Allegory In Stone: A Short Study of the Shakespeare Monument

A discussion of the themes and symbols depicted on Shakespeare's funerary monument. What are the Masonic, Rosicrucian and Kabbalistic influences and symbols in the structure? and how do they relate to Shakespeare himself?

Full colour illustrations.






Allegory in Stone: A Short Study of the Shakespeare Monument

The influence of the occult on Shakespeare's imagination is a fascinating subject. The monument erected to his memory at Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-upon-Avon, provides an invaluable key to solving many aspects of that riddle.

The monument allegorises the opposing forces of dissolution and transmutation. Why else should “envious death” covet the Poet's "quick nature"?  In a discussion of Masonic, Rosicrucian, Kabbalistic and other occult themes, many of the greatest secrets of the Stratford monument are fully revealed.

In this short work I reveal how the ciphers serve as a code for the soul's passage from the world of ordinary life to eternal wisdom. I made the decision in this present work to highlight the key occult symbolism in Shakespeare's monument. It can be said that the monument is a metaphor for an early form of non-operative masonry. It is certainly Rosicrucian, even if the fraternity was comparatively new to England at the time of Shakespeare's death. Author selling Books on Rosicrucianism and Books on Secret TraditionsCertainly, the inferred references to Plato convey Rosicrucian ideals. In his final and most esoteric play, The Tempest, Shakespeare introduces Hermetic themes, and indeed the core principle of Rosicrucianism - free-will and free-thought – triumphs in the final act of Prospero when he buries his wand and renounces theurgy.

The monument also undoubtedly incorporates Kabbalistic symbolism. Given that the Rosicrucians, the alchemists and other occultists infiltrated the operative masonic guilds, it should come as no surprise that we can identify overtly Freemasonic symbolism within it. Yet Freemasonry, Rosicrucianism and alchemy have no prior claim on the symbology of death/resurrection, duality and the movement of transformation. These are far more ancient themes which hark back to the core, spiritual memory of our species. They do, however, share many of the correspondences outlined in this book.

No esoteric trend begins in a social vacuum because it takes time to evolve and develop. Freemasonry, alchemy and Rosicrucianism are no exception to this rule. Masonry did not begin with a “bang” in 1717, as we know from the activities of Elias Ashmole, but likewise what existed prior to that point did not constitute “Freemasonry” either. The same can be said of the Rosicrucians, who did not suddenly come into existence in the early 1600s, but became fashionable around that time, when enthusiasts began publishing their ideas. 

That the monument contains symbols, geometric signs and ciphers is beyond doubt. The question is what, exactly, these allude to if not the earthly incarnation of William Shakespeare? In my opinion the monument is a Kabbalistic allegory set in stone, like the perfect ashlar in Craft Freemasonry.

The themes of duality, physical dissolution and the transformation of man's eternal nature are present. The monument describes that journey in a clearly Kabbalistic fashion, and points to the figure of Shakespeare in the centre as an example of the Middle Way, the sacred path. Why else would Envious Death be covetous of him whom it placed within, but for the fact that Shakespeare has been separated from his physical body and attained eternal splendour?

                 Author selling Books on Rosicrucianism and Books on Secret Traditions




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