CODEX Entry 2631: Freemasonry and Egypt
The Masonic Landmarks or beliefs claim their origins all the way back to the architects of the Grand pyramids. Much of their heraldry, architecture, and symbolism reflect this aspiration. Freemasonry understands and interprets that history through the translation of a number of works by Hermes Trismegistus and other early translated Egyptian works. Strong similarities can be found between Masonic ritual and Serapis ones. Serapis was a merger of the God Osiris and the Bull God Apis. The cult of Serapis was promoted during the third century BC by the Greek Pharaoh Ptolemy I as a means to unify the Greeks and Egyptians in his empire. Alexander the Great had unsuccessfully attempted to use Amun as a unifying deity, but Amun was more prominent in Upper Egypt, and not popular in Lower Egypt, where the Greeks had stronger influence. The Greeks had little respect for animal-headed figures, and so a Greek-style anthropomorphic statue was chosen as the idol, and proclaimed as the equivalent of the highly popular Apis. While most masonic historians concur that the rituals of the encoffined Osiris resemble the masonic rituals, Schiller has indicated that the order of freemasonry is based on the mysteries of Isis and Serapis. Masonic historian, Godfrey Higgins, went even further and claimed that these mysteries were Masonry itself. Notwithstanding whether these similarities are a borrowing, an attempt to emulate, or a continuation of the Mysteries of Isis, the rituals around the Death of Osiris, and the Apis Bull, and their similarity to the higher orders of the Lodges is unmistakable.
Some Christian Lodges have refocused this heritage onto Hiram Abiff as the architect of the Temple of Solomon, replacing Egyptian words with Hebrew as the language used for all passwords on tenets. This made the rituals more palatable to their more ardent Christian brethren. Some masonic historians have concluded that Abiff is a mixture of the Egyptian god Osiris and Hermes Trismegistus, or Thoth.
Quoting from Jewel P. Lightfoot’s speech to the Texas Masonic Lodge, he stated: “ The presence in the modern Masonic system, of many of the emblems, symbols and allegories of the ancient Temples of Initiation, as well as certain rites performed therein, has persuaded the most learned among Masonic scholars to conclude that Masonry is of very ancient origin, and is, in some aspects, the modern successor of, and heir to, the sublime Mysteries of the Temple of Solomon, and the Temples of India, Chaldea, Egypt, Greece, and Rome , as well as the basic doctrine of the Essenes, Gnostics and other Mystic Orders“.