Pythagorean Views of Divinity

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
 James E. Frey

Pythagoras in the School of Athens by Raphael 1509 CE

“One of them who had fallen upon sickness and poverty was kindly taken in by an innkeeper. Before dying he traced a few mysterious signs (the pentagram, no doubt)on the door of the inn and said to the host, ‘Do not be uneasy, one of my brothers will pay my debts.’ A year afterwards, as a stranger was passing by this inn he saw the signs and said to the host, ‘I am a Pythagorean; one of my brothers    died here; tell me what I owe you on his account.” Edouard Schure, (Pythagoras and the Delphic Mysteries)
My Brethren, at the heart of Masonic teachings is the development of a sense of inner divinity, or the mason’s individual connection to God. As masons we represent this connection through the proper application of the builders tools on our individual self’s and how this impacts the sacred geometry of the universe. Similarly Pythagoras saw the Nature of God as being represented in two ways. The First was the universe, the planetary configurations that if understood, revealed the nature of God’s connection to nature. He also saw God in the image of man, which he saw as the reflection of God. In man’s consciousness was the microcosm of the heavens. It was through the study of geometry, music, and astronomy lead to a rational understanding of God, Man, and Nature.

Many initiates came seeking admission to his school and each was tested on these three subjects and if not found satisfactory was promptly removed, for none destitute of geometry could enter through their doors. The initiate would then take a vow of silence for five years to learn and ponder the inner mysteries of the self. Pythagoras warned his disciples to never pray for things from the gods, because no man knows what is good for themselves, only God knows. 

The God of Pythagoras was called Monad, which is described as the One in who exists everything. He thought of God as a Supreme Mind, which distributed itself throughout all parts of the universe. It was within this mind the will to cause all possibility occurs. The intelligence of all life and the power within all things comes from this will. Pythagoras saw God as represented by astrological occurrences, similar to the cycle of the Sun. He also perceived the motion of God to be circular in nature, representing the inestimable unity of divinity. 

Pythagoras saw the body of God to be composed of the substance of light, and the nature of God to be composed of the substance of truth. He declared that in Nature the divine presence was a platonic love for all. This love of God for men is also the love of the soul for the body. This love is the expression of the universe so any bond or relationship without love was bondage for the individual. Pythagoras believed the basis of relationships was mental rather than physical, so emotional and intellectual bonds were nobler to establish then physical ones.

Pythagoras defined knowledge as “the fruitage of mental accumulation.” He believed that knowledge was mostly obtained through observations and logical approach. Pythagoras defined wisdom as the understanding of the source or cause of all things or a more intuitive approach. This transition from knowledge to wisdom could be secured by lifting the intellect to a point where it instinctively recognized the invisible hand or spirit manifested through the material world. This occurred when an individual became formec a connection with the spirit of things rather than with their physical forms. The ultimate source that wisdom could recognize was the Monad, the mysterious permanent atom of the Pythagoreans.

Pythagoras taught that both man and the universe were made in the image of God; so the understanding of one lead to the knowledge of the other. He further taught that there was a constant unity between the Grand Man, or the universe, and man, the internal universe or individual consciousness. Pythagoras viewed the celestial energies were conscious and existed in the forms of the planets and stars. He thought that these planetary bodies were enclosed the souls, minds, and spirits of the spiritual energies, but also that the material human form is the vesicle for an invisible spiritual energy. So an individual’s soul in reality is the true conscious individual. 

As Masons this teaching of the relation to the material world and heavens is represented in the two pillars one toped with the material earth, one with the astrological correspondences. This relates to a large variety of symbolism concerning man’s relation to God. Pythagoreans observed the planets as deities, which manifested throughout different cultures. These deities were manifestations of Monad, each being worthy of adoration and worship. All these deities were subservient to the Monad within whom they exist, as mortality exists in the midst of immortality. This is a vital lesson of masonry that the immortal spirit is bound in the material form. This was symbolic of the nature of duality within God. This sense of duality was signified by the famous Pythagorean Υ which was adopted from his time in Egypt. 

It is said in the time of the Egyptian Mysteries Pythagoras as the candidate was instructed to proceed down a long narrow hallway, which forked into two directions represented by two female priestesses. The first priestess was set with an actual choice between his lower and higher natures. The first priestess to the right represented Divine Wisdom veiled with the white robes of the temple, urged the him to enter into the halls of learning; the other to the left representing Earthly Wisdom was decorated with jewels and dressed in a seductive manner in her hands she had tray loaded with grapes. This false light and earthly treasures which sought to lure him away from the light of wisdom into the chambers of debauchery and sensation. From this experience Pythagoras adopted the Y, which represented the power of choice or free will and was used in the Mysteries as emblematic of the Forking of the Ways. 

“The central stem separated into two parts, one branching to the right and the other to the left. The branch to the right was called Divine Wisdom and the one to the left Earthly Wisdom. Youth, personified by the candidate, walking the Path of Life, symbolized by the central stem of the Υ, reaches the point where the Path divides. The neophyte must then choose whether he will take the left-hand path and, following the dictates of his lower nature, enter upon a span of folly and thoughtlessness which will inevitably result in his undoing, or whether he will take the right-hand road and through integrity, industry, and sincerity ultimately regain union with the immortals in the superior spheres.” Manly P. Hall (The Secret Teachings of All Ages, 1928)


James E Frey, 32° is a Past Sovereign Prince and current librarian of Valley of Danville AASR. Founder of the R.E.B.I.S Research Society he sits on two Blue Lodge Education committees as well as a guest lecturer on Occultism and Esoteric studies in masonry. He is also a Member of the Oak Lawn York Rite, Medinah Shriners, and Golden Dawn Collegium Spiritu Sancti. He also works as a counselor with emotionally and behaviorally challenged children. 

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