The following section has been added to the Occult Origins of the Counterculture article, and the introduction to the article has been revised as well.
The social stratification represented by the degree system of Freemasonry is a logical extension of natural law, the Catholic ideology by which rigidly maintained social hierarchy was deemed a necessary component of any holy society. The Eye of Providence, colloquially known as the all-seeing eye, was first a Catholic symbol intended to symbolize the divine providence of God watching over humanity and superseding in human affairs through ecclesiastical authorities. The earliest depiction of the Eye of Providence in Europe was within the Palatine Chapel, whose construction was begun by Charlemagne in 786. Charlemagne was the first Holy Roman Emperor, and his accession inaugurated a return to the divine right of kings in Christian Europe. In the New Testament, the concept of the divine right of kings had been justified by the statement of St. Peter that all Christians should honor the pagan Roman Emperor. Throughout Medieval Europe, the same idea applied to feudal properties, which were believed to be owned by God and managed by Kings, who were in turn answerable only to the authority of Popes. This arrangement of power formed the basis of the figurative pyramid whose base was composed of serfs living in conditions akin to slavery in all of its most essential aspects. Feudal plantation owners were legally allowed to beat, murder and rape their serfs, while the serfs were forbidden from owning or selling property. The etymology of the term “serf” can be traced to the Latin word “servus”, which literally translates to slave.
In 1865 slavery was permanently abolished within the United States by way of the Thirteenth Amendment. Less than a year later, the Holy Office responded via an instruction signed by Pope Pius IX, which states: “Slavery itself, considered as such in its essential nature, is not at all contrary to the natural and divine law, and there can be several just titles of slavery, and these are referred to by approved theologians and commentators of the sacred canons … It is not contrary to the natural and divine law for a slave to be sold, bought, exchanged or given”. This policy was not officially changed within Canon law until 1918. Medieval texts used the words “peasant”, “serf” and “slave” as synonymous representations of the overwhelming majority of the population who did not own property. The Domesday Book of 1086 recorded a census of Britain's million and a half inhabitants, noting that less than three percent were free landholders. The feudal pyramid explicated a regimented division of value whereby corporeal hierarchies of serfs, lords, abbots, knights and bishops were arranged below heavenly hierarchies of saints, angels and, ultimately, God. As a material extension of these values, religious institutions such as abbeys and monasteries maintained a significant portion of European feudal properties while simultaneously amassing vast fortunes as a result.
The social stratification of greater Medieval society was also applied to individual families, which were typically formed according to strict laws and customs as opposed to individual choice. For example, the lord of an estate could prevent serfs from marrying women from another estate, while also exercising the power to choose husbands for their tenants' daughters. Medieval laws also required parental consent for marriage up to the age of 30 for men and the age of 25 for women. The doctrine of mutual consent also allowed for spouses to abandon their families based on “confession” of prior marriage to a different spouse. As merchant classes arose in later centuries, the doctrine of mutual consent ostensibly allowed for freedom of choice in marriage, however, in practice, parents controlled the choices of their children by denying inheritance rights to those who married against their wishes. The free bench was an English manorial custom that defined a widow's inheritance rights as dependent on her chastity, and remarriage, as well as any ostensible evidence of sexual activity, required the widow to forfeit her lands. Similarly, the Legrewite was a fine designed to punish single sexually active women, a fee often compounded by the childwite, yet another fine for the birth of illegitimate children. As stated previously, the doctrine of mutual consent allowed for previously married women to have their children classified as illegitimate regardless of the wife's commitment to her marriage. In France, unmarried pregnant women were systematically interrogated at local government offices.
The “virtue” of blind obedience to religious and political authorities was promoted by the Jesuits, a Catholic fraternity that predated both the Freemasons and the Bavarian Illuminati. In his Letter on Obedience, Jesuit (Society of Jesus) founder Ignatius of Loyola wrote “And so, I should wish that all of you would train yourselves to recognize Christ our Lord in any Superior whomsoever, and with all devotion, reverence and obey in him His Divine Majesty. And this will appear less strange to you, if you keep in mind that St. Paul, writing to the Ephesians, bids us obey even temporal and pagan Superiors as Christ from Whom all well ordered authority descends: Slaves, obey your masters according to the flesh with fear and trembling in the sincerity of your hearts as you would Christ: not serving to the eye as pleasers of men, but as slaves of Christ.”
Loyola's apparently tolerant attitude toward polytheistic cultures did not, however, prevent the Jesuits from playing a central role in the Goa Inquisition, a horrific period of history enabled by the Society's reverence for social inequality. The office of the Inquisition on the Portugese state of Goa was responsible for sanctioning the death by torture of dozens of Hindus and Muslims for the crime of practicing their native religion. The Goa Inquisition was originally installed after Francis Xavier, a student of Loyola's, one of seven original Jesuits and co-founder of the same group, wrote a letter to King John III of Portugal, requesting Catholic expedition to India as a route to ensuring Christian purity. As Xavier departed to lead the mission, the pope appointed him apostolic nuncio to the East, an ecclesiastical diplomatic title equivalent to that of ambassador. The Inquisition's first act was to establish the death penalty for open practice of the Hindu faith. Hundreds of prison cells were set up to accommodate the accused. Hindu temples were destroyed and ransacked, their contents confiscated by army action. The local Konkani language was suppressed, Hindu holy books were destroyed and Portugese became the compulsory national language.
The Jesuits organized an annual mass baptism on January 25, the Feast of Saint Paul, whereby their African slaves were ordered to grab Hindus and smear their lips with beef, an act that resulted in many Hindus being labeled as untouchable by their own people. In his book, the Goa Inquisition, Indo-Portugese historian T.R. De Souza writes “...the government transferred to the Church and religious orders the properties and other sources of revenue that had belonged to the Hindu temples that had been demolished or to the temple servants who had been converted or banished. Entire villages were taken over at times for being considered rebellious and handed over with all their revenues to the Jesuits.” The Goa Inquisition also exhaustively details the methods of torture through which Catholic missionaries enforced religious conversions, including flogging, dismemberment and amputations carried out so slowly that the victims remained alive throughout the process. The auto-de-fa was the Catholic ritual of public penance whereby condemned heretics and apostates were burned at the stake. According to De Souza, Francis Xavier was present at the first Inquisition, where two of the accused, including a French cleric, were burned alive. For his efforts, Xavier was canonized as a saint by Pope Gregory XV, at the same time as Ignatius Loyola, and proclaimed the “Patron of Catholic Missions” by Pope Pius XI.
Aside from their work in suppressing cultural and religious expression abroad, the Jesuits also endeavored to suppress European institutions that threatened the power of the Catholic church, particularly in the areas of politics and scientific discourse. In 1616 the Inquisition declared the scientific proposition that the Earth rotates around the Sun to be heresy, shortly after the Index of Prohibited Books banned any writings that advanced Copernican heliocentric astronomy. Jesuit astronomers argued that geocentrism, the theory that the earth is the center of the universe around which all heavenly bodies revolve, was in accordance with a literal interpretation of Scripture, particularly Psalms 96:10, Chronicles 16:30, Psalms 93:1, Ecclesiastes 1:5 and Psalms 104:5. The chief theologian of the Inquisition, Robert Bellarmine, was a Jesuit who read the astronomer Galileo Galilei the decree of the Index and ordered him to abandon his research into the Copernican system. When this decree was ignored, Galilei was confined to house arrest for the rest of his life. Galilei's discoveries were so ground-breaking that he has since been dubbed the “father of observational astronomy”.
The Society of Jesus was also able to gain political influence by hearing the confessions of kings, princes and other political authorities. According to the New Catholic Encyclopedia, “they acted as royal confessors to all French kings for 2 centuries, from Henry III to Louis XV; to all German emperors after the early 17th century; to all Dukes of Bavaria after 1579; to most rulers of Poland and Portugal; to the Spanish kings in the 18th century; to James II of England; and to many ruling or princely families throughout Europe.” Confessions in this context functioned much as the Bacchanalia had in previous centuries: organizations in a position to elicit incriminating secrets were much more likely to gain the advantage of political blackmail. Royal confessors were thus able to promote the interests of the Papacy, such as when LeTellier, Jesuit confessor to King Louis XIV, convinced the monarch to revoke the Edict of Nantes which granted substantial rights to Calvinist Protestants. Because of this history of political maneuvering, the Society was expelled from most states across Europe, as well as a number of European colonies. In Portugal the Jesuit royal confessor Gabriel Malagrida was declared guilty of high treason on account of his role in plotting the attempted assassination of King Jose I. Malagrida was not executed because the Papacy expressed opposition to the execution of a Jesuit by secular authorities. Instead, he was confined to a dungeon beneath the tower of Belem along with other Jesuits, who were also arrested for their role in the plan.
Aside from political intrigue, another charge commonly leveled at the Society was economic exploitation, especially regarding trade revenues derived from colonial mission plantations. As a religious order the Jesuits were technically forbidden from buying and selling for profit, however, as had been the case with the Knights Templar before them, this rule was largely disregarded. Referring to the Society's financial management of mission plantations, the Catholic Encyclopedia of 1908 states “...this was allowed, partly to provide for the current expenses of the mission, partly in order to protect the simple, childlike natives from the common plague of dishonest intermediaries.” In the Americas, Jesuit acquisitions were so extensive that suppression of the order resulted in widespread economic changes. The Society had owned the largest number of black slaves in Chile, so when Jesuits were expelled from the country there was a sharp decrease in the number of imported slaves. After Jesuit vineyards in Peru were auctioned, wine production also declined because the new owners did not have the expertise necessary to manage the fields.
The combined political, economic and academic influence of the Society contributed to numerous anti-Jesuit conspiracy theories alleging the order to be involved in plotting to overthrow nation-states on behalf of the Papacy. Many of these theories were a product of French anti-clericalism and claimed a rivalry between Freemasons and the Society of Jesus. Ironically, historians documenting the origins of speculative Freemasonry have unearthed evidence indicating that Freemasonry is in large part derived from Catholicism, with the Jesuits, in particular, playing an important role in their expansion throughout France and Germany. According to Chevalier Ramsay, a Fellow of the Royal Society as well as a tutor to King James' two sons, Freemasonry was founded in antiquity and renewed at the time of the Crusades. Crusaders utilized a symbolic language derived from the ancient Mystery cults, which was intended to differentiate Crusader from Saracen. The close relationship between these early Masons and the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem eventually resulted in the Blue Degrees which are named St. John's Masonry. Masonic participation in the Crusades may also be the reason why, according to Freemasonic legend, the original Lodge is “symbolically” located in Jerusalem. It may also be worth noting that Ramsay was a Baronet in the Jacobite Peerage (a hereditary honor granted by the deposed Stuart dynasty), so he may have been in a strategic position for absorbing the guarded secrets of high-ranking initiates.
One of the oldest surviving Masonic documents, from December 1658, suggests that the commonly held belief of the ideals of Freemasonry being opposed to royalism may, in truth, be erroneous. The document states, “That as formerly we and predecessors have and had from the temple of temples building on this earth one uniform community and union throughout the whole world from which temple proceeded one in Kilwinning in this our nation of Scotland and from that of Kilwinning many more within this kingdom of which there proceeded the Abbey and Lodge of Scone, built by men of art and architecture where they placed that lodge as the second lodge within this nation, which is now past memory of many generations, and was upheld by the Kings of Scotland...this Lodge is the most famous Lodge (if well ordered) within this kingdom-of which name of Mylne there had continued several generations of Master Masons to his Majesties the Kings of Scotland ." Art and Magic in the Court of the Stuarts is a book by architectural historian Vaughan Hart which further verifies this assertion, primarily through documenting the Hermetic-Cabalistic themes inherent in the masques of the Stuart court, which were typically planned and conceived by Masons.
The acolytes of King James Stuart II, the Jacobites, followed him into exile and renewed the ancient Rite of Heredom, also known as the Scottish Rite of Perfection, along with the Rite of Kilwining, which had commingled with the Templar tradition. Although this moment in history is a point of contention amongst many modern historians, in his work Encyclopedia of Freemasonry and its Kindred Sciences, the Freemasonic historian Albert Mackey states that King James II took refuge in the Jesuit College of Clermont in Paris, where a network of aristocrats and members of the royal court had founded a Masonic Lodge. The purpose of this Lodge was the restoration on the House of Stuart to the throne of England, and its rites consisted of six degrees including those of St. John's Masonry. The Baron von Hund then synthesized the ideas of these degrees and produced from them the Rite of Strict Observance which gained popularity in Germany. Mackey also contends that the Masonic lodge at the Jesuit College of Clermont has had a particularly notable influence on the advanced degrees of Freemasonry.
These higher degrees can be easily traced to their origin in Jesuit initiation ceremonies by scrutinizing the commonalities found in both fraternal orders, as well as the Templars and Knights of Malta who share a common line of descent with the Society of Jesus. Although detailed accounts of Jesuit initiations are scarce, the Schaff Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge contains revealing quotes from a 16th century Jesuit document which describes ceremonies culminating in acts analogous to modern day accounts of Satanic ritual abuse. The second degree into the Jesuits began when the candidate fasted and was then blindfolded and led through a cavern while reciting incantations. After crawling through a narrow opening, the initiate's blindfold was removed and he found himself in a dungeon with three lamps on the ground, surrounded by skeletal remains. This room was called the Cave of Evocation. A similarly darkened room, containing a skull, scythe and candle, is used within the initiation rites of advanced Freemasonic degrees, and referred to as the Chamber of Reflection. The second degree initiation of the Knights of Malta also contains the Chamber of Reflection, which the order says is a symbolic representation of the tomb of the Pharaoh.
The Jesuit document quoted in the Schaff Herzog Encyclopedia describes the conclusion of the rite: “...they took off all his clothing, which they cast upon a pyre in one corner of the cave, and marked his body with numerous crosses, drawn with blood. At this point, the hierophant with his assistants entered, and having bound a red cloth round the middle of the candidate's body, the brethren, clothed in bloodstained garments, placed themselves beside him, and drawing their daggers, formed the steel arch over his head.”
Further corroboration of the details of Jesuit initiation rites can be found in the Journals of the 62nd Congress, 3rd session, which records the personal testimony of former Jesuit priest Alberto Rivera: “When a Jesuit of the minor rank is to be elevated to command, he is conducted into the Chapel of the Covenant of the Order, where there are only three others present, the principal or Superior standing in front of an altar. On either side stands a monk, one of whom holds a banner of yellow and white, which are the Papal colours, and the other a black banner with a dagger and red cross above a skull and crossbone, with the words INRI and below them the words IUSTUM NECAR REGES IMPIUS, the meaning of which is: it is just to exterminate or annihilate impious or heretical Kings, governments or rulers. Upon the floor is a red cross at which the postulant or candidate kneels. The superior hands him a small black crucifix, which he takes in his left hand and presses to his heart, and the Superior at the same time presents to him a dagger, which he grasps by the blade and holds the point against his heart.” The Jesuit candidate is then instructed to receive “the wafer from the Superior and writes his name with the point of his dagger dipped in his own blood taken from over his heart.”
The presence of a dagger, as well as that of the skull and cross bones, can also be found within Freemasonic ceremonial rites. In a documentary entitled “Secrets of Secret Societies”, the Discovery Channel interviewed Catholic author and former high-ranking Freemason John Salza, who reported his participation in an initiation rite that involved him stripping off his clothes and being pierced with a knife. He described the rite as conveying a “warning” to the initiate. The skull and crossbones were also adopted by the Knights of Malta, whose second degree initiation involves the candidate being presented with bones which are described as the remains of the biblical patriarch Joseph, whose body had been carried to Egypt by his people.
Rivera expresses further similarities to Freemasonry with his delineation of how fellow Jesuit members identify one another, stating that the initiate, “with his right hand makes a circle around his head, touching it; the other then with the forefinger of his left hand touches the left side of his body just below the heart; the first then with his right hand draws it across the throat of the other, and the latter then with a dagger down the stomach and the abdomen of the first.” As reported by Richardson's Monitor of Freemasonry, a candidate is awarded the Grand Master Elect degree when he is either being pricked under the chin with a knife, or clenches the fingers of his right hand, extends the thumb and slides the tip of it up his abdomen to the underside of his chin. Within both the Society of Jesus and the Freemasons, the gesture is meant to convey the image of the initiate being ripped open with a knife, typically in response to his having violated the vow of secrecy protecting fellow members. This ceremony is based on the penal code of Freemasonry, which, Duncan's Masonic Ritual and Monitor states, “intimates that the stiff neck of the disobedient shall be cut off from head of the living...”.