The Hermetic Code Tour explores numerological codes
and Freemasonic symbols in the Manitoba Legislative Building
A temple masquerading as a government building? That is what Dr. Frank Albo says about the Manitoba Legislative Building in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. I and about 50 other people are here to take the Hermetic Code Tour. Dr. Albo is about to show us how the building is a modern reconstruction of King Solomon’s temple and contains secrets of Freemasonry “hidden in plain view.”
The Manitoba Legislative Building houses the provincial legislative assembly, its committees and staff, as well as offices for government ministers and deputy ministers. Frank Worthington Simon was chosen as the architecture for the the current building as the result of an architectural competition in 1911. Excavation began in 1913. Shortage of materials, labour and funds during the First Word War slowed construction. The building was ready for partial occupancy in 1919 and had its opening ceremonies in July, 1920. The exterior walls are Tyndall Stone, quarried at Garson, about 20 kilometres north of Winnipeg. The building is impressive on its own but takes on a whole other dimension with Dr. Albo’s interpretation.
Dr. Albo is an architectural historian with degrees in ancient Near Eastern languages, Western esotericism and the history of art. In 2001, while driving down Memorial Boulevard and looking at the Legislative Building, he noticed two sphinxes. His question about what the sphinxes were doing there led to years of research, first for his thesis and later under government-funded research grants. The book The Hermetic Code chronicles his search and findings.
We wait in front of the grand staircase for the tour to begin. Plans to start the tour outside are interrupted by a downpour. Instead we sit on the stairway and listen to Dr. Albo. Ancient temples had two large horned bulls guarding the entrance. On either side of the grand staircase sit bison, the symbol of Manitoba. Dr. Albo tells us that architect Frank Worthington Simon was a member of the Freemasons, a secret society which believed architecture “had the capacity to reform the soul.” On one of the sphinxes he discovered the name of an ancient Pharaoh, Thutmose III, believed by some to the founder of Freemasonry. Dr. Albo says we will find symbols of freemasonry “hidden in plain sight”, symbols involving geometry, astrology and alchemy.
Dr. Albo also tells us the numbers 5, 8 and 13 are prevalent in the building. They are part of the Fibonacci sequence, in which each number is the sum of the two preceding numbers in the sequence. As you progress through the sequence, the ratio of two successive numbers approaches the golden ratio, a special number equal to approximately 1.618. The golden ratio is frequently found in art and architecture, and appears in the Parthenon and the Pyramids. The grand staircase had three flights of 13 steps each. The bison are 13 feet long. There are 13 lights in each hallway. The number 666 also appears throughout the building. Although we now associate that number with the devil, Dr. Albo says it does not mean that in the Hermetic Code. It is associated with the sun.
The rain stops and we head outside. Dr. Albo asks us to look up at the pediment above the columns at the front entrance. According to the official government description, the scene symbolizes the ideals of nationhood and embraces all of Canada. The female figure in the centre represents Manitoba. According to Dr. Albo, she is the goddess of this temple.
The Golden Boy atop the Manitoba Legislative Building is a familiar Winnipeg landmark. The boy is actually the Greek god Hermes, the father of occult philosophy and patron of the Freemasons. Hermes acts as the messenger between the gods and mortals. The Golden Boy is a nickname given by a journalist many years ago and the name stuck. The statue is cast in bronze and was gilded in 1951. Around the base of the dome are statues representing agriculture, art, industry and science according to the government description or earth, water, fire and air according to Dr. Albo.
Dr. Albo is an enthusiastic guide. Although he has given this tour numerous times over several years, he seems as excited to share the building’s secrets as if this were the first time he revealed them. He talks about how he discovered the secrets, time spent measuring every inch of the building, being stopped by security guards in the middle of the night when he was inspecting a statue on the grounds in his pyjamas and joining the Freemasons himself in order to understand the building. I feel a little overwhelmed at the amount of information he provides.
Under the dome, on the main floor, is a black eight-pointed star set into the marble. The circular area around the star has special acoustics. Normal speaking echoes throughout the building. Whispers spoken while standing at the centre of the star can be heard by all the people around you.
The Manitoba Legislative Building is a fascinating building to explore whether or not you accept Dr. Frank Albo’s interpretations. I’ve been in the building many times – for other tours, showing visiting friends and attending concerts or Christmas celebrations. During my university days, I had a summer job with one of the government departments in the basement. I will be looking at the building with different eyes in future visits.
Hermetic Code Tours take place Wednesday evenings from April to October.