Freemasonry and the Number 33

by J. Paul Gomez February 13, 2020

Freemasonry and the Number 33

The number 33 is one of that handful of mysterious numbers that evoke a certain sense of mystical (and to some, diabolical) experience. What is it about 33 that made it so mysterious? How did it come to be associated with Freemasonry and why does it seem kind of scary? Let's find out.

Many of today's polarizing symbols trace its history back to the moment of discovery of a certain natural truth. These realizations are the byproduct of careful observation spanning years if not several generations. These "truths" were held in such high regard that it can only be transmitted in secrecy during an initiatic ceremony from mouth to ear.

The Ominous Pentagram and the Noble Five-pointed Star

Take the pentagram as an example- today it is fashionably interlinked with Satanism and anything occult; but its cousin, the Five-pointed Star, is a symbol of quality, patriotism, or even fame and "stardom" in Western culture. Where did this fascination for this ever-present symbol come from?

The Pentagram and the Five Pointed Star

To find out, let's watch the following Phytagorean Brotherhood exemplification video clip starring Donald Duck (beginning from video timestamp 2:29 to around 4:30). 

In case you didn't watch the video, here's a summary: Donald Duck was a skeptic who accidentally travelled back in time, got initiated into the Pythagorean Brotherhood, learned about the connection between sacred geometry and music (hint: encoded in the pentagram), and shook the hands of the spirit of Pythagoras- the Father of Mathematics and Music.  

Donald Duck learns about music and sacred geometry after his initiation into the Pythagorean Brotherhood

As curious creatures, we are naturally drawn to the hidden stuff. It's in our nature to discover things but without proper guidance, the discovery of certain "secrets" can lead the mind astray. This is why initiation rites are important when imparting certain lessons. Like the pentagram symbol, the number 33 is easily recognized and oftentimes misunderstood. What is so interesting about 33? Let's look at the facts.

33 in Science and Math:

Human spine 33 vertebrae

  • The human spine is made of 33 individual bones or vertebrae [1] 
  • In the Pythagorean system, 33 is the highest of the three master numbers which do not get reduced to a single number [2] 
  • In the sums of powers, the sum of three cubes (a3 + b3+ c3)  is 33 [3] 
  • 33 is the largest number that is not a sum of distinct triangular numbers [4] 
  • Water boils at 33 degrees according to the temperature scale devised by Isaac Newton [5] 
  • The word amen has a value of 33 in simple English gematria: (a=1)+(m=13)+(e=5)+(n=14) = 33 [6] 
  • Arsenic a.k.a. The Poison of Kings has an atomic number of 33. Its alchemical symbol looks like a partially formed Star of David [7] 
33 in Religion and Mythology:

33 Devas

  • Jesus was 33 years old when he was crucified and resurrected [8] 
  • Islamic prayer beads are generally arranged in 3 sets of 33 for a total of 99 beads corresponding to the 99 Attributes of Allah [9] 
  • The second level of heaven in Buddhism is named Trāyastriṃśa from the numeral trayastriṃśat meaning "33" and can be translated in English as "belonging to the thirty-three devas/gods" [10] 
  • The divine name Elohim appears 33 times in the story of creation in the opening chapters of Genesis [11] 
  • There are 33 deities in the Vedic or ancient Hinduism religion [12] 
Other random facts:

FraternalTies 33 Degree Scottish Rite Freemasons silk necktie

  • Despite what the conspiracy enthusiasts would like you to think- the highest degree in Freemasonry is the 3rd Degree and NOT the 33rd Degree
  • Have you heard of the 33-year lunar cycle? I don't know what to make of it but you may begin your research here
  • JPG, the initials of the author of this blog has a value of 33 in simple English gematria: (J=10)+(P=16)+(G=7) = 33

As you can see, there are many interconnecting reasons why 33 is considered mystical.

How did 33 come to be associated with Freemasonry?

Albert Pike

We have a particularly prolific American Freemason who went by the name Albert Pike to thank for it. During his lifetime as Sovereign Grand Commander of the Southern (US) Jurisdiction of the Scottish Rite, "he actively promoted the organization by 'honouring' many of those in Masonic leadership in order to give his own organization far greater visibility than it might have otherwise achieved. Historians will note that this was the 'golden age of fraternity' and everyone wanted to accumulate degrees." -source

For the sake of the uninitiated, there are 3 degrees of Masonry: 1° Entered Apprentice, 2° Fellowcraft, and 3° Master Mason. The 3° Master Mason is the highest degree in Masonry. Even the 3° as a "high" degree is somewhat of a recent invention- during the early days of Masonry, it was the 2nd degree or the Fellowcraft that was the highest attainable rank. These 3 degrees are the degrees of the Blue/Craft Lodge. The other "higher" degrees belong to the appendant bodies of Freemasonry and none of those degrees are higher than the Master Mason 3°.

Freemasons Meme

When the anti-Masons talk about the sinister 33 high-level Luciferian Illuminati Freemasons, they are mostly and misguidedly talking about the honorary and last degree of the Scottish Rite branch of Freemasonry. If you're feeling inclined to dig a little deeper and learn about how it acquired a sinister twist, Bro. Ed King from the famous Masonic Info website wrote an entertaining article about this very topic. 

References:

  1. Anatomy of the Spine
  2. The Three Master Numbers in the Pythagorean system
  3. Cracking the Problem with 33
  4. Triangular Numbers
  5. The Newton Scale
  6. Numerical Value of Amen
  7. Arsenic
  8. Chronology of Jesus
  9. Islamic Prayer Beads
  10. The Second Heaven
  11. Elohim: Divine Name
  12. The Thirty-three deities



J. Paul Gomez
J. Paul Gomez

Author

W. Bro. John Paul Gomez (aka Paul, JP, JPG) is an artist by trade and a full-time father-of-4. He currently serves as the W.M. for Doric Lodge No. 316 AF&AM in Ontario, Canada. He is a Senior DeMolay and an honorary member of Harmonie Lodge No. 699 F&AM in Buffalo, New York. He likes to cook and is a big fan of Muaythai.


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