“...binding myself under no less penalty than that of having my throat cut across... ~ Oath of Freemasonry Entered Apprentice Degree (1°)
But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath... ~ James 5:12
...binding myself under no less penalty than that of having my throat cut across, my tongue torn out by its roots, and my body buried in the rough sands of the sea, at low-water mark, where the tide ebbs and flows twice in twenty-four hours, should I ever knowingly violate this my Entered Apprentice obligation.
...binding myself under no less penalty than that of having my breast torn open, my heart plucked out, and placed on the highest pinnacle of the temple there to be devoured by the vultures of the air, should I ever knowingly violate the Fellow Craft obligation.
...binding myself under no less penalty than that of having my body severed in two, my bowels taken from thence and burned to ashes, the ashes scattered before the four winds of heaven, that no more remembrance might be had of so vile and wicked a wretch as I would be, should I ever, knowingly, violate this my Master Mason's obligation.
...binding myself under no less penalty than (in addition to all my former penalties) to have my tongue split from tip to root, that I might thereafter be unable to pronounce the word.
...binding myself under no less penalty than to have my breast torn open, and my heart and vitals taken from thence, and exposed to rot on the dunghill.
Illuminists have a sign to be used to remind associates when it is needful to stonewall or to shut up about a matter. In the York Rite initiation for the Royal Master's Degree, this sign, called the Due-guard, "is made by placing the forefinger of the right hand upon the lips."2
In the ritual degree ceremony of the Secret Master, the candidate places two fingers to his lip and is told that the obligation he is taking
"enjoins secrecy and to obey the orders and decrees of the Council of Princes of Jerusalem, under penalties of all former degrees."4
A Softening of Penalties?
Freemasonry and many other secret societies have been under siege in recent years as the author of Codex Magica and a number of other courageous men have boldly come forward exposing the frightening, cold and bloody oaths taken by millions of Masons around the globe. As a consequence, as I understand it, the leadership of the Lodge and other groups has more recently begun to "soften the edges," so to speak and to eliminate some of the more egregious and ghastly phrases and words used in the rituals.
In June 2001, according to The Scottish Rite Journal, C. Fred Kleinknecht, Sovereign Grand Commander, 33°, the reigning potentate of Freemasonry, presented copies of the Revised Standard Pike Ritual to his subordinate Sovereign Grand Commanders.5
Other ways, however, will undoubtedly be found to motivate the membership to keep the secrets, including banishment from elite status and possibly even the periodic assassination of disciples who stray and who recklessly disregard the dictate to retain secrecy.
Still it is of interest that the Masonic elite are embarrassed over being outed for their hideous oaths. What's more, in the Mormon Church (LDS), the penalty portions of the Masonic-oriented rituals celebrated in the Temple also have recently been watered down somewhat.
Pagan Origins of the Sign of Silence
The Egyptians and Romans even worshiped a God of silence, Harpocrates, a form of the solar deity. Harpocrates was often pictured sitting on his mother's lap, suckling at her breast. Later, the Catholic Church adopted similar images in the veneration of Mary with child. Sometimes Harpocrates was pictured naked or with horns on his head, symbols of power. He often sat on a Lotus flower. The Lotus is a sexual symbol of the female vagina.7
In the active days of Benjamin Franklin and our nation's founders, their secret society counterparts in Great Britain made use of the God Harpocrates. Sir Francis Dashwood, instrumental in the British operation of the Illuminati, recruited nobility for his Hell-Fire Club, a secret group based on magic, satanism, and sex.
The Mystery Religions of the Romans and other peoples especially needed the utmost secrecy because, during the higher initiations, the unspoken names of the hidden or unknown God, or Gods, was often revealed. As the Christians gained in numbers and influence, they began to properly understand that these names were actually synonyms for Satan, Lucifer, the Devil. Great effort was therefore taken by pagans to obscure or prevent the unmasking of this satanic connection.10
An interesting side-note: As a child watching TV in the early days (1950s), one of the most popular programs was a game show hosted by Jewish comedian Groucho Marx. Groucho had a brother, Harpo Marx, who was also a comedian and starred in numerous TV programs and in movies. Harpo always played the cherubic character of a mute young boy, with blond hair in curls. In other words, Harpo was cast in the image of Harpocrates, God of silence and secrecy, also known as Horus the child.