The so-called founder of Freemasonry was the semi-mythological character Hiram Abiff. His story is detailed in Masonic rituals concerning the Master Mason degree:
SD: My Brother, heretofore you have represented a candidate in search of Light. Now you represent a character, none less a personage than our Grand Master Hiram Abif, who was the Grand Architect at the building of King Solomonís Temple. It was the usual custom of this great and good man, at high twelve, when the Craft was called from labor to refreshment, to enter the Sanctum Sanctorum, or Holy of Holies, there to offer up his adorations to Deity and draw his designs on the Trestle-board. This you have done. He would then retire by the South gate, as you will now do.
R #1: Grand Master Hiram, I am glad to meet you thus alone; long have I sought this opportunity. You promised us that when the Temple was completed we should receive the secrets of a Master Mason, whereby we could travel in foreign countries and receive wages as such. Behold! The Temple is about completed, and we have not received what we strived for. At first I did not doubt your veracity, but now I do. I therefore demand of you the secrets of a Master Mason.
SD: Craftsman, this is neither a proper time nor place; wait until the Temple is completed, then, if found worthy, you shall receive them; otherwise you can not.
R #1: Talk not to me of time nor place. Now is the time, and here is the place; none other will satisfy me. I therefore demand of you the secrets of a Master Mason.
SD: Craftsman, I can not give them.
R #1: Grand Master Hiram, for the third and last time I demand of you the secrets of a Master Mason. SD: Craftsman, I can not, and will not, give them. SD: He then fled, and attempted to pass out at the west gate, as you will now do.
R #2: Grand Master Hiram, most of the Craft are weary, and many are exceedingly anxious to receive the secrets of a Master Mason, and we can see no good reason why we are put off so long; and some of us have determined to wait no longer. I therefore demand of you the secrets of a Master Mason.
SD: Craftsman, why this violence? I can not give them, neither can they be given, except in the presence of Solomon, King of Israel; Hiram, King of Tyre; and myself.
R #2: Grand Master Hiram, your life is in danger. All the avenues of the Temple are securely guarded; escape is impossible. I therefore demand of you the secrets of a Master Mason.
SD: Craftsman, I shall not give them. Wait with patience for the proper time.
R #2: Grand Master Hiram, I again, and for the last time, demand of you the secrets of a Master Mason, or your life.
SD: My life you can have; my integrity, never!
SD: He then fled and attempted to make his exit out at the east gate, as you will now do.
Ruffian #3: Grand Master Hiram, I have heard your caviling with Jubela and Jubelo. From them you have escaped; but from me - never! My name is Jubelum. What I purpose, that I perform. I hold in my hand an instrument of death. If you refuse me now, you do so at your peril. I say, give me the secrets of a Master Mason, or I will take your life.
SD: Craftsman, I have often refused you and shall always refuse you when accosted in this manner. Your demands are vain.
R #3: Grand Master Hiram, I for the second time demand of you the secrets of a Master Mason.
SD: Craftsman, your demands are vain. I shall not give them.
R #3: Grand Master Hiram, I for the third and last time demand of you the secrets of a Master Mason.
SD: And I, for the third time, refuse you. (Jubelum then strikes the Cand across the forehead, he is caused to fall backward into a large canvas that he can be carried in.)
R #1: What have we done?
R #2: We have slain our Grand Master Hiram Abif. What shall we do with the body?
R #3: Let us carry it into a remote corner, and bury it in the rubbish of the Temple. (Having done so): Now let us retire until low twelve, when we will meet here again.
SOLILOQUY: R #3 (Jubelum):
At last, the awful deed is done; here, cold and mute, wrapped in the icy cloak of death, the Master sleeps. No more the pageantry of pomp and power. No more the Craftsmen hastening to perform his deep design. No more the Temple rising proudly on its hill and beckoning Heaven itself to smile upon its stately columns. No more shall he these high ambitions gratify.
Oh Death, untimely, yet Oh timely Death.
Wrested from earth while yet his honors clustered; before the breath of calumny had stained, or slander marred the worth of his achievements, he is fallen; yielding up his life ere he would betray his sacred trust; surrendering all - all that life holds dear - power, wealth, everything - yet holding fast to his Masonic faith.
Oh, daring loyalty; Oh, fortitude most grand. For him in coming time shall countless thousands sound his name and sing his praise, who death preferred, than faithless prove, than trust betray. Yet, kept so well, his secret stands revealed and in his death I read it thus: Truth - Honor - Fortitude.
But hark. The temple bell rings out the midnight hour. Come now, my comrades, let us haste away and bear with us, where-ere we go, the heavy burden of remorse.
R #1: This is the hour.
R #2: This is the place.
R #3: And here is the body. Assist me to carry it in a due west course from the Temple to the brow of a hill, where I have dug a grave six feet deep east and west and six feet perpendicular, in which we will bury it.
R #3: I will set this sprig of acacia at the head of the grave, that the place may be known should occasion every require it. Now, let us make our escape by way of Joppa, out of the country.
The Acacia plant is a symbol of death and ressurection. As the Masonic ritual continues, the three murderers are caught and King Solomon has them killed.
Hiram Abiff is called the "Great Architect of the Temple of Solomon". Graham Hancock, in The Sign and the Seal, quotes from the book Isaac Newton: The Last Sorceror, saying that Isaac Newton (a well known member of the Priory of Sion) believed that the Temple of Solomon was symbolic of the Universe, and that decoding it would let one know the mind of God.
The Masons refer to God as the "Architect of the Universe". Hiram Abiff was called the "Architect of Solomon's Temple", but if Solomon's Temple was symbolic of the universe, then Hiram Abiff is the "Architect of the Universe"!
There is one Egyptian god that is associated with the "Architect of the Universe", and that is Ptah.
"Although Ptah later became identified also as god of the death, his earlier role as creator continued to be the strongest aspect of his divinity. As the high god of Memphis, he was declared the master of destiny. It is he who imparts to the phenomenal world the character of an established order, valid for all time. In Abydos, in the temple of Seti I, he is called 'he who has created maat' - that is, divine order. Herein lies his special identity with the king, who, in the Egyptian view, embodied that divine order. Just as the creator god rules as king in a cosmic sense, is son, the pharaoh, is established on earth to rule mankind. Their kinship serves to connect the two realms and to sanctify the land of Egypt over which the pharaoh rules."
- An Encyclopedia of Archetypal Symbolism
Ptah, as a solar god, "died and rose again, and this became the resurrection, and the way into a future life as the founder of Egyptian eschatology. Atum, son of Ptah likewise became a voluntary sacrifice as the source of life. The father who was blended with the mother in Atum, is portrayed as the creator of mankind by the shedding of his own blood [in cutting his member]....Later, this was ritually done to Attis, Adonis, Tammuz, Bacchus, Dionysus, all facsimiles of Osiris, all castrated on the tree of life, their testicles still glittering on today's Yuletide trees."
- Peter Tompkins, The Magic of Obelisks
Ptah being equated with Osiris is interesting, because the story of Osiris is almost identical to the story of Hiram Abiff. The Golden Dawn, a masonic order descended from the Rosicrucian Order of the Rosy Cross, has their own version of Hiram Abiff named Christian Rosenkreutz. Just as Hiram was the founder of Freemasonry, Christian Rosenkreutz was the founder of the Rosicrucians. In an article entitled "The Real Tomb of God: The Grail, The Ark, the Emerald Tablet, and the Forgotten Father of Mankind", Tracy Twyman writes:
But are there any other clues to indicate that this Rosenkreutz story may be a part of a much older tradition? A telling example can be found in the Adeptus Minor ritual of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. In this ritual the aspirant is made to pretend that he is in fact the discoverer of Rosenkreutz's tomb. The Chief Adept plays the role of the dead Rosenkreutz, and at the height of the ceremony, is resurrected again. It is the Golden Dawn's version of the Masonic Hiram Abiff ritual, and that is important, for just as Hiram Abiff has been associated by the Masons with Osiris, and the Egyptian rituals that also involved feigned death and resurrection, so is Rosenkreutz in this ritual likened to Osiris as well. A quote from the ritual reads: "This place was entitled by our still more ancient fratres and sorores the Tomb of Osiris Onnophris, the Justified One."
The whole story of Hiram Abiff's death is similar to Osiris's. In the story of Osiris, Osiris is killed by Set, and his son Horus, a son god, avenges him by killing Set. In Freemasonry, Hiram Abiff is murdered by three murderers wanting the divine secrets, and King Solomon avenges him by killing the murderers. In fact, Solomon can be read as Sol-Mon, or "Sun Man", reminding us of Horus's status as a sun god.
According to Herodotus, the Greek version of Osiris was Dionysus. Interestingly, there was a secret society of Architect's called "The Dionysian Architects". Manly P. Hall says of them:
"The Dionysiac Architects constituted an ancient secret society, its principles and doctrines much like the modern Freemasonic Order. They were an organization of builders bound together by their secret knowledge of the relationship between the earthly and the divine sciences of architectonics. They were supposedly employed by King Solomon in the building of his Temple, although they were not Jews, nor did they worship the God of the Jews, being followers of Bacchus and Dionysos. The Dionysiac Architects erected many of the great monuments of antiquity. They possessed a secret language and a system of marking their stones. They had annual convocations and sacred feasts. The exact nature of their doctrines is unknown. It is believed that Hiram Abiff was an initiate of this society."
We've now come in a full circle! We started off examing the story of Hiram Abiff, which lead us to Ptah, then to Osiris, then to Dionysus, and now back to Hiram Abiff!
It also seems that the Dionysian Architects were the forerunners of Freemasonry:
"They made their appearance certainly not later than 1000 B.C., and appear to have enjoyed particular privileges and immunities. They also possessed secret means of recognition, and were bound together by special ties only known to themselves. The richer of this fraternity were bound to provide for their poorer brethren. They were divided into communities, governed by a Master and Wardens and called (connected houses). They held a grand festival annually, and were held in high esteem. Their ceremonials were regarded as sacred. It has been claimed that Solomon, at the instance of Hiram, King of Tyre, employed them at his temple and palaces. There were also employed at the construction of the Temple of Diana at Ephesus. The had means of intercommunication all over the then known world, and from them, doubtless, sprang the guilds of the Traveling Masons known in the Middle Ages."
"The Roman Collegia of skilled architects were apparently a subdivision of the greater Ionian body, their principles and organization being practically identical with the older Ionian institution. It has been suspected that the Dionysians also profoundly influenced early Islamic culture, for part of their symbolism found its way into the Mysteries of the dervishes. At one time the Dionysians referred to themselves as Sons of Solomon, and one of the most important of their symbols was the Seal of Solomon - two interlaced triangles. This motif is frequently seen in conspicuous parts of Mohammedan mosques. The Knights Templars... are believed to have contacted these Dionysian artificers and to have introduced many of their symbols and doctrines into medieval Europe."
David Wood mentions Hiram Abiff, in his book GenIsis: The First Book of Revelations:
"The birth of Cain...is ascribed to a union of Satan and Eve." Hiram Abiff, the architect of the metal objects in the Temple of Solomon, "descended from the line of Cain through Tubal-Cain who, with his son, was said to be the only survivor of the superior race after the flood. That race, we are told was, or was created by, the Elohim, 'the serpent people', those of the fire snake."[/quote]
"Yahweh sent fiery serpents among the people and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died. And the people came to Moses, and said, 'We have sinned, for we have spoken against Yahweh and against you; pray to Yahweh, that he may take away the serpents from us.' So Moses prayed for the people. And Yahweh said to Moses, 'Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and every one who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live.' So Moses made a bronze serpent, and set it on a pole; and if a serpent bit any man, he could look and the bronze serpent and live."
- Numbers 21:5-9
"...This tale was derived from the so-called Elohim (E) text of c. 750 B.C., and was apparently the origin legend designed to account for the serpent-god of bronze that was in those days worshipped in the Temple of Jerusalem, together with certain images of his Canaanite goddess-spouse, Aherah."
- Joseph Campbell, Creative Mythology
Osiris/Ptah/Dionysus was often equated with Cain, and here David Wood links Hiram Abiff to both Cain, and the Serpent People of the Elohim!
Regards, Beau Berger