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The Shining Ones

Before the megalithics could have decided where to build the henges, and which direction to face them in, there must have been many years (perhaps centuries) of careful observation of the sun, moon, planets and stars, by a seriously dedicated team of sky watchers. The tradition of “Watchers” with stone circles goes back thousands of years. The Shining Ones, and The Watchers are descriptions that seem to occur in many places in many guises. One place that catches my eye is the Bhavagad Gita. "They who long after success in action on earth, worship the Shining Ones." (Bhavagad Gita, IV, 12.).

The Book of Enoch (part of Judaic traditional lore) mentions the Shining Ones and the Seven Archangels (Gabriel, Michael, Raphael, Uriel, Raguel, Remiel and Saraqael). By the time they get into Coptic Orthodox tradition, the seven archangels are named as Gabriel, Michael, Raphael, Suriel, Zadakiel, Raguel and Aniel. The Book of Enoch contained some noteworthy sections. One is the Book of the Watchers. Another is The Astronomical Book which contains descriptions of the movement of the Sun, Moon and planets. As described to Enoch by Uriel, and it describes a Solar calendar. Taken together, it seems to describe Michael as one of the elite astronomers (the Watchers). Enoch, bless him, does his best to understand what Uriel is trying to tell him, but Enoch comes across as a confused numpty. In the absence of any handy timepieces, the Watchers were not watching clocks, they were watching the changes in the observed position of sun rise and sun set, at that latitude. The extremes of which don't exactly coincide with the solstices. In modern terms, we would know The Shining Ones as scientific/creative genuises, and The Watchers as astronomers and surveyors.

Uriel's Machine: The Ancient Origins of Science (by Christopher Knight and Robert Lomas) covers this in a very readable way. A masonic friend in Australia has told me that Urial's Machine is recommended reading there for new masons keen to explore the hidden mysteries of nature and science. The mysteries are only hidden from those that don't look for them.

You might well ask - "But why is none of their knowledge written down?". Or, why does what they know now seem to be secret? Perfectly reasonable questions, in an era when almost everything is written down. There's a piece of Greek legend, of two famous Greeks discussing the invention of writing. One is boasting how clever he is to have invented writing. The other is full of woe, saying it's not good, it will lead to a loss of knowledge as people stop using their memories. There we have one of the significant similarities between Druidry and Masonry, as both put great emphasis on memorised ritual.

I've just realised the irony - I'm trying to give an example of the effect of writing on memory, and I can't remember what it's called (blush) Excuse me while I walk to the top of the stairs and forget why I did that as well. Found it! It was in Plato's "Phaedrus", as a discussion between Socrates and Phaedrus (the two famous Greeks), supposedly set around the period when Greek writing was invented. They were in turn discussing two famous Egyptians: Thamus and Theuth (Thoth).

Socrates: At the Egyptian city of Naucratis, there was a famous old god, whose name was Theuth (Thoth); the bird which is called the Ibis is sacred to him, and he was the inventor of many arts, such as arithmetic and calculation and geometry and astronomy and draughts and dice, but his great discovery was the use of letters. Now in those days the god Thamus was the king of the whole country of Egypt; and he dwelt in that great city of Upper Egypt which the Hellenes call Egyptian Thebes, and the god himself is called by them Ammon. To him came Theuth and showed his inventions, desiring that the other Egyptians might be allowed to have the benefit of them; he enumerated them, and Thamus enquired about their several uses, and praised some of them and censured others, as he approved or disapproved of them. It would take a long time to repeat all that Thamus said to Theuth in praise or blame of the various arts. But when they came to letters, This, said Theuth, will make the Egyptians wiser and give them better memories; it is a specific both for the memory and for the wit. Thamus replied: O most ingenious Theuth, the parent or inventor of an art is not always the best judge of the utility or inutility of his own inventions to the users of them. And in this instance, you who are the father of letters, from a paternal love of your own children have been led to attribute to them a quality which they cannot have; for this discovery of yours will create forgetfulness in the learners' souls, because they will not use their memories; they will trust to the external written characters and not remember of themselves. The specific which you have discovered is an aid not to memory, but to reminiscence, and you give your disciples not truth, but only the semblance of truth; they will be hearers of many things and will have learned nothing; they will appear to be omniscient and will generally know nothing; they will be tiresome company, having the show of wisdom without the reality.

Phaedrus. Yes, Socrates, you can easily invent tales of Egypt, or of any other country.

Soc. There was a tradition in the temple of Dodona that oaks first gave prophetic utterances. The men of old, unlike in their simplicity to young philosophy, deemed that if they heard the truth even from "oak or rock," it was enough for them; whereas you seem to consider not whether a thing is or is not true, but who the speaker is and from what country the tale comes.

Thoth has a special place of honour in any attempt to show connections between various forms of Gnosticism:

God of Knowledge, the Moon, Measurement, Wisdom, the Alphabet, Records, Thought, Intelligence, Meditation, the Mind, Logic, Reason, Reading, Hieroglyphics, Magic, Secrets, Scribes, and Writing.
(CrystalLinks)

Many of which are contained in the Seven Liberal Arts, which all Freemasons are encouraged to study. But like exercise, it's something we know we should do, but there are just so many distractions. Few of the Freemasons I have met in Britain actually pay much attention to the Seven Liberal Arts. Which is a shame, because it is literally and figuratively a cornerstone of Masonic ritual.

It does seem like Freemasons outside the UK are a lot more up-front and willing to talk about the basis of Freemasonry than their brethren in the UK. Even though there are two masonic lodges in my nearest town, it wasn't until we hosted an Australian husband and wife (back in the UK to look for ancestors) that I became aware of these lodges. Maybe Brits are just too shy and retiring?

Incidently, both of them were Freemasons, which surprised me, as up-to-then, I had always unquestioningly accepted that masonic lodges are male-only.

Even so, masonic knowledge has a habit of traveling long distances. We know from many accounts that Turkey and Cyprus were some of the original sources of tin and copper for the Bronze Age. After those places became depleted of raw materials (mostly it seems because of deforestation for fuel to refine the metals), the Phoenicians expanded their search for new sources up the Atlantic coast, and found them (directly or indirectly) in Spain, Brittany, Cornwall, Wales and Ireland. Archeologists have found Phoenician trade goods in several UK coastal locations in Cornwall, Devon and Dorset.

So there's plenty of evidence that the skills and knowledge from Tyre that built King Solomon's temple could have come to Britain in pre-Roman times. These the skills and knowledge are personified by Hiram Abif, who is sometimes presented as the chief architect of King Solomon's Temple.

Were Hiram Abiff's ancestors working metal and stone in Britain, even before Joseph of Arimathea is said to have arrived? (Arthurian Grael legend) Did some masonic ritual come with them as well?

There may be great similarities between the Library of Alexandria, the House of Wisdom in Baghdad, the School of the Prophets and the Hermetic Qabalah traditions (inc. Tree of Life). (See links in recommended reading)

The Holy Royal Arch degree of modern Masonry is influenced by the Hermetic Qabalah.

Here's an example that has a megalithic connection: Merkabah stones. These might only be meant as a physical description of the light-energy form. But they do seem very similar to the Platonic Solids. Which Traditional Archaeologists have found at Scara Brae, with no idea of their significance.

Next : The importance of oral traditions