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In this extensive work, John Yarker attempts to trace the history of Masonry and Masonic rites through history, proving its legitimacy through seniority and the power of tradition. Yarker establishes the roots of Masonry in a race he calls the Aryans, a catchall phrase to describe an unknown race of conquerors who developed the early human arts, such as stoneworking, metalworking, and agriculture. Yarker then explains how that civilization gave rise to societies of special knowledge, such at the mathematical and philosophical schools in ancient Greece. From these, he can trace symbolism to modern Freemasonry. Fascinating in its breadth, The Arcane Schools draws on seemingly every society and era to pull the history of humanity into a single narrative. Those interested the arcane and occult, as well as those with a newly sparked interest in symbology, will find Yarker's book a fascinating and informative read.
This book has 495 pages in the PDF version, and was originally published in 1909.
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Excerpt from 'Arcane Schools'
IT may reasonably be supposed that the advancement of mankind which we term civilisation had made great progress in hot climates before the Arts, science, and more especially the mystery of building temples and houses of stone, brick, or wood were developed. Religious mysteries, the rudiments of science, and open and secret worship, if not innate, which we believe them to be, would arise, and as the erection, first of temples, and then of houses, indicates a knowledge of geometry and constructive tools, it implies a more advanced culture.
The tradition which has reached us through the ages is that mankind contracted very slowly the protoplasm which forms our natural body, after which a variety of wants became apparent that were in earlier ages unfelt. Whether we accept or reject this view, we can realise that the united intellect of thousands of years has been unable to supply any better idea of the creation and progress of humanity upon earth than that handed down to us from the ancient sages. As man s material nature increased his spirituality decreased, and as his intuition tended to become dormant means were sought which might restore his ancient status. The discipline necessary for this purpose was neither suitable nor agreeable to the majority, and this led to the establishment of secret or esoteric schools for those who sought the higher spiritual development. Of an unpretentious nature at first and possessing but moral trials or proofs, these schools gradually assumed a magnificent exterior under State control, with even proofs dangerous to life, and were designated THE MYSTERIES. The natural wants had now come to be provided for; the Arts and Sciences were developed: Architecture, Metallurgy, Ship-building, Astronomy, Agriculture, etc., were added to Theosophia, and religious ritual. This is the tradition of the Mysteries.
There are certain ancient legends in regard to a lost or sunken continent and a deluge which, though not absolutely accepted as history, are too probable to be passed over in silence. It is admitted by scientists that the surface of our earth is continually wasting away, with the result that the bed of the ocean is being slowly raised, and the geographical position of the land is changing: we see in one locality that the ocean is washing the land away, whilst in another the sea is receding. Equally great climatic changes are slowly developing; thus Greenland was at one time a torrid clime, which at a later age, to be reckoned only by tens of thousands of years, was succeeded by intense cold, and when our own island was depopulated by a deluge of ice and frost.
These changes are attendant upon what astronomers term the "Precession of the Equinoxes"; there is a gradual displacement of the poles of the earth, occurring in cycles or periods of 25,000 years, and the last of which reached its extreme point about 12,500 years ago, when it is held that a great cataclysm occurred which changed the face of the entire globe. It follows of necessity that men s habits must change with climatic changes. The Hindu priests have a complicated series of cycles within cycles, which are not altogether imaginary but are grounded upon recondite astronomical calculations. When we remember that there is a great central sun round which the entire galaxy of planets and suns revolve, we may draw the analogy that in immense cycles what we may term seasonal changes or states are produced, even on these planets and suns, similar to those which occur on our earth.
There exists in Thibet and India a "Secret Doctrine" which is of unquestioned antiquity, and of which analogical confirmation may be found in the writings of the ancient Philosophers. This doctrine allows for the existence in extreme antiquity of a sunken continent in the Pacific ocean, of which the present islands are mountain tops, and in the Atlantic ocean of seven islands, the last of which sank beneath the waters about the period which we have assigned for a great cataclysm, or 12,500 years ago.
Behind this account, which in the East is considered historical, lies the cyclical doctrine of a Day and Night of Brahm, or by whatever other word the impersonal Deity is designated. These cycles are the Outbreathing and Inbreathing of the Unknowable deity, or everliving Spirit and primal Matter; the gradual progress of all created matter is the divine Day which proceeds from the etherial or cometary to the concrete by means of the Tatwas, which will correspond with the Genetic Days of Moses, and these again with the gestation of the ordinary foetus; in the divine Night everything again reverts to the etherial state, to be again followed, in immense cycles, by a reversed action.
The mythological account of the Hindu Paradise places Mount Meru at the North-pole, or the imperishable land ; a circular island upon which is the "City of the Gods,” which is supposed to be a perfect square guarded by a wall protected by eight circular towers, and the holy mount, which is of conical shape, rises in the centre of the city.
Temples have been designed to represent this legendary Meru, and it has also formed the basic plan of cities, which we may mention later. It is also noteworthy that the Egyptian legend of the Mystery God, Osiris or Heseri, is applicable to 68 Degrees north latitude, or where the sun dies for 40 days, and which was then a hot climate, according to the legends. We know that the Mammoth existed there and fed on tropical herbage. The north they consider to have been torrid owing to the then nebulous or cometary state of our globe, which had neither cooled down nor hardened. Humanity, of a sort, existed in that land, but was moon-bred, etherial, globular, gigantic, sexless, generated as are atoms by self-multiplication. To these succeeded a second race, giants, of whom the later and more material were inspired by the Solar gods, these were dual-sexed or hermaphrodite, as many forms of life yet are, and more compact than the first race.
The Arabs and Persians have legends of such a race, and represent that it was ruled by 72 kings of the name of Suleiman, of whom the three last reigned one thousand years each. It does not seem that these Suleimans, who are, par-excellence, the rulers of all Djins, Afreets, and other elemental spirits, bear any relationship to the Israelite King, that being a more modern application. We find the name as one of the gods of the ancient Babylonians, and the late Doctor Kenealey, who as a Persian scholar translated the poems of Hafiz, asserts that the earliest Aryan teachers were named Maha-Bodhs or Solymi, and that Suleiman was an ancient title of regal power, synonymous with Sultan in Asia, Pharaoh in Egypt, Khan in Tartary, Tsar in Russia. There is also a Persian legend which alleges that in the mountains of Kaf, which can only be reached by a magic ring (that of Suleiman), there is a gallery built by the giant Arzeak where the statues of the ancient men are preserved who were ruled by the Suleimans, or wise Kings of the East. Many an Eastern storyteller laments the departed glories of the throne of Suleiman, located near the present Aden in Arabia, which it has been suggested may have been populated by Kushites from the Hindu Kush. There is a very wonderful structure hewin out of solid rock on the confiness of Afghanistan and India called the Takht-i-Suleiman, or throne of Solomon, its ancient Aryan name being Shanker Acharya, fabled to have been erected by supernatural means, and known to have been a great rendezvous for two thousand years of merchants caravans. It is on the western side of the Suleiman Mountains.