It was her work on the Glastonbury Zodiac that lead to Katharine Maltwood's initiation into Freemasonry. She suspected that the secrets of the Temple of the Stars were still kept in the ancient ritual workings of certain Masonic Lodges. A certificate reveals her membership in one of the women's Masonic orders. Entitled "Ancient Masonry, Grand Lodge of England" it is signed and dated May 5, 1931. In the same year she drew plans for a temple complex called "The Honourable Fraternity of Ancient Masonry" and there are numerous books and periodicals on Freemasonry in the Maltwood Collection.61
She frequently quoted Masonic traditions to support her theories on the zodiacal giants. In particular she followed the ideas of J.S.M. Ward in his book Freemasonry and Ancient Gods. Like Ward she believed Masonry did not originate with the building guilds of the middle ages but with the primitive initiatory rites of prehistoric man. Ward insisted that Masonic traditions were descended from a blending of Ancient Syrian and Egyptian organizations and beliefs. This Katharine Maltwood maintained was also the source of the symbolic knowledge embodied in the zodiac. Thus the quest for the Holy Grail was similar to the search for lost Masonic secrets and could be identified with the Masonic pursuit of the lost word or key, a mystical way of describing the search for a fuller knowledge of God.
The Rosicrucian Society is the order particularly concerned with the study of the occult and the mystical side of masonry. Its degrees are based on the Egyptian and Indian mysteries and involve the study of ancient philosophy, the Cabbala and astrological lore. It was partly through the Rosicrucian mysteries that Freemasonry was linked to the legend of the Holy Grail. This connection is best explained in a quote, appearing in Katharine Maltwood's notes, from Edouard Schuré's L'Evolution Divine, du Sphinx au Christ, of 1912:
The first initiates of the Holy Grail cherished a remarkable legend concerning Lucifer and the Rosicrucians adopted it and revealed its deeper meaning. After his fall from the spheres of light to the darkness of earth the rebellious archangel lost a precious stone which had shone like a star in his crown. From this stone was craven the cup in which Joseph of Arimethea received the blood of Christ. Even so shall the human soul to which Lucifer gave the unassuageable thirst of self, the growing individuality, be filled drop by drop, with the Divine Love that flows from Christ.
She believed this stone from Lucifer's crown lay in the mitre which marks the centre of the constellation effigies and that it represented the Divine Light the star worshippers sought.
A further connection with Freemasonry came from Katharine Maltwood's conviction that embedded in the Grail legend, although shrouded in symbolic language, was the actual ritual and society of the Knights Templars. She surmised that the author of the High History of the Holy Grail was in fact a Templar, citing the legend that the Templars were the traditional guardians of the Holy Grail. The Knights Templars were closely associated with Freemasonry and a Masonic order in Britain in the 18th century. They held the tradition that there is no other religion than the religion of nature, preserved in the temples of initiation in Egypt and Greece. It is also of interest that she considered the mason, who originally owned Chilton Priory, may have belonged to this order and that the house was deliberately placed on the early British pilgrimage route to Glastonbury.
All content on this page is copyright © 30 January, 2006
Rosemary Brown, the Maltwood Art Museum and Gallery, and the University of Victoria