Though Christian buildings by purpose, Europe’s Gothic cathedrals contain an ancient Pagan wisdom hidden in their architecture. This wisdom, which predates Christianity, was placed by the operative Freemasons, builders commissioned by the Church to create cathedrals, churches, and other edifices. For centuries the Masonic heresy went unrecognized, but the Church eventually outlawed the Freemasons and called for their immediate destruction once the heresy was discovered. Their structures live on, however, and in this article we’ll see how Freemasonry’s “lost secret” can be found encoded in the stone architecture of Gothic cathedrals.
Above: The Burgos Cathedral is a Gothic-style cathedral in Burgos, Spain. Begun in 1221, it is famous for its vast size and unique architecture. Do ancient secrets lay hidden here?
Rumors have for centuries swirled that the Freemasons are in possession of a “great secret.”
“It is always understood that the Freemasons have a secret which they carefully conceal…”
—Thomas Paine, The Origins of Freemasonry, 1818
This secret is said to be an ancient Pagan wisdom-teaching, a highly advanced and life-changing “Sacred Science” they inherited from Antiquity. In Tolstoy’s War & Peace, a Freemason says:
“The first and chief object of our Order, the foundation on which it rests…is the preservation and handing on to posterity of a certain important mystery… which has come down to us from the remotest ages, even from the first man – a mystery on which perhaps the fate of mankind depends.”
—Leo Tolstoy, War & Peace, 1869
Many say the medieval Freemasons encoded their secret into the art and architecture of the churches, castles, and cathedrals they constructed, without the Church’s knowledge.
“It is generally believed in occult circles that… medieval masons had inherited esoteric knowledge… and that this knowledge was incorporated into the sacred architecture of the cathedrals.”
If indeed the Masons inherited an ancient Pagan doctrine, and if they encoded its wisdom into cathedral architecture, it amounts to heresy, and would constitute a direct threat to the Church.space
Catholic Church VS. Freemasons
Interestingly, the Church very abruptly turned about-face in their support of the Masons: far from hiring them, they instead started to call for the death of the Masons in the 1700s. Starting with Pope Clement XII (b. 1652 – d. 1740), the Church began hammering the Masons with encyclicals and other documents calling for their destruction:
“The purpose and aim of the Masonic sect having been discovered from plain evidence is easy to understand…to try to revive after eighteen centuries, the manners and institutions of Paganism. …we intend to turn our attention to the Masonic society…to illustrate more and more this wicked force and stop the spread of this contagious disease…”
– Pope Le0 XIII, Humanum Genus Encyclical (Condemnation of Freemasonry)
This about-face is curious: what pagan evidence was uncovered by the Holy See?
This “rift” has not exactly been mended. As recently as 1983, then little-known Cardinal Ratzinger—today Pope Benedict XV—wrote:
“The faithful who enroll in Masonic associations are in a state of grave sin and may not receive Holy Communion.”
–Cardinal Ratzinger, Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
In the past two centuries brief inquiries have been made into the idea of pagan wisdom encoded in Masonic architecture. In 1831, Victor Hugo, author of the novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame, explained:
“…from remotest antiquity…the human race has employed architecture as its chief means of writing…Sometimes an entrance, a front, or even an entire church presents a symbolic meaning wholly foreign to religion, or even hostile to the Church…Only the initiated can decipher these mysterious books.”
—Victor Hugo, The Hunchback of Notre Dame
In 1910, American architect and writer Claude Bragdon (1866–1946) wrote:
“In Mediaeval Europe…fragments of the Secret Doctrine—transmitted in the symbols and secrets of the cathedral builders—determined much of Gothic architecture.”
—Claude Bragdon, The Beautiful Necessity
These two quotes are not absurd, baseless claims: both Bragdon and Hugo were celebrated men in their time. Their Masonic / Gothic cathedral research, however, was limited.
Left: Architect Claude Bragdon, 1866 – 1946, designed New York Central Railroad Station, Rochester, NY. Right: Victor Hugo, 1885, author of The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
The subject lay more or less dormant until 1926,when French alchemist and hermeticist Fulcanelli published Le Mystere des Cathedrales naming alchemical secrets in French cathedrals. The work is detailed but dense, and has been criticized as very difficult to follow (a quality he himself seems to have intended).space
New Gothic Cathedral Secrets Discovered
In the present article, we’ll defiantly outline a complete Pagan doctrine written in cathedral stone, and supported by facts. The doctrine will show that Masonry is a Pagan organization with a Sacred Science that runs counter to the Catholic Church.
Look at the three Notre Dame cathedrals below:
The Western facade of all three are almost identical, sharing these unique qualities:
1) pair of twin towers on top
2) giant rose window in the center
3) three-door entrance
This repeating pattern has gone unrecognized by any professor or scholar, and thus far no one has pointed it out, named it, or explained its symbolism. This repeating Western facade, however, is nothing less than a “Cathedral Code”: a message from the Masons themselves, encoded in stone and concealed in plain sight.
The Masonic Tracing Board is a mystery to today’s uninformed Masons.
This Tracing Board is an enigma to modern Masons, esoteric authors, and even occult research: they are unsure of its purpose and unaware of its symbolism. The Tracing Board, however, actually holds the key to the Gothic Western facade and the lost secret of the Freemasons encoded within.space
Tracing Board Is The Gothic Cathedral Blueprint
The true meaning of the Tracing Board is, in fact, that it is a blueprint of that same Western facade above. It is the blueprint behind that facade, and in fact shares every resemblance:
The Twin Pillars on the Masonic Tracing Board (left) are identical to
the Twin Towers of the Gothic Cathedral (right).
A century ago author and Freemason Walter L. Wilmshurst (1867 – 1939), one of very few modern-day Masons who understood Masonry profoundly, explained:
“The [Twin] Pillars…have been incorporated into Christian architecture. If you recall the construction of York Minster or Westminster Abbey, you will recognize the pillars in the two great towers flanking the main entrance…”
—W.L. Wilhmshurst, The Meaning of Masonry, 1922
Left: Westminster Abbey, London, England. Right: York Minster, York, England
What do the Twin Pillars on the Tracing Board signify? Why is there a sun over the Jachin pillar and a moon over the Boaz pillar? Is this what each one stands for?
Mainstream Masonry’s explanation for the Twin Pillars are that they are called “Jachin” and “Boaz”, and that they once decorated King Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem. While this story may be true, it neglects to explain the sun and the moon (which, in fact, are never mentioned in any Masonic explanation) and also makes no reference to the fact that the pillars predate Solomon and even Judaism by thousands of years.
- The Right-Hand Pillar is capped by the Sun
- The Left-Hand Pillar is capped by the Moon
This duality of the Sun/Moon is critically important: The world’s first cultures all perceived the Sun and Moon as “perfect opposites” or perfect “pairs of opposites.” Indeed, Mother Nature has placed the Sun & Moon at odds and on opposite sides of the polarity spectrum:
The SUN stands for DAY, but the MOON means NIGHT.
During the Day it’s HOT, but at Night it’s COLD.
The Day is filled with LIGHT, but the Night is filled with DARKNESS.
During the Day it’s DRY, but at Night it’s MOIST.
Note the naturally occurring pairs of opposites. By this chain of associations…SUN/MOON, DAY/NIGHT, HOT/COLD, LIGHT/DARK…the Sun and the Moon engender and denote all the “pairs of opposites” in the visible universe!
This “pairs of opposites” wisdom is the lost key to all the Mystery schools in history (Perennial Philosophy, Hermetic Teachings, Philosopher’s Stone, etc. and so on). The “pairs of opposites” can be witnessed in the natural mechanics of the moon: they each spend half the day up, and though the Sun is far larger than the moon they appear the same size because the moon is much closer. These natural pairings are strong evidence towards the sun and the moon as being equal but opposing natural symbols.
The sun and full moon appear the same size in our sky.
It is, of course, a cornerstone of Ancient and Masonic philosophy that has since been lost: that these celestial bodies have been placed thus on purpose, for our benefit, with the goal being to teach us the power of opposites.
Wilmshurst said that the Twin Pillars on the Tracing Board, which are capped by the Sun and Moon:
“…stand for what is known…as the “pairs of opposites.” Everything in nature is dual and can only be known in contrast with its opposite…”
—W.L. Wilmshurst, The Meaning of Masonry
In The Secret Teachings of All Ages, Freemason Manly Hall (1901 – 1990) explained:
“Jachin–the white pillar of light…Boaz–the shadowy pillar of darkness. …These two pillars respectively connote also the active and the passive…the sun and the moon…good and bad, light and darkness.”
As author Warren Kenton tells us, the twin columns of France’s Chartres Cathedral are capped with iron plates of the sun and moon.
“Erected by the masons…the west front of each church had two towers representing the twin columns…the masculine and feminine aspects, the active and passive forces, flowing down from Heaven. Called, in Chartres Cathedral, the sun and moon towers…”
Note how Kenton here mentions the “masculine and feminine aspects.” That’s because man and woman also fall into this “pairs of opposites” category. In the early 20th century, renowned architect Claude Bragdon wrote:
“…man, like the sun, is lord of day; he is like fire, a devastating force; woman is subject to the lunar rhythm; like water, she is soft, sinuous, fecund…
The Masonic guilds of the Middle Ages were custodians of the esoteric… The north or right-hand tower (“the man’s side”) was called the sacred male pillar, Jachin; and the south, or left-hand tower (“the woman’s side”), the sacred female pillar, Boaz…”
Looking at the Grand Master Certificate of the “heretic” Giordano Bruno below, we see a “male” pillar crowned by the Sun on the right side and a “female” pillar crowned by the moon on the left:
16th century “heretic” Giordano Bruno’s Grand Master Certificate,
featuring a Male right-hand side pillar balanced by a Female left-hand side pillar.
This is the same “pairs of opposites” symbolism encoded in the twin towers of the Western facade of Gothic cathedrals:
The Twin Columns on the Gothic Cathedral symbolize male and female,
as well as all the other “pairs of opposites” in the physical world.space
Man’s Body Is Half Sun & Half Moon
Though the pairs of opposites has been explained, the addition of masculine and feminine symbolism adds a deeper meaning: why did the Masons build a “male” right hand tower and a “female” left hand tower? It is for the simple reason that the great wisdom of the “pairs of opposites” doctrine lies not only in the fact that the universe is composed of “pairs of opposites”; the great wisdom lies in the fact that, like the universe, Man is also formed by opposites. “As above, so below” is a phrase used by many without grasping its deeper meaning: Man lives inside the universe, not separately from it, and thus our physical bodies are made of the same “pairs of opposites” as the universe.
“Our life is a mingled yarn, good and evil together…” —Shakespeare
The Gothic facade seen above is not only a depiction of the polarity of the universe, it is a symbol of the polarity in the physical human body as well: We have two hands, two arms, etc. and so forth, split into symmetrical halves—the sun and the moon.
“Man has been called the microcosm, or little world, in contradistinction to the macrocosm, or great world…by reason of a supposed correspondence between the different parts and qualities of his nature and those of the universe.”
—Albert Mackey, An Encyclopedia of Freemasonry
The human body’s bilaterally symmetrical appearance are a product of the duality of the universe: the right side is the sun side, male and warm: the left side is the moon side, cold and female.
Like the universe in which he lives, Man too is formed by opposites.
No human, of course, is completely male or completely female despite physical gender, and we all possess both masculine and feminine traits.
“Though essentially a unit, there is a well marked division into right and left…two arms, two legs, two ears, two eyes…Moreover, the terms of such pairs are masculine and feminine with respect to each other, one being active and the other passive.”
—Claude Bragdon, The Beautiful Necessity
In his 1909 The Pre-eminence of the Right Hand, widely cited by scholars, French sociologist Robert Hertz explained:
“The axis which divides the world into two halves, one radiant and the other dark, also cuts through the human body and divides it between the empire of light and darkness.”
— Robert Hertz
Famous Freemason Manly Hall Wrote:
“In ancient times men fought with their right arms and defended with their left arms… …the right side of the body was considered masculine and the left side feminine.”
The following portrait appeared in an esoteric manuscript of unknown origin traced back to the 1400s.. It is a two-headed human with a male on the right holding the sun and a female on the left holding the moon:
Esoteric portrait identifying the true makeup of a human being (1400s).
This is YOU! You are half male and half female, a fact science has yet to rediscover.
While many are unaware of the symbolism behind this portrait, in reality it is a symbolic, esoteric portrait of man.
The famous magician Harry Houdini—who was a dedicated Freemason—says in The Metaphysical Magazine:
“…the Sun represents the right half of the body and the Moon the left half…”
You, me, all of us are formed of the “pairs of opposites,” and it infiltrates every aspect of our lives. In a sense, this explains the “devil” on our left and “angel” on our right shoulders:
The age-old symbolism of an angel on our right shoulder and devil
on our left shoulder is rooted in the esoteric doctrine that
our bodies are composed of pairs of opposites.
It does, in fact, explain all the ideas of duality our society has about humans: demons and deities, sinners and saints, etc. and so forth. We are a pair of opposites wrapped up in one human package, and according to esoteric philosophy this enables us to accomplish extraordinary feats. To do so, however, we must first realize that the “pairs of opposites” are in fact related to the Trinity, and this evidence is encoded into the cathedral facade as well by the three door entrance.space
Masonic Number Three—The Triptych
Much like the “Cathedral Code”, this three door entrance has never been investigated or explained. Let’s call it a “Triptych”—this Triptych is directly connected with the twin towers above it.
The Twin Towers are symbolized on the ground by the
Triptych’s twin outer doors, which signify “opposites.”
The twin towers terminate (or rise up) from the Triptych’s outer doors. The doors are, like the towers, a pair of opposites, and are encoded in both ancient and modern architecture, as evidenced by the very modern building below:
A massive Triptych graces the facade of Rockefeller Center. Above the door on the right is
a male, above the door on the left is a female, and a ‘god’ sits above the center door.
The male and female figures atop the doors of opposites are, of course, pairs of opposites themselves:
The Triptych design that graces the entrance of Rockefeller Center matches the
Masonic symbolism of Sun (right), Moon (left), and the Spiritual Eye (center).
But what symbolism lies behind that third door? We know already, from the evidence above, the meaning behind the dual outer doors: what is the esoteric meaning beside the door they juxtapose?
The answer is, in fact, a major part of Freemasonry’s lost secret: the secret is symbolized by the sacred Masonic number three, and the answer is that the third door represents you. That god in the center of that Triptych above represents man’s soul, the eternal Self that is not physical, the Self that every human body, or “pair of opposites”, contains within it.
The metaphor here being, of course, that the two opposing halves contain a higher element: a third element inside, the soul.
You don’t HAVE a soul. You ARE a soul. You HAVE a body.”
—C. W. Lewis
The body, the physical, two-sided part, is material and temporary, composed of the same pairs of opposites as the material world in which it lives. The soul, however, is not thus subjected: it lives free of the laws of the physical universe, a teaching echoed in the biblical tale of the Garden of Eden where Man falls to the lower world after eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil (good and evil being opposites).
“…the fall [of your soul] from perfection into duality…was naturally followed by the discovery of the duality of good and evil…This is the Biblical version of a myth known to many lands …”
The Self or soul, then, has fallen from its higher spiritual home in the heavens and has landed in the material world of opposites:
“According to this mystic doctrine…all souls have pre-existence and have descended from the spiritual world into the earthly prison of the body…”
—John Yarker, Arcane Schools
What this teaching implies is that humans are in fact divine already: they existed before the birth of the body and will survive after it. Having fallen, however, the soul is now imprisoned inside a material body that mimics the duality of the universe in which it lives.
“Man is a god in the body of an animal according to the pronouncement of ancient philosophy…”
—Alvin Boyd Kuhn
The word “imprisoned” is accurate because your body is not your true home but an imperfect and transitory vehicle. The body imprisons the soul because it requires care and constant maintenance. To survive, it must continually:
- Maintain A Constant Temperature
- Fight Disease
A body can endure for decades, but death will eventually come to it. For the ancients, the fall into this fragile human body is a tragedy:
“…the Platonists in general believed in a pre-existent state, in which all souls had sinned, and thus lost their wings, whereby they were once capable of ascending, and so they sunk into these bodies partly as a punishment for former follies.”
—Olinthus Gregory, The Fall of Man and the Depravity of Nature
The end result of this particular consequence is, unfortunately, the loss of the true Self and the true origin entirely: the soul has descended so deeply into the material world that it has lost sight of the eternal “god within”.
“A man is a god in ruins.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson
The soul is thus imprisoned in these conditions over which it has no control, but it is not completely powerless. The soul is eternal, a trait that imbues it with its own inherent powers: powers that can be exercised in the material world. Though the soul is in a fallen state, the powers it has were never lost, merely covered up and unrecognizable.
Masonry exists not only to reveal to Man the presence of his inner soul, but to help him rediscover its higher powers—powers that have been covered up by the body.
We can see this entire concept carved on an ancient statue that still sits in ruins in the Elephantine Caves of Bombay, India. Note how the statue forms a three-in-one design, with a male on the right (sun, Jachin pillar) and female on the left (moon, Boaz pillar) flanking a “god” in the center (the eternal, spiritual you).
Above: The Mask of Eternity, as described by Joseph Campbell. Elephanta Caves, India.
Press play on the one minute video below and watch how the illuminated 20th century professor of mythology, the brilliant Joseph Campbell, analyzed this ancient Triptych-like statue:
As Joseph Campbell tells us in this video, we are all-powerful beings. To spark these powers…to turn these powers “on”…you need to employ the actual formula of the number Three. That is, you need to “reconcile” or “balance” your twin bodily opposites. This forms the basis of the lost secret of Freemasonry:
“…only by the reconciliation of opposing forces is the Pathway made to true occult knowledge and practical power…”
—Israel Regardie, The Eye in the Triangle
In other words, you need to “join” your male “right-half” and your female “left-half,” the twin sun and moon pillars:
“…Join the male and the female and you will find what you are seeking…”
—Aphorisms of Zosimus
Once the twin opposing forces have been balanced or reconciled, then the true “soul within” is revealed. This three-in-one practice of uniting the opposites through the middle path is an ancient exercise, virtually unknown in the West and now the exclusive province of the Eastern religions:
“Unfortunately our Western mind, lacking all culture in this respect, has never yet devised a concept, nor even a name, for the union of opposites through the middle path, that most fundamental item of inward experience…
…It is at once the most individual fact and the most universal, the most legitimate fulfillment of the meaning of the individual’s life.”
This “union of opposites through the middle path”, described by Jung, is the secret of the Triptych entrance on Gothic cathedrals. It forms the lost wisdom of the Masons as well as being the deeper meaning behind the famous Masonic number “Three”.
The Triptych very elegantly conveys the ancient occult wisdom of the practice outlined above, and its arcane Pagan wisdom, as mentioned, runs counter to the mainstream Christian belief that every human being’s soul and body are created at the very moment of our birth on earth.
The Masons did not just encode this secret into the High Gothic cathedrals; they also adorned castles, lodges, temples, and multitudes of other buildings with the Triptych entrance, embedding their secret for future generations.
Above: Masonic temples with Triptych entrancesspace
In conclusion, the “lost secret” of the Freemasons is far from being lost, and in fact is embedded into the very stones of the buildings they created: it is an ancient Pagan doctrine, predating Christianity. It is a doctrine dealing with the eternal Self and the duality of the material world and body; specifically, the balancing of the duality to find the middle way, the ultimate secret behind the Masonic number Three encoded into the Triptychs of Gothic cathedrals.
Richard Cassaro’s new book, The Missing Link, explores the meaning, transformations and propagation of the ancient world’s most important religious icon. His first book, Written in Stone, is a wide-ranging exploration of hitherto-unknown connections among Freemasons, medieval cathedral builders and the creators of important ancient monuments, in support of his theory that a spiritually advanced mother culture, lost to history, is behind many of the world’s architectural and artistic traditions.
Prior to the publication of Written in Stone, Cassaro enjoyed a successful career as a U.S. correspondent, professional journalist, and photo researcher for Rizzoli Publications, one of the world’s leading media organizations. Cassaro, who is a graduate of Pace University in New York City, has examined first-hand the ancient ruins and mystical traditions of Egypt, Mexico, Greece, Italy, Sicily, France, England, India, Peru and Spain; he has lectured on his theories to great acclaim in the United States, Egypt, Italy, Spain and Peru.
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