The Freemasonry of the Secret Vault

There is ample evidence among the authorities that in King Solomon's Temple, which plays so important a part in the Masonic Degrees of the York Rite, there were crypts, vaults, and subterranean chambers in great number. It was only natural that these crypts or vaults or chambers should be seized upon by the Mason to teach many of the important lessons which he was attempting to inculcate. 

The Cryptic Rite of Freemasonry, then, is a Rite which teaches through the symbolism of the crypt or vault, the concealment of that which later will be found, and is but a part of the age old Masonic lesson of the loss and recovery. Cryptic Freemasonry is that branch of Freemasonry which is devoted to the investigation and cultivation of the Cryptic Degrees, or literally, the Freemasonry of the Secret Vault. 

This symbolism of the secret vault does not appear in the first three, or Craft Degrees. It is found, however, wherever the Royal Arch or its equivalent appears in any system. The use of the vaults or crypts within the Temple of Solomon, and the use to which the Freemason puts them, is without historical authority, and comes to us only through the Talmudic legends. A general description of the Second Temple would render a detail of the Masonic Legend of the vault as follows: 

"The Foundations of the First Temple were opened, and cleared of the accumulation of rubbish, that a level might be procured for the commencement of the Second Temple. While engaged in excavations for this purpose, three fortunate Sojourners are said to have discovered our ancient Stone of Foundation, which had been deposited in the secret crypt by Wisdom, Strength, and Beauty, to prevent the communication of ineffable secrets to profane or unworthy persons. The discovery having been communicated to the Prince, Prophet, and Priest of the Jews, the stone was adopted as the chief corner-stone of the new building, and thus became in a new and more expressive sense, the type of a more excellent Dispensation. An avenue was also accidentally discovered, supported by several pairs of pillars perfect and entire, which, from their situation, had escaped the fury of the flames that had consumed the First Temple, and the desolation of war that had destroyed the city. The Secret Vault, which had been built by Solomon, was a secure depository for certain secrets that would inevitably have been lost without some such method for their preservation. It was connected by a subterranean avenue with the King's Palace, but at the destruction of Jerusalem, the entrance was closed by the rubbish of the falling buildings, and was discovered by the appearance of a keystone in the foundation of the Sanctum Sanctorum. A careful inspection was then made, and the in- valuable secrets were placed in safe custody."

- From the Cryptic Monitor, Grand Council of Indiana