What's up is down. What isn't, is.
They said what's up is down, they said what isn't, is.
They put ideas in his head that he thought were his
- Bob Dylan, "Clean Cut Kid"
You may have heard of Hasan Sabbah, the 11th Century "Old Man of the Mountains," who led a secret society of militant Ismaili Muslims in what is now northern Iran. Members of the sect called themselves fedayeen, but as often happens in history, the name their opponents coined is the one with which they're stuck: Hashshashin, or assassins, after the hashish Sabbah plied them with to provide visions of the "garden of earthly delights" that would follow upon a martyr's death.
Now here's something about Sabbah and his followers I didn't know until recently, from Mandelbaum's The Psychic Battlefield:
Through the various degrees of initiation into the assassins, the followers were force-fed dogma, until they reached the ninth degree of initiation, where they learned that the prior teachings were false. "Prophets and teacher, heaven and hell were all nothing, future bliss and misery were idle dreams." Small wonder that the majority of the actual killers of the assassins were those who themselves had never undergone initiation.
It is from the assassin's secret doctrines that we have the expression "Nothing is true, and everything is permitted."
This appears to be an important and not uncommon dynamic of secret societies at the highest grades of initation. (Or at least so far as the uninitiated can tell, given their secrecy.) The hidden knowledge reserved for the final degrees seems often to stand the earlier teaching on its head. God can turn out to be the devil, and the devil your elder brother Lucifer. You thought you were illuminated? Here's your illumination for ya, right here.
The significance of this secret moral inversion could be found in the question begged by the case for an elite paedophilic cult: How could something so incredible be so pervasive, and operate internationally with the protection of professionals, judiciary and government officials? Perhaps because the bottom-heavy pyramid structure of secret societies provides numerous lower-order cadres who serve ends which are the absolute inverse of those they suppose. Just perhaps.
We can't know which of the charges against the Templars were legitimate, and which manufactured to destroy the Order, but knights of the highest rank were accused of secret doctrines which entailed devil worship and black magick. Similar charges have been levelled for years against the Templars' heirs in speculative Freemasonry. And regardless of the charges validity, there do appear to be inversions of values in the higher degrees. In Inside the Brotherhood, Martin Short has this to say about the order of the Holy Royal Arch, "Freemasonry's self-styled 'Supreme Degree'":
To join...a Mason must already have reached the third degree in the Craft, but if he goes no further he is no ther Mason's inferior. His Master Mason's ritual tells him he knows all the fundamental secrets....Safe within its 'Chapters', the Royal Arch dismisses the Craft's third degree as incomplete and its secrets as sham.... All the rest are unaware that there tongues might have been torn out and throats cut across just for betraying 'secrets' which are bogus, even by Masonic standards.
One of the Royal Arch's secrets is the "Grand Omniforic Royal Arch Word," Jahbulon, which is inscribed upon three sides of a triangle on Royal Arch altars, and appears to be the "Sacred and Mysterious Name" of God. The name is a contraction of Jehovah, Baal and On, or Heliopolis, the centre of Egyptian sun worship. The word cannot be spoken outside the temple, on pain, it is said, of having one's brains exposed to the sun.
Short also tells how, when England's two Grand Masonic Lodges were united in 1816, the rituals were revised to eliminate overtly Christian references, except for the phrase "the morning star," which is said to be derived from a reference to Jesus in Revelation 22:16. But the most common biblical meaning of "Morning Star" is as a synonym for Lucifer:
Is it possible that the Morning Star remained in the rituals, not by mistake, but as a deliberate but cryptic Masonic reference to Lucifer? If so, this would invert the meaning of a crucial section of the third-degree ritual: '...the Lord of Life will enable us to trample the King of Terror beneath our feet, and lift our eyes to that bright Morning Star, whose rising brings peace and salvation to the faithful and obedient of the human race.' To the men who drew up this ritual in 1816, who was the Lord of Life and who the King of Terror? Could God be Lucifer, and Lucifer God? Might they be sitting in each other's seats? Are Masons today inadvertently worshipping the devil instead of a benign God?
On July 14, 1889, Albert Pike, the "Grand Commander, Sovereign Pontiff" of Scottish Rite Freemasonry in the United States allegedly issued these instructions to 23 Scottish Rite Supreme Councils throughout the world (again from Short):
That which we must say to the crowd is - we worship a God, but it is the God that one adores without superstition. To you, Sovereign Grand Inspectors General, we say this, that you may repeat it to the Brethren of the 32nd, 31st and 30th degrees - the Masonic Religion should be, by all of us initiates in the high degrees, maintained in the purity of the Luciferian Doctrine.
Thus the doctrine of Satanism is a heresy; and the true and pure philosophical religion is the belief in Lucifer, the equal of Adonay; but Lucifer, God of Light and God of Good is struggling for humanity against Adonay, the God of Darkness and Evil.
Now consider the Ordo Templi Orientis, which was founded in the late 19th Century as a hermetic branch of Freemasonry, which goes the Royal Arch one - and perhaps many more - better. At least according to The Secret Rituals of the O.T.O., edited and introduced by Francis King (a zip file of the book can be downloaded by right-clicking here), and the "Song of the Perfect Initiate":
How the Simple Mason plies
Tool to Temple, See it rise!
Princes of Jerusalem,
How we mock and scoff at them!
For the love
Lend a hand, my trusty brother!
While there stand upon another
Of their Temple still a stone
Give the grip of Abaddon!
Split the skull! On guard the sword!
Earth be null and heaven abhorred!
All’s a lie, although divine —
Give annihilation’s Sign!
There's the bottom-heavy pyramid, celebrated in song, by those who regard themselves as near the capstone.
Finally, let's look at Opus Dei, the flagellate lay Catholic cult. Members are expected to mortify the flesh with devices such as the cilice, a "spiked chain worn around the upper thigh for two hours each day," to whip themselves to the point of drawing blood, to sleep on the floor once a week, and perform various other practices of physical and mental self-abuse. But consider what former member John Roche says in "Whips, Spiked Garters and Bloodshed - My Terrifying Life in Ruth Kelly's Religious Sect", which first appeared in The Mail on Sunday January 23 (Ruth Kelly is the UK's new education secretary): "Many members are upright Christians but the ethos of its higher levels is deeply secretive, often dishonest, oppressive and psychologically damaging to its members and families."
Justice Antonin Scalia, you may recall, is Opus Dei. How does the mortification of the flesh jibe with his bizarre message last Fall to an audience at Harvard University: "I even take the position that sexual orgies eliminate social tensions and ought to be encouraged"? In other words, could Opus Dei be another secret society in which those who have attained the highest degree are privy to a secret wisdom, which inverts the teachings of the lower orders?
After having progressed through flagellation and mortification - which without a supposed spiritual purpose resembles nothing so much as simple sexual masochism - could the final lesson of Opus Dei be, like that of the Hashshashin, Nothing is true, and everything is permitted?
Hiding in plain sight has never been so good.
By the way, a heartfelt thanks to everyone for all the advice, support and encouragement over the last couple of days. It's been a real George Bailey Experience, and I'm grateful beyond words.