The Hebrew Foundation of Masonry

The central figure in the third degree ritual of Freemasonry is Hiram Abif (or Abiff). Hiram is unjustly killed, buried and then raised from the grave. Toward the conclusion of the Legend of the Third Degree, the new Master Mason is told that he should imitate Hiram Abif so that he may get into the celestial Lodge above, where the Grand Architect of the Universe presides.

As the legendary Master Mason of Solomon's Temple of Jerusalem, Hiram Abif is the Hebrew archetype for a dying and resurrection god cognate with a savior or messianic figure. As discussed in earlier posts, this always refers to a vegetation god or entity believed to inhabit an entheogenic plant or fungus. Sacrificing the plant by ingesting its "body and blood" in communion brings about ego death followed by enlightenment and resurrection. Like Horus, Dionysus, Bacchus, Attis, Krishna and many others, Hiram Abif is a vegetation god who simulates death, thus showing the way to the heavenly realm upon death.

We might now understand the Masonic third degree ritual as an adaptation of the Bardo Thodol descibed in the Tibetan Book of the Dead.

The Tibetan text describes, and is intended to guide one through, the experiences that the consciousness has after death, during the interval between death and the next rebirth. This interval is known in Tibetan as the 'bardo.'

The first "chikhai bardo" occuring at the moment of death features the experience of the "clear light of reality." The second "chonyid bardo" is the "experiencing of reality" and features the experience of visions of various Buddha forms. The third "sidpa bardo" or "bardo of rebirth" features karmically impelled hallucinations which eventually result in rebirth.

The purpose of this text is to assist the consciousness in attaining liberation from the reincarnation cycle by remaining in the "Clear Light" state forever. The process by which this happens depends on a series of tests delivered in the three bardos and how the consciousness responds. At any point, recognizing the illusion of separateness enables the consciousness to ascend into the Clear Light - otherwise, one continues to "fall" into lower bardos and eventually into physical rebirth.

The Masonic third degree is then a ritual recreation of the reincarnation steps of Tibetan Buddhism originating in Vedic cosmology. Its symbol is a sprig of acacia above a coffin. The lesson, whether or not understood by the candidate or his lodge, is to avoid reincarnation. The only thing missing from the ritual then is the actual entheogenic Soma communion once used by the writer(s) of the Book of the Dead to discover the death-rebirth process in the first place.