Initiation and Our Esoteric “Second Births”

Freemasonry, Qabalah, Tarot

Written by Adam Goldman

The initiations of Freemasonry, like church baptisms in the evangelical community where the phrase “born again” is in common use, are second births, intended to replicate the births from our biological mothers. From our very first steps in Masonry, we find ourselves in darkness to emulate our nine months of darkness in utero, immersed in amniotic fluid. And when the water breaks,[1] we are ushered through the birth canal, the vaginal West Gate, so to speak, still connected to our mother’s umbilical cord—in Masonry, we call it the cable tow. While the Alchemical Book of Genesis bellows from the East, with the aid of a doula, our darkness eventually gives way to light and a thundering clap—this is the slap that, as newborns, forces us to draw our first breaths in the terrestrial world of matter.

Even the word “matter” traces its origins to the Latin mater, or mother. Symbols of motherhood and the “sacred feminine,” like the Virgin Weeping, are just one way we continue to depict the female principle in our degrees. Continued references to the moon are another—as that celestial body is intimately connected with both pregnancy and women’s menstrual cycles.

[1] Darkness has long been used as a philosophical substitute for “ignorance” which is derived from “i-gnosis” meaning “without knowledge.”

 In America, we worship the moon Goddess under the name Columbia, and traces of her may still be discovered in our capital which, to this day, bears her name—the “District of Columbia.”

Masons certainly are not unique in our veiled reverence of the sacred feminine and, in days of old, numerous other secret societies worshipped the feminine principle as the Goddess Isis, Venus, Diana, Persephone and Aphrodite[1] to name a few. In America, we worship the moon Goddess under the name Columbia, and traces of her may still be discovered in our capital which, to this day, bears her name—the “District of Columbia.”[2]

[1] When Aphrodite is joined with her male counterpart, the God Hermes, the composite God becomes Herme-Aphrodite or hermaphrodite.

[2] See David Ovason’s “Secret Architecture of Our Nation’s Capital.”

Indeed, because the sacred feminine was held so dear to our ancient Brethren, they sometimes simply referred to her as “Our Lady” which, in French, is Notre Dame—in Latin, Nostradamus.[1] Our Lady, the moon, remains one of our own ancient symbols. And as will be revealed momentarily, the Moon Goddess’ power has been further symbolized by our iconic Ashlar stone upon which we, as Apprentices of the Craft, are to eventually build our spiritual temples. The moon is also a “Secret 9.”

[1] Notre Dame, like all churches, represents the maternal womb.

As Above, So Below

As we followed our midwife, or guide, around the lodge room, our human bodies, at the same time, represented heavenly ones. This is alluded to from the moment we enter the lodge which was between two phallic columns surmounted by “globes”—one celestial and one terrestrial—as above, so below. These columns, or pillars, are also the kundalini energies of Hindu yoga called Ida (female/lunar) and Pingala (male/solar)—and the Taoist Yin and Yang. In the Bible, these same male/female principles are represented in the narrative of Adam and Eve. As we continued to follow our guide around the Lodge, they were transmuted into the messenger god/planet, Mercury. With Mercury in hand, we were then paraded around the altar in the same elliptical as the Earth rounds our central star, the Sun.[1] Here we see another Secret 9 as we were, in this procession, imitating one of the 9 planets circling our solar system.[2]

The remaining ritual of the degree, our obligation and penalty, are equally Alchemical and Astrological. And at the roots of Alchemy[3] and Astrology—and the world’s major religions—lies a magickal system which, in Judaism, we call Kabbalah. Kabbalah, like Freemasonry, “is a peculiar system […] veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols.” Nearly all of our Masonic forefathers were students of Kabbalah, and C.W. Leadbeater in his “Freemasonry and its Ancient Mystic Rites” states:

“The Jewish mysteries are the source of our present tradition of which was carried to Rome, and thence passed down through the Collegia into the medieval guilds, finally emerging in the eighteenth century in the speculative rituals of the Craft degrees, in the Holy Royal Arch and the degree of Mark Master Mason, and in those of other emblems and ceremonies.”

[1] In astrology, a “Decan” is 1/10th of a degree which is why the Deacon is located “in front of, to the right” of the Worshipful Master in the East”—roughly 1/10th of a degree to the Master’s right.


“The Jewish mysteries are the source of our present tradition of which was carried to Rome, and thence passed down through the Collegia into the medieval guilds, finally emerging in the eighteenth century in the speculative rituals of the Craft degrees, in the Holy Royal Arch and the degree of Mark Master Mason, and in those of other emblems and ceremonies.”

Leadbeater’s sentiments have been echoed by many of the great luminaries of our Craft, as well. Truly, we find corroboration of Leadbeater’s statement in the writings of such notables as Albert Pike, Manly P. Hall, and Albert Mackey. When the Kabbalah is scoured for additional traces of the Secret 9, we find, as one might expect, eye-opening synchronicity.

[2] Pluto has since been downgraded to a “dwarf planet.”

[3]  The word “Alchemy” comes from the Arabic “al-kimiya” meaning God (Al/El or Allah) and the Greek “kemia” meaning “to fuse or cast metal.” Kemia also has roots in the ancient Egyptian “khem” meaning “black earth.”

When a candidate enters the Lodge, he finds one pillar to his left and one to his right. Here, the Apprentice represents the middle pillar of the Kabbalistic “Tree of Life”

We’re Off to See the Wizard

Kabbalah is derived from the root “Kabal” which, in Hebrew, means “to receive”[1]—and describes the manner by which God, in its Infinite state, called the Ain Soph, is received by Man in Malkuth (“Kingdom”)[2] through a series of ten emanations called the Sephira (singular) or Sephiroth (plural). Like our own conceptions/births, the Sephiroth are revealed/made solid through a series of “falls” that begin with an idea (spermatozoa), act of creation (egg fertilization), formation and so on.

The Sephira are arranged in three vertical columns/pillars[3], and, when a candidate enters the Lodge, he finds one pillar to his left and one to his right. Here, the Apprentice represents the middle pillar of the Kabbalistic “Tree of Life”—which is the “Pillar of Equilibrium.” This middle pillar is also Jacob’s Ladder in the Book of Genesis and, as will be exposed below, it was especially significant that his vision was revealed while his head was resting on a rock or stone.[4]

[1] The word “Kabal” may also have originated in the Ancient Egyptian language where “Ka” was spirit and “Ba” an aspect of man’s soul represented by a human-headed bird.

[2] Malkuth, or Kingdom, refers to the four Kingdoms of the terrestrial plane: Animal, Mineral, Plant and Human.

[3] The three pillars of the Tree of Life are alluded to in the three orders of ancient Greek architecture: Doric, Ionic and Corinthian. In Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, the pillar was the symbol for stability, called “djed,” which was likely one of the inspirations for the “Jedi” in Star Wars.

[4] Heaven in Hebrew is Shamayim which, according to one esoteric interpretation, is a contraction of two alchemical words, Aish (fire) and Mayim (water). It may also be interpreted, Kabalistically, as the letter Shin (fire) and Mayim (water).

In popular culture, the Wizard of Oz also concealed the middle pillar. Oz, or “Etz” in Hebrew, means “tree” and codes the Pillar of Equilibrium in its allegory of the Yellow Brick Road.[1] And it was this “Etz Chaim,” or “Tree of Life,” that grew alongside the infamous Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden.[2] As can be seen in the diagram below, the Tree’s 9th Sephira, which is on the Pillar of Equilibrium, is called Yesod (“Foundation”) and located in the area of the groin when superimposed over the image of man. Yesod is associated with the female/lunar vital energy and is symbolized by a foundation stone[3] or cube.[4]

[1] Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” is another reference to the middle pillar/path and the band’s music is known to have been heavily influenced by the mysticism—especially the guitarist, Jimmy Page.

[2] Both trees are said to have shared the same root system.

[3] See also the Sorcerer’s Stone in Alchemy and the “Stone the Builder Rejected” in the Royal Arch degrees.

[4] The cube, or “Kaaba” in Arabic, is also the Kaaba (Kaaba-Allah, or Kabbalah) of the Great Mosque at Mecca.

This foundation/cornerstone is the one referenced in Jacob’s vision and the same stone upon which Jesus said to his apostle in the Book of Matthew that “you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church.” The name Peter comes from the Greek word petros, which means rock—so when Jesus says, “you are Peter,” he is literally saying “you are rock, or Yesod.” Peter also shares roots with the word pater, which is “father” in Latin. In the Craft, we call this Secret 9thSephira,[1] the Ashlar. In the diagram below, we find our square and compasses masking the cubical Ashlar and Kabbalistic Star of David, or Seal of Solomon, in their several angles.

[1] The word Yesod is likely a code and, when the first letter is removed, spells Sod meaning “Secret.”

The cube of Yesod may also be “unfolded” into the Scottish Rite’s “Passion Cross.”

In esoteric Freemasonry, a “rough Ashlar” refers to man’s uncontrolled lunar energy. The unbridled power of Yesod is also referenced in our description of the compasses which are given, symbolically, to keep [sexual] passions within due bounds. In other words, Masons are to harness the Goddess’ lunar energy and not squander it through acts of fornication. Individuals driven mad by their sexual lunar energies are even know to us as luna-tics. When we learn to control and harness the vital feminine power of Yesod, we are making our Ashlars square, or “perfect.”

As apprentices in the Northeast corner of the Lodge we, ourselves, represent Living Stones. We are seated in the Northeast corner, we are told, to represent the foundation of our future spiritual edifice which we will, in time, erect. Ironically, we find Masonic “erections” everywhere we look in the mysteries. For example, the Washington monument is an offspring of the ancient Egyptian obelisk. And the obelisk, in those days, represented the dismembered phallus of the God-King, Osiris.[1] As we learn more and more about the mystery traditions of the Ancient Egyptians, we find that Kabbalah and the Tree of Life (represented by the hieroglyph “Ankh” meaning “life”) were already known to the priesthood of Amen-Ra.[2]

[1] See Albert Pike’s “Morals and Dogma” (p. 379).

[2] The holy trinities of Judaism/Kabbalah, Hinduism and Christianity are, as symbols, indistinguishable from the Egyptian trinity of Osiris, Isis and Horus.

It has also been suggested by several scholars that Moses may actually have been an exiled Pharaoh named Akhenaten[1]who would certainly have been, in his role as King, initiated into the mysteries by the priesthood prior to the Exodus.[2]Regardless, as Manly P. Hall notes, “It is generally admitted by modern Masonic scholars that the story of the martyred CHiram [sic] is based upon the Egyptian rites of Osiris.”[3]

[1] Akhenaten was also known by Amenhotep IV before the 5th year of his reign.[2] See Ahmed Oman’s “Moses and Akhenaten.”[3] See Manly P. Hall’s “Secret Teaching of All Ages.”

“It is generally admitted by modern Masonic scholars that the story of the martyred CHiram [sic] is based upon the Egyptian rites of Osiris.”

Manly P. Hall

The Real Hiram?

The Tarot[1] is intimately connected with Kabbalah and Tarot’s tetragrammaton,[2] “TARO,” may even be read backwards as “TORA” (Hebrew for “the Law”) inside the #10 card’s iconic “Wheel Within A Wheel.”[3] The Latin word for “wheel” is, interestingly, “ROTA,” which suggests additional hidden anagrams.[4] TARO and TORA may also be formed with the same Hebrew letters (T, R and H) because, Biblical Hebrew, uses only 22 consonants[5] in its alphabet.[6] Esoterically, the 22 “Trump Cards” of the Major Arcana also correspond to the 22 letters of the Hebrew Alphabet.

The Christogram, or “chi-rho,” used by the Roman Emperor Constantine also, according to some mystics, secreted the tetragrammaton, in its several letters: chi (letter X, sideways T or “Tau Cross”), alpha (sounded A), rho (letter P, sounded R) and omega (O)—or T-A-R-O.[7] The chi-rho is also a prevalent symbol among the York Rite’s Knights Templar.[8]

In Hebrew, the name “Hiram,” likewise, is spelled interchangeably with Hermes [Trismegistus], the father of the Hermetic teachings (H, R and M). As we continue to unmask Secret 9s, we find yet another Hermetic/Hiramic seeker of Light[9] in the #9 card of the Tarot’s Major Arcana, the Hermit. It is noteworthy that “Hermit,” like Hiram and Hermes, contains the same three main consonants H, R, and M.

[1] Tarot decks vary widely and, for this article, I have used the popular Rider-Waite-Smith deck.[2] From “tetra” (four) and “gramma” (letter).[3] The “wheel within a wheel” is discussed in the Book of Ezekiel 1:16.[4] See Israel Regardie’s “The Golden Dawn” for more on the TARO’s hidden anagrams and their meanings.[5] There are an additional 5 final consonants called “sofit” used at the end of words (in gematria, 22+5=27 which is equal to 2+7=9 or another “Secret 9.”[6] The word alphabet comes from the first two letters of the Hebrew alphabet, Aleph and Bet.[7] See Guillaume Postel’s 1547 treatise, “The Absolute Key to Occult Science.”[8] The “XP” (ChR of ChRistos) and “Alpha and Omega” both, exoterically, representing Jesus Christ. The P (Greek R) on the T (Tau Caross) also hides the Egyptian hieroglyph, Ankh.[9] Light in Hebrew is Aur (pronounced ”or”) which shares its roots with the words “Hour” and “Horus” (pronounced ow-or-us). It also shares roots with the French and Spanish “Or” meaning gold, which is a solar, or male, metal. Additionally, the sun and gold claim the same alchemical/astrological symbol which, in Freemasonry, we call the circumpunct, or “point within a circle.”

He grips the “lamp of Hermes” which represents wisdom and houses an illuminated Star of David

Here we can see that the Hermit carries a Deacon’s phallic rod in his left hand called the “patriarch’s staff.” In his right, he grips the “lamp of Hermes” which represents wisdom and houses an illuminated Star of David which, as we have already seen, is coded within the square and compasses. The Star of David is a Kabbalistic symbol of sexual union with its upward-pointing triangle symbolizing the phallus/lingam, and downward triangle the womb/yoni. The Hermit is also perched atop a mountain range (rocks) denoting that, in his solitude, he is mastering the lunar/sexual energy of Yesod.

Virgo is the astrological sign associated with the
Hermit card, and, again, Virgo reminds us of our own Virgin Weeping before a broken column, or middle pillar. The Hebrew letter associated with the #9 card is Yod which, though the smallest letter in size, serves as a foundation for all other ones.[1] It also represents the phallus and spermatozoa and is the first letter of the sacred name of God, Yod Hay Vav Hay, commonly pronounced in English as Jehovah.

There is another Secret 9th card of the Tarot’s Major Arcana which is called “Strength” or “Fortitude.”[2] While the Strength card is labeled #8, the Major Arcana also contains a zero card, “the Fool,” which obscures the Arcana’s “true numbers.” The Strength card features a calm and relaxed (lunar) woman subduing a powerful (solar) lion. The lion is a symbol of male solar vitality/potency and is another of Freemasonry’s ancient symbols. Previous to this depiction, the Griggoneur Tarot of the mid-15th century portrayed a woman with a broken a pillar—again, the same symbolism as our Virgin Weeping.[3]

[1] Yod is the letter on the Scottish Rite’s 14th degree ring.[2]Rider-Waite-Smith switched the Strength card, which was #11, for Justice, which was #8.[3] See Liz Dean’s “Ultimate Guide to Tarot.”

Let None Go Away Dissatisfied

Clearly, there is far more to the symbolism of the Ashlar than our ritual books reveal. Learning to master the lunar/sexual energy of Yesod was undoubtedly one of the stone’s original intentions as a teaching symbol. Our ancient lunar symbol further reinforces the significance of the moon’s cycles and the importance of the sacred feminine principle—especially in relation to the solar male energy. The Virgin Weeping before a broken column relates to our own Moon Goddess, Columbia—her symbol, like Venus, or Venus Columbe, is a dove. In Latin, the word “dove” is columbe—which is a double entendre for the word “column”—being that the pronunciation of the two words is nearly identical.[1]

For corroboration, we need search no further than the Statue of Liberty, who, unsurprisingly, is our own Goddess Columbia wearing a solar “crown of thorns” and holding the “torch of illumination” (Lamp of Hermes).[2] In fact, depictions reveal that all Moon Goddesses (Isis, Diana, Venus, et al.) are virtually indistinguishable from one another. Also not surprising, the Statue of Liberty—first known as “Liberty Enlightening the World”—was given to American Freemasons by the French Masonic “Grand Orient” in 1884, and esoteric symbolism may be discovered throughout her design.[3]

[1] See also Christopher Colon (aka “Columbus”), Columbia Pictures, Columbia Broadcast Services, &c[2] There is another Statue of Liberty which remains in France’s River Seine.[3] The statue was designed by French Freemasons, Frederic Auguste Bartholdi and Gustave Eiffel, and is perched upon on an 11-pointed star, or hendecagram, as her base. The number 11 features prominently in gematria/Kabbalah.


Coming full circle, we ask ourselves, again, why are Masons and “born again” Evangelicals recreating births? Why does Jesus tell Peter that he will build a “church” on him? How does that relate to our own spiritual edifice? Again, the answers may be unveiled in the words themselves. Peter’s church is the “house of God” or, in Hebrew, Bet (house) Israel (from the Egyptian Ka-Ba-listic trinity Isis, Ra and El/Elohim).[1] Solomon’s Temple is Peter’s Church. The House of God, the Bet Israel, is inside each and every one of us—“my body is a temple”—King Solomon’s Temple.

[1] See also the “father, sun and Holy Spirit” and “Brahma (Abraham), Vishnu and Shiva.”

The word “Solomon” conceals our solar and lunar symbols—the Sun and Moon, or Sol-e-Mo[o]n. Yesod is the Sod (secret) Moon of Sol-e-Mo[o]n, or the lunar vital energy that we must learn to subdue in order to climb Jacob’s Ladder. This middle path is the Yellow Brick Road. It is the “House of the Rising Sun” and the “Stairway to Heaven” where we will, eventually, commune with the great “I am” on the Via Dolorosa (Way of Suffering) and Golgotha (the skull). The internal Via Dolorosa is a rough and rugged road but “the sufferer, when saved, is saved by what seems to him a second birth, a deeper kind of conscious being than he could enjoy before.”[1] This is the second spiritual “solar birth” which is, esoterically, the true meaning of being “born again.” [2] More can be revealed once we bring to light the solar/male aspect of Sol-e-Mo[o]n’s Temple in “Secret 6s.” For now, we are left with the words of Albert Pike: “Masonry is a search after Light. That search leads us directly back, as you see, to the Kabbalah.” [3] 

[1] See William James’ “Varieties of Religious Experience.” (Lecture 10)[2] In the Book of John 3:6, Jesus states, “That which is born of flesh is flesh, and that which is born of Spirit is spirit.”[3] See Ankerberg and Weldon’s “Secret Teachings of the Masonic Lodge.”

Illustration of Sephiroth

“This division of the ten Sephiroth into three triads was arranged into a form called by the Kabbalists the Kabbalistic Tree, or the Tree of life, as shown in the . . . diagram.  In this diagram the vertical arrangement of the Sephiroth is called “Pillars.”  Thus, the four Sephiroth in the center are called the “Middle Pillar;” the three on the right, the “Pillar of Mercy;” and the three on the left, the “Pillar of Justice.”  — Charles T. McClenachan, The Book of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry: Containing Instructions in All the Degrees  (NewYork,1889). Page 436.

Written by Adam Goldman

Worshipful Brother Adam Goldman is the Orator for Washington, D.C.’s premier esoteric Lodge, Benjamin B. French No. 15, and a Past Master of Harmony Lodge No. 17. He is currently researching a new book which holds promise to reveal the true identity of the Grand Master Hiram Abif using linguistics, comparative mythology and numerology. WB Goldman received his BA from California State University and MSc from the University of London. He is currently working as a Social Scientist at the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

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