Blurb is taken from: Tracing the Generation of the Third Degree by Adrian T. Taylor, Ph.D. Founding Member of the David A. McWilliams, Sr. Research & Education Lodge
It stresses Osiris and Thoth but I say Freemasonry stresses Horus most of all with Thoth second and Osiris third, which is briefly alluded to given Horus' domain. Also, Thoth's involvement in the setting up of Set (not mentioned in the article) briefly shows their connection. For Muslim readers a reminder: The Golden Ass, mentioned below, is the work that Lawrence of Arabia carried with him while he set about the destruction of the khilafah and later recommended that Iraqis be gassed for having the nerve of rebelling against British colonialism. That is the great tolerance that Freemason propagandists constantly speak of--forcing their New World Order agenda and irreligious beliefs on others in the name of intellectualism and superiority. The reality of said tolerance is that almost anyone can become a Mason because its its own religion with deity, mythos and secrets, and rituals of worship. What goes on in the world is a different matter entirely.
\ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \
During the dispensation of Desaguliers, Egypt was the eternal, attractive enigma, especially for Esotericists. Egypt was thought to be “the fount of all wisdom and the stronghold of hermetic lore.” However, the dispensation of Desaguliers was not unique. The fascination with Egypt started with the Greeks; was constitutive of the legendary founding of the Craft as portrayed by the Gothic Constitutions; and continues to this very day. People during the dispensation of Desaguliers learned about Egypt through existent texts/translations of the Greeks, and others, which informed hermeticism and alchemy (and its “imagined” institutional perpetuation via the Rosicrucians).
Though the hieroglyphs were not deciphered until 1822 by Jean-Francois Champollion, Egypt was not a complete enigma. Renaissance and Enlightenment Europe learned about Egypt through the works of Herodotus, Plato, Plutarch, Strabo, Diodorus, Iamblichus, Clement of Alexandra, Horapollo, Apuleius, and others; and texts like the tractate Asclepius, the Corpus Hermeticum, the Tabula Smaragdina, and the Rosicrucian text Fama Fraternitatis (The Rosicrucian Manuscripts). The latter texts kept the image of Egypt alive for the dispensation of Desaguliers, rooted in the mythos of hermeticism and alchemy.
The patron of Hermeticism is fictitious. Hermes never existed in his many purported guises. In the foundational text The Secret History of Hermes Trismegistus: Hermeticism from Ancient to Modern Times, written by Egyptologist Florian Ebeling, we find that “The figure of this legendary Egyptian sage arose from the merging of two deities of highly divergent origin: the Egyptian god Thoth and the Greek God Hermes.”
For the Egyptians, Thoth (who the Egyptians called Tehuti) was mysteriously born in some accounts from the semen of the deities Horus and Set, containing within his being two warring elements. Thoth was typically symbolized by an ibis, a baboon, the head of an ibis on the body of a man, or as a human sage.
Thoth had many characteristics. In different dispensations, he was known as the deity of wisdom, inventor of writing/hieroglyphs, generator of sacred literature, superintendent of justice, inventor of the calendar, author of measurement, measurer of time, generator of rituals and sacred offerings, and inventor/practitioner of magic. In Egypt’s Hellenized (or Grecian) period (circa 332 B.C.E to 30 C.E.), his magical and/or “mysterious” elements became privileged, focused on easing one’s passage to the netherworld, such that it even became inappropriate to even speak his name.
After Alexander of Macedonia conquered Egypt in 332 B.C.E., Thoth became Hermes Trismegistus (thrice great), first portrayed by Akhmim in 240 C.E., though referred to as “twice great” around 570 B.C.E.
For the Greeks, Hermes was originally the “helpful messenger of the gods,” according to Ebeling. He had many attributes, from the god of community to the god of oratory. Similar to Thoth, “he conducted the souls of the dead in the netherworld… out of the shadowy realm and into the world above.” When he was merged with Thoth, he took on a new legend and attributes. He became the deity “of all wisdom, philosophy, and theology,” even teaching philosophy to the Greeks under his pseudepigrapha. He also became the deity of the “Egyptian Mysteries,” though there are grounds for a “hermetic lore” being rooted in Egypt.
Typically when people talk of the “Egyptian Mysteries,” they are appealing to notions of Egyptian secrets, sacred ritual, and ceremony—all attributed to Thoth. This brings us to “The Legend of Osiris,” and attendant ritual, ceremony and “mystery.”
Assessing the nature of the legend, we find the following amended account by the British Museum:
Osiris was the king of the earth and Isis was the queen. Osiris was a good king, and he ruled over the earth for many years. However, everything was not well. Seth [or Set/Typhon] was jealous of Osiris because he wanted to be the ruler of the earth. He grew angrier and angrier until one day he killed Osiris. Osiris went down into the underworld and Seth remained on earth and became king. Osiris and Isis had one son called Horus. Horus battled against Seth and regained the throne. After that, Horus was the king of the earth and Osiris was the king of the underworld
Ironically, at least during the Hellenized period of Egypt, if there were any secrets, they were out. The Legend of Osiris was public knowledge. As such, the “Egyptian Mysteries” were not so mysterious/secret. It was dramatically/symbolically depicted by Plutarch circa 100 C.E; viewed as a public morality play and seemingly derided by the Christian Minucius Felix circa 200 C.E.; and it was referenced as a three degree initiation ritual by Apuleius circa 200 C.E., though expressed cautiously. The words of Apuleius are instructive, given that his work appears to be the ancient foundation of Masonic ritual and ceremony:
Perhaps, curious reader, you may be eager to know what was then said and done [during the Mystery Initiation/s of Isis/Osiris]. I would tell you were it lawful for you to hear. But both the ears that heard those things and the tongues that told them would reap the evil results of their rashness. Still, however, kept in suspense, as you probably are, with religious longing, I will not torment you with long-protracted anxiety. Hear, therefore, but believe what is the truth. I approached the confines of death, and, having trod on the threshold of Proserpine, I returned there from, being borne through all the elements. At midnight I saw the sun shining with its brilliant light; and I approached the presence of the gods beneath and the gods above, and stood near and worshipped them. Behold, I have related to you things of which, though heard by you, you must necessarily remain ignorant.
In the passage above, we find Apuleius referencing a kind of dreadful death and “resurrection,” in this world, alluding to the immortality of the soul, in the next. Similar textual references can be found in Egypt, when tracing the travels of the sun god Ra and the tests of his companions in the netherworld by ferryman and the guardians of the gates.
Beyond ritual and ceremony, and the variety of texts that are attributed to Hermes, hermeticism was/is essentially a holistic-pantheistic philosophy, developed to communicate the following maxims: “That which is above is the same as that which is below;” and “all is part of one, or one is all.” Ritual ceremonies of initiation were contrived to make this ethos dramatically experiential, in Hellenized Egypt. Accordingly, this was the knowledge that was lost, which needed to be found. Informed by this “lost knowledge,” Ashmole, Newton (alchemist and purported Rosicrucian), Desaguliers and others in their dispensation, in the midst of the tensions between faith, reason and the State, would endeavor to recover and reconstruct the foundations for the idea that that there needn’t be any “false” distinctions between Man, Earth, and Cosmos. All is One, Spirit/Light.
Alchemy, rooted in spiritual transformation, through the metaphor of turning base metals into gold, is also traced to Egypt. It is important to account for given its practice during the dispensation of Desaguliers. According to the literature, it appears that alchemy “first flourished in Hellenistic Egypt in the first century.” It is an amalgamation of various philosophies, like the naturalist philosophy of Aristotle, the tenants of Stoicism, Gnostic doctrine, Babylonian astrological lore, “and motifs from Egyptian mythology, particularly the myth of Osiris.” The first recorded alchemical text is attributed to Zosimus. Valuing the hermetic doctrine, we find Zosimus communicating the following ethos:
In his Book on Immateriality, Hermes rejects magic [in opposition to Zoroaster] and says: ‘Pneumatic man, who has known himself, must neither achieve anything whatsoever with the help of magic, even if it is generally useful, nor must he defy necessity, but allow it to act according to its nature and its will. And he must now allow himself to be distracted along the way from his search for himself, to know God, and to understand the ineffable Trinity; and he must leave the filth subjected to him, that is, the body to Destiny, to do with it what it will.’
Later in the aforementioned text, laboratory experiments are on display for transforming base metals into finer substances. “But the spiritual side of alchemy predominates,” ultimately citing “the authority of Hermes Trismegistus.” As such, chemical metaphors are used to allude to “knowledge of self, God and nature.”
The latter realities were brought together, informed by the Scottish Enlightenment of the 17th and 18th Century, rooted in the Renaissance. The Renaissance, French for “rebirth,” was a period where Europe was effectively raised from the Dark Ages, imposed by ignorance, superstition and fear, into the light of the ancient world, as preserved by the Monastery, and the Moors from North Africa. It was at once a dispensation where “artistic, social, scientific, and political thought turned in new directions.”
In Eric Hornung’s text The Secret Lore of Egypt we find that the Renaissance becomes important because this renewed “encounter with Greek literature [e.g. Plutarch, Diodorus and Iamblichus], particularly in the framework of the Platonic Academy in Florence, awakened fresh interest in the classical accounts of Egypt and its superior wisdom.” Similarly, “There was a special focus on late antiquity, an epoch that was thoroughly imbued with Egypt, while classical antiquity remained in the shadows.” Overtime, “Renaissance Hermeticism quickly spread to England, where Thomas More wrote a biography of Pico della Mirandola and depicted a religion with expressly Hermetic traits in this Utopia (1516) and also propagated the idea of religious freedom.” These ideas were also foundationally advanced, and re-imagined in England, through the New Atlantis (1626) by Francis Bacon.
Rosicrucianism, rooted in Renaissance Hermeticism and alchemy, would also “spread to England,” committed to the “idea of religious freedom,” captured in the text Fama Fraternitatis. Though the founder (Christian Rosenkreutz) and the beginning of the order appear to be legendary, the following is clear about the Rosicrucians, for the purposes of this research: they emerged in the beginning of the 17th century; they are rooted in hermeticism and alchemy; they trace their legendary roots back to ancient Egypt; and according to the illuminating work of Hornung, “The New Order proved to be attractive to many Freemasons,” especially informed by their religious tolerance.