Concerning God and Religion 3

"....may the work begun in Thy Name be continued to Thy Glory, and evermore established in us by obedience to Thy Divine precepts." (Masonic Ritual.)

"And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptise with water the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptiseth with the Holy Ghost." (St. John, 1, 33)

"I returned From the most holy wave, regenerate, E'en as new plants renew'd with foliage new, Pure and made apt for mounting to the stars." (Dante, "Purgatorio")

Part Three: THE SECOND INITIATION

The first initiation has taken place, and the aspirant who has taken the "first regular step must now lay emphasis upon the purification of the lower nature which it is essential should preface the second Initiation. The baptism of John is the symbol of this purification. Tradition tells us that the Christian Master was "thirty years" old when He submitted Himself to the baptism ("And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age " - Luke 3, 23), at which period began His work as a Master for a further "three" years. Thirty-three years was, in the Mysteries, the mystical duration of life of every initiate who attained Mastership, and it is for this reason that the Antient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Masonry extends to 33 Degrees, in perpetuation of the original secret tradition. Thirty signifies the perfecting of the three aspects of the personality — the physical body, the emotional nature, and the mind. When these three parts of the lower nature are functioning smoothly, and together form a unit for the use of the inner man, an integrated personality, or an efficient lower self, is the result. Ten is the number of perfection, and thirty therefore testifies to perfection in all three parts of the equipment of the soul.

In the story of the Baptism related in the New Testament, it is stated that John "came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance "(St. Luke, 3, 3). The name "John" signifies "gift of God" and represents the spiritual capacity within man which first awakens the moral nature. This moral nature means, as Freemasonry teaches, the cultivation of the four Cardinal Virtues, namely Temperance, Fortitude, Prudence, and Justice, and until these are built into the character of the aspirant there can be no further progress. We are also told in the Gospel narrative that John addressed the "multitude", divided into four representative classes, the intellectuals, the artisans, the traders, and the soldiers, using words appropriate to each (St. Luke, 3, 7-14) Now, we must understand that in the East, these four great classes of people are symbolic of the fourfold essence of man (spirit, soul, mind, and body), as the following extract from the "Laws of Manu" will make clear

"In order to protect the Universe, He, the most Resplendent One, assigned separate duties and occupations to those who sprang from His mouth, arms, thighs and feet.

"To Brahmanas (the higher mind) he assigned teaching and studying the law.

"To Kshatriya (the mental forces) he commanded to protect the people.

"To Vaisya (the astral desire body) he commanded to bestow gifts, to tend cattle, to trade, to lend money, to cultivate land.

"One occupation alone he commanded the Sudra (the physical body) to serve meekly the other three."

("Symbolism of the Sacred Language of all Scriptures and Myths," by G. A. GASKELL.)

It will be seen, therefore, that the content of John's message is intended for the guidance of aspirants and must be interpreted in the light of mystical teaching. First, the "Scribes and Pharisees" (corresponding to the Brahmanas) are condemned because they do not bring forth spiritual gifts; this is an admonition to aspirants to manifest "the spirit which is of God"; as St. Paul declares: "And my speech and my preaching was not with the enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power" (1st Corinthians, 2, 4). Second, the "people" (corresponding to the Sudra) are instructed to cultivate the virtue of giving; this is a reminder to aspirants that even the smallest act of giving is a step upon the Path, and leads to that sublime stage where the whole personal life, with its acts and thoughts and feelings, is dedicated to the service of the One in all. Third, the "publicans" (corresponding to the Vaisya) are told to "exact no more than that which is appointed to you"; this means that aspirants must constantly practise control and discrimination, well knowing that it is the outgoing forces of desire that are the sources of sorrow and suffering. Fourth, the "soldiers" (corresponding to the Kshatriya) are enjoined, "Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages"; the meeting here is that aspirants are to keep the mind serene and quite indifferent to the result of actions while yet, in a spirit of utter detachment, performing such acts as are their bounden duty.

Generally speaking the steps in spiritual progression may be grouped into four — corresponding, in mystical terminology, to Initiation by Water, Air, Fire, and Earth, or the four metaphysical "elements". The writer of the Gospel according to St. Luke had evidently been instructed in the rites of the Greek Mysteries, for the following passage employs a symbolism which is exact according to the Mystery teaching:-

"John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptise you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose he shall baptise you with the Holy Ghost and with fire:

"Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner; but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable." (ST. LUKE, 3, 16-17.)

In the Greek Mysteries, the first priest carried water; he baptised the candidates for Initiation, and then announced the coming of the second priest, who carried a fan and a sieve. The second priest announced the third, who carried a lighted torch to burn the chaff, and in turn announced the fourth, who came with a pruning hook and adze "to be laid at the root of the tree that every useless bough might be cut off". These successive visitations by priests bearing emblems of the progressive degrees of purification were intended to emphasise to candidates selected from those who, of their "own free will and accord", had accepted the discipline of the Path, that no achievement of the higher initiations is possible without absolute purity. The first initiation stands simply for commencement, and marks that period in the life of the aspirant when he definitely sets himself to work at the building of his own character. He takes himself in hand, cultivates the qualities that are lacking in his disposition, and seeks with all diligence to bring his personality under control. The analogy between the prenatal period in the history of the human being, and that of the development of the indwelling spirit is important to students of mystical doctrine. We may, for convenience, express it in the following terms:-

1. The moment of conception — denotes the entrance to the mystical Path - the first preparation: "In my heart".

2. Nine months' gestation — the gradual response to the imperative urge to adjust the personal life experienced at the outset of the quest.

3. The birth hour — corresponding to the first initiation — the commencement on the pilgrimage of the Path.

The first initiation, or "new birth", therefore symbolises the dedication of the physical body and the physical plane life to the soul. A certain structure of right living, thinking, and conduct has been built up ("the building in the heart"); we call that form, character. It has now to be vivified and indwelt. Thackeray has well described this process of building, in the words so often quoted :-

Sow a thought and reap an action; sow an action and reap a habit; sow a habit and reap character; sow character and reap destiny."

The immortal destiny of each and all of us is to attain the consciousness of the higher self, and subsequently that of the Divine Spirit. When the form is ready, when Solomon's Temple has been built in the quarry of the personal life, then the Spirit of Wisdom descends upon the work and the glory of the Lord overshadows His temple. In other words, the form becomes vibrant. Therein lies the difference between theory and attainment, for as the result of the work of the first initiation, and of the "trials and approbations" undergone, the new life germinates. The aspirant is already a changed man; the inner forces of his soul have begun to organise and manifest themselves in his thought, his conduct, his speech, and his person. To the trained eye this spiritual change is easily perceptible; "How do you know a Brother by day?" asks the cryptic question in the First Lecture (Seventh Section) of our Masonic E.A. Degree, and the equally cryptic reply is, "By seeing him and observing the Sign but the sign observed is not the formal gesture of salute, it is the perceptible radiance of new life from within, suffusing and issuing from the man who is intently building the temple of his own soul. At this stage of the work the aspirant undergoes the "Baptism of John", or Initiation by water; the "ear of corn" (the indwelling spiritual principle) is nourished by the "fall of (Living) water" from above and begins to "sprout forth". As the result of life experience the aspirant is ready to take the "second regular step". The second initiation stands for the demonstrated control and consecration to divinity of the desire nature, with its emotional reactions and its potent "wish life". A new factor now enters in, the discriminating faculty of the mind. By means of it, the aspirant must bring the mental life under control and dedicate it to the life of the kingdom of God, which is consummated at the third initiation. Through the correct use of the mind, the aspirant is led to make right choice, and to balance (with wisdom) the endless pairs of opposites.

The path of the aspirant henceforth is a thorny one; briars beset his every step, and difficulties meet him at every turn. Yet in the treading of the Path, in the overcoming of the difficulties, and in a single-hearted adherence to the end in view, comes at length the attainment of the goal. This definiteness of objective and the consecration of the whole man to an ideal are conditions indicative of the state of initiation. All life's happenings are related to the carrying forward of the life task; life takes on true significance. Here is a lesson which all of us, uninitiate and aspiring, can at least attempt to learn, and then as we proceed onwards maybe we can say with a well known writer:

"Life to me, as I look back on it, is not a succession of experiences, but one great experience illumined here and there by moments of revelation." ("The Mystery of the Kingdom of God," by ALBERT SCHWEITZER.)

The "second regular step", then, may be described as a process of growth in the characteristics, together with the gradual attainment of maturity, which mark the citizen of the Kingdom of God. To this, indeed, the Christian Master testified through the baptism when He attained maturity, while by His successful passing of the tests, as outlined in the three "temptations" recorded in the Gospels. He demonstrated the needed purity. Now, the author of the Gospel according to St. Luke indicates the inner significance of these tests or "temptations in the following passage :-

"And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness.

"Being forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days he did eat nothing: and when they were ended, he afterwards hungered."

It is important to note the statement that Jesus was — full of the "Holy Ghost"; in other words, fervour filled his whole being; the inner planes had been opened to him; he was to be tested as to what use he would make of this new consciousness. Jesus here typifies the aspirant who has received a revelation from "above"; he is "properly prepared" by means of drastic purification (the baptism of Jordan) to make what has often been called "Itinerarium mentis in Deo", the ascent of the mind to the Source of Light; and must first be tested in the "wilderness", or the uncultivated places of his emotional and desire nature. The allusion to a period of time spent in the "wilderness" therefore denotes a necessary phase in the experience of the aspirant. All aspirants must discover that they contain the "wilderness" within themselves, and they must also learn to cultivate that "wilderness" until it becomes a "garden" for the soul. In the V. of the S.L., the number forty is always used as the full appointed time of probation or trial; hence, Noah was shut up in the Ark for forty days; the Israelites were "led into the wilderness" for forty years, and were in the hands of the Philistines for forty years; Elijah was in hiding for forty days; and Nineveh fasted for forty days when they heard Jonah's message. Further, the number forty, measured in weeks, represents roughly the number of weeks that a child rests in its mother's womb before birth; hence its significance of any period of time when the aspirant is undergoing the inevitable testing, and is therefore apparently "hemmed in" by circumstances, which will eventually lead to the birth of a new consciousness or of greater spiritual power. The "devil" (otherwise Satan or Saturn) thus refers to the confining and limiting condition imposed upon the aspirant, and is another name for the lower self-principle, which is the foundation of all temptation, and entirely inimical to spiritual growth. There are three "temptations" relating to the testing of the three aspects of the lower nature — the physical nature, the emotional-desire nature, and the mind or mental nature. Oriental philosophy speaks of three spheres of life, which are known as the worlds of "maya", "glamour", and "illusion", to be overcome by aspirants, and these are equivalent to the three "temptations" of the Gospels. "Maya" is associated with the world of physical forces, and may be said to be the "sphere of life" corresponding to the first "temptation". "Glamour" alludes to the world of emotional being and desire, and it is this "glamour" which colours our lives and produces false values, wrong desires, worries, anxieties, and cares; the test of dissipating "glamour" is the subject of the second "temptation". "Illusion" is more mental in its impact and comprehends the world of ideas and thought life, and is the "sphere of life" with which the third "temptation" is concerned. Moreover, in these three words — "maya", "glamour", and "illusion" we have synonyms for the "flesh", the "world", and the "devil ", which constitute the threefold test that confronts every aspirant at this stage of his progress on the Path. The writer of the third Gospel indicates the technique of this grade in the cryptic phrase: "And in those days he did eat nothing; and when they were ended, he afterwards hungered." The discipline of the Path is adapted at this stage of advancement in order to take into account the fact that while in the flesh Man exists also in the invisible worlds of feeling and thought. As the result of this preparation the psychic senses of the aspirant are awakened, and the tests imposed during the period of probation are therefore particularly concerned with the unlawful use of psychic powers. These psychic powers must be kept under the strictest control (or, "starved"; hence it is said of Jesus, "he did eat nothing") otherwise the aspirant is apt to be taken in by the allurements of the desire for psychic phenomena. Increased psychic sensitiveness is both an indication of growth and, at the same time, a test; the danger is that the dormant spiritual qualities (the "stone" of the biblical narrative) will remain undeveloped owing to the exploitation of psychic powers, and their use for self assertion, due to over-development of the desire nature (unleavened "bread" is a symbol of desire). The reward to him who, by the exercise of spiritual will, is successful in "overcoming" desire for psychic powers is the "hidden manna" (Gnosis or secret wisdom "the word of God"), by which spiritual strength and power is conferred. This spiritual nourishment (the "food" for which, it is said of Jesus, "he afterwards hungered") has been symbolised in religious systems by ceremonial feasts. In the Mithraic mysteries it appeared as the Mizd or sacred wafer; in the mysteries of Eleusis the candidate was fed from the basket of Ceres; and in early Christian times the candidate for baptism (then considered as a grade of initiation), after fasting, was given a meal of milk and honey. The further reward is the "white stone" (stabilised consciousness on the higher planes) with the "new and secret name written therein" (knowledge within the self of the changed and transmuted nature). A white stone, with mystic characters engraved, was common to many of the Mysteries, the meaning of the letters being communicated to the initiated alone. A similar token survives in one of our present day Masonic degrees.

There are two interesting facts connected with the three "temptations" as recorded by the author of the Gospel according to St Luke; each of them begins with "If" on the lips of the devil, and each is met by the Master with the words, "It is written". These two phrases link together the three episodes and furnish the key to the whole process of testing. The test that all aspirants have to face eventually is the test of divinity, and the ultimate "temptation" is therefore DOUBT. Two crucial questions insistently recur during the progress of the aspirant: Am I divine? How must my divine powers express themselves? Admittedly, to the aspirant who is but little evolved spiritually the problem of divinity as a whole does not pre sent itself; at first he is preoccupied only with the details of his preparation, and with the problems in the immediate foreground of his life; these he handles or not, as the case may be, by the light of his conscience. As he progresses, however, the details are found to assume less importance, and the general truth of his divine nature begins slowly to concern him, until at length the life problem must be fully considered from the angle of divinity itself. Such are the implications hidden in the threefold "If" of the "tempter" (threefold in allusion to the three principal stages on the Path, corresponding to the three Degrees of our Craft system), and in the triple response, "It is written", attributed to the Master (a cryptic reference to the quest of the aspirant for the "Lost Word", also perpetuated in our Masonic system). It is indeed the "Word of God" (the influx of divinity) that determines the attitude of the aspirant in temptation; if that "Word" is remote, deep-hidden by the veiling form, it will not be potent enough to withstand the test. The "Word" is "written" in the flesh, and the aspirant must strive continually to tread the "path", and to take the "step", which will enable the "Word" to sound forth, if not in its completeness, at least in broken syllables or letters. Hence our practice in the Craft of "halving" or "lettering" the "Word" of the Degree is a most instructive reminder of the fact that although the aspirant can only "communicate the Word" in sincere, but fragmentary efforts, those fragments will nevertheless suffice to permit him to "pass" on to higher attainments. When the aspirant has contacted the higher consciousness ("the pinnacle of the Temple"), and doubt is resolved, the "devil" departs for a season. There are more trials ahead, but he has safely emerged from the three connected with the "water" test. From now on he will not require that every message from "on high", and every intuitional thought, must be demonstrable immediately by his reasoning consciousness, for he will have learned that there are powers within the soul that transcend those of the concrete mind.

At this stage also the aspirant must commence to study thought control as a preliminary to the "air initiation". Initiation by "air" signifies the understanding of the workings and powers of the mind. Even in ordinary language the word "air" is associated with the mind we say that a thing is "in the air" when we mean that the minds of men everywhere are turning towards a certain truth. The work of the "air initiation" is known as the cleansing of the mental body, and it is to this that the writer of the third Gospel refers in the cryptic phrase, "Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor " (Luke, 3, 17). The synthetic mental faculty is not yet perfectly unfolded, neither has the aspirant begun to exercise its full powers; he has therefore to "repent", i.e., to change or reverse the direction and sublimate the quality of thought, thereby constantly correcting impressions made on the lower mind by knowledge drawn from the higher. Henceforth the quality of speech (mystically understood) is to be changed, and as in the change from boyhood to manhood the sound vibrations change with the altered pitch of the voice, so at this spiritual maturing a more powerful mental vibration is set in motion and the quality of the thought is altered. By this is meant that the aspirant now begins to project his thought with definite intent. He learns to speak "with authority," i.e., with true knowledge of reality. He determines to use the potent immuence of sound for a spiritual purpose alone, and on this account he is enjoined to be "watchful" (to guard his words); he must speak with deliberation, weighing well what is to be said or left unsaid, striving to convey his ideas with accuracy and clarity. He must learn in this disciplined speech to leave unspoken everything that might be harmful, and particularly to guard his tongue in regard to the secrets of spiritual science. There are mental processes which entirely transcend ordinary modes of thought. In the realm of abstract thought, unmixed with desire, the aspirant is lifted out of his illusory sense of separateness. Here his thought is pure, being uncontaminated with the desire element; here he can synthesise and harmonise all that the lower mind has observed as separated. On these higher levels of the mental plane the aspirant will achieve finally the state of pure contemplation of Reality into which all mental activity is indrawn in the mystic trance, the advanced stage of meditation. The promise to him who attains is that he shall be "clothed in white raiment", i.e., being utterly purified he shall be indrawn or re-absorbed into the Divine, being thus clothed in Light. White, as the unrefracted light, is the emblem of Life and Eternity, as colour denotes the various qualities of that One Life displayed in the realms of time and phenomena. In the words of the poet :-

"Life, like a dome of many-coloured glass, Stains the white radiance of Eternity."

The regaining of the Eternal is therefore symbolised by the putting on of the "white garment", which will explain an important part of the investiture of the Candidate in our Masonic Royal Arch Degree.

According to the Kabbalistic tradition (which is the source of much of our Craft teaching) the second initiation marks the stage of intermittent illumination, and is denoted by the name DAVID (signifying the "accepted" neophyte, still under testing and instruction). The Hebrew letter, corresponding to our letter D, with which the name David begins and ends, is Daleth, meaning "a door", and "the key of the house of David" (Isaiah, 22, 22) denotes the aspiration of the soul after Truth, which opens the "door" to revelation. In the sense, then, that the Candidate in the Craft is seeking admission to the Mysteries, the "key of the house of David" signifies the opening of a "door" which admits him to a further perception of Truth. This simple explanation also provides the key to the following catechism taken from the Second Section of the First Lecture:-

Q.- How did you gain admission?

A.- By t . . . distinct knocks.

Q.- They have an allusion?

A.- To an ancient and venerable exhortation: Seek, and ye shall find; ask, and ye shall have; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.

Q.- How did you apply that exhortation to your then situation?

A.- Having sought in my mind, I asked of my friend, he knocked, and the door of Freemasonry became opened to me.

The first cryptic reference, however, to the "key of the house of David appears in the First Section of the First Lecture, and it is significant that this Section leads up to the declaration that Freemasonry contains "secrets." The catechism proceeds as follows:-

Q.- Have Freemasons secrets?

A.- They have, many and invaluable ones.

Q.- Where do they keep them?

A.- In their hearts.

Q.- To whom do they reveal them?

A.- To Freemasons and to Freemasons only.

Q.- How do they reveal them?

A.- By Sns., Ts., and particular Ws.

Q.- As Freemasons how do we hope to arrive at them?

A.- By the assistance of a key.

Q.- The position of that key?

A.- It hangs.

Q.- Why is the preference given to hanging?

A.- It should always hang in a Brother's defence and never lie to his prejudice.

Q.- What does it hang by?

A.- The thread of life, in the passage of utterance between Guttural and Pectoral.

Q.- Why so nearly connected with the heart?

A.- That, being an index of the mind, it should utter nothing but what the heart truly dictates.

Q.- It is a curious key, will you inform me of what metal it is composed?

A.- Of no metal, W.M. ; it is the tongue of good report.

Here, at the very outset of the instruction intended to be given to the novice in the Craft, information is imparted of a profound nature. The subject cannot be pursued exhaustively in this Paper, but the following excerpt from that excellent manual — "The Ceremony of Passing" by the late W. Bro. W. L. Wilmshurst will suggest the underlying meaning, and amplify what has already been put forward:- The secrets of each Degree are to be kept separate and distinct from those in the former," says the Ritual. Reflect, therefore, in what respect those of the Second Degree are "separate and distinct" from those of the First. The secrets of the first Degree had to do with the "head", i.e., with the practical everyday intelligence and the performing of "active" duties. But those of the Second Degree are different; they are secrets of the "heart" or soul; of the intuitional and affectional side of our nature, which is subjective and "passive". The Candidate for self-knowledge has to train himself to understand and discipline both his head and his heart, to balance activity with contemplation; to labour zealously at practising virtue and his external Masonic duties, especially the control of his sense-nature, but also to "study to be quiet", to watch for and examine perceptions, enthusiasms and passional urges (whether good or bad) that well up from within him; above all to listen for the "still small voice" that may be heard speaking in his heart when the winds of passion drop and the tremors of the senses subside.

"This distinction between the things of the head and those of the heart accounts for the difference in the posture" assumed by the Candidate when taking his Obligation. If we recall that in the Craft as in the Scriptures the right side and limbs of the body are associated with the head and the left with the heart, we shall readily see why, at the Obligation, complementary parts of the Candidate are exposed or covered. For both head and heart, though intimately related, have their distinct functions and must be separately understood by those who seek knowledge of themselves. Both are as necessary to us as the two sides of the body, but until the head is so enlightened by the heart that reason and intuition function in unity and cannot act separately, either of them may prove a terribly treacherous and misleading faculty. Wrongheadedness is far more common than evil-heartedness and responsible for far more mischief and suffering, because we are prone to form our judgments by the darkened carnal reason, in preference to consulting the luminous intuitions of the heart. Let us recall the Biblical injunction — "Let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth!" by which we must understand that the heart will often have to refuse its sanction to the impulses of the head." ("The Ceremony of Passing," by W.L. WILMSHURST.)

There are adequate reasons for the veiled language of the catechism quoted from the First Lecture, not the least of them being the fact that much physiological truth is concealed in the guarded reference to: "The thread of life, in the passage of utterance between Guttural and Pectoral". The allusion is to certain powers intimately related to the perfecting process by which the aspirant, gradually discovering, conquering, and utilising all his forces and faculties, achieves at length the regeneration of his whole nature. In the unawakened individual these higher powers are literally shut down, inhibited or sealed, until such time as, by an effort of spiritual will, assisted by strenuous training, stern discipline, and continued mental and moral endeavour, they are one by one released and slowly brought into full activity. It is dangerous, however, to tamper with the secret springs and mechanism of life ignorantly, and without full knowledge of what is involved; abuse of the use of this "key" may entail both physical and mental damage. Spiritual energies cannot be set in motion without inducing results of some kind; and here, as elsewhere, action and reaction are equal and opposite. If they do not act creatively and constructively they react destructively and like a boomerang; the counsel always given to aspirants is, therefore, that no one should attempt to use the "key of the house of David" except under the guidance of a qualified and responsible Preceptor. Because these dangers are real they are expressly referred to in the penal provisions attached to the Obligation of the Second Degree in our Craft system, where they are associated with a special Sign (the Sn. of F.) which alludes to the protection of the heart "from the attacks of the insidious". Moreover, as our Ritual implies, until the aspirant is possessed of a high degree of personal purity, virtue, and understanding, permission is not granted to him to "extend" his "researches into the hidden mysteries; although, to the man of virtue, who knows in advance what he is attempting, and whose progress is guided by the "principles of moral truth", the assurance is given that "no danger will ensue — upon his venturing into the paths of heavenly science." He will act, and with safety, upon the age-old enjoinder of the Mysteries: To know; to will; to dare and to keep silent". This grade on the Path, known to us in Freemasonry as the "mid-way", is notoriously one of violent emotional alternation, and may be likened to a rough sea passage; folly and wisdom, weakness and strength, aridity and illumination — these are the lot of every mystical David, whose psychological life at this stage is one of alteration between the opposite shores by which the fluidic mind of man is bounded. The psalmist himself has well described those who enter the process of "passing", in the following passage -

"They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths; their soul is melted because of trouble. "They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wit's end. Then they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses. "He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still "Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven." (Psalm 107, 26-30.)

To this Scriptural metaphor we no doubt owe the reference in our Ritual to steering "the barque of life o'er the rough sea of passion, without quitting the helm of rectitude". Another allusion in our Ritual to the personal troubles encountered in the "passing" stage is the cryptic reference to the payment of "wages" to the Craftsmen in the "porchway or entrance" to the Temple, i.e., in the initial stage of spiritual progress. This mention of "wages" in the Second Degree is a remnant from the Mark Degree, which was formerly incorporated in the Fellowcraft grade, where the subject is dealt with much more fully. The following quotation from "The Ceremony of Passing" will again supply the explanation:-

Now every Craftsman may rest assured of receiving good wages for his work and for all efforts he expends in promoting the spiritual development of himself or his Brethren; the Great Overseer and Paymaster will see to that. But as soon as he wholeheartedly sets about to such work he may, and probably will, find wages of a disagreeable and unexpected kind coming to him, in the form of obstacles, illness, losses, estrangements; as though, at the very moment he had begun to reconstruct his life and outlook, all the powers of darkness were crowding in upon him to prevent his advance. Well, so they are; but they are powers proceeding from within himself; he is encountering opposition from his own self and experiencing the reactions of the Moral Law to his own past, and perhaps forgotten, breaches of it. The soul of each of us contains its own Judgment-book with a debit and credit account of what is due from us or to us by the Law underlying our being, an account which is often overdrawn and which sooner or later has to be balanced; and there are "wages of sin" as well as wages of righteousness. The "wages of sin" is always "death", i.e., a deadening and dulling of spiritual faculty, and it is the peculiar trial of every real Initiate that, after his first glad glimpse of Light and after most earnest resolves to be faithful to his vision, he loses it and finds himself suddenly confronted with unexpected inexplicable difficulties in recapturing it.

Hence, then, our Craft's reference to receiving our mystical "wages" without scruple or diffidence, well recognising ourselves to be justly entitled to them and in complete confidence in the Employer into whose service we have entered. ("The Ceremony of Passing," by W.L. WILMSHURST.)

The exhortation to the aspirant is to hold fast to the Ideal, to the imparted truth ("and, as I trust that the import of the former Charge neither is, nor ever will be, effaced from your memory") and the reward to him who fulfils his Obligation to the Higher Self ("to act as a true and faithful Craftsman, to answer Sns., obey S., and maintain the principles inculcated in the former Degree") will be complete dominion over his own powers and faculties. He shall control his own forces, having achieved mastery over the lower nature; he shall obtain power to rule ("the Master to rule and direct the Lodge"). Finally, there is the reward of the Morning Star, signifying the rising of Divine Love, which points the way to full illumination. This is the Blazing Star of the Mysteries; in the Christian tradition reappearing at the Star of Bethlehem, heralding the King, the established spiritual Ruler: "whose rising brings peace and salvation to the faithful and obedient of the human race ".

The aspirant now enters into the period of active work which must precede the next initiation, that of the Transfiguration.

SO MOTE IT BE.

(TO BE CONTINUED.)