from the book "The Lost keys of Freemasonry or The Secret of Hiram Abiff"
by Manly Palmer Hall.
In a rare, unpublished old manuscript dealing with early Masonic and Hermetic mysteries, we find the following information concerning the mysterious Universal Agent referred to as "Chiram" (Hiram) :
The sense of this Emerald Tablet can sufficiently convince us that the author was well acquainted with the secret operations of Nature and with the secret work of the philosophers (alchemists and Hermetists). He likewise well knew and believed in the true God.
It has been believed for several ages that Cham, one of the sons of Noah, is the author of this monument of antiquity. A very ancient author, whose name is not known, who lived several centuries before Christ, mentions this tablet, and says that he had seen it in Egypt, at the court; that it was a precious stone, an emerald, whereon these characters were represented in bas-relief, not engraved.
He states that it was in his time esteemed over two thousand years old, and that the matter of this emerald had once been in a fluidic state like melted glass, and had been cast in a mold, and that to this flux the artist had given the hardness of a natural and genuine emerald, by (alchemical) art.
The Canaanites were called the Phoenicians by the Greeks, who have told us that they had Hermes for one of their kings. There is a definite relation between Chiram and Hermes.
Chiram is a word composed of three words, denoting the Universal Spirit, the essence whereof the whole creation does consist, and the object of Chaldean, Egyptian, and genuine natural philosophy, according to its inner principles or properties. The three Hebrew words Chamah, Rusch, and Majim, mean respectively Fire, Air, and Water, while their initial consonants, Ch, R, M, give us Chiram, that invisible essence which is the father of earth, fire, air and water; because, although immaterial in its own invisible nature as the unmoved and electrical fire, when moved it becomes light and visible; and when collected and agitated, becomes heat and visible and tangible fire; and when associated with humidity it becomes material. The word Chiram has been metamorphosed into Hermes and also into Herman, and the translators of the Bible have made Chiram by changing Chet into He; both of these Hebrew word signs being very similar.
In the word Hermaphrodite, (a word invented by the old philosophers), we find Hermes changed to Herm, signifying Chiram, or the Universal Agent, and Aphrodite, the passive principle of humidity, who is also called Venus, and is said to have been produced and generated by the sea.
We also read that Hiram (Chiram), or the Universal Agent, assisted King Solomon to build the temple. No doubt as Solomon possessed wisdom, he understood what to do with the corporealized Universal Agent. The Talmud of the Jews says that King Solomon built the temple by the assistance of Shamir. Now this word signifies the sun, which is perpetually collecting the omnipresent, surrounding, electrical fire, or Spiritus Mundi, and sending it to us in the planets, in a visible manner called light.
This electrical flame, corporealized and regenerated into the Stone of the Philosophers, enabled King Solomon to produce the immense quantities of gold and silver used to build and decorate his temple.
These paragraphs from an ancient philosopher may assist the Masonic student of today to realize the tremendous and undreamed-of shire of knowledge that lies behind the allegory which he often hears but seldom analyzes. Hiram, the Universal Agent, might be translated Vita the power eternally building and unfolding the bodies of man.
The use and abuse of energy is the keynote to the Masonic legend; in fact, it is the key to all things in Nature. Hiram, as the triple energy, one in source but three in aspect, can almost be called ether, that unknown hypothetical element which carries the impulses of the gods through the macrocosmic nervous system of the Infinite; for like Hermes, or Mercury, who was the messenger of the gods, ether carries impulses upon its wings. The solving of the mystery of ether - or, if you prefer to call it vibrant space - is the great problem of Masonry. This ether, as a hypothetical medium, brings energy to the three bodies of thought, emotion, and action, in this manner Chiram, the one in essence, becoming three in aspect - mental, emotional, and vital. The work which follows is an effort to bring to light other forgotten and neglected elements of the Masonic rites, and to emphasize the spirit of Hiram as the Universal Agent.
Freemasonry is essentially mysterious, ritualistic, and ceremonial, representing abstract truth in concrete form. Earth (or substance) smothering energy (or vitality) is the mystery behind the murder of the Builder.
Table of Contents of the rest of this book:
In the Fields of Chaos
The Eternal Quest
The Entered Apprentice
The Fellow Craft
The Master Mason
The presence of the Master
Epilogue of the Priest of Ra
The Emerald Table of Hermes (Tabula Smaragdina)
Finish of the Tabula Smaragdina