Thoughts on Solomon’s Temple
Copyright 2011 James Wasserman
The Temple of Solomon is the metaphysical center of human incarnation. It lies at the spiritual heart of the Bible and, therefore, of Western Culture. It is, further, the primary archetype of all esoteric societies and occult motifs within the Mystery Traditions.
Strong words indeed, but consider: The Temple was built upon the Foundation Stone of the World, the Rock upon which Abraham was to have sacrificed Isaac at God’s command. Instead, Abraham was found worthy after demonstrating his willingness to surrender to the Divine. He was allowed to substitute a ram for his beloved son and thus reformed the ancient world’s practice of human sacrifice, at least among the Jews.
The Foundation Stone is also believed to have been the location of the Garden of Eden where the first humans walked with God—divine consciousness being an implicit reality rather than the central goal of all religious and spiritual aspiration and hermetic practice and doctrine as it has been since.
Before Eden, the Rock of Ages is said to have been the point of coalescence of that ray of Light which burst forth from Heaven, traveling through Space, until it mysteriously transformed itself into Matter, creating the pinpoint of Substance upon which the three-dimensional world was born. The point grew, first to become the Rock upon Mount Moriah in Jerusalem, then expanding outward to create the Earth upon which we move today.
The Edenic state of unity serves as the central theme of the Bible. Adam and Eve were seduced by the Serpent to taste of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and become as gods. They were then cast forth into the plane of material life, forced to earn their bread by the sweat of their brows. The long path through Western scripture after the Fall is a search for the means of reclaiming divine unity.
The Bible catalogs mankind’s quest through a series of tales. We find God’s people enslaved in Egypt. After several startling and tragic demonstrations of God’s power, the Jews are free to leave their state of bondage. In their journey to the Promised Land, the Lord repeatedly demonstrates His omnipotence.
Moses ascends Mount Sinai where the voice and hand of the Lord deliver the Law upon which Western culture is built. While the Ten Commandments may now be considered too dangerous to be displayed on public property—at least in the U.S.—they have formed the bedrock of the legal and ethical codes of our civilization for the last 3,500 years. Spiritual Masters from Moses to Jesus to Aleister Crowley have built their systems of attainment on certain basic principles of moral behavior that preclude, lying, stealing, murder, and envy. In addition, they each incorporate ritualized activities that affirm respect for and allegiance to the central reality of the cosmic quest—namely the existence of Higher Consciousness upon which the spiritual quest is predicated—“I am the Lord thy God.”
After the Lord inscribed the Commandments on the two stone tablets, Moses returned to his people. They had rejected the path of spiritual self-discipline and fallen to the temptation of the golden calf (the modern equivalent of MTV and self-centered politicians proclaiming the lowering of sea levels and healing of the earth). The people were punished accordingly, then given another chance. A second set of Tablets was housed in a Golden Ark kept in the very holiest place of the Tabernacle, The Tabernacle was a large tent, a portable structure used for ritual. A cloud and a flame above the tent signaled to the Israelites when to travel and when to rest for the next forty years of their journey to the Land of Milk and Honey.
And then came Solomon, son of the warrior King David. Solomon sought wisdom. A talented ruler, he has long been regarded as the archetypal Magus, manipulating heaven and earth through the force of his incantations, reputed author of a myriad of grimoires and other magical texts. Solomon built the physical Temple that replaced the Tabernacle as the home of the Tablets of the Lord on the mystical mountain of Moriah in Jerusalem.
Covered from floor to ceiling in precious gold—the symbolic metal of purity, the Sun, and the Lord—Solomon’s Temple served as the geographic spiritual center of God’s people for a thousand years. (There was a seventy year hiatus after it was destroyed in 586 BC and before it was rebuilt in 515 BC. In 20 BC, Herod would restore the Temple in a magnificent effort that filled the entire Temple Mount.)
Jesus taught at the Temple, walking with his disciples and preaching the New Law—his reformation of the fossilization that had occurred within the Hebrew tradition. The language of the Gospels offers a two thousand-year-old set of spiritual instructions that may still be extracted from the text. Jesus brought a breath of fresh air, an internalization of that sacred Law of God that is the essence of all spiritual striving. He opened his teaching to women, scandalizing those rigid ideologues who had lost the essence of the Shekinah, the Hebrew goddess embodied in Sarah and Rebecca, Rachel and Miriam, Deborah and Jael, Ruth and Sheba. Jesus scoffed at those who misconstrued the Ten Commandments to forbid healing on the Sabbath—what part of the relationship between human and Divine did they not understand?
Certainly the teachings of Jesus were blasphemed after his death. But hidden in the post gospel New Testament, morsels of wisdom remain. At the last we come to Revelation and Saint John’s vision of the New Jerusalem. John stands upon the Mount of Olives while the Angel shows him the heavenly city filled with resplendent light, whose structures and streets are built of precious metals, stones, crystals, and pearls.
“And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.”
In fact we have come full circle—returned to that Edenic state of unity where God and Man walk together—free of division and separation, in a state of at-one-ment. That sacred unity is the goal of all spiritual paths, all mystical teachings, and all religious aspirations from the beginning of time.
The Temple of Solomon became the home of the Knights Templar. It is ritually recreated in Freemasonry. It is at the center of Ordo Templi Orientis. The Book of the Law proclaims: “But your holy place shall be untouched throughout the centuries: though with fire and sword it be burnt down & shattered, yet an invisible house there standeth . . .” (AL III, 34). The Temple was burnt down with fire and sword in 586 BC. Rebuilt soon after it stood until 70 AD before being burnt down again. In the writing and research of this book, I traveled to Jerusalem and stood on Mount Moriah on the site of the Foundation Stone of the World. I can attest to the fact that an invisible house there standeth.