Historical Lecture of the Select Master

The following is a supplement to the “Historical Lecture” traditionally given during the conferral of the Select Master degree and may be found on pp. 25-33 of “The Text Book of Cryptic Masonry” by Jackson H. Chase.

There may be an inquiry in your mind what was the nature of the word that rendered the Jews so anxious to keep possession; how came it in their possession, and of what importance was it to them—this part Solomon has allusion to when the Master’s word was lost.

Zoroaster (who flourished about 800 years before the building of the temple) in the Zendavista writes, “There are names given by God himself to every nation, of unspeakable efficacy in the mysteries.” Therefore, this word in the minds of the Jews was of unspeakable efficacy, preserving them as a nation and conferring upon them a mighty power. We find the Trojans 200 years before the building of the temple having possession of a Palladium which fell from heaven, and only by its loss could their city be destroyed. The Chaldeans wore triangular pieces of metal, sometimes stones, on which were engraven certain characters called talismans, the possession of which they imagined gave them power over the spirits and mortals. The principal was named Bel or Baal. In confirmation we find the Jews saying to Christ, “You cast out devils by the aid of Belzebub.” The Hindoos have a word of such tremendous efficacy that the simple utterance of the word by a holy Brahmin would shake the paradise of Swerga to its center, convulse the earth to its foundation, restore the dead to life, destroy the living, transport himself where he pleased, and fill him with the wisdom of the gods. This word is Aun or On, and belongs to the triad. The word On is Egyptian and was esteemed the most ancient of the gods, for Plato, who derived much information from the Egyptians, writes, “Tell me of the god On, which was and is and never knew beginning.” They ascribe the same powers to “On” that the Jews did to Jehovah. But the affinity of certain words between Hindoos, Chaldeans and Egyptians is so close that we may presume they came from the same source. The Jews believed by the power of the name. It cured them of evils, warned them of danger, restored the dead to life, brought fire from heaven, rent buildings asunder, maimed and destroyed their enemies, and filled them with great wisdom; the pronunciation shakes heaven and earth, and inspires the very angels with astonishment. The Rabbins call it “Shem Hamphorosh,” the unutterable name. That the word inspired the possessor with great wisdom, the sacred records testify in many instances. The first place where we find it in its proper name is in Samuel, who was inspired with so great wisdom as to be judge of the Jews. We find, also, the word had the same power when communicated. Samuel gave the word to Saul, and the possession filled him with wisdom and understanding far above his compeers, and, in the allegorical language of the East, gave him another heart, and so surprised those who knew him as to make them exclaim, “Is this Saul the son of Kish?” But we find on the loss of the word he was greatly troubled and endeavored to regain it in various ways; at last summoned the spirit of Samuel to give it. Samuel gave the word to David, and the Lord was with David from that day forward, for he says expressly, “For thy word’s sake has thy servant known these great things.” And we find David triumphing over all his enemies by the power vested in him.

When God refused David to build a temple to his name, Solomon was appointed in his stead, and tradition states, that on commencing the foundation he struck on a cavern in which were immense treasures of gold, silver and precious stones. Believing it to be the remains of some temple built before the flood, and fearing that it had been in the service of idolatry, he was informed by a dream that this place had been thrice devoted to God. It was the place whence Enoch was translated, where Abraham was about to offer up his son Isaac, and it was the place of the threshing-floor of Ornan the Jebusite, where David met and appeased the destroying angel. The treasures were collected and used in building the temple. On exploring the lowest recesses of the cavern they came upon an arched vault, in which they found a white marble pillar, on which, encrusted with precious stones, was a delta, and on which was engraved the Gr⸫ Om⸫ word, the possession of which filled him with such wisdom and understanding that his name resounded throughout the earth, and has so continued to the present day. It was this that enabled our three Grand Masters to erect such a magnificent structure, the like of which has not been before or since.

The Arabians have the tradition that the word was engraved on a seal, and gave them power over the Dives, Afreets, Ghouls and other evil spirits, imprisoning them and confining them at the bottom of the sea, by impressing on them the signet. By them it was called a talisman or conferrer of power. By the Egyptians they were worn as amulets or averters of danger, and are still worn at the present day. We now see by the inspiration it gave its possessor what struck Solomon with such consternation and anxiety on the death of H⸫ A⸫ The key was probably a triangular plate on which was engraved the Omnific name, this being worn constantly on the breast, would, by lying on it continually, give a faint impression of the word; . . . It was the possession of the word . . . Having mentioned that all nations possessed a word, we will inquire how it first came in possession of the Jews. The Rabbinical tradition is, that it was given by God to Adam, who, foreseeing the deluge, enjoined on the sons of Seth to preserve it for future generations, when the flood would have swept all but Noah’s family away. Enoch the son of Seth, while deliberating upon the best means of preserving for future generations the ineffable name of Deity, was favored by a mystical vision, he seemed to be transported to the top of a high mountain. On looking up, he discovered in the heavens a triangular plate brilliantly illuminated, on which appeared certain mystic characters which he received a strict injunction never to pronounce; he then appeared to descend to the bowels of the earth; looking beneath him he discovered the same triangle. Instructed by this vision he built two pillars, on which was engraven the knowledge of the antediluvian world, and beneath he formed a cavern, and in it he deposited the triangle on which was engraved the ineffable word. He left a key to the name, as our Grand Masters have done, so those who had this key could pronounce the name. The Eastern nations have the tradition that the key left was composed of small squares joined together, called a Zuarga, which they consult at the present day, as to matters of health and business. It is possible that the key to the R⸫ A⸫ W⸫ is the Zuarga of the East.

The ineffable name was pronounced once a year by the High-Priest, amid the clang of cymbols and sound of trumpets, at the Feast of Expiation. It was not lawful to pronounce it any other time.

After the loss of the word, the Jews endeavored to find a substitute by an idol, called by the Rabbins a Teraphim. According to tradition it was constructed in this wise, and occasioned the Jews much trouble in after periods. A head of a child first born and dead born was placed on a golden plate on whose rim was engraved mystic characters. Under the tongue they placed a laminar of gold, on which was engraved characters and inscriptions of certain planets. After performing invocations before it, it was endowed with speech to foretell events. This is the idol that is so bitterly inveighed against by Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel. This is following after the abomination of the heathen instead of seeking the word.

The Babylonians practised divinations and sorcery, and the Jews copied largely from them, and were in full force from their return from Babylon till the destruction of the temple by Titus, and thus has been transmitted down to us the various rites, mystic ceremonies and charms yet practised among the ignorant and uneducated of the present day.

Thus, Companion, have I endeavored to give a brief epitome and slight explanation of such parts of our work as may stimulate your zeal and energies to further enquiries in penetrating the darkness and bringing to light the long lost word in all its effulgent splendor.

The full text of the 1870 version of “The Text Book of Cryptic Masonry” may be found at:

The Text Book of Cryptic Masonry