THEOSOPHY, Vol. 58, No. 4, February, 1970
(Pages 111-116; Size: 19K)
(Number 28 of a 36-part series)

THE CHRISTIAN SCHEME(7)

HERESIES AND SECRET SOCIETIES: HERMETICISTS AND DRUZES

PLATO states that the mystic religion, known under the name of Machagistia, is the most uncorrupted form of worship in things divine. Later, the Mysteries of the Chaldean sanctuaries were added to it by one of the Zoroasters and Darius Hystaspes. The latter completed and perfected it still more with the help of the knowledge obtained by him from the learned ascetics of India, whose rites were identical with those of the initiated Magi.(1) Ammian, in his history of Julian's Persian expedition, gives the story by stating that one day Hystaspes, as he was boldly penetrating into the unknown regions of Upper India, had come upon a certain wooded solitude, the tranquil recesses of which were "occupied by those exalted sages, the Brachmanes (or Shamans). Instructed by their teaching in the science of the motions of the world and of the heavenly bodies, and in pure religious rites ... he transfused them into the creed of the Magi. The latter, coupling these doctrines with their own peculiar science of foretelling the future, have handed down the whole through their descendants to succeeding ages." It is from these descendants that the Sufis, chiefly composed of Persians and Syrians, acquired their proficient knowledge in astrology, medicine, and the esoteric doctrine of the ages. "The Sufi doctrine," says C. W. King, "involved the grand idea of one universal creed which could be secretly held under any profession of an outward faith; and, in fact, took virtually the same view of religious systems as that in which the ancient philosophers had regarded such matters." The mysterious Druzes of Mount Lebanon are the descendants of all these. Solitary Copts, earnest students scattered hither and thither throughout the sandy solitudes of Egypt, Arabia Petræa, Palestine, and the impenetrable forests of Abyssinia, though rarely met with, may sometimes be seen. Many and various are the nationalities to which belong the disciples of that mysterious school, and many the side-shoots of that one primitive stock. The secrecy preserved by these sub-lodges, as well as by the one and supreme great lodge, has ever been proportionate to the activity of religious persecutions; and now, in the face of the growing materialism, their very existence is becoming a mystery.(2)

But it must not be inferred, on that account, that such a mysterious brotherhood is but a fiction, not even a name, though it remains unknown to this day. Whether its affiliates are called by an Egyptian, Hindu, or Persian name, it matters not. Persons belonging to one of these sub-brotherhoods have been met by trustworthy, and not unknown persons, besides the present writer, who states a few facts concerning them, by the special permission of one who has a right to give it. In a recent and very valuable work on secret societies, K. R. H. Mackenzie's Royal Masonic Cyclopœdia, we find the learned author himself, an honorary member of the Canongate Kilwinning Lodge, No. 2 (Scotland), and a Mason not likely to be imposed upon, stating the following, under the head, Hermetic Brothers of Egypt:

"An occult fraternity, which has endured from very ancient times, having a hierarchy of officers, secret signs, and passwords, and a peculiar method of instruction in science, religion, and philosophy.... If we may believe those who, at the present time, profess to belong to it, the philosopher's stone, the elixir of life, the art of invisibility, and the power of communication directly with the ultramundane life, are parts of the inheritance they possess. The writer has met with only three persons who maintained the actual existence of this body of religious philosophers, and who hinted that they themselves were actually members. There was no reason to doubt the good faith of these individuals -- apparently unknown to each other, and men of moderate competence, blameless lives, austere manners, and almost ascetic in their habits. They all appeared to be men of forty to forty-five years of age, and evidently of vast erudition ... their knowledge of languages not to be doubted.... They never remained long in any one country but passed away without creating notice."(3)

Whoever desires to assure himself that there now exists a religion which has baffled, for centuries, the impudent inquisitiveness of missionaries, and the persevering inquiry of science, let him violate, if he can, the seclusion of the Syrian Druzes. He will find them numbering over 80,000 warriors, scattered from the plain east of Damascus to the western coast. They covet no proselytes, shun notoriety, keep friendly -- as far as possible -- with both Christians and Mahometans, respect the religion of every other sect or people, but will never disclose their own secrets. Vainly do the missionaries stigmatize them as infidels, idolaters, brigands, and thieves. Neither threat, bribe, nor any other consideration will induce a Druze to become a convert to dogmatic Christianity. We have heard of two in fifty years, and both have finished their careers in prison, for drunkenness and theft. They proved to be "real Druzes,"(4) said one of their chiefs, in discussing the subject. There never was a case of an initiated Druze becoming a Christian. As to the uninitiated, they are never allowed to even see the sacred writings, and none of them have the remotest idea where these are kept.

That their religion exhibits traces of Magianism and Gnosticism is natural, as the whole of the Ophite esoteric philosophy is at the bottom of it. But the characteristic dogma of the Druzes is the absolute unity of God. He is the essence of life, and although incomprehensible and invisible, is to be known through occasional manifestations in human form.(5) Like the Hindus they hold that he was incarnated more than once on earth. Hamsa was the precursor of the last manifestation to be (the tenth avatar)(6) not the inheritor of Hakem, who is yet to come. Hamsa was the personification of the "Universal Wisdom." Boha-eddin in his writings calls him Messiah. The whole number of his disciples, or those who at different ages of the world have imparted wisdom to mankind, which the latter as invariably have forgotten and rejected in course of time, is one hundred and sixty-four (164, the kabalistic s d k). Therefore, their stages or degrees of promotion after initiation are five; the first three degrees are typified by the "three feet of the candlestick of the inner Sanctuary, which holds the light of the five elements"; the last two degrees, the most important and terrifying in their solemn grandeur belonging to the highest orders; and the whole five degrees emblematically represent the said five mystic Elements. The "three feet are the holy Application, the Opening, and the Phantom," says one of their books; on man's inner and outer soul, and his body, a phantom, a passing shadow. The body, or matter,isalso called the "Rival," for "he is the minister of sin, the Devil ever creating dissensions between the Heavenly Intelligence (spirit) and the soul, which he tempts incessantly." Their ideas on transmigration are Pythagorean and kabalistic. The spirit, or Temeami (the divine soul), was in Elijah and John the Baptist; and the soul of Jesus was that of H'amsa; that is to say, of the same degree of purity and sanctity. Until their resurrection, by which they understand the day when the spiritual bodies of men will be absorbed into God's own essence and being (the Nirvana of the Hindus), the souls of men will keep their astral forms, except the few chosen ones who, from the moment of their separation from their bodies, begin to exist as pure spirits. The life of man they divide into soul, body, and intelligence, or mind. It is the latter which imparts and communicates to the soul the divine spark from its H'amsa (Christos).

They have seven great commandments which are imparted equally to all the uninitiated; and yet, even these well-known articles of faith have been so mixed up in the accounts of outside writers, that, in one of the best Cyclopædias of America (Appleton's), they are garbled. (See Isis II, 311).

The morality of the Druzes is strict and uncompromising. Nothing can tempt one of these Lebanon Unitarians to go astray from what he is taught to consider his duty. Their ritual being unknown to outsiders, their would-be historians have hitherto denied them one. Their "Thursday meetings" are open to all, but no interloper has ever participated in the rites of initiation which take place occasionally on Fridays in the greatest secrecy. Women are admitted to them as well as men, and they play a part of great importance at the initiation of men. The probation, unless some extraordinary exception is made, is long and severe. Once, in a certain period of time, a solemn ceremony takes place, during which all the elders and the initiates of the highest two degrees start out for a pilgrimage of several days to a certain place in the mountains. They meet within the safe precincts of a monastery said to have been erected during the earliest times of the Christian era. Outwardly one sees but old ruins of a once grand edifice, used, says the legend, by some Gnostic sects as a place of worship during the religious persecutions. The ruins above ground, however, are but a convenient mask; the subterranean chapel, halls, and cells, covering an area of ground far greater than the upper building; while the richness of ornamentations, the beauty of the ancient sculptures, and the gold and silver vessels in this sacred resort, appear like "a dream of glory," according to the expression of an initiate. As the lamaseries of Mongolia and Thibet are visited upon grand occasions by the holy shadow of "Lord Buddha," so here, during the ceremonial, appears the resplendent ethereal form of Hamsa, the Blessed, which instructs the faithful. The most extraordinary feats of what would be termed magic take place during the several nights that the convocation lasts; and one of the greatest mysteries -- faithful copy of the past -- is accomplished within the discreet bosom of our mother earth; not an echo, nor the faintest sound, not a glimmer of light betrays without the grand secret of the initiates.

Hamsa, like Jesus, was a mortal man, and yet "Hamsa" and "Christos" are synonymous terms as to their inner and hidden meaning. Both are symbols of the Nous, the divine and higher soul of man -- his spirit. The doctrine taught by the Druzes on that particular question of the duality of spiritual man, consisting of one soul mortal, and another immortal, is identical with that of the Gnostics, the older Greek philosophers, and other initiates.

The Druzes may be said to belong to one of the least esoteric of secret societies. There are others far more powerful and learned, the existence of which is not even suspected in Europe. There are many branches belonging to the great "Mother Lodge" which, mixed up with certain communities, may be termed secret sects within other sects.


COMPILER'S NOTE: The following is a separate item which followed the above article but was on the same page. I felt it was useful to include it here:

A UNIVERSAL SYMBOL

The snake as a symbol of rebirth following death is an ancient, yet ever-present conception which can be traced through endless patterns of sculpture, painting, verse, and the myths of gods, demigods, or heroic mortals. This is so because during its yearly period of hibernation the snake sheds its skin and reappears as if renewed. The wisdom of the serpent, which is suggested by its watchful lidless eye, lies essentially in mankind's having projected into this lowly creature his own secret wish to obtain from the earth a knowledge he cannot find in waking daylight consciousness alone. This is the knowledge of death and rebirth forever withheld except at those times when some transcendent principle, emerging from the depths, makes it available to consciousness. 


--The Wisdom of the Serpent

Next article:
THE CHRISTIAN SCHEME
HERESIES AND SECRET SOCIETIES: Buddhist Elements
(Part 29 of a 36-part series)

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SEVEN (7) FOOTNOTES LISTED BELOW:

(7) NOTE.--"The Christian Scheme," begun in November, 1967, is collated from the works of H. P. Blavatsky. It recounts the historical background and early development of Christianity.
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(1) We hold to the idea -- which becomes self-evident when the Zoroastrian imbroglio is considered -- that there were, in the days of Darius, two distinct sacerdotal castes of Magi: the initiated and those who were allowed to officiate in the popular rites only. We see the same in the Eleusinian Mysteries. Belonging to every temple there were attached the "hierophants" of the inner sanctuary, and the secular clergy who were not even instructed in the Mysteries. It is against the absurdities and superstitions of the latter that Darius revolted, and "crushed them," for the inscription of his tomb shows that he was a "hierophant" and a Magian himself. It is also but the exoteric rites of this class of Magi which descended to posterity, for the great secrecy in which were preserved the "Mysteries" of the true Chaldean Magi was never violated, however much guess-work may have been expended on them.
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(2) These are truths which cannot fail to impress themselves upon the minds of earnest thinkers. While the Ebionites, Nazarites, Hemerobaptists, Lampseans, Sabians, and the many other earliest sects which wavered later between the varying dogmatisms suggested to them by the esoteric and misunderstood parables of the Nazarene teacher, whom they justly regarded as a prophet, there were men, for whose names we would vainly search history, who preserved the secret doctrines of Jesus as pure and unadulterated as they had been received. And still, even all these above-mentioned and conflicting sects were far more orthodox in their Christianity, or rather Christism, than the Churches of Constantine and Rome....
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(3) What will, perhaps, still more astonish American readers, is the fact that, in the United States, a mystical fraternity now exists, which claims an intimate relationship with one of the oldest and most powerful of Eastern Brotherhoods. It is known as the Brotherhood of Luxor, and its faithful members have the custody of very important secrets of science. Its ramifications extend widely throughout the great Republic of the West. Though this brotherhood has been long and hard at work, the secret of its existence has been jealously guarded. Mackenzie describes it as having "a Rosicrucian basis, and numbering many members" ("Royal Masonic Cyclopædia," p. 461). But, in this, the author is mistaken; it has no Rosicrucian basis. The name Luxor is primarily derived from the ancient Beloochistan City of Looksur, which lies between Bela and Kedgee, and also gave its name to the Egyptian city.
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(4) These people do not accept the name of Druzes, but regard the appellation as an insult. They call themselves the "disciples of Hamsa," their Messiah, who came to them, in the tenth century, from the "Land of the Word of God," and, together with his disciple, Mochtana Boha-eddin, committed this Word to writing, and entrusted it to the care of a few initiates, with the injunction of the greatest secrecy. They are usually called Unitarians.
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(5) This is the doctrine of the Gnostics who held Christos to be the personal immortal Spirit of man.
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(6) The ten Messiahs or avatars remind again of the five Buddhistic and ten Brahmanical avatars of Buddha and Christna.
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