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The Two Keys

In all ages and in every land and clime there are progressive souls whose spiritual
vision pierces the murky clouds of dogmatic illusion with which priestcraft and
statecraft have ever sought to obscure the sun of divine truth. These bold aspirants to
esoteric wisdom have the courage to burst the fetters that chain them to the lifeless
creeds which are forced upon a benighted world. They free themselves from the
thraldom of prejudice, and from that of servility to popular opinion. They intrepidly
turn their faces from the blackness of the dead ages to knock resolutely at the door of
the Temple of Knowledge. They realize that only within the sacred precincts of
nature’s sanctuary burn the altar fires whose light produces the shadowy illusions
which are believed by the multitudes who worship them to be the only reality. And
they learn that this sanctuary may be unlocked only by the use of two keys.
Such a candidate for initiation, having become as a little child, after divesting himself
alike of the shroud of orthodoxy and the incumbrance of current scientific
opinion–the one as dogmatic as the other–stands at the entrance of the temple,
seeking admittance. This structure is the edifice of nature, the home of Isis, the lodge
room of our Grand Master, King Sol; and is referred to in the Bible as Solomon’s
Temple. Now this name can hardly have been derived directly from so many
divergent sources, yet in spite of this, SOL-OM-ON presents some interesting
correspondences; for Sol is the Latin name of the Sun God Phoebus; Om is a Hindu
name of Deity; and On is the Sun God of Heliopolis, Egypt, which anciently was
called the City of On.
The candidate has heard it said, “Knock and it will open; Ask and ye shall receive;
Seek and ye shall find.” So, sustained by a love of justice, he stands with clean hands
and a pure heart at the gate to the sanctuary. After a time his efforts are rewarded by
glimpses of the interior as the gates are opened by other hands, or the intuitions of his
soul penetrate their opaqueness. His summons are finally answered by the Voice of
the Silence, encouraging him to further endeavor; but at the same time admonishing
him that there is no vicarious atonement or attainment. Each must unlock the doors
that bar his progress and that guard the temple from profanation, for himself.
King Solomon’s Temple has two doors; so also, there are two doors to its oracle. He
who would enter either must possess their respective keys. The door on the right is
opened only with the aid of a golden key; that on the left requires a key of silver.
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These same two keys with which the outer doors of the temple may be unlocked will
also open the doors of the oracle; but the keys that are turned from right to left in the
outer doors must be turned from left to right to unlock the inner.
That keys are extant by which their possessor may penetrate the barriers of objective
phenomena is common knowledge among all well posted occultists. Students of
masonic symbolism go further; for they recognize that these keys are two in number.
In fact, the literature on ceremonial magic very largely revolves around the two
productions, the one entitled, “Clavicula Solomonis” (The Key of Solomon the
King), and the other entitled, “Lemegeton” (Lesser Key), there being an English
translation of both. But the usefulness of these volumes, if they may be said to have a
use, pertains to the history of mystical aberration, and to magical practices of
doubtful quality, rather than to any revelation of the mysteries.
Turning from these again to freemasonry, we find the symbol associated with the
Fellow Craft degree to be complex. We are in search of keys, therefore the other
symbology need not here concern us. But one prominent feature of the symbol are
Two Crossed Keys, one of Silver and the other of Gold. These are the keys for which
we seek. Masonry in its symbolism has preserved the keys to initiation. They are the
keys that unlock the doors of King Solomon’s Temple; but precisely what these two
keys symbolize in occult science no modern expounder, in so far as I have been able
to learn, has explained. Therefore, I shall devote this lesson to bringing to the notice
of all and sundry who are interested in occult matters, both the importance and the
nature of the key of silver and the key of gold.
The better to understand the conditions which confront the present day searcher after
truth, let us review the past with an eye to discerning the method by which whatever
of enlightenment we now possess was gained. Perchance that method will give us a
clue to the manner in which the many perplexities that now confront us may be
Turning back the pages in the book of history a few hundred years, we find the utmost
confusion in the realm of scientific thought. Prior to the seventeenth century material
science was a wild jumble of notions. It was as great a medley of inconsistencies as
we find today in the realm of religion and mysticism. And even as today assertions
regarding religion are thought to be proved by citing authorities, so then the facts of
material science rested upon authority as their final criterion. Just as mystics and
religionists now feel free to give the particular interpretation of an authority–the
Bible, for instance–that best suits their convenience, so then students were equally
free in giving their own interpretation of scientific authorities. The controversies and
animosities of present day religious sects and mystic cults are paralleled by the
contention and turmoil in scientific circles preceding the seventeenth century.
This conflict between various schools was at an acute stage when, early in the
seventeenth century, an event occurred which revolutionized the methods of
scientific thought. The existing chaos of science was well recognized. Therefore, in
the hope of establishing some kind of order, Cardinal Bagne called together the
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notables and savants of his time to listen to the discourse of a scholar, M. Chandoux,
who expounded the principles of a new philosophy. Present at that discourse was
young Ren� Descartes.
M. Chandoux was an eloquent speaker and clothed his thoughts in flowery language.
With one exception his hearers were convinced and applauded loudly. The exception
was Ren� Descartes.
An acquaintance, noticing Descartes’ reticence, asked him to explain in what manner
he disapproved of the new principles so eloquently presented. Descartes
complimented the speaker highly upon his ability, and then voiced an axiom that
every occult student should constantly bear in mind. It is due to the failure to realize
the importance of this fact that a thousand and one intellectual crudities are being
palmed off on a credulous world today. He said: “Nothing Can Be Proved or
Disproved by Unproved Principles.”
What was true of material science in Descartes’ time is equally true in regard to
occultism, mysticism, and religion at present: “The probable being often substituted
for the true, it being easy to mistake the fictitious for the true when dressed in false
To illustrate this, Descartes asked the assembly to give him some well recognized
fact. Then, by means of twelve statements he proved the fact to be true. After which,
he took twelve other statements, and, to the consternation of all present, proceeded
with equal ease, and in an apparently irrefutable manner, to prove its falsity.
The experiment was repeated again and again, to the great dismay of his audience. A
confusion resulted that resembles that of religion and occultism today. The
apparently proven facts of man’s proper relation to other entities in the universe and
to Deity are subject to just such jugglery, to affirmation by some authorities and to
denial by others; both being sustained by arguments. No wonder the student often
doubts the possibility of knowing without mistake the real truth concerning
So it was with Descartes’ hearers. They began to doubt their ability ever to recognize
the truth. Consequently they sought his opinion about the matter. His reply is quite as
important to religion and occult science today as it then was to material science, and
if his advice is followed it will work as important a change for their betterment as it
then worked for the advancement of material knowledge. He stated that Mathematics
Alone avoids sophisms, and by its aid All Problems can be Solved, if Proper
Principles be Followed.
That was the beginning of what is now called exact science. Its success during the
intervening years has been due to the ability of its votaries to follow proper
mathematical principles. Furthermore, the incongruities of certain materialistic
philosophers and scientists are due to their departure from mathematical methods
and their attempting to prove their doctrines by unproved principles.
Now it is not my purpose to convey the idea that the physical intellect alone is
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capable of successfully wrestling with nature’s arcane truths; for the soul, when free
from the bondage of the physical senses, becomes a far superior judge of reality. The
perceptions of the astral brain have a far greater range than those of the physical, and
the sense organs of the spiritual body have even a much greater range than these.
Furthermore, on the inner planes, intelligences of vastly greater ability than any on
earth may be contacted. The soul when free from the body and functioning in a finer
form is infinitely more capable of grasping the true inner significance of nature’s
wondrous manifestations.
But it is only the exceptional individual, under exceptional circumstances, who is
able so to free himself from the limitations imposed by the flesh, that upon his soul’s
return to its earthy tenement from sublime flights in the starry realms of aeth his
physical organism grasps the truths he has contacted without coloring them to
conform to preconceived ideas, to prevalent opinions, or to the personal peculiarities
due to centers of energy within his astral form that are mapped by his birth chart. The
soul’s experience may be compared to the pure white radiance of our sun, which is
stained to different hues as it passes through colored cathedral windows.
People in general are greatly influenced by thought currents. Some dominant
character puts forth an idea. Other less positive minds receive this idea either through
unconscious thought transference, or through the written or spoken word. The
positiveness with which the idea is launched enables it to gain a controlling power
over a few. These then, having become dominated by the idea, formulate it anew.
Thinking about it strongly, they send out astral waves that reach the astral brains of a
whole nation. One after another people begin to accept the idea, and the more people
there are thinking it the stronger becomes its power to dominate others.
The ease with which a few men in high political office often are able to warp the
judgment of a whole people well illustrates this. No matter how pernicious or
illogical the idea is, if it is launched strongly enough and gains momentum, it will
dominate the majority. History abounds with the follies of whole nations temporarily
so dominated. They are so under the power of suggestion that they fail to see the
matter in any light but that under which it has been presented to them. They lose the
power to reason about this particular thing, just as a hypnotized subject must accept
what the operator suggests without question, and may imagine he is quite logical and
rational. Likewise, the memory of the soul’s experiences when free from the physical
body has a tendency to be warped by thought currents into conformity with them.
There is also a tendency, deeply rooted in the makeup of the astral body, on the part of
mystical minds to be controlled by autosuggestion. They sometimes become so
dominated by some religious belief, or by some phantasy that has gained a strong
hold in the astral brain, that the meaning of both physical and astral experiences is
greatly distorted to confirm it. If there is much egotism, conversation with any
disembodied entity may be construed as talking directly with Deity, even though
others recognize the entity as an elemental. In such cases the mystic follows the
dictates of the voice, even if it leads to death. And even where no such dominant idea
is present, early beliefs often are so strongly entrenched in the astral brain as to
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considerably color the memory of experiences brought back from excursions into
higher realms. Consequently, there is always the need of critical analysis of such
experiences, and the application of as competent methods as possible to test their
accuracy. Such methods are embraced within the silver and golden keys.
Let us consider that nature in all her various manifestations is under law, and that this
law invariably is based upon mathematical principles. Mathematical relations are
absolute, and pertain as well to spiritual, celestial and angelic spheres, as they do to
our humble planet. Everything, from the tremor of a thought wave to the evolution of
a universe, operates in strict obedience to numerical law. The eight volved tower of
Babel rose on Shinar’s plain to exemplify the numbers understood by the Magi to
govern race evolution. The pyramids yet stand as a monumental proof of the
numerical relations existing between the earth, the universe, and the soul of man.
And though the Pythagorean system of numbers was never placed in writing, and
hence is dimly grasped except by the few, yet its fame has echoed down the corridors
of time and prompts our soul to listen to the music of the spheres.
Mathematics alone enables one to avoid mental pitfalls, and it is due to this fact that
the Golden and Silver keys are the most valuable possessions that the occultist can
obtain in the world of mental research; for they are each grounded in, and strictly
built upon numerical proportions.
To comprehend their function we must have recourse to the Written and Oral Laws.
Initiates understand the Written Law to be that Law inscribed in scintillating
characters of light, by the ever moving finger of Deity, in the azure dome that spans
our midnight sky. It is written in the Language of the Stars, and thus revealed His will
to the primitive Assyrian Shepherds. Its study later gave to Egypt her splendor, and
made the Chaldean Magi so justly famous. It was the knowledge of this ineffaceable
Written Law, the sublime science of the starry heavens, that constituted the wisdom
that flowed from the magical schools of Atlantis toward the rising sun; and in the dim
and distant past, in those remoter periods of racial childhood, before material
struggles had crystallized the sensitiveness of the soul, it was the pure intuitional
recognition of the Written Law that constituted primitive religion.
Man is an epitome of the universe; is, in fact, a universe in miniature, built upon the
exact plan and proportions of the larger one. His component parts interact with one
another, even as do the orbs of nature; and they also interact with those larger bodies.
Man, in his ignorance, imagines himself an isolated unit; but as his vision expands,
he more and more recognizes the unity existing between himself and his divine
source; and between himself and the infinitude of other manifestations.
Can we wonder then, realizing the mystical relation that exists between the soul and
the stars, that a primitive people whose spiritual faculties were infinitely more
sensitive and active than our own, should formulate their system of religion to
conform to the heavenly bodies? They worshipped Deity by striving to learn and
obey His laws. The Heavenly Father was looked upon as a benefic being whose
mandates were to be obeyed, even as a child places loving confidence in the wisdom
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of its parents.
Observation had convinced these primitive races that everything of importance
occurred conformably to the position and movements of the heavenly bodies. The
recurrence of certain celestial phenomena always brought the rains of winter; other
positions ever heralded the time for sowing, and the time for harvest. The rivers
overflowed their banks when at dusk or dawn certain stars were in the ascendant; and
the tides of human life, as well as those of the sea, ebbed and flowed in obedience to
the dictates of the heavenly orbs. These children of nature worshipped Deity by
obedience to the dictates of nature. And it was only because they had become
convinced that it is God’s method of instructing His children that they bowed in
reverence to the Written Law.
Thus it need not surprise us to find the remnants of an Astronomical Religion in every
land. Being founded upon long ages of carefully tabulated facts, as well as subject to
searching verification by specially qualified souls, it constituted a Science as well as
a Religion. The qualities and interior principles of stellar influence were made the
subject of systematic study for centuries; and their correspondences were located,
both on the earth and in the human constitution. This religion was the worship of
nature’s laws.
In after years, when only a few could comprehend its scientific aspect because of
spiritual and mental degeneration due to cyclic changes, the result of these studies
was formulated into myths, each portraying the attributes and qualities of some
stellar orb or celestial phenomenon. Certain qualities ascribed to Deity in his
manifestations through the orbs and stars thus became the object of special worship
by some people. Fire worship, sex worship, serpent worship, all sprang from this
source; as well as the worship of mythological characters, who always portray with
accuracy the qualities of celestial bodies. It certainly would greatly surprise the
orthodox devotees of the twentieth century if they could but know how much of their
religion is borrowed, with little or no alteration, from astronomical worship.
Astronomy is the Written Law; and the Golden Key to its interpretation is Astrology.
This golden key is constructed strictly upon mathematical lines; is, in fact, the only
means of positively applying mathematics to the door of the past and future, and thus
minimizing the chance of error. The student ignorant of its use can never realize the
relation of his soul to the universe; nor comprehend astromasonry, astrotheology, nor
astromythology. The philosophy and religion of the ancients will be to him a
perplexing labyrinth; because they are founded upon the principles of astronomy and
astrology. It is by the use of this key alone that natural sympathies and antipathies
become understandable; and the cyclic locks that alike are found to guard men,
nations, worlds, and starry systems, are turned in their wards by the hand of the mind
only by its aid.
This golden key unlocks the door of positive knowledge in King Solomon’s Temple.
It reveals the why and wherefore of man’s past, present, and future condition. It is
mathematical certainty alike in religion, philosophy, and science; for it deals not with
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effects, but with causes. The alchemist who neglects the golden key will seek in vain
to transmute base metals into gold, and will fail utterly in producing the elixir vitae.
The physician ignorant of its use, be he homeopathic, allopathic, chiropractic,
osteopathic, mental scientist, christian scientist, or divine healer, will in many
instances receive unexpected results from his best efforts; because he fails to grasp
the inner magnetic relation of his patient, himself, and the method he employs. What
is one man’s poison is another’s cure; and this may be magnetic poison, or mental, as
well as physical; and these inner sympathies and antipathies only become recognized
through familiarity with the principles of astrology.
It is a generally accepted fact that nations rise and fall with rhythmic precision; but
such periods of ascension and decline can only be known by use of the golden key.
Our government may continue to endow meteorological stations with millions, but
the state of the weather will never be known more than a few days in advance until
they recognize this key; and man without its proper use will continue to grope in
darkness where spiritual facts are concerned.
The golden key alone made possible the wonderful cures wrought by Paracelsus, it
guided the mystic Jacob Boehme in the erection of a religious and philosophical
system; and in all past ages it has constituted the most reliable chart for those souls
who boldly attempted to sail the wide ocean of spiritual research. It has been the
means by which, at last, they have reached the haven of attainment.
But now let us again consider more primitive times. The intellectual and spiritual
condition of the world is, like all things manifest, subject to cyclic law; and there
have been recurring periods of comparative light and comparative darkness. After
the mental forces have spent themselves in any age, they begin to wane, and the race
declines into barbaric ignorance. When these periodic conditions of spiritual decline
set in, there is an effort made upon the part of the most enlightened to preserve their
knowledge for the few who will be able to appreciate it during the dark ages to
follow, those who will pass it on in substance to future generations when the spiritual
forces again rise in the world’s ascendant. Thus originated the Hermetic Schools
which are custodians of the Secret Doctrine.
The hierophants of these schools collect as many facts as possible relating to spiritual
things, and formulate them into allegorical systems suitable for communication by
word of mouth. In order that these mysteries shall not become entirely lost they are
frequently given, in part or as a whole, to the populace. Such allegories become the
religious doctrine of the multitude, and passing into writing may constitute a holy
book. Thus originated the Vedas, the Avesta, the Bible, and other sacred writings.
But as a rule, at their inception, these traditions have been transmitted orally, by word
of mouth, and thus are known to initiates as “The Oral Law.”
The Oral Law is the Secret Doctrine, and having been formulated by the Magi, it is
constructed in such a manner as to be incomprehensible to the vulgar, yet not difficult
of interpretation to one possessing its key. This key was explained only during the
course of initiation into the mysteries, after the recipient had proven indisputably his
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physical, intellectual, and moral integrity. And just here it may be well to digress
long enough to explain that, following in the literary custom, I use the masculine
pronoun in these lessons to include both sexes; for never has woman been barred
from membership and equal privileges with her brothers in any true Hermetic
School. The doors of Luxor, Rosicrucia, and The Brotherhood of Light, have ever
welcomed her.
But to proceed: This open sesame to all traditional knowledge exists at the present
day and has been recognized and used advantageously by a number of eminent
kabalists, mystics, and savants; but has received scant attention from those outside
the portals of certain secret societies. This Silver Key to the Oral Law is none other
than the Sacred Tarot, or Book of Thoth. From its pages the illuminated St. Martin
drew inspiration. Aided by, and in strict conformity to its revelations, the savant,
Eliphas Levi, wrote his truly marvelous work, The Dogma and Ritual of
Transcendental Magic. This key was held in the highest esteem by the erudite Count
de Gebelin; was the basis of William Postel’s Key of Things Kept Secret from the
Foundation of the World; and constituted the Ars Magna of Raymond Lully, by
which he claimed all problems might be solved. Lully was a profound kabalist, and
the crowning effort of his life was his philosophical wheel, or method of applying the
Not only do archaeologists find remnants of the golden key in all portions of the
world, but by their side fragments from the key of silver. The Book of Thoth, under
various names, was known to remotest antiquity. It was formulated by the same
master minds who peopled the starry heavens with mystic characters and forged the
golden key to their interpretation, to serve as the handmaiden to religious astrology.
Now the golden key has a stem of twenty-two symbols–twelve zodiacal signs and
ten planets. It has a ring of four decades–thirty-six decanates and four seasons of the
sun’s annual cycle. It has wards, consisting of the twelve mundane mansions and the
elemental ruler of each of the four quadrants, that turn in three worlds. In its action it
is masculine and positive.
The silver key is a duplicate of the one of gold, except that in its action it is feminine
and passive, thus bearing the same relation to the latter that woman bears to man. The
twenty-two Major Arcana of the Tarot each bear an exact correspondence to one of
the twelve zodiacal signs or ten planets and constitute an esoteric interpretation of
them. The forty numbered Minor Arcana bear a strict relation to the thirty-six
decanates and the four seasons of the sun’s annual cycle. The sixteen members of the
Tarot Court accurately describe the twelve mundane mansions and the elemental
ruler of each of the four quadrants.
In fact, the Tarot bears the same relation to astrology that the Moon bears to the Sun,
and even as the Sun illuminates the day, so does astrology shed its radiance upon the
more evident truths of occultism. But those deeper and more recondite mysteries
remaining in the shadow cast by objective existence would forever remain in the
dark, even as at night nothing is seen until the Moon has risen, were it not for the soft
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radiance of the silver key. It is true, the moon shines by borrowed light; yet we are
grateful for her rays. Just so the Tarot borrows her significance from her heavenly
spouse, astrology; yet she sheds an ever welcome illumination upon our darkest
mental paths.
Bearing this explanation in mind a much quoted passage from the Zohar, one of the
books of the Jewish Kabalah, becomes luminous. It runs thus: “At the death of Moses
the sun was eclipsed and the Written Law lost its splendor, and at the death of David
the moon diminished and the Oral Law was tarnished.”
Moses according to tradition–and the word kabalah means traditions–was raised
by the Egyptian Magi, and was initiated into the mysteries. Consequently he was
familiar with both astronomy and the kabalah, or the Written Law and the Oral Law;
and had been given the keys to their interpretation. In fact, the story of creation as
allegorically given in Genesis, when correctly interpreted, is capable of a
mathematical proof that harmonizes with the law of cycles as known to present day
initiates. Furthermore, the whole Pentateuch, by whomsoever written, teems with
thinly veiled references to astronomical cycles, laws, qualities, and movements. As
these references are found to coincide with observed phenomena, they indicate a
deep knowledge of astrology, the golden key, upon the part of their composer. So the
kabalists, having reference to the positive illuminating power of the golden key,
compared it to the sun. This sun, meaning astrology, was eclipsed at the death of
Moses. Its proper use was lost to the Jews; hence the Written Law, astronomy, lost its
splendor, or became meaningless. And this fact is confirmed by Bible study.
The silver key, the intuitional, feminine counterpart of astrology, was compared to
the moon, which diminished at the death of David. That is, the Jews were skilled in
the meaning and use of the Tarot down to the time of David, but at his death they lost
the final key to their mysteries, hence the Oral Law was tarnished. They yet retained
the Bible and the kabalah, but had lost the key to their interpretation; and when a part
of the latter finally was committed to writing, the ignorance of this key on the part of
its scribes gave to it a garbled form.
The ark of the covenant, which the Children of Israel ever carried with them was a
synthetic representation of the Tarot, or Book of Thoth. Now the silver key has wards
opening the three worlds of existence. Corresponding to these are the three stories of
the ark. The base was of square form to represent the physical world and the
alchemical kingdom of salt. Each of the two rings on either side, through which were
thrust the carrying poles, thus represents the number ten, the sacred emanations of the
Sephiroth. The four rings collectively represent the Sephiroth in all four of the
elemental realms, corresponding in this to the forty Minor Arcana of the Tarot. As
mind is superior to matter, the coffer just above the base corresponds to the
intellectual world and the alchemical kingdom of mercury. This is represented in the
Tarot by the human figures that constitute the Court Arcana. The divine world was
symbolized by the uppermost section, that region above the mercy seat. This
corresponds alchemically to the kingdom of sulphur, and in the Tarot is represented
by the twenty-two Major Arcana, typifying as they do the signs and planets of heaven
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whose influence is ever active upon both the lower forms of life and the actions of
In this ark were carried
the four symbolical suits of the Tarot. There was the golden
pot, or suit of cups. Aaron’s rod that budded represents the suit of scepters. The tables
of the covenant, or law, correspond to the suit of swords; and the mana contained in
the golden pot well symbolizes the suit of coins.
The cherubs at either end of the mercy seat typify in the divine world the
Father-Motherhood of God, in the intellectual world the rational and intuitional
methods of gaining knowledge, and in the physical world the positive and negative
forces of nature. Kabalists assert that it was between the wings of these cherubs that
the high priests consulted the Lord by means of Teraphim, Urim, Thummim, and by
Ephod; and such biblical mention as is made of the matter tends to confirm the
opinion. This method was none other than the use of the silver key, the sacred Tarot.
This is but one of the many examples that might be cited to show an early knowledge
of the silver key upon the part of the Hebrews; but their later writings, with some
exceptions, do not indicate the same familiarity with it. Ezekiel evidently recovered
it, for by its application alone can the mystic symbology of his writings be
intelligently interpreted. Daniel also evinces some knowledge of its use; and the
whole Apocalypse, whoever its author may have been, is based upon the Tarot. In
fact, each of the twenty-two chapters is an exemplification of one of the twenty-two
Major Arcana in its relation with the others, as applied to prophecy. Thus it well may
be said that at the death of David it was lost to the Jewish priesthood, yet it is equally
certain that afterwards it was recovered by some of the inspired prophets.
Not only the Bible but the sacred writings of other nations of antiquity may be
interpreted by use of the silver key; for their allegories came alike from a common
source, and have suffered minor alterations due to later environment. We may
confidently say, then, that no one can thoroughly understand the inner meaning of the
ancient sacred books who is ignorant of the Tarot. Or, stating it in the words of
Eliphas Levi we may say:
Without the Tarot, the magic of the ancients is a closed book, and it is impossible to
penetrate any of the great mysteries of the Kabalah.
We may be sure that the gigantic intellects who first discovered the Written Law, and
who formulated the Oral Law, perceived in nature a unity whose ever varying
manifestations are due to certain fundamental principles. The universe is but the
action and reaction of these principles under the dominion of one law, and this law
conforms strictly to mathematical relations. These mathematical relations once
discovered through observation of the Written Law, it was but a step to incorporate
them in the Oral Law. Likewise they are maintained in, and contribute to the value of,
the silver key.
The keen intuitions and spiritual perceptions of the ancient Magi enabled them to
formulate the exact correspondence between the soul and the stars. They likewise
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forged the golden key as a means of unlocking this realm of positive knowledge. But
the inner, more secret, intuitive interpretations; wherein they often exemplified the
personal experience of the soul in other realms than this, required a key of different
composition. Therefore, in its construction they employed the language of universal
symbolism. The silver key, constructed as a mathematical duplicate of its golden
counterpart, if intelligently applied, will not fail to open one of the principal doors to
King Solomon’s Temple.
In fact, the traditions of freemasonry aver that owing to the death of one of their grand
masters the master mason’s word was lost, and with it the key to certain of their
mysteries. At a later date, through an accidental discovery, the lost word and lost key
were recovered. This discovery is represented as the disinterment of the ark of the
covenant containing the four emblems that each mark one suit of the Tarot.
From the ark are taken, first the Book of Laws, and then four pieces of paper or scrolls
of parchment bearing the key to the characters of their mysteries. As has been
mentioned, the ark of the covenant is a symbolical synthesis of the Tarot. The Book
of Laws represents the Oral Law. The four scrolls of parchment signify the four
quadrants of the heavens upon which is inscribed the characters of the Written Law.
The master’s word is found upon the ark, covered with three squares, which are the
jewels of the three ancient grand masters. These jewels are astronomical measures,
and form a portion of the golden key.
Freemasonry undoubtedly is derived from the ancient mysteries of initiation. Each of
the first thirty-two degrees is founded upon one of the ten numbered Arcana, or one
of the twenty-two Major Arcana. The members of the lodge by whom the candidate
is surrounded are represented by the Court Arcana. The thirty-third degree is typified
in the Tarot by the mystic seal. These degrees also correspond to the thirty-three
chapters of the kabalistical book, Sephir Yetzirah, or Book of Formation, which,
founded upon the Tarot, has thirty-three chapters, and is explained by a commentary
entitled, “The Thirty-two Paths of Wisdom.” As masonic ritual is based upon the
Tarot, its esoteric meaning is only comprehensible when proper application is made
of the silver key.
Nor is the use of the silver key confined to revealing the mysteries of antiquity, for it
can advantageously be applied to the solution of all the problems of science and
Letters are absolute ideas; absolute ideas are numbers; numbers are perfect signs. In
reuniting ideas to numbers we can operate upon ideas as upon numbers and arrive at
the mathematics of truth.
Thus the possibilities of the Tarot are only limited by the
ability of its user. Its prevalent abuse as a divinatory instrument, it is true, has brought
it somewhat into disrepute. Yet while not denying the effectiveness of either the
golden key or the silver key in divination, I should not fail to emphasize that this is the
lowest plane of their usefulness, and that their application to spiritual matters will
yield the seeker far superior rewards for effort expended.
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Again to quote Levi in regard to the Tarot: “It is a truly philosophical machine, which
keeps the mind from going astray while leaving its initiative and liberty; it is
mathematics applied to the absolute, the alliance of the positive and the ideal, a
lottery of thought as exact as numbers, perhaps the simplest and grandest conception
of human genius.”
This is a stupendous thought. And lest the reader be given the impression that there is
something complex and difficult in the principle underlying the golden key and the
silver key, before bringing this lesson to a close, I shall risk introducing an element of
crudeness by descending from philosophical concepts to the most material and
commonplace matters of which, at the moment, I can think.
For the sake of illustration only, and admitting it to be rather an undignified example,
let us suppose that a man desired to build and furnish a dwelling.
He is confronted with purchasing quite an assortment of things, and it becomes
necessary to know how much of each to purchase, and what the cost will be. He must
have dimension lumber, siding, sheeting, brick, nails, sand, lime, plumbing fixtures,
and many other things in addition to paying for the labor. How is he to determine the
influence of this proposed dwelling upon his bank account?
Obviously, he can not merely visualize the house as built and furnished, and from
such a picture draw any accurate conclusions as to its complete cost. Nor will
visualizing the materials as brought together in crude piles assist him much.
Now lumber is sold by the board foot. Therefore, having recourse to mathematics, he
determines how many board feet of each kind of lumber are required. Then,
multiplying each kind by the price per foot for that kind, and adding together the
various prices so obtained he arrives at the cost of his lumber bill.
But brick, being sold by the thousand, cannot be computed in board feet. To find the
cost of the brick required he must multiply the number of thousand brick by the cost
per thousand.
Sand is sold neither by the thousand nor by the board foot, but by the yard. The
number of yards of sand required multiplied by the price per yard, therefore, gives
him the cost of the sand.
Nails, which are also required, are not sold by the thousand, nor by the yard, nor by
the board foot, but by the pound. Consequently, to find the cost of the nails he must
multiply the number of pounds of nails by the price per pound.
Without going into the details of other requirements; such as lime, sold by the barrel;
wall paper, sold by the roll; rugs, sold by the square foot; chinaware, sold by the
dozen; and skilled labor, sold by the hour; it is quite evident that an accurate estimate
of each requirement can only be made by first associating it with its own symbol of
commensuration. Nails cannot be computed by associating them with board feet, but
they can be computed by associating them, according to proper mathematical
principles, with pounds, which is their proper symbol of commensuration.
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Furthermore, when each requirement has been properly associated with its own
symbol of commensuration, and through this its cost calculated, by then adding
together the prices of these various items the cost of the completed dwelling may be
made known.
So much for boards, and nails, and chinaware, and the even more familiar
commodity, human labor.
But even as there is a symbol of commensuration for each of these common things,
by which alone its influence upon the bank account may be ascertained, so likewise is
there a symbol of commensuration for every object and force in the universe, by
which alone its true quality and influence may be made known. These are
astrological terms. As has been shown in an earlier lesson, everything, in its vibratory
rate, corresponds to some astrological quality. Even ideas and spiritual principles
have astrological correspondences. Therefore, by associating the symbol of its
astrological correspondence with anything we are using its own symbol of
commensuration; and much as board foot associated with lumber enables it to be
measured, so the astrological term enables us to form a just estimate of other things.
Furthermore, when things are associated with their proper astrological symbols, and
thus made commensurate, their influence upon each other or upon an individual may
be learned. When stated in astrological terms the most diverse matters become
commensurate. As nails and boards and sand and lime, when first made
commensurate by associating each with its own proper symbol, and that stating in
terms of dollars and cents, may thus be combined to give a total cost; so, by
associating them first with their own astrological symbols, and then stating in terms
of vibratory harmony and discord, the total influence upon human thought and life of
the most diverse things may be known.
Among the most potent of these diverse things to influence the course of human life
are invisible planetary rays. That we are unconscious of their power to influence us at
certain times to think and act in one way, and at another time to think and act in an
opposite manner, mitigates their influence not in the least. Is the sunflower, whose
face follows the course of the sun, aware that its movements are influenced by light?
Both plants and animals are continually influenced in their growth and behavior by
gravitation, yet what is gravitation? Animals and plants, both in growth and in
movement, respond markedly to changes in temperature. Subconsciously they may
be aware of the desire that leads to these various behaviors, as no doubt man is
subconsciously aware of the desire to act in a certain way because of his astral body
being stimulated by planetary vibrations. Objectively he merely experiences certain
impulses without knowing why. The moth does not know why it flies into the flame.
It flies into it because light has the power of stimulating it to fly in the direction of the
light. This tropism, as it is called, causes the moth to react to certain vibrations in a
specific way, and another tropism causes man to react to planetary influence in a way
that may not be dissimilar.
This, then, is the method incorporated into the two keys. They are constructed to
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reveal astrological correspondences and thus facilitate the use of the proper symbols
of commensuration. They are constructed to indicate, once the proper symbols have
been obtained, the influence of one thing or idea upon another. They include in their
composition such mathematics as is necessary to determine the total harmony and
discord, and hence the total influence, of the most diverse things when they are
brought together. They constitute a means of measuring both special and universal
In conclusion, I again state the words of Descartes, who, it may be mentioned, before
settling down to his final life work, roamed the whole of Europe in search of someone
who could initiate him into a secret occult fraternity; “Mathematics alone avoids
In this we find the greatest commendation for the use of both the golden key and the
silver key, for both conform to mathematical principles. And in no other field will the
student be so well rewarded for his labor, and less likely to become grounded in error,
than in applying to the macrocosm and the microcosm these two invaluable keys.
1. Hebrews 9.4.
2. Dogmas and Ritual of Transcendental Magic, by Eliphas Levi.

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