Occult Symbols of Freemasonry: Secret 6s, the Beauty and Glory of the Dei
Have you ever wondered why the “column of the South” is named Beauty? What about the other two columns, Strength and Wisdom? How did they get their titles? And why are each of the columns associated with phases of the Sun? The answers may be found in the Jewish mystical system known as Qabalah. In this article, we will look well to the South—and there, discover the “Beauty” of the hidden number 6—which is coded in the Junior Warden’s pillar. (1)
In the Beginning
The Old Testament starts with a passage familiar to all Masons, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Here we find our first “Secret 6.” Notably, God takes 6 magickal days to complete his creation of the universe before resting on the 7th, the Sabbath. In Hebrew the word “in the beginning” is BRAShITh and, when viewed through the oculus of Jewish mysticism, we are able to uncover the esoteric meaning beneath God’s very first act of creation, manifesting the Secret 6.
Qabalah provides a system by which we may divide words into smaller parts—or even into single letters or numbers to uncover their hidden, or “esoteric,” meanings. Applying this lens to the word “in the beginning,” or BRAShITh, we find the constituent words BRA “he created” and ShITh “six.”
In the Book of Genesis, God’s creation of the number 6 took the form of the 6th letter of the Hebrew alphabet, Vav. This process of assigning numeric value to letters is called Gematria.
And from a point to a line, was created the just and upright letter Vav. In man, Vav is also associated esoterically with the spine and erect phallus because of its shape. In God, Vav holds the 3rd position of Deity’s sacred name, YHVH, commonly pronounced as “Yod Hé Vav Hé” or “Jehovah.” Remembering that Vav is the connecting word “and,” we may now interpret the word “Jehovah” through anagrams of its constituent parts—the male YH (Jah) and female HVH (HeVe or Eve).
Though Hebrew is generally/exoterically read from right to left, in Qabalah, words may be read in any direction. When YHVH is read up to down, we can see more easily that Vav is, indeed, the human spine with its 33 vertebrae (or Yods) which correspond to the 33 degrees of the Scottish Rite. In Gematria, the two 3s that make up 33 maybe be added together (3+3) to reveal another Secret 6.
In the hermetic teachings, we find that man is a “microcosmic” reflection of the “macrocosmic” Deity. Esoterically speaking, the macrocosm may be depicted as two interlocking triangles, or a 6-pointed hexagram/hexagon—also known as the “Star of David” and “Seal of Solomon.” Pentagrams/pentagons, on the other hand, are symbols of the microcosmic man. Together, they convey the hermetic axiom, “as above, so below.”
Beauty and Glory of the Dei
Wisdom, or “Chokmah,” in Hebrew, is located on the Tree’s male Pillar of Mercy and associated with the South in Freemasonry. Strength, or “Geburah,” may be found on the Tree’s female Pillar of Severity and associated with the Masonic North. Beauty, or “Tiphereth,” is a connecting Sephira located on the middle column, or Pillar of Equilibrium—to balance the male (solar/white) and female (lunar/black) energies.
We also find the male/white and female/black energies of Tiphereth twisted together in the Taoist Yin-Yang symbol.
In the Lodge, the Pillar of Equilibrium runs due East and West. Qabalistically, the Master represents the Sephira which is nearest to God in its “limitless” state (represented by the letter “G”) and, therefore, he sits atop the middle pillar in “the East.” That 1st emanation which the Master symbolically portrays is known as the “Crown,” or Kether, in Hebrew—and is associated with the 1st letter of the tetragrammaton, Yod. The Master’s “crown” is his top hat, and we find similar royal headgear in the turbans of the Sikhs or kippahs of the Jews.
Across the bridge (Vav) from the Master stands the Senior Warden in the West. As we travel from East to West then, at the midway or “midday” point, we pass the Sun at its meridian around the 6th sephira, Tiphereth. Tiphereth in Hebrew means “splendor” or “beauty” and is the hidden meaning behind the Junior Warden’s solar representation as the beauty and glory of the day (Dei, Deus, Deity = God).
According to Qabalistic tradition, Tiphereth is the seat of the human soul/Sol, or Merkabah in Hebrew. Appropriately, the Sun/Sol is also the ancient “planet” associated with that emanation of God; therefore, Tiphereth is the esoteric Sun of God on the Tree of Life. When superimposed over the image of man, Tiphereth is also located above the Sol-ar plexus.
by Diego Velázquez, 1632
Paintings by artists such as Diego Velázquez in 1632 are believed, by students of the mysteries, to have secreted the Tree of Life in their depictions of the crucifixion.
Christ’s “Crown (Kether) of Thorns” and his 33 years on earth may also be understood for reasons already discussed. In Hebrew, the name Jesus is spelled by inserting the letter Shin to the middle of YHVH, or YH-Sh-VH, commonly pronounced as Yehoshua. Qabalistically, Shin is symbolic of fire and made up of three Yods which, again, are stretched into Vavs which correspond to the three pillars of the Tree of Life and Columns of the South, West and East. The fiery “word of God” is further symbolized by the Menorah and Moses’ burning bush on Mount Horeb. The letter “S” in South also corresponds to the “S” in Sulphur, or fire. Likewise, the “W” in West is water and “E” is Earth.
The Virgin Mother
Virgo is the 6th astrological sign of the Zodiac and represented by a Virgin—a Virgin Weeping in Freemasonry. Of course, Virgo the Virgin may also be discovered in the persona of the Sun/Son’s mother, Mary. Like the chariot of the soul/Sol, or Mer-kabah, the name Mar-y has its roots in the Latin word for sea, or “mare.” The Virgin Mother is also a title of one of the Tree of Life’s first three Sephira, called Binah, or “Understanding.” In this respect, the first three Sephira, or “Holy Trinity,” give birth to Tiphereth as one of the “Nephilim,” or the children of the Suns of God and the daughters of men.
Virgo is ruled by the planet Mer-cury which, appropriately, shares the same seafaring root word, mer/mar. During our present astrological age of Pisces, symbols of the ocean, like Mar-y and Mer-cury, can be discovered throughout our religious texts. The word nun, for example, likely has its roots in the Hebrew letter nun which corresponds to the word “fish” in Qabalah. Nun, pronounced “noon,” is also “high twelve,” or the Sun at its meridian height.
Mercury was the Roman incarnation of the Greek god Hermes and Egyptian god Thoth. Qabalistically, the planet Mercury is associated with the Tree of Life’s 8th Sephira “Hod” which means “Glory”—as in the “Beauty (Tiphereth) And (Vav) Glory (Hod) of The (Hé) Dei (Jehovah).”
Because Mercury is the closest planet to the Sun/Son, its movement/year is quicker than the others. This is one reason that Mercury became known, in antiquity, as the messenger of the father God, Jupiter. Like the Yin-Yang, Mercury carried in his hands the symbol of the twisted lunar and solar energies around a central letter Vav, or caduceus. His winged helmet and sandals were also emblems of his “travelling man” status among the other deified planets.
In imitation of Mercury, then, each of the Deacon’s duties is to carry messages throughout the Lodge and, prior to the union of the Ancient and Modern Grand Lodges in 1813, many of their jewels still highlighted the original messenger.
The Joy of Six
Tiphereth is the lovechild of the male Sephira Mercy (Chesed) and female Severity (Geburah) and was symbolized, in the Arthurian legend, as Guinevere’s marriage to the King. Because Sephira have a dual nature, positive and negative, it was also symbolized as Guinevere’s weakness for Lancelot which led to their tragic downfall. The “lance” in Lance-lot conceals his lustful phallus and the Grail, or chalice, her tempting uterus. We find the same narrative surrounding Adam and Eve in the Book of Genesis which, similarly, led to man’s fall from grace in that Camelot, the Garden of Eden. The word Camelot likely comes from the Sanskrit word Kama which means “desire and longing.”
The “hero’s journey” personified has long been used by initiatic societies to teach the more important innerstruggles of man. In the Craft, we find the same allegory veiled within the legend of the martyred Hiram Abif. The 6th card of the Tarot’s major arcana, the Lovers, codifies the same archetypal trials.
The Lovers card could just as accurately be called “the Temptation” because the central figure (initiate or Christos) is torn between the Madonna and whore. Eros or cupid aims his phallic arrow (Vav) at Eve (HVH)—but Adam is tormented with indecision and his eyes remain focused on the harlot, Lilith. Cupid is also floating in front of Tiphereth which is symbolized as a 24-pointed sun (6×4). Astrologically, the Sun is symbolized as a point within a circle and, in the Craft, we use the same symbol for our teachings.
The Number of Man
In the 47th problem of Euclid, we find that a triangle consisting of sides that are 3, 4 and 5 in length will have an area of 6. That is one reason why ancient initiatic societies, like the Pythagoreans, revered the theorem which conceals the Secret 6—and why their motto was “All is Number.”
The question is, again, why is the Secret 6 also hidden in our gentle Craft?
In William Neil’s thought-provoking book How We Were Made, the author reveals to the reader that the number 6 was coded by God into the microcosmic man—what he terms the “paradigm human male.” To support his hypothesis, he notes that males are, on average, 6 feet tall with 216 (6 cubed) bones, of which, 24 (6×4) are ribs. Neil also notes that man’s foot is, on average, 12 (6×2) inches long and the ear has 6 bones.
Following the Qabalistic and hermetic doctrines, we may then infer certain things about our creator based on all of these Secret 6s. Namely, God created the number 6 and coded it in the very nature of our beings—which, as humans, are carbon-based. Carbon-12 molecules contain precisely 6 electrons, 6 protons and 6 neutrons. In other words, as written in the Book of Revelations, 666 is truly the “number of man.”
In the 6th degree of the Scottish Rite, we find a storyline related to the death of our Pillar of the South, the Beauty-ful Hiram, which is, again, symbolic of the internal struggles which prevent us from realizing our God-given potentials. In the New Testament, those traitors of the Sun/Son of God (pride, lust, envy, etc.) were personified as Judas, Caiaphas and Pilate. In the Egyptian Book of the Dead, they were Apopi, Hai and Nebt—and in Freemasonry, they are the Ruffians.
Appropriately, the 6th degree begins on page 216 (6 cubed) of the Scottish Rite Monitor. Using Gematria, in English this time, we find that substituting the name of the Grand Master with numbers, reveals something unexpected:
Know ye, O man, that all space is ordered.
Only by Order are ye One with the All.
- The number 6 was of particular importance to the Sumerians, Greeks, and Israelites.
- Genesis 1:1
- ShiTh is a Chaldean form of the Hebrew letter, ShSh; see Leonard Bosman’s (1932) The Meaning and Philosophy of Numbers.
- The word “alphabet” comes from the first two Hebrew letters, A and B, or Aleph Bet.
- Genesis 1:26-31
- See the “Kybalion.”
- The word “wisdom” comes from vis (sight) and dom (power), or “power of sight.”
- This duality is also represented in the trestleboard floor with its white (solar/male/South) and black (lunar/female/North) mosaic.
- Kippahs are also known as yarmulkes from the Yiddish “skullcap.”
- There is a hidden sephira between Tiphereth and Kether making it the 3rd of 5 sephira.
- Merkabah may be divided, esoterically, into “mer” (sea) and “kabah” (cube).
- See also Horus, Krishna and Mithras et al.
- The word “cross” comes from the Latin “Crucis” which is the root of the word “crucifixion.”
- Exodus 3:1 – 4:17.
- Earth is also an anagram for Heart.
- Washington, DC was designed by the founding fathers to align with Virgo.
- See also Shiva in Hinduism.
- The midday Sun is at noon on an equinox. The word “equinox,” comes from “equi” (equal) and “nox” (night).
- Jupiter comes from the word Dyeus (God, or Greek “Zeus”) and Pater (Father, or Greek “Petros” or stone).
- See for example the Kama Sutra.
- The Greek Eros is the origin of the word “erotic.”
- The point within a circle is also the alchemical symbol for gold.
- The Pythagorean school was founded by the Greek mathematician and philosopher Pythagoras ca. 580-500 B.C.
- Revelation 13:18.
- Arturo deHoyos (2010) The Scottish Rite Ritual Monitor and Guide. Supreme Council 33°, Southern Jurisdiction.