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THE LOST KEYS OF FREEMASONRY
or The Secret of Hiram Abiff
MANLY P. HALL
IN THE FIELDS OF CHAOS
The first flush of awakening Life pierced the impenetrable expanse of Cosmic Night, turning the darkness of negation into the dim twilight of unfolding being. Silhouetted against the shadowy gateways of Eternity, the lonely figure of a mystic stranger stood upon the nebulous banks of swirling substance. Robed in a shimmery blue mantle of mystery and his head encircled by a golden crown of dazzling light, the darkness of Chaos fled before the rays that poured like streams of living fire from his form divine.
From some Cosmos greater far than ours this mystic visitor came, answering the call of Divinity. From star to star he strode and from world to universe he was known, yet forever concealed by the filmy garments of chaotic night. Suddenly the clouds broke and a wondrous light descended from somewhere among the seething waves of force; it bathed this lonely form in a radiance celestial, each sparkling crystal of mist gleaming like a diamond bathed in the living fire of the Divine.
In the gleaming flame of cosmic light bordered by the dark clouds of not-being two great forms appeared and a mighty Voice thrilled eternity, each sparkling atom pulsating with the power of the Creator's Word* while the great blue-robed figure bowed in awe before the foot-stool of His Maker as a hand reached down from heaven, its fingers extended the benediction.
"Of all creation I have chosen you and upon you my seal is placed. You are the chosen instrument of my hand and I appoint you to be the Builder of my Temple. You shall raise its pillars and tile its floor; you shall ornament it with metals and with jewels and you shall be the master of my workmen. In your hands I place the plans and here on the tracing board of living substance I have impressed the plan you are to follow, tracing its every letter and angle in the fiery lines of my moving finger. Hiram Abiff, chosen builder of your Father's house, up and to your work. Yonder are the fleecy clouds, the
* The Creative Fiat, or rate of vibration through which all things are created.
gray mists of dawn, the gleams of heavenly light, and the darkness of the sleep of creation. From these shall you build, without the sound of hammer or the voice of workmen, the temple of your God, eternal in the heavens. The swirling, ceaseless motion of negation you shall chain to grind your stones. Among these spirits of not-being shall you slack your lime and lay your footings; for I have watched you through the years of your youth; I have guided you through the days of your manhood. I have weighed y ou in the balance and you have not been found wanting. Therefore, to you give I the glory of work, and here ordain you as the Builder of my House. Unto you I give the word of the Master Builder; unto you I give the tools of the craft; unto you I give the power that has been vested in me. Be faithful unto these things. Bring them back when you have finished, and I will give you the name known to God alone. So mote it be."
The great light died out of the heavens, the streaming fingers of living light vanished in the misty, lonely twilight, and again covered not-being with its sable mantle. Hiram Abiff again stood alone, gazing out into the endless ocean of oblivion - nothing but swirling, seething matter as far as eye could see. Then he straightened his shoulders and, taking the trestleboard in his hands and clasping to his heart the glowing Word of the Master, walked slowly away and was swallowed up in the mists of primordial dawn.
How may man measure timeless eternity? Ages passed, and the lonely Builder labored with his plan with only love and humility in his heart, his hand molding the darkness which he blessed while his eyes were raised above where the Great Light had shone down from heaven. In the divine solitude he labored, with no voice to cheer, no spirit to condemn - alone in the boundless all with the great chill of the morning mist upon his brow, but his heart still warm with the light of the Master's Word. It seemed a hopeless task. No single pair of hands could mold that darkness; no single heart, no matter how true, could be great enough to project pulsing cosmic love into the cold mist of oblivion. Though the darkness settled ever closer about him and the misty fingers of negation twined round his being, still with divine trust the Builder labored; with divine hope he laid his footings, and from the boundless clay he made the molds to cast his sacred ornaments. Slowly the building grew and dim forms molded by the Master's hand took shape about him. Three huge, soulless creatures had the Master fashioned, great beings which loomed like grim spectres in the semi-darkness. They were three builders he had blessed and now in stately file they passed before him, and Hiram held out his arms to his creation, saying, "Brothers, I have built you for your works. I have formed you to labor with me in the building of the Master's house. You are the children of my being; I have labored with you, now labor with me for the glory of our God."
But the spectres laughed. Turning upon their maker and striking him with his own tools given him by God out of heaven, they left their Grand Master dying in the midst of his labors, broken and crushed by the threefold powers of cosmic night. As he lay bleeding at the feet of his handiwork the martyred Builder raised his eyes to the seething clouds, and his face was sweet with divine love and cosmic understanding as he prayed unto the Master who had sent him forth:
"O Master of Workmen, Great Architect of the universe, my labors are not finished. Why must they always remain undone? I have not completed the thing for which Thou hast sent me unto being, for my very creations have turned against me and the tools Thou gavest me have destroyed me. The children that I formed in love, in their ignorance have murdered me. Here, Father, is the Word Thou gavest me now red with my own blood. O Master, I return it to Thee for I have kept it sacred in my heart. Here are the too ls, the tracing board, and the vessels I have wrought. Around me stand the ruins of my temple which I must leave. Unto Thee, O God, the divine Knower of all things, I return them all, realizing that in Thy good time lies the fulfillment of all things. Thou, O God, knowest our down-sitting and our uprising and Thou understandest our thoughts afar off. In Thy name, Father, I have labored and in Thy cause I die, a faithful builder."
The Master fell back, his upturned face sweet in the last repose of death, and the light rays no longer pouring from him. The gray clouds gathered closer as though to form a winding sheet around the body of their murdered Master.
Suddenly the heavens opened again and a shaft of light bathed the form of Hiram in a glory celestial. Again the Voice spoke from the heavens where the Great King sat upon the clouds of creation: "He is not dead; he is asleep. Who will awaken him? His labors are not done, and in death he guards the sacred relics more closely than ever, for the Word and the tracing board are his - I have given them to him. But he must remain asleep until these three who have slain him shall bring him back to life, for ever y wrong must be righted, and the slayers of my house, the destroyers of my temple, must labor in the place of their Builder until they raise their Master from the dead."
The three murderers fell on their knees and raised their hands to heaven as though to ward off the light which had disclosed their crime: "O God, great is our sin, for we have slain our Grand Master, Hiram Abiff! Just is Thy punishment and as we have slain him we now dedicate our lives to his resurrection. The first was our human weakness, the second our sacred duty."
"Be it so," answered the Voice from Heaven. The great Light vanished and the clouds of darkness and mist concealed the body of the murdered Master. It was swallowed up in the swirling darkness which left no mark, no gravestone to mark the place where the Builder had lain.
"O God!" cried the three murderers, "where shall we find our Master now?"
A hand reached down again from the Great Unseen and a tiny lamp was handed them, whose oil flame burned silently and clearly in the darkness. "By this light shall ye seek him whom ye have slain."
The three forms surrounded the light and bowed in prayer and thanksgiving for this solitary gleam which was to light the darkness of their way. From somewhere above in the regions of not-being the great Voice spoke, a thundering Voice that filled Chaos with its sound: "He cometh forth as a flower and is cut down; he teeth also as a shadow and continueth not; as the waters fail from the sea and the flood decayeth and drieth up, so man lieth down and riseth not again. Yet have I compassion upon the children of my creation; I administer unto them in time of trouble and save them with an everlasting salvation. Seek ye where the broken twig lies and the dead stick molds away, where the clouds float together and the stones rest by the hillside, for all these mark the grave of Hiram who has carried my Will with him to the tomb. This eternal quest is yours until ye have found your Builder, until the cup giveth up its secret, until the grave givet h up its ghosts. No more shall I speak until ye have found and rais ed my beloved Son, and have listened to the words of my Messenger and with Him as your guide have finished the temple which I shall then inhabit. Amen."
The gray dawn still lay asleep in the arms of darkness. Out through the great mystery of not-being all was silence, unknowable. Through the misty dawn, like strange phantoms of a dream, three figures wandered over the great Unknown carrying in their hands a tiny light, the lamp given to them by their Builder's Father. Over stick and stone and cloud and star they wandered, eternally in search of a silent grave, stopping again and again to explore the depths of some mystic recess, praying for liberation from their endless search; yet bound by their vows to raise the Builder they had slain, whose grave was marked by the broken twig, and whose body was laid away in the white winding sheet of death somewhere over the brow of the eternal hill.
You are the temple builders of the future. With your hands must be raised the domes and spires of a coming civilization. Upon the foundation you have laid, tomorrow shall build a far more noble edifice. Builders of the temple of character wherein should dwell an enlightened spirit; truers of the rock of relationship; molders of those vessels created to contain the oil of life: up, and to the task appointed! Never before in the history of men have you had the opportunity that now confronts you. The world waits - waits for the illuminated one who shall come from between the pillars of the portico. Humility, hoodwinked and bound, seeks entrance to the temple of wisdom. Fling wide the gate, and let the worthy enter. Fling wide the gate, and let the light that is the life of men shine forth. Hasten to complete the dwelling of the Lord, that the Spirit of God may come and dwell among His people, sanctified and ordained according to His law.
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Last modified: March 22, 2014