The Great North Trail is a major legacy of ancient man in the American West. It crosses through the United States from the Bering Strait to Tierra del Fuego and is thought to have been the major migration route of early peoples from Asia to the Americas. Along the trail are concentrations of petroforms, simple structures made of stone: circles, cairns, medicine wheels, and ceremonial enclosures. New data on the trail and these petroforms could reshape many of the currently accepted beliefs regarding their creation and function.
Though most traditional historians and archaeologists think that the varied arrangements of petroforms found along the trail signified a purely utilitarian function, they may be part of an indigenous science employing geometries of spiritual transcendence that were linked with the landscape. Similar technologies may have been used in the building of the Temple of Solomon and the Egyptian temples. An understanding of this technology could have been used to navigate spiritually—as well as physically—through the harsh environments following the last ice age about 10,000 years ago. This connection of a people with the landscape bears a similarity to aboriginal mythologies in other parts of the world. From Australia, to Africa, and the Americas, special mountains and hilltops are ritualized sacred sites on the landscape and are often marked with monuments of stone.
If an ancient science represented in the Great North Trail somehow emerged from the same prehistoric technologies of Europe and Asia, then this line of knowledge may have reconnected with the entrance of Masonic ideals into the American West. Freemasons have had a large presence in the affairs of the United States since its formation. This was especially so in the settling of the west. Masonic organizations formed in communities almost as soon as people gathered in a place. In Montana, the first Masonic meeting occurred atop the continental divide in 1862, on the eve of the gold rush to the territory. No record exists of what took place at the meeting, yet Masons soon would be involved in shaping the politics and economics of the Montana Territory. With the hangings of the sheriff of Bannock and other highway men by the vigilantes in the winter of 1863-64, the Masons initiated a dominant presence in the region. The landscape where the Great North Trail crosses through the west may have been chosen to be a contemporary stronghold of Masonic ideals. If so, why? Deep inside the core of Freemasonry there may be a link to sacred technologies of ancient man. To appreciate this connection we must leave the trail and take a daring look at the beginnings of the Masons of Montana, the Knights Templar, and Solomon’s Temple.
Present-day Freemasonry is a fraternal order whose basic tenets are brotherly love, philanthropy, and truth. This order is often thought to have originated around the 14th century in Scotland as an offshoot of the Knights Templar in response to the brutal crushing and dispersal of the Knights Templar by Philip IV of France in 1307.
One of the earliest documents relating to Freemasonry, however, the Cooke Manuscript of 1410, refers to the building of the Temple of Solomon as the true beginning of Freemasonry. King Solomon allowed the 80,000 Masons of the Temple their own order. It may have evolved earlier out of the Egyptian mysteries or farther back, to a time, as Harold Percival puts it, in Masonry and Its Symbols, “…when bodies first became male and female and the first temples were meant to be symbols of the human body.”
This last statement reveals a continuous source of inspiration that runs throughout most versions of Masonic his-tory—the use of the symbols and the geometry of Freemasonry, including the pillars of the Temple of Solomon, the all-seeing eye, the square, and the compass. These masonic symbols are even associated with important Masons in our recent history, such as George Washington and Meriwether Lewis. Lewis may have been the first Mason to cross the Great North Trail.
In King Solomon’s time the sacred geometry and symbols were essential to the Masons and the building of the Temple of Solomon. The esoteric significance of these geometries may encompass much more than our traditional concepts. To the ancient builders these geometries were intimately connected with the theologies of both Judaism and Islam, in which God was a unity. In The Temple and The Lodge, the authors Baigent and Leigh have this to say about this early geometry:
“If (the one) God was to be discerned in the creation at all, it was not in the multiplicity of forms, but in the unifying principles running through those forms and underlying them. In other words, God was to be discerned in the principles of shape—determined ultimately by the degrees in an angle—and by number. It was through shape and number, not by representation of diverse forms, that God’s glory was held to be manifest….
“The synthesis of shape and number is, of course, geometry. Through geometry, and the regular recurrence of geometric patterns, the synthesis of shape and number is actualized. Through the study of geometry, therefore, certain absolute laws appeared to become legible—laws which attested to an underlying order, an underlying design, an underlying coherence.”
It is these underlying principles that are thought to have been realized in the Temple of Solomon. The Temple was built as a repository of the Holy of Holies. Somehow the Masons had the ability to unify their spiritual understanding of the geometries with form to create the ultimate sanctuary. In this sanctuary they placed the Ark of the Covenant, the link between the people and their transcendence.
The geometries used by these early Masons were not only linked to their awareness of divinity but may have formed the basis of the letters used in their written and spoken languages. In the Hebrew tradition, among others, the letters of the alphabet actually are letters of creation, truly sacred. Rabbinic tradition says the letters were present prior to the events they were meant to record.
Recent discoveries indicate that early written languages may first have emerged as vehicles for transcendence before becoming language. Stan Tenen, of the Meru Foundation, has proposed that the combinations of the letters in texts may actually point to a record of transcendent experiences. These symbols, Tenen says, could be utilized to access subtle states of consciousness. In a lecture titled “Geometric Metaphors of Life,” he illustrated how the letters may be derived from geometrical forms that naturally unfold from two and three dimensions into what is termed the fourth dimension. His original interpretations of the texts show an embryonic process of something unfolding out of itself and regenerating, mirroring consciousness and life. This possesses startling similarities to quantum mechanics. Both mathematicians and meditating Rabbis report that if you turn a higher-dimensional object over in your mind you will have a transcendent experience.
Sacred geometries were not reserved for the high priests and magicians, but were accessible to the lay person. These geometries were in the sacred texts and chanted continuously throughout the year. They were encoded into the buildings and temples, and they were incorporated into the religious objects of everyday life. The symbols were pointers on a pathway leading to a higher dimension; they were geometries of consciousness.
How does this apply to modern Masonry? What if somehow the present practice of Masonry and its symbols were a veiled form of this ancient technology? All of the different incarnations of the Masonic school have shared certain principles for the foundation of their orders—moral conduct, higher human values, and the sanctified status of symbols. The Masons of Solomon’s time were actively linked to the regeneration of their spirituality in their one God. The Templars, who probably inherited a large part of this lineage, practiced ‘knightly virtues’ as well as conducting a large, mostly unknown esoteric practice. Modern Freemasonry is rooted in noble and honorable values. The Masons and Templars all have regarded their sacred symbols as incorruptible guideposts for initiates into the mysteries. The Masons and Templars were, to a greater or lesser degree, utilizing a geometry of consciousness.
Another important concept in these practices was the Holy Land. The earth was thought of as both sacred and powerful. The destination of the Israelites was the Holy Land where the Holy of Holies could reside in sanctuary. The quest for the Holy Land evolved alongside the Mason’s language and geometry; the importance of a Holy Land has continued throughout history. This quest may be an integral part of the sacred geometry that developed into the present-day Masonic landscape.
The Holy Land is usually thought of as a distinct place, i.e., Palestine; however, this may not necessarily be so. The land of the Hopi, the Aborigines, the Tibetans, also is considered Holy Land. A land is made ‘holy’ by connecting the psychic energies of a people with the energies of the earth. Anyone can experience these embedded spiritual energies by moving with directed intention into a landscape. The Aborigines of Australia recognize the mythological imaged in the landscape; their land is sanctified. Mythology, in this sense, is applied to convey ideas and experiences of multidimensional space that can’t be communicated using ordinary languages. This is similar to the esoteric significance of sacred geometries. Holy lands occur everywhere there is a sophisticated spiritual connection between a people and their land.
A tangible sense of approaching destiny seemed to exist in the early days of the West, as if the Masonic ideals of this country had merged with the ancient landscape of the western frontier. America was the new holy land. This feeling runs strong in the ideals of manifest destiny and the ‘American dream.’ The individual could attain the highest goals without the encumbrances of church or state. These ideas closely mirror the sacred teachings of Masonic consciousness and are incorporated into the fabric of our society—from the symbols on our money to our basic freedoms and rights.
When the Masons began activities on the frontier they may have been intentionally setting the stage for a continuation of their ideals, yet their attempts also brought the old conflicts. In 1738, Pope Clement XII had issued a papal bull condemning and excommunicating all Freemasons whom he pronounced “enemies of the Roman Church.” The ongoing power struggle between the Masons/Templars and the Church of Rome may also have been present in the vigilante activities on the Western frontier. The Masons were strongly represented in the vigilantes of Montana, and may have been the controlling influence among them.
Are we saying that the vigilantes knew the sacred geometries of transcendence and were fighting a righteous war for the advancement of mankind? It is not likely. The present-day Masons insist they are not a spiritual organization and that they are not actively involved in geometric mysticism. If there were, however, a few individuals who were conversant with the sacred geometries of Masonry, they possibly could orchestrate events from a distance.
Even if such people don’t exist, the symbols of these sacred geometries are available to everyone. If they represent an embryonic process that unfolds, automatically and naturally, out of itself, then the information is encoded within these symbols, and is accessible to all. Masonry is one of the largest organizations in the world actively promoting the use of these symbols. It is so large that it seems impossible there could be one ruling body. It is more likely that the information encoded in the symbols is strong enough, by itself, to affect people’s hearts.
What is it about land that is so important? Many people have a vague feeling that the natural landscape is somehow sanctified. This is played out when people move to these areas to ‘get back to the land’ and rediscover themselves. Is it just a feeling when it moves someone to redirect their life? Stan Tenen says that “an experience of the fourth dimension is a feeling”; thus all information, perceived physically and intellectually, combines to redirect consciousness from the ordinary into non-ordinary experience. Though they might seem insignificant, the power of subtle forces may have a profound influence on our lives, whether they come from landscapes, sacred symbols or other mysteries.
Ancient man moved through this landscape and left the geometries of their science behind. The Great North Trail could be a sacred path, where magic circles define the temenos, a holy place, or sanctuary. Whether the Holy of Holies is an actual treasure guarded by Templar/Masons or a spiritual treasure (the knowledge of transcendence made possible by the use of a sacred geometry), it is a vital part of our identity as spiritual beings in the metaphoric landscape of potential, discovery and understanding. Perhaps the Holy of Holies is here now, awaiting transformation of human consciousness.
Special thanks to Troy Holter as contributing editor. Patrick Marsolek is a researcher in Helena, MT.