ISSUE 15, October 2005
Editorial
Historic: Nelson and Freemasonry
Grand Lodge: Pro Grand Master's Speech
Grand Lodge: Quarterly Communication
Hurricane Katrina: Grand Charity Relief Chest
Royal Arch: John Knight
Masonic Embroidery: A stitch in time...
Travel: Walzing along the Danube
Specialist Lodges: Martial arts
Library & Museum: The two Freemasons' Halls
    Anniversary: Jersey's Liberation
Anniversary: Dorset's 225 years
Obituaries: Lord Swansea OSM
Pro Grand Master: Whither directing our course?
Charmian Hussey: A Mason's wife on Masonry
International: The Grand Lodge of Israel
Education: Sheffield's big plans
Education: Forthcoming events
Education: The Second Degree
Masonic Charities
Letters, Book Reviews, Gardening

 Previous Page 
PLEASE USE THE LINKS ABOVE - OR ON THIS LINE - TO MOVE BETWEEN PAGES
 Next Page 






It is now generally acknowledged that the ‘secrets’ of Masonry are only the modes of recognition without which you cannot witness our ceremonies – the grips, tokens and words of the three Degrees. They have been exposed on numerous occasions, but all Masons promise not to reveal them to the uninitiated, in part to keep cowans and intruders out of our ceremonies, but also to show that we can be trusted to keep a promise.
     The ‘mysteries’, which we also promise not to disclose, are something completely different. Any member of the public can buy a copy of the Emulation ritual book and tens of thousands of lady Masons have done so over many years. The vast majority of the ceremonies are there in full for all to read, the main exception being those words which relate to the modes of recognition and the preparation of the candidate. So, if anyone wants to know what we get up to in our ceremonies, why not suggest they buy the ritual book and read it for themselves?
     Before anyone accuses me of betraying the brotherhood, let me stress that you cannot discover the mysteries of Freemasonry by reading the ritual book. You have to go through the process of initiation to realise and unlock the mystery, because it is a felt experience. You can not understand it in any other way than by doing it – just as you cannot learn to swim by reading a manual of how to do it.
     We are the inheritors of an important initiatic system containing universal truths, some form of which has probably been in existence for thousands of years. During that time it has been a beneficial guiding influence on the evolution of humanity and our present day Freemasonry is no exception. The three Degrees of Masonry are like symbolic rehearsals for those major initiations that we must all take on our journey of self-discovery. Thus Freemasonry is a system which guides man in his search for the sacred.
     The three Degrees equate to body, mind and spirit, the three essential parts of man. In the First Degree the emphasis is on the physical and its objective is ‘from darkness to light’. It is symbolised by the rought ashlar and the working tools are those implements needed to work on the unshapen stones brought to light from the darkness of the quarries. The consciousness of the First Degree is at the level of instinct and its pillar represents physical strength and is therefore crowned with the terrestrial globe.
     In the Second Degree the emphasis is on the powers of the mind and its objective is ‘from ignorance to knowledge.’ It is symbolised by the smooth ashlar and the working tools are designed to perfect and prove the stone after rude matter has been brought into due form. The consciousness of this Degree is at the level of intellect and its pillar represents wisdom and is therefore crowned with the celestial globe.
     In the Third Degree the emphasis is on spirit, and the objective is to build the temple, not made with human hands, eternal in the heavens. Its symbol is the blazing star, its consciousness is at the level of intuition, the voice of nature, and its pillar is that of beauty, which depends on balance and harmony.
     The objectives of the three Degrees – illumination through the search for light, wisdom through the increase in knowledge, and transformation through the process of death and renewal – portray the story of the evolution of human consciousness leading ultimately to enlightenment.
     For most people enlightenment is a process of imparting or acquiring information or knowledge about something, like ‘That was an enlightening speech you made’. Historians call the ‘Enlightenment’ that period in 18th century Europe when a group of philosophers promoted a rational and non-theological approach to the problems of philosophy and society.
     This is not, however, the meaning of enlightenment in the Eastern and Western mystery traditions, where light is not an abstract symbol but a living experience that is felt in the heart, the mind and the body.
     Enlightenment is not just a metaphor but rather an experience of one’s own inner essence, and the realisation of the Self with a capital ‘S’. When defined as the rational acquisition of knowledge, it deals with a very limited aspect of human transformation.
     The enlightenment we are dealing with in Freemasonry is that of ancient teachings.
     It is a process of seeing more clearly and having a more lucid awareness. This aspect of transformation, through which Freemasonry guides us, is a gradual process of moving from a state of unknowing to an ever increasing knowledge of one’s Self and one’s true potential.
     Enlightenment plays a central role in the sacred literature and art of most religious and spiritual traditions. God’s invocation for creation was ‘Let there be light’, and science believes that the beginning of the universe was an explosion of inconceivable force and radiance.
     Christ is seen as the ‘light of the world’, and the vision of the Lord in the Bhagavad Gita is of a cosmic being ‘brighter than a thousand suns’. Solar deities of light and fire, like the Indian Agni, the Iranian Ahura Mazda, the Egyptian Ra, and the Greek Apollo play key roles in all the sacred mythologies. Jung called light ‘the central mystery of philosophical alchemy’.


 Previous Page 
PLEASE USE THE LINKS ABOVE - OR ON THIS LINE - TO MOVE BETWEEN PAGES
 Next Page