Great Architect of the Universe

Great Architect of the Universe

This term has linguistic and historical Platonic references to Demiurge. God is compared with an architect in the New Testament: “For he awaited the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” In Gnosticism, from the Great Architect emanates a series of Aeons, which gradually build up the Universe. For the Ebionites the Great Architect is the source and recipient of all things.

The comparison of God to an architect has been used by many Christian theologians. For example, Architect of the Universe was mentioned in Demonstratio Evangelica by the Church father Eusebius. Thomas Aquinas tells in The Summa Theologica that the first principle of all things designed by God can be compared to the architects. John Calvin repeatedly tells in his work Institute of the Christian Religion (1536) that God is The Architect of the Universe. Cotton Mather (1663-1723) undertook his own microscopic investigations and was the first to experiment with plant hybridization. In 1791, he published The Christian Philosopher in which he argued that the entire universe could be seen as a temple built and fitted by the Almighty Architect. He said that the philosophical faith could be accepted by Christians and Muslims alike and would transcend the murderous quarrels of the sects and heal class divisions. However, Mather did much in his Memorable Providences relating to Witchcraft and Possessions (1681) to incite the fears that exploded in the Salem Witch Trials (1692), in which he took the leading role.

Although the concept of Grand Architect of the Universe is not of Masonic origin, it has a particular importance in the context of Freemasonry. The Great Architect of the Universe within Freemasonry aims to represent the deity neutrally, in whatever form, and by whatever name each member may individually believe in. The earliest known Masonic manuscripts used a phrase Great Architect of Heaven and Earth.

Masons often use the abbreviation G.A.O.T.U. for the Great Architect of the Universe. Masonic historians such as Ilyam Bisse, Harry Leeser and S. Brent Morris stated that the Masonic G.A.O.T.U. continues the ancient tradition of using an allegory for a deity. They trace this name to Freemasonry from the 1723 Book of Constitutions written by the Reverend James Anderson: “Adam, our first Parent, created after the Image of God, the Great Architect of the Universe, must have had the Liberal Sciences, particularly Geometry, written on his Heart.” They also suggest that being a Calvinist, he may have taken the allegory from there. Ever since, Great Architect of the Universe has meant to become a Masonic designation for a superior force, creator of all that exists. The Catholic Church accused the Freemasons that their Grand Architect of the Universe is something other than God worshiped by Christians and in 1738 forbade its members to join Masonic lodges.

There are many different variations of this name. In the prayer in Scott’s Pocket Companion for Freemasons from 1754, God is named Chief Architect of the Created Universe. In the disclosure “Three distinct Knocks”, published in Dublin and London in April 1760, a prayer to Our Lord Jesus Christ begins with these terms: “O Lord God, Great and Universal Mason of the World, and first builder of Man as if he were a temple…”

In the second half of the 18th century and in the first half of the 19th century, Freemasonry opened up to other religions. The expression Great Architect of the Universe was then used more often, often replacing the word God, because being more general, it was meant to suit both deists and theists of different religions. This approach was aimed to allow Christian, Buddhist, Muslim and other Masons, for example, to meet in the same Masonic lodge. For a Freemason of Muslim origin it would refer to Allah, for a Christian, it would be Jehovah, but in any case it would mean God. The activity of Freemasonry in relation to the Great Architect of the Universe was meant to involve philosophical studies and not proselytism. In the second half of the 19th century, the question of the admission of atheists into Freemasonry also arose, particularly in France and Belgium. One of the largest and most important Masonic lodges, the Grand Orient of France, withdrew the invocation to the Great Architect from official documents, introducing a provision stating that the basis of Freemasonry is complete freedom of conscience and human solidarity. On the other side, Anglo-American Freemasonry, faithful to the Constitutions of Anderson and to some of its subsequent founding texts, continued to prohibit atheists from entering its lodges. The Scandinavian lodges (Norway, Denmark, Sweden) stood on the traditionalist ground and decided that the Great Architect is identical with the Christian God. The Masonic Swedish Rite, which has the prerequisite of professing to Christian Faith, uses in its rituals the form Threefold Great Architect of the Universe, to make this name more Christian-like. Certain liberal lodges by abandoning of the expression Great Architect of the Universe in the rituals incited a quarrel which still separates today different Masons. In most of the Masonic lodges Great Architect of the Universe is still in use. For example, Daniel Sickels mentions in his book General Ahiman Rezon that Great Architect of the Universe in a Masonic prayer during the opening and closing the Lodge, while the Texas Masons addresses to it in the prayer at the opening of a lodge.

In the Hermetic tradition, each person has the potential to become God. This idea or concept of God is perceived as internal and not external. We create our own reality, so we are the architects. The concept of a Great Architect of the Universe also occurs in Martinism, which holds that while it is possible to adore him, it is not to invoke him. It is also a Rosicrucian conception of God, as expressed by Max Heindel. Paul Foster Case tells in The Tarot that on one sense the Emperor of Tarot represents the Great Architect of the Universe.

In the Hindu mythology, Lord Vishvakarman is regarded as the God of Architecture. He is the supreme god of craftsmanship and perfect engineering. He holds the universe together according to the Rigveda and is considered to be the original creator, architect, divine engineer of the universe from before the advent of time. He is also the root concept of the later Upanishadic figures of Brahman and Purusha in the historical Vedic religion.

In cosmic magic, IHVH as the Great Architect of the Universe has each of its four letters applied to its respective realm. The letter I is governed by God’s names and it stands for Divine realms of each planet. In this realm, constructions and structures are built directly by Divine names. The first H stands for archangelic realms and it is governed by archangels. Cities, buildings and all other structures are built there by archangels inspired by God’s names. V stands for angelic realms. Architectures and builders are there angels. They are inspired by God’s names and instructed and helped by archangels. The last H is run by us humans. The best builders and architects among us are also inspired by God’s names, and helped by archangels and angels. They have this rare ability to visit cities of angels and archangels in order to replicate angelic buildings and monuments here on the Earth.

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