Introductory notes to the electronic edition

This book provides a background necessary to understand elements of the Golden Dawn and O.T.O. initiations, particularly in matters like the inclusion of the Samothracian deities in the former and the details of the lower and middle degrees for the latter. The Western Occult Revival is documented in it’s origins.

Yarker’s thesis is to demonstrate universal and indigenous initiation in symbol and legend throughout the history and places of the world; and, by relating the meanings and practices of ancient and modern Masonry (through the 19th century), to disclose the universal content of the rites and mysteries. The author is more skeptical than most, and there is a distinct flavor of Frazier in the style of presentation. Many Christian traditions are presented in great detail and multiple example to be ignorant glosses of the ancient mysteries.

Theories of lost continents are briefly propounded with open mind, some dated by limits of scholarship of the period: e.g. Yarker did not know that Polynesians traveled thousands of miles by ship, that mid oceanic sea floors spread, etc.

Theosophical legends are used with more restraint than was common in the period.

”Aryan” is used for an imaginary race, common in the period but not as later. “Learned” racist stereotypes of the period are perpetuated, but with considerable more restraint than in other contemporaries. At the time of writing, race and culture were muddled concepts. Since universal “Masonry” is the subject of this work, “Aryan” is better understood in most instances as “possessed of the secrets of illumination” or some such concept.

There is occasional and excessive dependence on philology for evidence, also common in the period of authorship.

In the last chapters of the book, Yarker defends variant Masonry on the grounds of the United Grand Lodge of England being ignorant of many traditions and indifferent to older charters. “York” masonry is upheld as being more traditional.

The Arian and Cabiric races taken for granted in this book are fictional, though based on far more limited actual ancient cultures. At the period in which this work was written, a racist theory of world civilization was current. This theory culminated in anti-Semitism and ultimate atrocity in the second quarter of the 20th century. Caution should be exercised by the reader to distinguish the later excesses of Arianism from the altitude of Yarker’s book. European scholars of the time were themselves a development of history, as such remain today. These racist theories of world history stem, in part, from the earlier religious belief in the age of the world as roughly 5,000 years. For so short a span, a universal and simplistic view of history is a natural concept. With the modern discovery of several millions of years for human tenure alone, a more diverse genesis of history is appropriate. For “Arian”, take empire-building conquerors and invaders. For “Cabiric”, take indigenous pagans or settled people of the soil. The latter is sometimes associated with “natural religion” by Yarker. The various theories and dates must be further adjusted in light of modern archaeology and ethnology.

Scholars and students of European literature will find unusual value in the work. How else may we understand stray references like: “We should look like the two sons of Aymon, who had lost their brother.” — from Chapter XXVIII of “The Three Musketeers” of Alexandre Dumas?

(Spelling varies in the original text for some names and common words. Punctuation also varies from contemporary norms, perhaps representing the oratorical style of breaking long passages more than error in usage. Original typos are also common. An alphabetical list of variant spellings is available for this text.)

— Bill Heidrick