Enciclopédia Mackey – HERMETI ~ HIGDEN

by ALBERT C. MACKEY M. D. Enciclopédia



The art or science of Alchemy, so termed from Hermes Trismegistus, who was looked up to by the alchemists as the founder of their art. The Hermetic philosophers say that all the sages of antiquity, such as Plato, Socrates, Aristotle, and Pythagoras, were initiated into the secrets of their science; and that the hieroglyphics of Egypt and all the fables of mythology were invented to teach the dogmas of Hermetic philosophy (see Alchemy).


Pertaining or belonging to that species of philosophy which pretends to solve and explain all the phenomena of nature from the three chemical principles, salt, sulphur, and mercury. Also that study of the sciences as pursued by the Rosicrucian Fraternity. A practice of the arts of alchemy and similar pursuits, involving a duplex symbolism with their peculiar distinctions.


A Rite established by Pernetty at Avignon, in France, and more commonly called the Illuminati of Avignon (see Avignon, Illuminati of).


See Isis-Uranea Temple


See Heredom


See Royal Order of Scotland


“Heroden,” says a manuscript of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, iris a mountain situated in the northwest of Scotland, where the first or metropolitan Lodge of Europe was held.” The word is not now used by Masonic writers, and was, undoubtedly, a corruption of Heredom or Harodim, which see.


An androgynous (for both sexes) Degree conferred, in America, on Royal Arch Masons, their wives, and daughters. It is intended to instruct its female recipients in the claims which they have upon the protection of their husbands’ and fathers’ companions, and to communicate to them an effectual method of proving those claims. An instance of friendship extended to the whole family of a benefactress by those whom she had benefitted, and of the influence of a solemn contract in averting danger, is referred to in the case of Rahab, the woman of Jericho, from whom the Degree derives its name; and for this purpose the second chapter of the Book of Joshua is read to the candidate. When the Degree is received by a male, he is called a Knight of Jericho, and when by a female, she is termed a Heroine. It is a side or honorary Degree, and may be conferred by any Royal Arch Mason on a candidate qualified to receive it.


Born in London, England, January 12, 1794; died in France, October 8, 1867; buried in Greenwood Cemetery, New York, October 27, 1867. The family emigrated to America in 1805. James Herring was initiated in Solomon’s Lodge, Somerville, New Jersey, in 1816. He was Master of Clinton Lodge, New York City, in 1827, 1828, 1832, and 1834, a period when the anti-Masonic spirit was in its zenith. He, with the remaining members of Clinton Lodge, united with Saint John’s, No. 1, and met in union December 18, 1834. He instituted the formation of the Lodge of Strict Observance, which was constituted by Grand Lodge, December 27, 1843, Right Worshipful Brother Herring being the Master, with which Lodge he remained until his death. On September 3, 1528, he was appointed Assistant Grand Secretary, and on June 3, 1829, was elected Grand Secretary, which office he retained until 1846. He sided with the Phillips or Herring Grand Body at the split in Grand Lodge on June 5, 1849, and remained its Grand Secretary until 1858, when, in June, the two Grand Lodges were fused. He was a delegate to the Convention of Grand Lodges held in Washington on March 7, 1842.

Brother Herring delivered the oration, on August 25, 1847, in Saint John’s Lodge, in commemoration of the Most Worshipful Grand Masters, Morgan Leavis and Alex. H. Robertson, and other eminent Freemasons, on the occasion of the First Lodge of Sorrow held in America in the English language. He was exalted in Jerusalem Chapter, No. 8, Royal Arch Masons, New York City, January 5, 1817, dubbed a Knight Templar in Columbian Commandery, No. 1, New York, and was received a Sovereign Grand Inspector General, Thirty-third Degree of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite. Brother Herring was a Past High Priest and Past Grand Secretary of the General Grand Chapter of the United States, Past Grand Master of the Grand Encampment of the United States, and Past Grand Representative of the Orients of Brazil and France. Grand Historian Ossian Lang on page 126, History of Freemasonry in the State of New York, 1922, says “James Herring proved a tower of strength in the trying days. His untiring zeal and masterly management did much to pilot the Grand Lodge through the night of storm.”


A corruption of Chesed, which see.


Said to be the real name of the author of the Encyclopadie des Freemaurerei (see Lenning)


Freemasonry appears to have been founded in this Electorate in 1743, by a Lodge at Marburg, called Zu den drei Löwen, or Three Lions, which afterward took the name of Marc Aurel zum flammenden Stern, or of the Blazing Star. A Lodge also appears to have existed in 1771, at Cassel, called Zum blauen Lowen. In 1817 the Grand Mother Lodge of Hesse-Cassel was founded, which lasted until 1821, when the government closed all Lodges. In 1849 one was reopened by General von Helmschwerdt, but it was closed in 1855. It is now understood that this Lodge has been reopened.


German state. An early Masonic Lodge, Die drei Disteln, or Three Thistles, here said to have been first organized at Mayence in 1765. The Lodges in Darmstadt were in the Frankfort Eclectic Union and formed the Grand Lodge Zur Eintracht or of Concord, at Darmstadt in 1845, which is now called Die grosse Loge des Freimaurer Bundes zur Eintracht in Darns stadt or The Grand Lodge of Masonic Bodies of Concord at Darmstadt.


A figure of six equal sides constitutes a part of the Camp in the Scottish Degree of Sublime Princes of the Royal Secret. Stieglitz, in an essay on the symbols of Freemasonry, published in 1825, in the Altenburg Zeitschrift, says that the hezagon formed by six triangles, whose apices converge to a point, making the accompanying figure, is a symbol of the universal creation, the six points crossing the central point; thus assimilating the hexagon to the older symbol of the point within a circle.


From two words of the Greek language meaning siz and written. A geometrical figure made up of two interlaced equilateral triangles, supposed to possess mysterious powers and frequently used as a symbol of the Pythagorean school. It is also known as the Seal of Solomon and the Shield of David (see Magic Squares).


See Magic Squares


Greek for sixfold. A Bible arranged with six versions in parallel columns, sometimes spoken of as the Hexaplar.-Text of the Holy Scriptures.

H. G. W.

Initials of an expression frequently used by visiting English Brethren to convey the hearty good wishes of the Master and Brethren of their own Lodge to the officers and members of the Lodge visited.


Means the Beating of the sepulcher. A Mohammedan belief as to the state of the soul after death. The form and mode of judgment is explained in Al Koran. The sarcophagus of an orthodox Moslem is so constructed that the deceased can sit upright when notified by his angel of the approach of the examiners, who question him as to his faith in the unity of God and the mission of Mohammed Satisfactory answers insure peace; but if to the contrary, he is beaten on the temples with iron maces until he roars with anguish. The two angels, Monker and Naku, then press the earth upon the body, which is gnawed and stung by ninety-nine seven-headed dragons until the day of resurrection. As the Mohammedan was an imitative religion, we naturally look for the origin of its customs and beliefs in older faiths; thus the Hibbut-Hakkeber is found in the Jewish, which taught that the angel of death would sit on a new-made grave, the soul would return to the body, which would stand up, the angel striking it thrice with a chain, half iron and half fire; at the sirst blow all the limbs were loosened, at the second the bones were dispersed, but gathered again by angels, and the third stroke reduces it to dust. This need not occur to those who died on the Sabbath or in the land of Israel (see Gilgul).


From the two Greek words which signify the engraving of sacred things. Hieroglyphics are properly the expressions of ideas by representations of visible objects, and the word is more peculiarly applied to that species of picture writing which was in use among the ancient Egyptians, whose priests by this means concealed from the profane that knowledge which they communicated only to their initiates. Browne says (Master Rey, page 87), “The usages amongst Masons have ever corresponded with those of the ancient Egyptians. Their Philosophers, unwilling to expose their Mysteries to vulgar Curiosity, couched the Principles of their Learning and Philosophy under Hieroglyphical Figures and Allegorical Emblems, and expressed their notions of Government by Signs and Symbols, which they communicated to the Magic or wise Men only, who were solemnly obligated never to reveal them.”


The title of those priests in the Egyptian mysteries to whom were confided the keeping of the sacred records. Their duty was also to instruct the neophytes in the ritual of initiation, and to secure its accurate observance.


A Hermit Order established in the fourteenth century, formed from the third Order of Saint Francis. Followers of Thomas of Siena, who established themselves among the wild districts of the Sierra Morena, and so forming a community, obtained approval of Pope Gregory XI in 1374.


From the Greek, tepo¡ß ¥¢ which signifies one who explains the sacred things. The Hierophant was, in the Ancient Mysteries, what the Master is in a Masonic Lodge-he who instructed the neophyte or candidate in the doctrines which it was the object of the Mysteries to inculcate.


The Chief Priest of the Eleusinians, selected from the grade of Eumolpidens He was selected for his imposing personal presence, and his dignity was sustained by the grandeur of his attire, his head encircled with a costly diadem. He was required to be perfect in animal structure, without blemish, and in the vigor of life, with a commanding voice. He was presumed to be surrounded by a halo of holiness. His duty was to maintain and also expound the laws. He was the introductor of the novices into the Eleusinian Temple, and passed them from the lesser into the greater mysteries, where he became the Demiurg, and Impressed the initiate, while instructing him, by his manner and voice. His title of Mystagog was awarded because he alone revealed the secret or mystery.


Title of the Guardian of the holy vessels and vestments, as used in several Rites.


Not long after the introduction of Freemasonry on the Continent, in the beginning of the eighteenth century, three new Degrees were invented and named, Ecossais, Novice, and Knight Templar. These gave the impulse to the invention of many other Degrees, all above the Master’s Degree. To these the name of Hautes Grades or High Degrees was given. Their number is very great. Many of them now remain only in the catalogues of Masonic collectors, or are known merely by their titles; while others still exist, and constitute the body of the different rites. The word is not properly applicable to the Royal Arch or Degrees of the English and American systems, which are intimately connected with the Master’s Degree, but is confined to the additions made to Ancient Craft Freemasonry by continental ritualists. These Degrees have, from time to time, met with great opposition as innovations on Ancient Freemasonry, and some of the Grand Lodges have not only rejected them, but forbidden their cultivation by those who are under their obedience. But, on the other hand, they have been strenuously supported by many who have believed the Ancient Craft Degrees do not afford a sufficient field for the expansion of Masonic thought. A writer in the London Freemasons Magazine (of 1858, I, 1167) has expressed the true theory on this subject in the following language:

It is the necessary consequence of an exclusive addition to Craft Masonry that the intellectual and artistic development of the minds of the members must suffer the ritual sink to formalism, and the administration fail into the hands of the lower members of the Order, by a diminution in the initiations of men of high intellectual caliber, and by the inactivity, or practical secession, of those within the Order. The suppression of the higher Degrees, that is, of the higher Masonry, may be agreeable to those who are content to possess the administrative functions of the Order without genuine qualifications for their exercise, but it is a policy most fatal to the true progress of the Order. When Masonry has so fallen, to restore the higher Degrees to their full activity is the measure essential for restoring the efficacy of Masonry within and without. Thus, in the last century when Craft Masonry had spread rapidly over the whole of Europe, a reaction set in, till the heads of the Order brought the high Degrees into vigor, and they continued to exercise the most powerful influence..


In the Old York Lectures was the following passage: “Before we had the convenience of such well-formed Lodges, the Brethren used to meet on the highest of hills and in the lowest of valleys. And if they were asked why they met so high, so low, and so very secret, they replied the better to see and observe all that might ascend or descend; and in case a Cowan should appear, the Tiler might give timely notice to the Worshipful Master, by which means the Lodge might be closed, the jewels put by, thereby preventing any unlawful intrusion.” In commenting on this, Doctor Oliver (Landmarks I, page 319) says: “Amongst other observances which were common to both the true and spurious Freemasonry, we find the practice of per forming commemorative rites on the highest of hills and in the lowest of valleys. This practice was in high esteem amongst all the inhabitants of the ancient world, from a fixed persuasion that the summit of mountains made a nearer approach to the celestial deities, and the valley or holy cavern to the infernal and submarine gods than the level country; and that, therefore, the prayers of mortals were more likely to be heard in such situations.” Hutchinson also says: “The highest hills and the lowest valleys were from the earliest times esteemed sacred, and it was supposed that the Spirit of God was peculiarly diffusive in those places.”

The sentiment was expressed in the language of the earliest lectures of the eighteenth century, and is still retained, without change of words, in the lectures of the present day. But introduced, at first, undoubtedly with special reference to the ancient worship on high places, and the celebration of the mysteries in the caverns of initiation, it is now retained for the purpose of giving warning and instruction as to the necessity of security and secrecy in the performance of our mystical rites, and this is the reason assigned in the modern lectures. And, indeed, the notion of thus expressing the necessity of secrecy seems to have been early adopted, while that of the sacredness of these places was beginning to be lost sight of; for in a lecture of the middle of the eighteenth century, or earlier, it was said that “the Lodge stands Upon holy ground, or the highest hill or lowest vale, or in the Vale of Jehosophat, or any other secret place.” The sacredness of the spot is, it is true, here adverted to, but there is an emphasis given to prentices secrecy.

This custom of meeting on the “highest hills and in the lowest valleys,” says Brother E. E. Cawthorne, seems to have prevailed at Aberdeen, Scotland, for they say: “We ordain that no Lodge be holden within a dwelling-house where there is people living in it, but in the open fields, except it be ill weather, and then let a house be chosen that no person shall heir or see us.” Also, “We ordain lykewayes that all entering prentices be entered in our ancient outfield Lodge in the mearnes in the Parish of Negg, at the Stonnies at the point of the Ness.” It is also of interest that Montandon Lodge No. 22, Grand Lodge of Chile, was consecrated in November 1927, at Potrerillos, some ten thousand feet above sea level in the Andes Mountains and named after George Montandon, the constructing engineer who lost his life in building the railroad there in 1908. The Revisor is reminded of attending the consecration of a Masonic Lodge on the top floor of the pioneer skyscraper, the old Masonic Temple, later the Capitol building, a 355 foot structure, at Chicago, Illinois.


Writing in 1837 William Herbert said of this company “They were incorporated by letters patent of the 26th of Henry Vl Anno 1447, by the style of the Fraternity of St. Catherine of the Virgin, of the Haberdashers of the city of London; but at present are denominated the Master and four Wardens of the Fraternity of the Art or Mystery of Haberdashers in the City of London. This corporation is governed by a master, four wardens, and ninety-three assistants, with a livery of 342 members, who, upon their admission, pay in cash a fine [fee] of twenty-five pounds, and to whom belongs a great estate, out of which, according to the generous benefactions of the several donors, they annually pay to charitable uses about the sum of £3,500…. They may take each too apprentices…. There have been twenty-two lord mayors free of this company. Their principal tenets are Serve and Obey. Their Patroness is St. Catherine. They have had altogether ten charters.” Originally, in the Fourteenth Century, the Haberdashers were a branch of the gild of Mercers, dealers in merchandises, or small wares (the phrase “small mercies” may have thus originated), but in course of time the cappers, or hat makers, separated from them. The Haberdashers of small wares also were called Milaners, for selling merchandise from Milan, corrupted into milliner. (In Queen Elizabeth’s time the English paid out £60,000 per year for pins alone.) The company, though its first charter w as received in 1447, had been organized a century before that, and had a set of regulations, or by-laws, as early as 1372. Having lost its old documents in the London fire of 1666 the come pony drew up a new code, and among the judges giving it legal sanction was the great jurisconsult Sir Matthew Hale. The officers were named as Master, four Wardens, and 50 Assistants. By “livery” was meant the ceremonial or symbolic clothing which a privileged number of members was entitled to wear: such livery did not signify servitude. The Hurrers, or hatters, and Mercers were combined. The list of the Companies charities is a long one: it supported five schools; four almshouses; six benefices; two lectures; three exhibitions; and paid many pensions. Many other benefactions it administered as a trustee.

The similarities between the Haberdashers’ Company and the Masonic Fraternity are very striking; the more so since the Company was here chosen at random as a specimen of the Twelve Great City Companies of London and the long list of lesser Companies, the Mason Company being among the latter. They were ancient; had apprentices; had ceremonies; administered an oath; the membership was divided into ranks; they were governed by Master and Wardens (in a Masonic Lodge that still is the case, for the appointive officers are to assist the Master and Warden, and the Secretary and Treasurer do not govern); they had tenets; arms; were devoted to charity; had quarterly communications and feasts and from a very early time admitted “non-operatives” who “were made free” of the company, so that there were “free Haberdashers” just as there were “free Masons.” This entering of non-Operatives into Masonry, of which they were then “free,” may be one of the many original meanings of “free Mason.” The antiquity, form of organization, oaths, non-operatives, etc., cannot therefore explain why the Free Masons alone continued over into a worldwide fraternity, for the other gilds or fraternities, identical in general customs, would have done the same. It is the extraordinary similarity of the old Free Masonry with the old gilds and companies coupled with the fact that it alone developed into a worldwide Fraternity which is of itself the best proof that the Freemasons also possessed a secret of their own which none of the others ever had.

See London Companies, by William Herbert; London; 1837. It is not as exhaustive as the large histories written since by Hazlitt, etc., but has the advantage of having been written by a man who got his information at first hand, and before the new industrialism had changed the face of London commerce and business.


History has more than one device for creating its romantic effects, but none more surprising than inversion which is to have something occur where its opposite would be expected. The universal American custom of the Master’s Hat is such an inversion (see page 445); for it is not the custom in contemporary England, where ancient usages are to be expected, yet is required in America, where custom has least weight. American Masons can be glad that this inversion has occurred because there is in craft practice in general and in Masonic practice in particular no custom more honored or more ancient.

The Greeks crowned their poets, their victorious generals, and the winners of the games with wreaths; at Delphi with one of apple boughs, at Olympia with laurel, at Corinth with pine. Even the gods in time came to be represented with a wreath of light or sun rays, the corona, origin of the saints’ halo. At a Roman general’s Triumph he was crowned with a laurel wreath, called corona triumphalts; in later times a wreath of gold A citizen who had won a peace-time triumph received an ovation, and a crown for his head. Anglo-Saxons had similar customs; so also the French, who crowned graduates of their Universities with caps; and the Italians who set a cap of fur on a man’s head when he was made Duke (not the same as duce!). In England a Duke, Marquis, Earl, Viscount, and Baron received a cap. So also did the alderman or master of a gild or a City Company. Such a cap came to be called “a cap of maintenance,” and the coat of arms of the City of London is topped with such a cap. The helmet in military arms is an adaptation of the same custom; the King’s “cap” is a six-barred helmet. While Henry VIII was still loyal to the Vatican he was presented with a consecrated cap of maintenance by Pope Leo X. The wearing of such a cap, with its ceremonial significance, was so closely connected with the ceremonial wearing of a sword that the two became enshrines together in the phrase “cap and sword.”

It would thus appear that the wreath, cap, or hat began as a badge of honor; perhaps it became afterwards identified with the idea of authority, and then with the idea of a presiding officer, because in so many cases it was the head or chief or leader who was honored. The Master’s Hat has both ideas combined in it; it represents his authority to preside; it represents also the fact that he has received the highest honors of his Lodge and it is because it thus is a symbol of that honor that he will not, if he rightly understands his art, take it off and put it aside, as if the honor meant nothing to him; certainly he will not lay it on the floor.


“Ahiman Rezon,” the name given by Laurence Dermott to his edition of the Book of Constitutions for the Ancient Grand Lodge, was intended to be Hebrew but to date Hebraists are not certain of its meaning; it is believed to mean “Worthy Brother Secretary,” or “Help to a Scribe,” but the earliest editions carried on the title page the sub-title “Help to a Brother,” and that may have been Grand Secretary Dermott’s own translation. But why use a Hebrew title? No answer to this question has ever been found. Dermott himself had some Hebrew. There must have been a special interest in Hebrew by members of the Grand Lodge of Ireland at about the time of the writing of the Constitution of the Ancient Grand Lodge, which was Irish Masonry transplanted to England, because Irish Grand Lodge medals of the period occasionally carried Hebrew words. A Side Order or High Degree (it is impossible to tell which) was practiced in Ireland, England, and Scotland under the Hebrew name of Herodim (or Harodim, or Highrodim, or Highrodian); Preston called a little society for the study of Masonry which he organized, “Order of Herodim.” This word was lifted bodily from I Kings, Ch. 5, of the Hebrew Old Testament, where it meant provosts, or “officers which were over the work.” Giblim, another word in Masonic usage, was taken from the same chapter. It is possible that a certain word in the Third Degree which cannot be spoken or written is an altered form of a third Hebrew word from that same chapter.

The whole subject of a Hebrew influence at work in the Seventeenth and early Eighteenth Century Freemasonry is a still-virgin field for Masonic research. There were professors and specialists in Hebrew at Oxford, Cambridge, and the University of Dublin; the making of the Authorized Version under King James in 1611 was much discussed everywhere among educated men, and inspired many amateurs to study the language of the Old Testament. Public exhibition at two different times in English cities of models of Solomon’s Temple aroused a popular interest in the Book of Kings. The Allegory of the Temple in the Second Degree may have been added to the Ritual in that period; at least an amplification of it. The Raising, which bears the Hebrew name of HA.-. may have originated in the same period (the oldest known Lodge of Master Masons is dated at 1725); this is doubtful because the rite bears internal evidence of having originated much earlier, but it is possible that its general popularity may have been owing to the current of Hebrew interests. The Holy Royal Arch, which in some forms was probably known in Ireland in Time Immemorial Lodges, is Old Testament in spirit and reference; also, if “Arch” meant “chief” or “overseer” the Rite may at one time have been called Herodim.

Thus far no historian has discovered any connection between the origin of Speculative Freemasonry and the Jews. Such Hebraic elements as are found in the Craft Degrees and the High Grades are derived from Hebrew sources at second or at third hand, from the English Bible, from Old Testament traditions and stories, and also, perhaps, and over a roundabout route, from the Kabbala (or Cabala, or Kabbalah). There was much interest in the Kabbala during the early period of the Reformation; Reuchlin, one of Luther’s forerunners, was familiar with it; Luther and Melanchton both studied it; there was even a Christian Kabbala. If Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century Masons took a lively interest in Hebrew matters it is not to be wondered at the Hebrew Old Testament comprises two-thirds of the English Bible; and British and European culture, as Matthew Arnold was to remind everybody in the Nineteenth Century, was in origin a blend of Hellenism (Greek, and to some extent, Roman) and of Hebraism.


The curious word in the OB which is pronounced to rhyme with fail and which appears to be contradictive of the pledge of which it is a part has been in continuous use in England since the early Middle Ages. In his comments on “Notes on Some Trade Guilds at Ludlow,” in Ars Quatuor Coronatorum, Vol. XXXII., 1919, page 149 (page 14 in reprint) Canon Horsley writes:
” The old Saxon word Helyer is still in use. I asked my church warden who thatched his ricks. ‘A helyer from Bearsted ‘ (the next village), he said. The helyer heles or covers the rick. A gardener heles the potato plants he earths up, and so Hell in the Apostles’ Creed is the covered place, the unseen world, the ancient conception of the world being that of a flat place with the river of ocean running round it, while above there was a hemisphere heaved up and hence called heaven, and correspondingly beneath there was the heled or covered place. Men could look up and understand something of the star-spangled arch of blue, but the reversed arch or crypt beneath was to the eyes of flesh ‘heled, concealed, and never revealed,’ or, as some would I suppose say, ‘hailed, concealed, and never reviled ‘.”


Heraldry in Britain was an art or science, professed by learned specialists and officials, with its foundation in civil law. A coat of arms was in essence a patent in the firm of pictures and devices, it was an official and attestation about a family’s origin and past; and since special privileged often of large value, might go with such an origin, a coat of arms was more than a badge or a decoration; just as a deed was a legal Charter confirming ownership of a property, a coat of arms was a deed confirming ownership in certain honors, privileges, and titles. Since the Constitution of the United States recognized the existence of no classes or titles, heraldry in America has been either a hobby or a minor branch of the arts.

The Grand Lodge of England (1717) adopted as its seal the old seal of the Masons Company of London; Laurence Dermott adopted for the Ancient Grand Lodge (1751) a seal which he found in a work by Jehudah ben Leon, a Hebrew scholar for whom he felt a great reverence; perhaps the device thus chosen also recommended itself because it contained a plain hint of the Royal Arch Degree. Each of the Grand Lodges in the United States has an official seal; some are designed according to the strict rules of heraldry; others are intended to be so, but without any strictness in the rules; still others are rather wide departures from that art. one of the seals that have been used by California, and the seal of New York are similar to the Ancient Grand Lodge seal.

Landscapes are used in Montana, Vermont, Kansas, North Dakota the Montana picture suggesting High Hills and Low Dales, the North Dakota suggesting Fords of the Jordan. Great Pillars are conspicuous in the designs used by Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, and some nine or ten others. In some designs the Pillars are surmounted by Globes, in others are not. Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, and Utah have two Pillars joined at the top by a round arch; Wisconsin has the Five Orders of Architecture. These lists are suggestive, not exhaustive, and the designs are subject to change. Two blunders are repeated in some ten or twelve designs: inch marks on the square, which make it a carpenter’s square; and dividers used where compasses were intended.

See illustrated essay on “The Heraldry of Masonry,” by Walter F. Meier, P. G. M., page 3; Masonic Papers; Research Lodge, No. 281; Seattle, Washington; 1943. John Ross Robertson has a characteristically scholarly chapter on Masonic heraldry in his History of Freemasonry in Canada. For general works see: Heraldry, Historical and Popular, by Charles Boutell; 3rd Ed.; illustrated; Richard Bentley, London, Eng.; 1864. A Complete Guide to Heraldry, by Arthur C. Fox Davis; Dodge Pub. Co.; New York. Heraldry in America, by Eugene Ziebler; Bailey, Banks & Biddle Co.; 1895. For an account of the seals of Canadian Grand Lodges see The Builder; August, 1929; page


Under the head of “Hermes,” reference is made to Hermes (or Mercury), a mythologic character, and to Hermes Trismegistus, a legendary wise man of ancient Egypt. At the time those paragraphs were written it was still generally believed that Medieval occultism consisting of alchemy, astrology, and the Kabbala, was collectively called Hermetism because it claimed a mythologic descent from the god Hermes, or else from the ancient Egyptian sage; it is now al most certain that the reference was to neither but to a book or collection of writings entitled Hermes Trismegtstus, a fact which explains why a majority of the Medieval occultists (there never were any large number of them) gave as their authority fragments of old texts. They could not have read Egyptian hieroglyphics; a god would have written no book; but they could read fragments or chapters of a book that had been written in Greek and translated into Latin, Arabic, and Hebrew.

When the early bishops of Christian Churches in Italy and Greece began their systematic destruction of Greek and Latin schools and colleges, arts, sciences, and books, believing it their mission to destroy the “old world” in order to build a new one in its place, mathematicians, scientists, artists, architects, scholars, and philosophers became greatly alarmed lest the whole of civilization be obliterated. This alarm reached such a height at Alexandria, Egypt, the Greek-speaking city which was the center of civilization at the time, that a group of scholars there began a counter-propaganda; and one of them, or possibly a group of them, collected or wrote and published the Hermes Trismegistus as a defense of civilization and as a plea to men-everywhere not to destroy the age old culture of the Mediterranean world.

This attempt to save civilization did not succeed; even the thousand-year-old University at Athens was destroyed; Alexandria itself was burned; illiteracy became universal in Europe; the Dark Ages came on, and lasted between two and three hundred years. But the Hermes did not disappear. It was a favorite book among some of the Post-Nicene Fathers of the Church, who had not approved the destruction of civilization, and in after times a homily modeled on one chapter of it, called Postor Hermes, became one of those pseudepigraphical books which are still ranked second only to the Bible; and it was read by Arabic scholars, from whom portions of it made their way into Europe through Spain.

Hermes was a name given to the mind, and in its larger and more usual sense denoted intelligence, skill, culture. Trismegistus, which etymologically meant “thrice-greatest,” was a eulogistic adjective meaning fine, or very fine; the title Hermes Trismegistus carried the general meaning of fine arts, of culture, of civilization. Men of many parties and religions “believed in Hermes”; that is, they fought to save civilization against fanatics in the Church, who were followed by the barbarians from the north. Perhaps the best nontechnical account of Hermes Trismegistus is the essay in Literary Remains of the Late Emanuel Deutsch, published by Henry Holt; New York; 1874. Deutsch, on the staff of the British Museum for some sixteen years, was one of the most brilliant scholars of Nineteenth Century England. Two chapters in his book on the Talmud and four papers on the Vatican Council of 1870 which declared the infallibility of the Pope also are of exceptional value to Masons. It may be taken as a practical certainty that the source of the reference to Hermes in the Masonic Old Charges was Hermes Trismegistus the book, and not faint rumors of an ancient Greek god. At the period when the Old Manuscripts were written very few Freemasons had ever heard of Greek mythology, and least of all of a god named Hermes.


Ranulf (or Ralph) Higden between 1320 and 1360 (the year of his death) wrote and published in eight books a history of the world, or “universal chronicle,” entitled Polychronicon, one of the most famous of the Medieval attempts at an encyclopedic narrative of world events, and used as an authority until some three centuries ago. It was twice translated out of Latin into English; once in the Fifteenth Century; once, in 1387, by John Trevisa.

In 1857 the Archivist of the British Parliament, called Master of the Rolls, proposed the publishing of a series of Medieval chronicles; the most accurate text was to be found by an expert collation of the MSS., and each book was to have a historical and biographical introduction. In the following pear, publication began under the general head of Rerum Brita7z1ticorum Alvi Scriptores, popularly called the Roll Series. By 1915 some 250 volumes had been published. After World War I the series was renewed but came to a temporary halt with World War II. Among the titles was John Capgrave’s chronicles of England to 1417, a source book for Medieval Masonic history. Higden’s Polychronicon was one of the earliest works thus published, in nine volumes, and contained the abovementioned two English translations in addition to the Latin original.

The Cooke MS., the second oldest existing version of the Old Charges, which was dated at 1450 until 3 few years ago but is now believed to have been written as early as 1410 or 1420, quotes from a Polychronicon some seven times (along with four other sources) and manuscript authorities have taken this to have been Higden’s work; but Knoop, Jones & Hamer in their The Two Earliest Masonic MSS. (Manchester University Press; 1938) raise some doubt about this and think the scribe may possibly have used some other polychronicon, a title used regularly for general chronicles. In his treatise on The ‘Naimus Grecus’ Legend (A.Q.C.; XVIII; 1905; p. 178) Bro. E. H. Dring in speaking of one of the Coolte MS. polychronicon quotations which he could not find in the Rolls Series version of Higden suggests that the seribe may have had another “one of the numerous MSS. of Higden which are scattered all over England ….”
Wynkyn de Worde began as an apprentice under Caxton, England’s first printer, and became his foreman. After Caxton’s death he tool; over the business, and printed about 100 titles in Caxton’s old shop, then moved to London where before his death in 1534 he printed 500 more. In 1435, only three years after Columbus landed in the West Indies, he published an edition of Higden’s Polychronicon. It is famous for having in it the first musical notes ever printed in England.

Higden, after long neglect, is becoming studied by historical scholars in the United States, and by Masonic specialists also, as ought to have been done long ago, seeing that in the Polgchronicon is a better exhibit of what men of Britain and Europe knew, thought, and believed in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries than the popular Medieval romances which have received so much attention. (As this is written Mr. Dawson, rare book dealer of Los Angeles, announces for sale a copy of Higden, “Imprinted in Southwerke by my Peter Treveris at the essences of John Reynes bookeseller, 1527,” priced at $300.00.)

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