Senzar The Mystery of the Mystery Language, Part 1

Masonic, Occult and Esoteric Online Library

Senzar The Mystery of the Mystery Language, Part 1

By John Algeo

The Ancient Mystery Language

When Blavatsky talks about Senzar itself, she provides a very ancient genealogy for the language. She says that "there was a time when the whole world was 'of one lip and of one knowledge,'" (I, 229), which is to say that "there was, during the youth of mankind, one language, one knowledge, one universal religion" (I, 341). In this idea, H.P.B. is echoing Ralston Skinner, who in a passage quoted in The Secret Doctrine postulates "an ancient language which modernly and up to this time appears to have been lost, the vestiges of which, however, abundantly exist" (I, 308).

She frequently repeats this idea, mentioning "the one sacerdotal universal tongue" (CW XIV, 96), "one universal esoteric, or 'Mystery'-Language ... the language of the Hierophants, which has seven 'dialects,' so to speak, each referring, and being specially appropriate, to one of the seven mysteries of Nature" (I, 310), and she says that this "secret language, common to all schools of occult science[,] once prevailed throughout the world" (CW V, 306).

This "secret sacerdotal tongue" is Senzar, the language in which was written "an old book," the original work from which the books of Kiu-ti were compiled. The "old book" was taken down in Senzar "from the words of the Divine Beings, who dictated it to the sons of Light, in Central Asia, at the very beginning of the 5th (our) Race." But Senzar itself is much older than that,

for there was a time when its language (the Sen-Zar) was known to the Initiates of every nation, when the forefathers of the Toltec understood it as easily as the inhabitants of the lost Atlantis, who inherited it, in their turn, from the sages of the 3rd Race, the Manushis, who learnt it direct from the Devas of the 2nd and 1st Races. (I, xliii)

The foregoing passage is of considerable interest, since, in providing such antiquity for the history of Senzar, it has effectively indicated that Senzar is not properly a language at all. In commenting on sloka 36 of stanza 9, "The Fourth Race developed Speech," Blavatsky says:

The Commentaries explain that the first Race — the etherial or astral Sons of Yoga, also called "Self-born" — was, in our sense, speechless, as it was devoid of mind on our plane ... The Third Race developed in the beginning a kind of language which was only a slight improvement on the various sounds in Nature, on the cry of gigantic insects and of the first animals ... The whole human race was at that time of "one language and of one lip." (II, 198)

Obviously, it could not have been much of a language or of a lip. Indeed, this primeval sort of communication is not what we would call language at all. Since language, in our ordinary sense of the term, was not developed until the Fourth Race period, that which was learnt from the Devas of the First and Second Races and inherited from the sages of the Third must be something other than ordinary language.

Whatever Senzar was, H.P.B. tells how it came to be a secret, sacerdotal "language" (CW XIV, 180-81). After reiterating the claim that "there was in antiquity one knowledge and one language," she says that the knowledge together with the language in which it is expressed became esoteric after the submersion of Atlantis, "and, from being universal, it became limited to the few." The memory of the esotericizing of "the 'one-lip' — or the Mystery-language — " knowledge of which was "gradually denied to subsequent generations," was preserved in the Biblical myth of the Tower of Babel, concerning a time when human beings were prevented from understanding each other's speech because of their sin of presumption.

As a result of the esotericizing of Senzar, two languages came into use in every nation: "(a) the profane or popular language of the masses; (b) the sacerdotal or secret language of the Initiates of the temples and mysteries — the latter being one and universal" (CW V, 297). This divided state of affairs is not, however, to continue indefinitely. When Blavatsky remarks "that the entire cycle of the universal mystery-language will not be mastered for whole centuries to come" (I, 318), she implies that the once generally known and now esoteric language will again one day be fully mastered by humanity.

The existence of sacred languages is well-known throughout the world. Latin was, and to a limited extent still is, such a sacred language for Western Christendom. Hebrew is such a language for Judaism. Sanskrit is for Hinduism, and Pali for Southern Buddhism. Sacred languages are used in scriptures, for rituals, and often for scholarly writings on religious subjects. Such sacred languages may be intended by The Theosophical Glossary's entry for Mystery Language (220):

The sacerdotal secret jargon employed by the initiated priests, and used only when discussing sacred things. Every nation had its own "mystery" tongue, unknown save to those admitted to the Mysteries.

H.P.B. puts such great emphasis on the unity of the one mystery language of Senzar that, if we are to understand literally the statement here that every nation had its own (by implication, distinct) language, then what is intended must be something like the sacred languages of various religions rather than the primordial mystery language called Senzar. Generally when H.P.B. talks about the one universal mystery language, she means something considerably more basic and mysterious than run-of-the-mill sacred languages. H.P.B. does sometimes use one term for several referents, so we should probably distinguish between the one primordial mystery language of all humanity, which is Senzar, and the various mystery languages of individual cultures, which are sacred languages like Latin, Hebrew, and Sanskrit.

Blavatsky's history of Senzar traces it back to the primordial times of our world cycle, before humanity had a physical tongue to speak with or a mind to think with. It was the common possession of nascent humanity before language proper had developed at all. Then a point came in the evolution of our species when a great disruption occurred, symbolized by such myths as the Tower of Babel, the Flood, and the destruction of Atlantis. Primitive communion was broken, a disjunction separated what is consciously known from what is subconsciously remembered, and a portion of the human mind sank into the waters of the unconscious as another portion become consciously active.

The myths of Babel, the Flood, and Atlantis seem to speak of such a separation within the human soul by which the conscious and unconscious aspects of our mind came into being as separate modes, replacing the undivided and undifferentiated mind of proto-humanity. Senzar was the common language of humanity before that division. After the differentiation of conscious from unconscious mind, Senzar become the "esoteric" language, that is, the lagnuage of the unconscious, which the initiated adept translates into the public exoteric languages of the conscious mind.



Masonic Publishing Company

Purchase This Title

Browse Titles
"If I have seen further than
others, it is by standing
upon the shoulders of giants."


Comasonic Logo

Co-Masonry, Co-Freemasonry, Women's Freemasonry, Men and Women, Mixed Masonry

Copyright © 1975-2024 Universal Co-Masonry, The American Federation of Human Rights, Inc. All Rights Reserved.