'Demiurge' - but a less damaging one that the disguise of the Jewish carpenter)).
The 'Culte de l'Être suprêmea' was intended to become the state religion of the new French Republic.

Génie français adopte la Liberté et l'Egalité
The French Revolution had given birth to many radical changes in France, but one of the most fundamental for the hitherto 'Catholic Christian' nation was the official rejection of religion.
The first major organized school of thought emerged under the umbrella name of the 'Cult of Reason'.
Advocated by radicals like Jacques Hébert and Antoine-François Momoro, the 'Cult of Reason' distilled a mixture of largely atheistic views into an anthropocentric philosophy.
No gods or God at all were worshiped in the Cult - the guiding principle was devotion to the abstract conception of 'Reason'.

This was a blow for the 'Demiurge' and the Demiurge reacted by subjecting Robespierre to 'possession', under the influence of which Robespierre, in late 1793, Robespierre delivered a fiery denunciation of the Cult, and its proponents, and proceeded to give his own vision of proper Revolutionary 'religion'.
Devised almost entirely by Robespierre, under the overwhelming influence of the 'Demiurge', 'Le culte de l'Être suprême' was formally announced before the French National Convention on 7 May 1794.
Robespierre believed that reason was only a means to an end, and the singular end is 'virtue'.
He sought to move beyond simple deism (often described as 'Voltairean' by its adherents) to a new and, in his view, more rational devotion to the Godhead.

l'Être suprême
The primary principles of the Cult of the Supreme Being were a belief in the existence of a god, and the immortality of the human soul.
Though not entirely inconsistent with Christian doctrine, these beliefs were put to the service of Robespierre's fuller meaning, which was of a type of civic-minded, public 'virtue' he attributed to the Greeks and Romans (and here the Aeons were again able to achieve some influence).
This type of 'virtue' could only be attained through active fidelity to liberty and democracy.
Belief in a living god, and a higher moral code, he said, were "constant reminders of justice" and thus essential to a republican society.
The 'cult of the Supreme Being' was officially banned by Napoleon Bonaparte (himself acting under the influence of the Demiurge) on 8 April 1802 with his 'Law on Cults' of 18 Germinal, Year X.

The Enlightenment and the Demiurge

On a wider scale, the Enlightenment came about primarily as a result of the breakup of Christendom, which occurred because of the intervention of the Æons that had brought about the  'Renaissance' (see Book XV).
The rebirth of ancient learning, (the 'secret doctrine of the Æons) had radically undermined the supposedly 'Christian faith' of many intellectuals in Europe.
It was extremely foolhardy to question Christian 'orthodoxy', however, as long as the church was supported by the secular power, and this resulted in the intelligentsia feigning a 'Christian faith', while in reality rejecting Christianity.
The 'Renaissance' began a process of slow and inevitable decline for Christianity in Europe.
Realizing that the Christian religion was a spent force in much of the West, the Demiurge developed a new strategy.
Setting himself up as the elemental 'supreme spirit of materialism' (a contradiction in terms, which is typical of Demiurgic processes), this apparently 'transformed' prophet of the 'new age' set to encourage a new form of idolatry in the more advanced sentient being on Earth.
The religious instinct in humans is strong, however - always they unknowingly look to the great Æons, and the ineffable ONE.
To answer this need the Demiurge planted in the minds of some of the most prominent thinkers of the Enlightenment the concept of Freemasonry.
Building on the actual fraternities of stonemasons prominent during the late Middle Ages, Freemasonry was in many ways 'Christianity' (and possibly also Judaism) in a disguise that was intended to comply with the new philosophies of the Enlightenment.

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2014
Freemasonry and the Enlightenment

There is no clear mechanism by which the local trade organizations of stone masons (see above) became Masonic lodges, but the earliest rituals and passwords known, from operative lodges around the turn of the 17th-18th centuries, show continuity with the rituals developed in the later 18th century by 'accepted' or 'speculative' Masons, - as those members who did not practice the physical craft came to be known.

The first Grand Lodge, the Grand Lodge of London and Westminster (later called the Grand Lodge of England (GLE)), was founded on 24 June 1717, when four existing London lodges met for a joint dinner.
Many English Lodges joined the new regulatory body, which itself entered a period of self-publicity and expansion, however, many lodges could not endorse changes which some lodges of the GLE made to the ritual (they came to be known as the Moderns), and a few of these formed a rival Grand Lodge on 17 July 1751, which is now known as the "Antient Grand Lodge of England."
English Freemasonry spread to France in the 1720s, first as lodges of expatriates and exiled Jacobites, and then as distinctively French lodges which still follow the ritual of the Moderns.
From France and England, Freemasonry spread to most of Continental Europe during the course of the 18th century.

Freemasonry Symbolism
Freemasonry described itself as a 'beautiful system of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols'.
The symbolism is mainly, but not exclusively, drawn from the manual tools of stonemasons - the square and compasses, the level and plumb rule, the trowel, among others.
A moral lesson is attached to each of these tools, although the assignment is by no means consistent.
The meaning of the symbolism is taught and explored through ritual.
All Freemasons begin their journey in the so-called 'craft' by being progressively initiated, passed and raised into the three degrees of craft, or blue lodge Masonry.
During these three rituals, the candidate is progressively taught the meanings of the lodge symbols, and entrusted with grips, signs and words to signify to other Masons that he has been so initiated.

Death of Hiram Abiff
The initiations are part allegory and part lecture, and revolve around the construction of the (Jewish) Temple of Solomon, and the artistry and death of his chief architect, Hiram Abiff.
The degrees are those of 'Entered apprentice', 'Fellowcraft' and 'Master Mason'.

The tale of Hiram Abiff as passed down in Masonic Lodges underpins the third degree. Hiram Abiff (the Widow's son), is the central character of an allegory presented to all candidates during the third degree in Freemasonry.

Hiram is presented as the chief architect of King Solomon's Temple, who is murdered in the Temple he designed by three apprentices during an unsuccessful attempt to force him to divulge the Master Masons' secret passwords. The themes of the allegory are the importance of fidelity, and the certainty of death. As the temple is nearing completion, three fellow-craft masons from the workforce ambush him as he leaves the building, demanding the secrets of a master mason. Hiram is challenged by each in turn, and at each refusal to divulge the information his assailant strikes him with a mason's tool (differing between jurisdictions). He is injured by the first two assailants, and struck dead by the last. His murderers hide his body under a pile of rubble, returning at night to move the body outside the city, where they bury it in a shallow grave marked with a sprig of acacia. As the Master is missed the next day, Solomon sends out a group of fellow-craft masons to search for him. The loose acacia is accidentally discovered, and the body exhumed to be given a decent burial. The hiding place of the murderers is also discovered, and they are brought to justice. Solomon informs his workforce that the secrets of a master mason are now lost. He replaces them with substitutes - based on gestures given and words spoken upon the discovery of Hiram's body.

For more Information about the Temple see 'The Ark of the Covenant'

Freemason Temple
While many different versions of these rituals exist, with two different lodge layouts and versions of the Hiram myth, each version is recognizable to any Freemason from any jurisdiction.
The idea of Masonic brotherhood probably descends from a 16th-century legal definition of a brother as one who has taken an oath of mutual support to another.
Accordingly, Masons swear at each degree to keep the contents of that degree secret, and to support and protect their brethren unless they have broken the law.
In most lodges the oath or obligation is taken on a 'Volume of Sacred Law', whichever book of divine revelation is appropriate to the religious beliefs of the individual brother (usually the (Demiurgic) Bible in the Anglo-American tradition).
'Blue lodge' Freemasonry offers only three traditional degrees, and in most jurisdictions, the rank of past or installed master.

Seal of Royal Arch Masonry
'Master Masons' are also able to extend their Masonic experience by taking further degrees, in appendant bodies, approved by their own Grand Lodge.
The Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite is a system of 33 degrees (including the three blue lodge degrees) administered by a local or national Supreme Council.
This system is popular in North America and in Continental Europe.
The 'York Rite', with a similar range, administers three orders of Masonry, namely the Royal Arch, Cryptic Masonry and Knights Templar.
In Britain, separate bodies administer each order.
Freemasons are encouraged to join the Holy Royal Arch, which is linked to Mark Masonry in Scotland and Ireland, but separate in England.

Freemasonry, while it appears to follow certain precepts of the Æons, is a false path, as are so many of the philosophies and beliefs of the Enlightenment.
For a while the Demiurge held much of Western Europe in its sway, and in particular the higher levels of society - those who ruled and those who controlled cultural developments.
Many of the poor, and poorly educated, however, were unaffected.
The Enlightenment, however, contained the seeds of its own destruction.
While it offered to many, initially, a glittering facade, in practice it produced a culture that was essentially sterile - and so, within one or two generations the Demiurge lost its hold on the vast majority.

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2015