Norse myth and mysteries

Johan Ernst Jasper (1874-1945) was a Freemason who lived in Dutch occupied Indonesia and who died in a Japanese camp during WWII. He wrote extensively and is mostly known for his books per grade. His EA, FC and MM books were published posthumously in 1956 and are still available from a friend-of-the-family Freemason. Older prints have to be sought second hand. The books were written in Dutch.

In his MM book Jasper mostly retells initiation-myths from around the globe. “Norse myth and mysteries” are included. This part is not too good and I often wonder where the author got his information from, but to give you an idea of how a Freemason who lived 80 years ago looked at Northern mythology, I translated parts of his chapter about Northern myths.

The candidate, who was to be initiated into the Norse Mysteries, first had to undergo the preparation, consisting of fasting for some time and the development of the awareness of being a ‘humble’ person.

After the offerings where made, the ritual dances were performed, the circular processions had ended, the neophyte was brought on holy ground on bare feet, where he, through the shadows (‘dusk’) and darkness, while a terrifying howling of hounds was intoned, was brought to the burial tomb of the prophet Volva.

This grave tomb represented the underworld (Hades), because at the entrance she was guarded by a hound with ferocious fangs; probably there stood an initiate, who was disguised as a hideous beast and had put on a big mask.

Encouraged by his guide, the neophyte strided passed the terrifying Cerberus.

Passing the portal, in the East he found the vault and the actual tomb, from which the oracle would be communicated to him.

Far away as in a vision he saw the regions of death and ‘an empty throne’.

By means of mysterious rites, in which invocations took place, rune symbols and signs were made on the tomb, and rune rhymes were recited, some sort of magical sphere arose, which pierced the psyche of the neophyte and the prophetess awoke from her death sleep in the underworld to pronounce the oracle.

She answered the neophyte’s questions, which he asked about Balder’s fate, and thus the entire myth of the battle between Balder and Loki and the death of Balder came to the neophyte’s knowledge.

This learns us that the myth was inserted into the ritual, not just because of the act, but also to elucidate the course of the cycle.

Continuing, the neophyte heard the weeping for the death of Balder and in the end his guide brought him to the cell, consisting of three big rocks and which’ opening was guarded by Heimdal with a naked sword.

He was given the task, to look for Balder symbolically, and to achieve that he would be revived.

The neophyte, descending by winding stairs, through nine subterranean corridors, heard scary noises, observed a flame, had to wade through a river and eventually arrived in a brilliantly lit sanctuary, where he beheld Balder, sitting on a throne.

Here hymns were sung; here the initiated was taken the solemn oath, during which he laid his hand on the blade of a sword, and which was sealed by drinking holy water from a human skull.

He then received the ‘white shield of expectation’ – which has the same esoteric worth as the ‘white stone’ from the Revelation of St. John – a sword, and a ring serving as amulet, gift of Balder, (compare the saga about the ‘ring Draupnir’), after which the figure of a cross was drawn on his head.

Quite detailed! Much seems derived from Albert Pike’s Morals And Dogma in which similar details are mentioned.

Further in the book Jasper also writes:

The manner, in which the sacred place to Odin was composed, with the purpose of holding Balder-Mysteries – twelve seats in a circle, and the raised seat for Odin as the holy middle – strikingly reminds of the sun and the zodiak.

And again later:

Also in old-Norse Mysteries, which were celebrated to honor Balder who was killed with a mistletoe but was reborn, circumambulations preceded the ordeals; solemnly executed, which were imposed on the candidate during his ‘travels’ to the tomb of the prophetess Volva, who, awaking from her death-sleep, unveiled the secret of the rebirth of Balder.

Also the ordeals took place in circumanbulation, because the candidate had to descend a winding path (winding stairs) through nine subterranean vaults, until he reached the brilliantly lit sanctuary, where he beheld Balder, in divine radiance sitting on his throne.

Jasper has a somewhat cluttered writing style with many sentences-within-sentences. I have tried to transfer this style to English, even though it makes it harder to read.

But if Pike was Jasper’s source for these descriptions, where would Pike have found his information?

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