Tag Archives: priesthood

Freemasonry of the Ancient Egyptians

Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews Freemasonry of the Ancient Egyptians by Manly P Hall from the Philosophical Research Society:

Manly P Hall's Freemasonry of the Ancient Egyptians from the Philosophical Research Society

 

There are two sections to this volume, each of distinct significance. The first is Hall’s essay “Freemasonry of the Ancient Egyptians,” which is principally an analysis of the Osiris legend. Forgiving some references to Atlantean civilization, the analysis is sober and comprehensive, but the most worthwhile part is Hall’s own proposed interpretation, which constitutes the few final pages of the essay. The topic of Freemasonry only arises in this final passage, which uses Masonry as a more contemporary illustration of an initiatory institution, in order to clarify Hall’s remarks about the Egyptian priesthood. Interestingly, he fails to draw the obvious parallel between Osiris and H.A., and thus to re-integrate the allegory within Freemasonry proper.

The second part of the book is a publication of the “Crata Repoa,” an 18th Century manuscript purporting to detail the initiatory system of ancient Egypt. “Crata Repoa” first appeared anonymously in German in the late 18th century, drawing on a wide range of classical sources for its details. Some of those sources were sympathetic to the ancient mysteries, but others were certainly hostile. Given the strict laws of secrecy that surrounded the classical rites, we can only assume that the best-informed and most sympathetic accounts from antiquity were never disclosed. The English text published by Hall is based on John Yarker’s translation from the French of Anton Bailleul, who published his version in 1778.

“Crata Repoa” is presented as a rite divided into seven grades, plus an initial preparation, which suggests correspondences to the classical planets and/or the esoteric anatomy of the sat chakras. It was certainly first composed by someone with knowledge of Masonic initiation, and its sequence reflects features of certain Masonic rites, which it may have influenced in its turn. In addition to the text of “Crata Repoa,” Hall includes his own commentary in a grade-by-grade format, and he appends “The Initiation of Plato.” The latter piece is a scripted drama, clearly based on “Crata Repoa,” written by Charles and Auguste Beaumont, and translated by John Yarker.

The historical value of “Crata Repoa” with respect to the ancient schools of initiation is questionable at best. What it does present is a vivid, and perhaps influential, picture of initiatory ideals as contemplated during the period in which Masonic rituals were assuming their modern form in Europe. [via]

 

 

The Hermetic Library Reading Room is an imaginary and speculative future reification of the library in the physical world, a place to experience a cabinet of curiosities offering a confabulation of curation, context and community that engages, archives and encourages a living Western Esoteric Tradition. If you would like to contribute to the Hermetic Library Reading Room, consider supporting the library or contact the librarian.

Why Priests?

Why Priests?: A Failed Tradition by Garry Wills from Viking Adult is a new work that may be of interest for both the historical and contemporary examination of the role of priesthood, specifically in Roman Catholicism but perhaps also relevant, or at least informative, in reflection on the office as it appears in other traditions and in general Western culture.

Garry Wills' Why Priests? from Viking Adult

 

“Bestselling author of Papal Sin and Why I Am a Catholic, Garry Wills spent five years as a young man at a Jesuit seminary and nearly became a priest himself. But after a lifetime of study and reflection, he now poses some challenging questions: Why do we need priests at all? Why did the priesthood arise in a religion that began without it and opposed it? Would Christianity be stronger without the priesthood, as it was at its outset?

Meticulously researched, persuasively argued, and certain to spark debate, Why Priests? asserts that the anonymous Letter to Hebrews, a late addition to the New Testament canon, helped inject the priesthood into a Christianity where it did not exist, along with such concomitants as belief in an apostolic succession, the real presence in the Eucharist, the sacrificial interpretation of the Mass, and the ransom theory of redemption. But Wills does not expect the priesthood to fade entirely away. He just reminds us that Christianity did without it in the time of Peter and Paul with notable success.

Wills concludes with a powerful statement of his own beliefs in a book that will appeal to believers and nonbelievers alike and stand for years to come as a towering achievement.” [via]