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Assassins of the Third Degree

There is in Freemasonry a legend of certain unworthy Craftsmen who entered into a conspiracy to extort from a distinguished Brother a secret of which he was the possessor. The legend is altogether symbolic, and when its symbolism is truly comprehended, becomes a surpassingly beautiful. By those who look at it as having the pretension of an historical fact, it is sometimes treated with indifference, and sometimes considered an absurdity.

But it is not thus that the legends and symbols of Freemasonry must be read, if we would learn their true spirit. To behold the goddess in all her glorious beauty, the veil that conceals her statue must be withdrawn. Masonic writers who have sought to interpret the symbolism of the legend of the conspiracy of the three assassins, have not agreed always in the interpretation, although they have finally arrived at the same result, namely, that it has a spiritual signification. Those who trace Speculative Freemasonry to the ancient solar worship, of whom Ragon may be considered as the exponent, find in this legend a symbol of the conspiracy of the three winter months to destroy the life-giving heat of the sun.

Those who, like the disciples of the Rite of Strict Observance, trace Freemasonry to a Templar origin, a explain the legend as referring to the conspiracy of the three renegade knights who falsely accused the Order, and thus aided King Philip and Pope Clement to abolish Templarism, and to slay its Grand Master. Hutchinson and Oliver, who labored to give a Christian interpretation to all the symbols of Freemasonry, referred the legend to the crucifixion of the Messiah, the type of which is, of course, the slaying of Abel by his brother Cain.

Others, of whom the Chevalier Ramsay has been set forth as the leader, sought to give it a political significance; and, making Charles I the type of the Builder, symbolized Cromwell and his adherents as the conspirators.

The Masonic scholars whose aim has been to identify the modern system of Freemasonry with the Ancient Mysteries, and especially with the Egyptian, which they supposed to be the germ of all the others, interpret the conspirators as the symbol of the Evil Principle, or Typhon, slaying the Good Principle, or Osiris; or, when they refer to the Zoroastic Mysteries of Persia, as Ahriman contending against Ormuzd.

Lastly, in the Philosophic Degrees, the myth is interpreted as signifying the war of Falsehood, Ignorance, and Superstition against Truth. Of the supposed names of the three Assassins, there is hardly any end of variations, for they materially differ in all the principal rites. Thus, we have Jubela, Jubelo, and Jubelum in the York and American Rites. In the Adonhiramite system we have Romvel, Gravelot, and Abiram. Romvel has been claimed as a corruption of Cromwell. In the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite we find the names given in the old rituals as Jubelum Akirop, sometimes Abiram, Jubelo Romvel, and Jubela Gravelot. Schterke and Oterfut are in some of the German rituals, while other Scottish rituals have Abiram, Romvel, and Hobhen. In all these names there is manifest corruption, and the patience of many Masonic scholars has been well-nigh exhausted in seeking for some plausible and satisfactory derivation.

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