Pikes influence on contemporary Freemasonry is the topic of some debate both within and outside the Craft. His Morals and Dogma of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry has often been quoted, misquoted and taken out of context by both anti-masons and misled non-masons. Pikes extensive references to the symbolism, practices and beliefs of religious schools through history and around the world can, unfortunately, lead the careless reader into a mistaken idea of what constitutes Freemasonry.
Pike is not always consistent in his use of some terms and he is, of course, a product of his time and place in history. Pike cannot act as representative of contemporary Freemasonry but this text is a valid and valuable introduction to the symbolic values that history placed on the metaphors and allegories of masonic teachings.
The following quotes 1 do not include any of his more obscure and esoteric references, many derived from Éliphas Lévi and his Dogma de la Haute Magie.2 They will, though, show that Pike did not view Freemasonry as a religion, luciferian or otherwise. That he also does not present himself as an authority will be shown by the first of the following quotes from his text.
The teachings of these Readings are not sacramental, so far as they go beyond the realm of Morality into those of other domains of Thought and Truth. Every one is entirely free to reject and dissent from whatsoever herein may seem to him to be untrue or unsound. Of course, the ancient theosophic and philosophic speculations are not embodied as part of the doctrines of the Rite. (p.iv)
Though Masonry neither usurps the place of, nor apes religion, prayer is an essential part of our ceremonies. It is the aspiration of the soul toward the Absolute and Infinite Intelligence, which is the One Supreme Deity, most feebly and misunderstandingly characterized as an "ARCHITECT." Certain faculties of man are directed toward the Unknownthought, meditation, prayer. The unknown is an ocean, of which conscience is the compass. Thought, meditation, prayer, are the great mysterious pointings of the needle. It is a spiritual magnetism that thus connects the human soul with the Deity. (p. 6)
The obligation of the candidate is always to be taken on the sacred book or books of his religion, that he may deem it more solemn and binding; and therefore it was that you were asked of what religion you were. We have no other concern with your religious creed. (p. 11)
Truths are the springs from which duty flows; and it is but a few hundred years since a new Truth began to be distinctly seen; that man is supreme over institutions, and not they over him. (p. 23)
The rule may be regarded as universal, that, where there is a choice to be made, a Mason will give his vote and influence, in politics and business, to the less qualified profane in preference to the better qualified Mason. (p. 36)
No man truly obeys the Masonic law who merely tolerates those whose religious opinions are opposed to his own. Every mans opinions are his own private property, and the rights of all men to maintain each his own are perfectly equal. Merely to tolerate, to bear with an opposing opinion, is to assume it to be heretical; and assert the right to persecute, if we would; and claim our toleration of it as a merit. The Masons creed goes farther than that. No man, it holds, has any right in any way to interfere with the religious belief of another. It holds that each man is absolutely sovereign as to his own belief, and that belief is a matter absolutely foreign to all who do not entertain the same belief; and that, if there were any right of persecution at all, it would in all cases be a mutual right; because one party has the same right as the other to sit as judge in his own case; and God is the only magistrate that can rightfully decide between them. To that great judge, Masonry refers the matter; and opening wide its portals, it invites to enter there and live in peace and harmony, the Protestant, the Catholic, the Jew, the Moslem; every man who will lead a truly virtuous and moral life, love his brethren, minister to the sick and distressed, and believe in the ONE, All-Powerful, All-Wise, everywhere-Present GOD, Architect, Creator, and Preserver of all things, by whose universal law of Harmony ever rolls on this universe, the great, vast, infinite circle of successive Death and Life:to whose INEFFABLE NAME let all true Masons pay profoundest homage! for whose thousand blessings poured upon us, let us feel the sincerest gratitude, now, henceforth, and forever!
From the political point of view there is but a single principle, the sovereignty of man over himself. This sovereignty of ones self over ones self is called LIBERTY. Where two or several of these sovereignties associate, the State begins. But in this association there is no abdication. Each sovereignty parts with a certain portion of itself to form the common right. That portion is the same for all. There is equal contribution by all to the joint sovereignty. This identity of concession which each makes to all, is EQUALITY. The common right is nothing more or less than the protection of all, pouring its rays on each. This protection of each by all, is FRATERNITY.
Liberty is the summit, Equality the base. Equality is not all vegetation on a level, a society of big spears of grass and stunted oaks, a neighborhood of jealousies, emasculatillg each other. It is, civilly, all aptitudes having equal opportunity; politically, all votes having equal weight; religiously, all consciences having equal rights.
Equality has an organ;gratuitous and obligatory instruction. We must begin with the right to the alphabet. The primary school obligatory upon all; the higher school offered to all. Such is the law. From the same school for all springs equal society. Instruction ! Light ! all comes from Light, and all returns to it. (p. 43)
Always, also, it remains true, that it is more noble to forgive than to take revenge; and that, in general, we ought too much to despise those who wrong us, to feel the emotion of anger, or to desire revenge. (p. 76)
There is no sight under the sun more pitiful and ludicrous at once, than the spectacle of the Prestons and the Webbs, not to mention the later incarnations of Dullness and Commonplace, undertaking to "explain" the old symbols of Masonry, and adding to and "improving" them, or inventing new ones. (p. 105)
Learn, that you may be enabled to do good; and do so because it is right, finding in the act itself ample reward and recompense. (p. 109)
A Freemason, therefore, should be a man of honor and of conscience, preferring his duty to everything beside, even to his life; independent in his opinions, and of good morals, submissive to the laws, devoted to humanity, to his country, to his family; kind and indulgent to his brethren, friend of all virtuous men, and ready to assist his fellows by all means in his power. (p. 113)
It is not the mission of Masonry to engage in plots and conspiracies against the civil government. It is not the fanatical propagandist of any creed or theory; nor does it proclaim itself the enemy of kings. It is the apostle of liberty, equality, and fraternity; but it is no more the high-priest of republicanism than of constitutional monarchy. (p. 153)
Masonry teaches that all power is delegated for the good, and not for the injury of the People; and that, when it is perverted from the original purpose, the compact is broken, and the right ought to be resumed; that resistance to power usurped is not merely a duty which man owes to himself and to his neighbor, but a duty which he owes to his God, in asserting and maintaining the rank which He gave him in the creation. (P. 155)
Masonry is not a religion. He who makes of it a religious belief, falsifies and denaturalizes it. (p. 161)
No man, it holds, has any right in any way to interfere with the religious belief of another. To that great Judge, Masonry refers the matter; and opening wide its portals, it invites to enter there and live in peace and harmony, the Protestant, the Catholic, the Jew, the Moslem; every man who will lead a truly virtuous and moral life, love his brethren, minister to the sick and distressed, and believe in the One, All-Powerful, All-Wise, everywhere-Present God, Architect, Creator and Preserver of all things.... (p. 167)
The great distinguishing characteristic of a Mason is a sympathy with his kind, He recognizes in the human race one great family, all connected with himself by those invisible links, and that mighty network of circumstance, forged and woven by God. (p. 176)
Masonry will do all in its power, by direct exertion and co-operation, to improve and inform as well as to protect the people; to better their physical condition, revive their miseries, supply their wants, and minister to their necessities. (p. 180)
Every Masonic Lodge is a temple of religion and its teachings are instructions in religion. For here are inculcated disinterestedness, affection, toleration, devotedness, patriotism, truth, a generous sympathy with those who suffer and mourn, pity for the fallen, mercy for the erring, relief for those in want, Faith, Hope, and Charity. (p. 213)
The practical object of Masonry is the physical and moral amelioration and the intellectual and spiritual improvement of individuals and society. (p. 218)
Masonry represents the Good Principle and constantly wars against the evil one,... at everlasting and deadly feud with the demons of ignorance, brutality, baseness, falsehood, slavishness of soul, intolerance, superstition, tyranny, meanness, the insolence of wealth, and bigotry. (p. 221)
We no longer expect to rebuild the Temple at Jerusalem. To us it has become but a symbol. To us the whole world is Gods Temple, as is every upright heart. (p. 241)
Paul, in the 4th chapter of his Epistle to the Galatians, speaking of the simplest facts of the Old Testament, asserts that they are an allegory. In the 3rd chapter of the second letter to the Corinthians, he declares himself a minister of the New Testament, appointed by God; "Not of the letter, but of the spirit; for the letter killeth." Origen and St. Gregory held that the Gospels were not to be taken in their literal sense; and Athanasius admonishes us that "Should we understand sacred writ according to the letter, we should fall into the most enormous blasphemies." (p. 266)
That God is One, immutable, unchangeable, infinitely just and good; that Light will finally overcome Darkness, Good conquer Evil, and Truth be victor over Error; these, rejecting all the wild and useless speculations of the Zend-Avesta, the Kabalah, the Gnostics. and the Schools, are the religion and Philosophy of Masonry. (p. 275)
No one Mason has the right to measure for another, within the walls of a Masonic Temple, the degree of veneration which he shall feel for any Reformer or the Founder of any Religion. We teach a belief in no particular creed, as we teach unbelief in none. (p. 308)
The true Mason labors for the benefit of those who are to come after him, and for the advancement and improvement of his race.
We teach the truth of none of the legends we recite. They are to us but parables and allegories, involving and enveloping Masonic instruction; and vehicles of useful and interesting information. (p. 329)
Urge upon your Brethren the teaching and the unostentatious practice of the morality of the Lodge, without regard to times, places, religions, or peoples.
Urge them to love one another, to be devoted to one another, to be faithful to the country, the government, and the laws: for to serve the country is to pay a dear and sacred debt:
To respect all forms of worship, to tolerate all political and religious opinions; not to blame, and still less to condemn the religion of others: not to seek to make converts; but to be content if they have the religion of Socrates; a veneration for the Creator, the religion of good works, and grateful acknowledgment of Gods blessings:
To fraternize with all men; to assist all who are unfortunate; and to cheerfully postpone their own interests to that of the Order: To make it the constant rule of their lives, to think well, to speak well, and to act well:
To place the sage above the soldier, the noble, or the prince: and take the wise and good as their models: To see that their professions and practice, their teachings and conduct, do always agree:
To make this also their motto: Do that which thou oughtest to do; let the result be what it will.
Such, my Brother, are some of the duties of that office which you have sought to be qualified to exercise. May you perform them well; and in so doing gain honor for yourself, and advance the great cause of Masonry, Humanity, and Progress. (p. 333)
We do not undervalue the importance of any Truth. We utter no word that can be deemed irreverent by any of any faith.
Masonry, of no one age, belongs to all time; of no one religion, it finds its great truths in all.
To every Mason, there is a God ; One, Supreme, Infinite in Goodness, Wisdom, Foresight, Justice, and Benevolence ; Creator, Disposer, and Preserver of all things. How or by what intermediates He creates and acts, and in what way He unfolds and manifests Himself, Masonry leaves to creeds and Religions to inquire. (p. 524)
Thus Masonry disbelieves no truth, and teaches unbelief in no creed, except so far as such creed may lower its lofty estimate of the Deity, degrade Him to the level of the passions of humanity, deny the high destiny of man, impugn the goodness and benevolence of the Supreme God, strike at those great columns of Masonry, Faith, Hope, and Charity, or inculcate immorality, and disregard of the active duties of the Order. (p. 525)
There is no pretence to infallibility in Masonry. It is not for us to dictate to any man what he shall believe. We have hitherto, in the instruction of the several Degrees, confined ourselves to laying before you the great thoughts that have found expression in the different ages of the world, leaving you to decide for yourself as to the orthodoxy or heterodoxy of each, and what proportion of truth, if any, each contained. (p. 642)
The great aim of reason is to generalize; to discover unity in multiplicity, order in apparent confusion; to separate from the accidental and the transitory, the stable and universal. In the contemplation of Nature, and the vague, but almost intuitive perception of a general uniformity of plan among endless varieties of operation and form, arise those solemn and reverential feelings, which, if accompanied by intellectual activity, may eventually ripen into philosophy. (p. 673)
Masonry propagates no creed except its own most simple and Sublime One; that universal religion, taught by Nature and by Reason. It reiterates the precepts of morality of all religions. It venerates the character and commends the teachings of the great and good of all ages and of all countries. It extracts the good and not the evil, the truth, and not the error, from all creeds; and acknowledges that there is much that is good and true in all. (p. 718)
We must do justice to all, and demand it of all; it is a universal human debt, a universal human claim. (p. 833)
And this Equilibrium teaches us, above all, to reverence ourselves as immortal souls, and to have respect and charity for others, who are even such as we are, partakers with us of the Divine Nature, lighted by a ray of the Divine Intelligence, struggling, like us, toward the light; capable, like us, of progress upward toward toward perfection, and deserving to be loved and pitied, but never to be hated or despised; to be aided and encouraged in this life-struggle, and not to be abandoned nor left to wander in the darkness alone, still less to be trampled upon in our efforts to ascend. (p. 861)
1. All quotes excerpted from: Morals and Dogma of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry by Albert Pike, prepared for the Supreme Council of the Thirty Third Degree for the Southern Jurisdiction of the United States: Charleston, 1871. 861pp. page numbers noted in brackets.
2. The Supreme Council, 33° Mother Council of the World Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, Southern Jurisdiction, U.S.A. Charles S. Lobingier. Louisville : The Standard Printing Co., 1931. Chap. xiv pp. 339-46.
3. Encyclopedia of Freemasonry. Revised by Robert I. Clegg. Richmond, Virginia: Macoy Publishing, 1966, p. 774.
4. Supplement to Mackeys Encyclopedia of Freemasonry. Richmond, Virginia: Macoy Publishing, 1966, p. 1334.