The Craft Journey — Part Three
A Discussion of some of its Finger-posts and Milestones
W.Bro. J. R. Cleland, M.A., D.D., P.P.A.G.Chap. (Kent)
Part 3. "THE CEREMONY OF INITIATION"
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace." (Isaiah, IX., v. 6.)
"Before the eyes can see, they must be incapable of tears. Before the ear can hear. It must have lost its sensitiveness. Before the voice can speak in the presence of the Masters, It must have lost Its power to wound.
"Before the soul can stand in the presence of the Masters, its feet must be washed in the blood of the heart" (Light on the Path)
"Yet, if the doctrine of the heart be too high-winged for thee, if thou needest help thyself and fearest to offer help to others — then, thou of timid heart, be warned in time: remain content with the eye doctrine of the Law. Hope still, for if the secret Path is unattainable this day, it is within thy reach to- morrow." (The Voice of the Silence)
"By AMEN and By AMEN, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God." (St. John, Ch. 3., v. 3.)
"In my distress I cried unto the Lord, and he heard me." (Psalm CXX. A Song of degrees, v. 1.)
"Three wise men of Gotham
Went to sea in a bowl:
If the bowl had been stronger,
My song would have been longer."
In the first and second parts of this paper, we have dealt with a few of the important points which are to be found in the preparation of the Lodge and of the Candidate respectively. We are now prepared to launch our Candidate upon his journey, and to consider some of the teachings and symbols with which he will come into contact during the course of the Ceremonies of the Craft Degrees. In this Third Part, which I offer for your consideration to-day, I propose to deal with the Ceremony of Initiation only, leaving the other ceremonies for treatment in later parts.
Let us ever remember that "the progress of the individual is not in separation from his fellows, but in closer union and identity." So it is put by Wm. Kingsland in "The Esoteric Basis of Christianity" (p. XXI.).
We begin, therefore, by emphasising once more the importance of looking upon the whole of the Craft Ceremonies from the point of view of the Candidate as the central figure. Our Ceremonies are not, as so many brethren appear to think, opportunities for the W.M. and his Officers to display their histrionic abilities, their showmanship, and the perfection of their memorisation of the wording of the printed ritual. Even these comparatively minor details have their value. I would be the last to deny it. But they sink into almost unimportance when realization dawns that the object of the ritual is the unfolding and development of the Spiritual entity in the Candidate, and that the W.M. and the Officers and Brethren themselves are, for the purpose in view, merely shadows, mere dramatisations of certain aspects of the Candidate, who, as a complete although not yet self-conscious unity, is the Central Figure of the Drama, embracing and comprehending the whole system within himself.
Our Ceremonies are designed to preserve and enshrine the basic truths of existence and to convey these truths to the consciousness of the Candidate in such a manner as to call out a response from within and enable him to make them an integral portion of his own conscious self. He must, as it were, build them into the fabric of the Ladder of the Ever-Becoming Self so that ultimately he may "let patience have her perfect work, that he may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing." (St. James I.,4).
The Candidate, then, being properly prepared and the Lodge being duly open for the purpose of absorbing him into itself in order that, paradoxically, he may unfold it within himself, the Tyler directs him to seek admission by knocking upon the door. It will be necessary to guide his hand to the door, as he is already h.w. and in a.s. of d.
Being duly admitted by the implantation of the Cross-symbol in his H., the Etheric I.G. delivers him into the hands of the Emotional Faculty, the J.D., who is to be his conductor throughout this first ceremony. I need not here repeat what I have covered in former papers (see Trans. 8 and 16).
If the Candidate has been properly prepared by his sponsors, he will give himself wholly and without reserve into the hands of his conductor, who must take the place of his eyes for the time being. But, at the same time, his ears will be open and every other faculty on the alert, so that he is ready to absorb and answer promptly, and to the best of his ability, any test question which may be put to him.
Now, here I must digress for a moment to say a few words upon the subject of Prompting. Practically all the questions put to the Candidate in the course of our ceremonies are in the nature of tests, and if, as is unfortunately so often the case, the D. prompts an answer before the Candidate has had a chance to grasp the meaning of the question, the whole test is invalidated. If the Candidate hesitates too long, the D. should first say, "answer." which will, normally, draw a reply without more definite prompting. In certain cases it may be necessary to be more explicit, but the Candidate should be encouraged, so far as possible, to answer in his own words, rather than to wait for a prompt and copy it parrotwise. A good sound hearty "yes," said with understanding, is worth more than all the "I wills," "I dos" and "I ams" that are repeated merely following the D.'s prompt.
It cannot be too strongly accentuated that these are Test Questions, asked with a view to trying-out the Candidate and neither as a test of the work of the D., nor as mere formalities.
It is far better to risk an occasional contre temps, such as occurred when a certain candidate, being asked, "In all cases of difficulty and danger, in whom do you place your trust?" answered without hesitation "my wife!", than to leave any suggestion in the mind of the Candidate that he need not listen to the question, and that he is not expected to think out the answer for himself, as it must be couched in certain set terms which will be spoon-fed to him by his conductor.
We are told most explicitly that we have to undergo "repeated trials and approbations," and at a later stage the Candidate is told to prepare himself "for that last and greatest trial." As we have seen, the Candidate must be, throughout, his own judge. His own faculties, represented by the Officers of the Lodge, have the duty of trying and testing him in every way, to prove to the satisfaction of his highest operative self that the preparation is completed for the abdication of that self in favour of one still higher. As the next larger chamber of the Nautilus must be completed and ready for occupation before it is safe for the owner-builder to evacuate and seal off that at present occupied, so must the vehicle of man be prepared before the higher consciousness in its expanded form can take possession and function freely and without danger from the twin follies of rashness and reticence.
It is important to emphasise again that, although he had in effect given it, the Candidate is, on his entry, unaware that he is in possession of the p.w. by which he gains admission. It is quite surprising how many Brn. are caught out over the matter of this p.w., when they go as visitors to lodges working under Constitutions wherein it is demanded, but one cannot altogether blame them. I well remember that, although I was conscious of knowing it and expecting to be asked to give it, on the first occasion when it was demanded of me there was quite a feeling of shock.
The utmost humility of bearing is demanded of the Candidate if he is to exemplify the traditional qualifications of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience, so he comes "humbly soliciting."
On his admission, this should be driven home by the action of the I.G., and it is to be regretted that this is usually carried out in silence. It is surely an advantage to emphasise the action by some form of words which may impress it more fully upon the mind of the Candidate, even if one cannot enter into details of what is happening and of its implications. Even the somewhat platitudinous "so may your conscience prick you should you at any time feel disposed improperly to reveal any of the secrets about to be entrusted to your keeping" is better than complete silence. It does, in fact, serve the purpose well.
Traditionally, the entrance into the body of the Lodge is by a series of three Portals, of the first of which the Guardian is the I.G. The Guardians of the second and third are the Wardens, which fact is probably the original implication of their title. I shall have more to say later of these two Portals and of the ceremonies which were, and sometimes still are, associated with their passing.
The First Portal is the point of testing of the general fitness and preparedness of the Candidate. The questions asked and the instructions given, together with the further preparation carried out at this point; are all in the hands of the W.M., as the Faculty of Intuition. It is now that so much which the symbolic-candidate has in the past attributed to Instinct is found to be the action of the higher spiritual faculty of Intuition, through the action of which only can the freedom and maturity of the aspirant be tested and confirmed.
Now, as we have seen, the Candidate, as a three-fold Personality, is presented to T.G.A.O.T.U. in prayer. While he retains the same attitude, the basis of his faith is tested and the Emotional or Desire Faculty, grown to full strength, takes charge and leads him onwards.
The Candidate is now ready to meet his Brethren and, although still he cannot see nor contact them directly, he gains the knowledge that they are there around him in his time of trial, to help him and to guard him from all danger.
The Brethren from the N.E.S. &W. will take notice ...". The order is of particular importance, not merely as an indication of the ordering and direction of the journeying of the Candidate, but also as an indication of the relative importance of the four Cardinal Points. This is a subject for individual meditation, and it contains vast possibilities. (If you like a subject for meditation, try the parallel between this order of the Principal Officers and the syllables of the word ISH-RA-EL.)
The passing of the Rrst Poaal was but the beginning of a three-fold period of examination and probation. In our rituals to-day it has been reduced to an absolute minimum, but in some workings, still extant, it is more fully exemplified under the guise of what is known as the "Three Symbolical Journeys." The first of these journeys is accompanied by the clashing of swords, shouting and general pandemonium. The second is still somewhat noisy but of less alarming nature, and the third is undertaken in the most profound silence.
Led, then, by the working of his own Higher Desires, the Candidate presses forward upon the Symbolical Journeys and arrives at the Second Portal, at which the J.W., the Higher Mental Faculty, the lowest of the Aspects of the Three-fold Individuality, sits on guard. Approaching him, the J.D. gives the necessary vibratory indication of the presence of the Candidate, using the hand of the Candidate to give the required signal. Then follow the same tests as preceeded the entering in of the first Portal.
In Ancient times, when the Mysteries were more openly performed than is the case to-day, it was well known that the Candidate must be prepared to show his command over the forces of Nature by undergoing the trials of the Four Elements, and a similar series of trials awaits all those who to-day may aspire to the true Mysteries. In the Egyptian rituals we find the Candidate at each Portal being stopped and permitted to pass only when he had proved his power by giving to each part its proper name. Many writers have told of these trials which were — and are — real tests of courage and endurance. With us, the Wardens examinations are merely formal, but behind them lies dormant the seeds of the real tests. In the ritual of the Three Symbolical Journeys, to which I have refferred, these tests are carried out symbolically by the summoning of the guardians of the Elements in succession and their recognition, and by the pouring of an appropriate libation in each case by the Candidate.
In the First Symbolical Journey there are no outstanding incidents, for all is noise and confusion, the chaos of the lower levels of the underworld, but the Second brings the Candidate to the Second Portal. Here, first turning to the N. the Elementals of Earth, those creatures whom we name the Gnomes, are summoned and he gives them the necessary recognition, demanding that they allow him to approach the W. of the Gate. The Candidate then turns to the S. and the Undines, the Elementals of Water, are summoned and a similar ceremony takes place. The Candidate is then led to the J.W. and the ceremony proceeds as usual and, the necessary tests having been passed, the J.W. allows him to "Enter," repeating the P.W. as authority.
Then comes the Third Symbolical Journey, culminating in the W., where the S.W., the Spiritual Faculty, the highest of the three-fold Aspects of Individuality, sits, guarding the Third Portal. The ceremonies here are exactly similar to those at the Second Portal, the Candidate first turning to the East to greet the Elementals of Air, the Sylphs; and finally to the West where he finds those of Fire, the Salamanders. Then he comes to the S.W. and the tests are repeated until he is again allowed to "Enter" as before.
Each journey begins and ends in the N.W. corner of the Lodge. The completion of the Third Journey concludes the period of trial, and the Candidate is now ready to make closer contact with the Intuition. The Spiritual Faculty vouches that he is fully prepared and under the urge of the Intuition, directs the Emotional Faculty to instruct the Candidate in the method of approach, when the Intuition has been assured by further questioning, relating to the voluntary nature of his search, the spirit of service which is the actuating agent, and his determination to prosecute the search to the end, that the Candidate is worthy. The fact that each Portal is an "entrance" is perhaps better accentuated in Irish working where the perambulation passes behind the Warden's Chairs.
I would like, in passing, to mention one small point which, although perhaps of no great importance, is helpful in keeping up that full attention to the business in hand which is so necessary in the executive officers, if the work is to be done thoroughly. There are two methods of expressing the direction of advance and also two methods of expressing the mode of advance. It was early impressed upon me by my sponsors that I must keep wide awake and when acting as S.W., always "ring the changes" on whatever expression was used by the W.M. Thus, if the W.M. should say, "to the E. by the p. sps.," the S.W. would use the expression, "to the P. in due form," and so on. Any small point such as this, which serves to keep up the attention of the officers, especially those who, like the S.W., have long periods of quiescence, is, I think, of value.
However, that is merely in passing, and now we must note the method of advance. It is important that the position of the feet should be most carefully explained and watched, and that the point of starting should be properly gauged, so that no further movement is required after the advance has been made. The fullest printed rubrics cover every point. "The J.D. instructs the C. to stand with the l.f. pointing forward and the r.h. square with the h. of the l.f. The fs. is taken straight forward with the l.f. to a distance of about 9 inches, the r.h. being then brought square with the h. of the l.f. as before, the s.s. is again taken with the l.f. to a distance of about 12 inches, the r.h. being brought square with the h. of the l.f. as before, and the t.s. should again be taken with the l.f. to a distance of about 15 inches, the r.h. being brought square with the h. of the l.f. as before," is a typical example.
Need I remind you that the 9, 12 and 15 inches are the 3, 4, 5, proportion of the Pythagorean triangle of Euclid 1., 47?
Where, happily, a separate Altar is installed in the Lodge, it gives opportunity for the better demonstration of the descent of the Intuition to meet the Candidate on his approach.
Now the Candidate is told what is required of him, and, at the same time, is given one last chance to withdraw freely should he feel that the trials and obligations expected of him are beyond his powers to meet and to fulfil.
I need not comment at length upon the Ob. which follows. It is largely self-explanatory, but there are a few points in connection with it which must be mentioned.
The attitude adopted has already been touched upon in our consideration of the Preparation of the Candidate. There are slight differences to be observed in different Constitutions. Under the E.C. the l.h. is "employed in supporting a ........... one .......... n.l.b. This method is employed in most of the Dominion G.L.'s, but in Scotland and U.S.A., and elsewhere, the l.h. is placed, palm up, under the r.h. or under the V.S.L. itself. This position of the hands is the Dieu-Garde (Anglice — Due Guard.) and is used in standing to order. In the Irish working both hands are upon the V.S.L. "one over the other, the l.h. uppermost," to quote the rubric.
The Due Guard is a sign with which all should be familiar, as it is one often demanded in testing when visiting abroad.
In the Ob. itself, there are two points with which I want to deal. The first is that much-discussed word HELE. There are several ways in which this word may be pronounced and there are arguments to be found in favour of each. It is generally admitted to be old Anglo-Saxon in origin, and the root meaning is "to cover up or to conceal." The obvious pronunciation is HEAL, and this is most certainly correct in itself, for we have the word HEAL used in the same sense in the case of wounds. Again, the HEEL of the boot is that part which is hidden when we face a man, and the Heel of a joint was that part by which it was grasped for purposes of carving, before the advent of forks, and even now one often finds it concealed by a paper frill. When a ship HEELS over, she hides a portion of her side in the water, and so on. The word may also be pronounced as HELL, and HELL has been described as the Covered Place, or Nether Regions. This pronunciation is also used to-day in the West Country in another sense, for they talk of a Hellier and of Helling a cottage or rick, in the sense of a Thatcher and Thatching, or putting on a covering. The one pronunciation for which there seems to be least authority, and practically no parallel reading, is that which is insisted upon by certain Masonic authorities, whether with the idea of avoiding what they call "the jingle," or, more probably, because of a stout determination to be different. This pronunciation is as in HAIL. The only suggestion I have heard given of a parallel is the fact that HAIL does sometimes cover the earth, but the derivation here appears to be different and based upon the sound made by the failing stones, from a word meaning "to sound," from which also comes the term used for calling a ship or greeting a friend. My own choice is most certainly HEAL, because, amongst other reasons, I am convinced that the so-called "jingle" was intentional and is of great value not only in creating a vibration, but in impressing the wording upon the Candidate. This view, that it was intentional, is borne out by the several other verbal and alliterative sequences which occur in the course of the Ob.
The second point I want to take up is that of the penalties. In some Constitutions a warning of their coming is given to the candidate before the Ob. is commenced, in which it is said that the Operatives sought to impress the Ob. more deeply upon the Candidate by "threatening him with dire physical penalties if he should ever break his oath." This ritual continues, "you as a m. of h. need no such weird menaces; yet, for the sake of the unchanging tradition of Freemasonry, you will repeat the ancient form, as we have all repeated it," which, incidentally, is not necessarily strictly true, as the penalties are shown in brackets with a rubrical intimation that they, and the warning, may be omitted. This whole business seems to indicate a complete lack of understanding of the implications lying behind the coarse outer shell in which they are dressed. The reference to the Pharyngeal Plexus is definitely important and should never be omitted, as the awakening of this Centre of Force in the Candidate is one of the physical goals of the ritual. This is the Key which hangs by "the Thread of Life, in the passage of utterance between the Guttural and Pectoral" and which is "so nearly connected with the heart." The pass made with the force concentrated in the thumb as is well known to students of Hypnotism, is particularly efficacious for use on such occasions.
The T. refereed to is, once more, that which constitutes the p.w. of the E.A., and which, in case of violation of the Ob. would be lost to him, violently removed by his own act and buried from sight in the coarser particles underlying the waters of the lower desire nature, in the lowest material illusion, those vehicles occupied by the Involving and Evolving Spirit during the course of its Natural Manifestation. The day which is referred to is the Day of Brahma and the whole penalty simply means that he delays his own advance for a full evolutionary period — he is Condemned for an Age or Aeon, which phrase is cheerfully and wholly inaccurately rendered in the common tongue as "Eternally Damned."
The sealing of the vow is of very ancient origin, the lip-contact being the symbolic link between the Inner and the Outer, and bringing about a unification.
And now we reach the culminating point in the degree in the searching enquiry as to what is the predominant wish of his heart. Back comes the answer, summing up in one word the ancient prayer which I quoted in the last part of this paper. Here is a slightly different version :-
"From the unreal lead me to the Real. From darkness lead me to Light. From death lead me to Immortality."
The Light here restored is, of course, the first step towards the recovery of the full Spiritual Consciousness, lost to us when we set out from Eden to gain to the full the knowledge of good and evil and, by that full experiencing of all that material manifestation has to offer in the way of husks shared with swine, to dream dreams of a return to our Father's mansion, until the urge should become sufficiently strong to start us on the Path of Return.
The "Fire" is here given as a means of accentuation of the sudden and overwhelming nature of the "Expansion of Consciousness" symbolised.
In some respects it is to be regretted that the custom at one time in vogue, of the Brethren standing round the Candidate with their drawn swords pointed towards him in token of their readiness ever to help and protect him, has almost disappeared. It had considerable value in concentration of the attention of the Brethren upon the person of the Candidate, but it was by no means an essential requirement and its origin was of comparatively recent date.
The Doctrine of Light is extremely ancient. We have noticed before that the name of the Great Pyramid was "The Light" and the mottoes given for the guidance of the Pharaohs, and indeed of all classes of Egyptian Society, had reference, in varying degree, to the search for Light.
The Restoration to Light is immediately followed in the experience of the Candidate by his introduction to two triads, The Three Great though Emblematical Lights, and the Three Lesser Lights.
W.Bro. Wilmshurst, in his Analysis of and Commentary upon the Ceremony of Initiation (Lodge of Living Stone, Lodge Paper No. 16). divides the Ceremony into 14 steps, 7 ascending to culminate in the Restoration to light and 7 descending in the instructional phase of the ceremony which follows. The same division is adopted by W.Bro. P.T. Runton, in his book, "The Key of Masonic Initiation." Both of these works are worth close study, and I have intentionally adopted a different line of approach and have not usually dwelt upon points which they have adequately covered.
With the Three Great though Emblematical Lights I have already dealt in Part 1. of this paper, but I would add that the V.S.L. should be so placed that it is open as for the Candidate's perusal. As a Book, it is to be viewed only as a Symbol of something infinitely greater, of the One Truth which underlines all Scriptures, whether ancient or modern. The placing of the S. should be such that its relation to the Candidate is the same as that of its counterpart, as a movable jewel, to the W.M., in other words, with the point of the angle towards him. It is with this S. that the Candidate must work until such time as he makes it One with himself when his time comes to be Installed in the C. of K.S. Thereafter he is allowed to carry it with him as a Sojourner among the Builders of the Second Temple, in the Third or G. & R. Lodge to membership of which he is entitled to aspire symbolically only after his Installation as W.M. in the Craft. The fact that a M.M. may now be admitted to exaltation has merely complicated the symbolism without allowing him to become more than a Sojourner in the Chapter until he has completed his knowledge of the Craft in the Chair degree. The position of the C's. should be such that they lie ready to the hand of the W.M., for use in keeping the Brethren "within bounds," until such time as he is able to carry them as part of himself in the higher development symbolised in the office of Pv.G.M.
The two tools together form the blade of the symbolic Trowel by means of which the Order is Cemented together into a compact whole, but this blade is built round another blade, the first of the W.T.'s of the I.G., upon which he admits the Candidate. This blade is the opposite of the other, for it is the Symbol of Disintegration and of Multiplication as opposed to Unification. Companions of the H.R.A. will realise the significance of the figure. I have had occasion to mention this before, but I feel that this is a right and proper place to Introduce an illustration to be attached to our Transactions, as part of this Paper. I would ask you to study the angles made and their significance, for in this figure lies a key which will unlock a vast storehouse of Craft teaching and Symbolism.
The W.M., as Intuition, now makes direct contact with the Candidate, linking with him, hand to hand, to greet him as a Brother, and using the g. or t. of an E.A., thus causing him to stand upright, for the first time fully conscious of his surroundings.
The Candidate's attention is now directed to the Three Lesser Lights and here we have a peculiarly paradoxical piece of ritual, for an analysis of the wording reveals many apparent inconsistencies. He is told that these are situated in the E. S. and W., and are intended to represent the Sun, the Moon and the Master of the Lodge the Sun to rule the Day, the Moon to govern by Night, and the Master to rule and direct his Lodge."
So we find the Sun in the E., the Moon in the S. and the Master of the Lodge in the W., whereas we are accustomed to think of the Master as the W.M. in the E, of the Sun as marked by the J.W. in the S., which leaves the Moon to the S.W. in the W. The whole thing appears at first sight to be a complete muddle.
If, however, we look more closely, we find method in the madness, for we find that we are dealing with a statement of the successive functioning of the three aspects of the Trinity itself. In this sense, dealing with the Lodge as we know it, the Sun is rightly attributed to the W.M. as the present Ruler, the Preservative Aspect for "the Sun is always at its meridian with respect to Freemasonry," the Day is always with us, and the Sun, as ruler of the day, is the appropriate symbol of the W.M. We find the Moon in the S., for it typifies the Past, the Ruler of a Lodge which is dead and no longer functioning, for it has been superceeded by that in which we now work. Its ruler was the Creative Aspect, he who is now our J.W. The Master of The Lodge refers to that Perfect Lodge towards which we strive. It is foreshadowed in the H.R.A., wherein, for the first time, we find the Aspect of Transmutation in the role of First Principal and Ruler. In the Craft he is the S.W., the Ruler of the Future. Those of you who are Companions of the H.R.A. will be familiar with the Three Grand Lodges to which these phases refer. We are dealing here, as I have said, with a statement of successive functioning and it is completely parallel with the distribution of the letters of the thrice-repeated Tetragrammaton, as referred to the three sides of the Pythagorean Triangle by the Ancient Hebrews HJH (3), HVVH (4), VJHJH (5), reading He that was, He that is, He that will be," a paraphrase of the older statement in the Egyptian "Book of the Dead," "I am yesterday, to-day and to-morrow." Remember also the inscription upon the Shrine of Isis, "I, ISIS, am all that ever has been, now is, or ever will be, and no mortal has ever lifted my veil."
May I remind you here that all the Symbols used as emblems of the Planetary Bodies are made up of combinations of the three basic symbols relating to these three aspects, the Circle of the Sun, the Crescent of the noon, and the Greek Cross of the Master of the Lodge. These Symbols are moveable, interchangeable, for the three Aspects of Trinity are ONE, indivisible although apparently divided, yet each becoming ruler of the Lodge, as the three Lodges, representative of their three Aspects, succeed each other, in the illusion of Time.
"As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be."
The whole situation must continue, to some extent, paradoxical, until in the course of our development we come to realise consciously this essential fact of the Trinity in Unity. This realization can only come through the application, whether consciously or unconsciously, of the ancient sequence: Concentration, Meditation, Contemplation.
Everything is three-fold, and the Ancient Druids, in their triads, have emphasised that, before anything can be used as the Weapon of its purpose, it must be known in its three aspects of Haft, Blade and Point. Only when each of these is appreciated as a separate unit can they be welded into a United Whole for use as a Weapon in the conquest of its own environment.
"These things are a Mystery," a Paradox — call them what you will — but the solution lies within each one of us for the Ever-Becoming Self to unearth and appreciate.
The W.M. now addresses the Candidate and tells him that by his "meek and candid behaviour" he has escaped two great dangers. I have already explained the fundamental necessity for meekness and humility in the aspirant. The word "candid" is derived from the Latin candidus, meaning, "of a bright and dazzling white." The Candidate must himself be a light-carrier, Lucifer, and not merely a seeker of the Light. He must bring within himself his own portion of the central flame. I have also mentioned the dangers of rashness and reticence, the two keys to unbalance, positive and negative, which taken together lead to Balance.
There is a third danger, truly, but we have already found the key to this in our study of the Ob.
The Candidate now learns, presumably for the first time, that he has not reached a goal, but has set his foot upon a Ladder, on its first rung, and it is truly said that the several degrees or rungs are not conferred nor can be climbed indiscriminately. The power to advance in the ascent is gained only by true merit and ability.
And now the moment has arrived when the S's. of the degree can be entrusted to his keeping and for the first time he meets in essence the three W.T.'s. which distinguish the Craftsman, even before he has qualified as a F.C., for he is told that those qualities, to measure which they are the instruments used, are the "true and certain sns. by which to know a Mason." He must, then, stand perfectly erect, his f. in the f. of a S. We should note that this is the first position of Masonic Meditation, upon which all others are based. The f. should point S.E. and S.W., h. to h. In the practice of Meditation the attention should be concentrated upon the nape of the neck, pressing it back as though against a resistance. The eyes should hold a perfectly level gaze. There should be no tension anywhere, and no attempt to draw in the abdomen or throw out the chest. The whole position should be perfectly easy and relaxed. It is curious to note that the level gaze of the eyes is omitted in our rituals as a necessary adjunct to the other two requirements. All three conditions are required for the complete posture.
From this Balanced Posture a step is taken with the l.f., turning it in the process through 45 degrees to point forward. With a corresponding turn the r.f. comes up with its h. in the h. of the l.f., forming the first of the so-called "levels" which are destined later to mark the attainment of the C. of K.S. The final posture is of great importance as the second Posture of Masonic Meditation, and is that in which is usually depicted the Armourer of the Ancient Gods, Vulcan or Hephaistos, who is, incidentally, the Guardian of the Balance, Libra. He is often referred to as the Lame God.
The peculiarity of the position is that while it is easy to step off from it with the r.f., at right angles to the former direction of movement, it is extremely difficult to take a s. with the l.f. Before doing so the whole mass of the body must move so that a state of unbalance is produced perpendicular to the direction of motion, which produces an effect of lameness.
This is the f.r.s. in Freemasonry and we have dealt with its implications elsewhere. The position is awkward and uncomfortable when complete, but it is in this position that the s's. are to be communicated, for it is essentially a posture of tenseness, readiness and expectancy, in which there is heightened receptivity.
Now are communicated the S., T. and W.
With the first of these we have already dealt, and have noted the stimulation imparted to the adjacent plexus, but we may again note the three motions involved, whether in the Salute or in Standing to Order.
The second is the first item of a series which indicate a gradual approach towards a state of balance. Zodiacally this point corresponds to Aries, the Ram, and, as such, is a token of self-sacrifice, and another reminder of the channel of force which we know as IDA. It may be as well here to remark that each G. in the Craft series can be associated with one of the Zodiacal Signs, which points to one of the reasons for the name commonly given to that in the M.M. degree.
"This G. demands a W.", which, as we know, is associated with the l'h'p'. which is another representation of the channel IDA. I shall have to come back to the consideration of this pillar later, so I will leave the consideration of its shape, position and symbolism until I can deal with the subject of the Pillars as a complete whole. This pillar is, from the numerical point of view, complete in itself, for its two syllables reduce respectively to 8 and 9, leaving the total of the pillar itself, when reduced, as 8, which finds its complement in the other pillar whose reduction is 9. These two numbers indicate respectively material and spiritual completion.
The Candidate is next informed that, in the tests which are to follow, he is to use certain answers which will first be dictated for his information by the higher emotions, which remain as his guide.
The tests by the Wardens should be as complete as possible, remembering that a continued repetition of the questions and answers involved, helps to increase the impression made upon the mind of the Candidate. The proper advance and its naming should never be omitted before the communication of the S's.
I fear that I must fight the temptation to enter into the numerical implications of all these things, but one temptation I cannot resist. May I suggest that, as the Royal Society was founded at the same time as the inception of the G.L. Era in Freemasonry, and largely under the influence of the same men, it is at least curious that the same initials should designate the first step towards Fellowship in the one and the gaining of Fellowship in the other. One is apt to wonder whether such things can be pure chance !
The method of communication of the W. is peculiar to the E.A. and F.C. degrees in this series. If one considers the course of the two channels of force, IDA and PINGALA, which are here being vivified, and which are shown in the two serpents on the Caduceus of Mercury, I think you will agree that the method gives a very fair picture of the flow of forces in these channels.
Having been weighed in the scales by the J.W., the representative of MANAS or Higher Mind, on the one hand, and by the S.W., the representative of ATMA or Spirit, on the other hand, the Candidate reaches a state of temporary Balance and is presented to the real Holder of the Scales, the W.M., representing BUDDHI or Intuition, once more.
It must again be stressed, as a most important point to be remembered, that the W.M., as Intuition, cannot himself Invest the Candidate. Investiture does not typify an awakening of Buddhi, although all our three Craft ceremonies take place in the environment of that Plane of Consciousness. But it does consist of a first awakening of Spiritual consciousness on the Plane of ATMA. In this degree the Individuality is linked closely with the Personality, but it does not descend into and permeate the Personality. The link made is merely a junction of the two upon the Plane of MANAS or Mind.
This is no place to go into the full symbolism and mathematics of the Apron. Perhaps one of these days one of us may be moved by the Spirit to undertake that task. It will provide more than ample material for a full session of the Circle. For the moment we must content ourselves with noting that the Individuality is here represented as three-fold by an upward pointing triangle, and the Personality as four-fold by a parallelogram, the Physical Plane being, for this purpose, regarded as a duality of Dense Physical and Etheric. The two planes of MANAS — RUPA and ARUPA — the Lower Mind of Form and of Phenomena and the Higher Mind of the Formless and of Noumena — come together in a parallel conjunction. The triangle then stands upon the foundation of the Parallelogram. It is, in essence the Egyptian Hieroglyph of the Great Pyramid — The Light.
It is, thus, of the utmost importance to the carrying out of the proper symbolism of the degree that the Flap of the Apron should not be turned down.
The Candidate for the first time realises himself as a Duality, finding himself divided by the cord of the Apron, which should encircle the body twice and be tied in front, into two distinct physical zones. These are, as we see, associated with the symbols of the Three-fold Individuality and the Four-fold Personality. Not only is his Animal Nature veiled by a "Coat of Skin," as a Badge of Innocence, but his Point of Origin, through which he made his first contact with the outer world, is veiled by the Fire of the Higher Triplicity of the Individuality, linking him with itself in the Bond of Friendship.
At this point there is again a symbolic expansion of consciousness and its sudden incidence is once more marked by a "fire," setting the final seal upon the Neophyte's Restoration to Light. Hence the importance of "being in harmony" in the fullest sense, stressed in the address following investiture.
The Ceremony up to this point may be likened to the preparation of the ground for the intended structure, and, so to speak, the "getting in the footings." We have now reached the point when we are ready to lay the First or Foundation Stone, but before doing so the final test must be applied to ensure that these footings provide a base sufficiently stable and secure upon which this stone and those which will follow it may rest. It is a sound practice, adopted in some Lodges, to place the Rough Ashlar in position on the N.E. corner of the Pavement, so that the feet of the Candidate may rest against its sides. This is of considerable assistance in the correct placing of the feet, l.f. across the L., r.f. down the L. The head of the Candidate must be turned half left to face the W.M., who then addresses to him what is generally termed the "Charity Oration."
This is so heavily veiled by its material aspect that its real point is generally missed. It is, of course, a Testing; and, as such, it is of such great importance that we are told that, in the event of failure, the whole of the ceremony up to this point will have to be repeated. The word Charity is itself so changed by the more material uses to which it has been put in these times that it does not express what is meant, unless one already knows. Perhaps Beneficence or Generosity in its widest sense would be better, but, even as a test of simple benevolence, the test usually falls rather flat. For the initial benefit of the Candidate, the test may be impressed much more strongly upon his mind if, instead of the J.D. turning suddenly upon him and demanding if he has "anything to give in the cause of Charity," the W.M. pauses to announce that the Alms will now be taken, when the S.D. collects from all present, the Candidate meanwhile remaining in charge of the J.D. in growing expectancy and, sometimes, great uneasiness, until the S.D. passes the Charity Box to the J.D. for presentation to him with the usual demand. The result is, generally, that the Candidate is ready with his answer, having fully realised the material situation.
Symbolically this test is a trial of what may be called Awareness, of understanding and tolerance of the differences between ourselves and our fellow-men. It should also impress upon the aspirant the fact, so often overlooked, that some of the "superfluous knobs and excrescences" which he is in process of knocking off, as no longer required for his particular stage of development, are still essential for others to possess if they are to progress upon the path. All these "metals and valuables" have heretofore served him as crutches, or stepping stones if you prefer it, but now he is sufficiently strong to be able to dispense with their aid. This is the point at which he should realise that he may still possess them, and that, far from being useless, they can be of the utmost value if the experience gained from their use is passed on to others less advanced, who still need them. The great lesson here is that it is not the possession of such things which binds us and delays our progress, but the amount of reliance and dependence which we place upon them. To the man freed from Desire, who can yet live as one who is Desirous, possession becomes a blessing instead of, as is so often the case with others, a curse. The whole oration repays the closest study in the light of these remarks. In it will be found a key to the meaning of that great occult statement.:
"Unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance; but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath." (Matt. XXV, 29.)
The oration inculcates Charity in its highest conception. It is well to remember that it is better to minister to the mind than to the pocket. Material Charity has its uses, especially to the giver, but mental Charity is better, and gives proportionately greater returns, which in turn sink into insignificance when compared with the Charity of the Spirit. And, on all planes, the "Widow's Mite" may bring better returns than the ostentatious alms of the self-satisfied.
The seal is now put upon the Candidate as having learned the lessons of his former state, so that he is now permitted to restore himself to his personal comforts, a phrase full of meaning when we remember that during the latter part of the Ceremony he should have been in conscious communion with the Individuality.
Now the Candidate learns of the Authority under which he has been admitted as an integral part of the Lodge, just as the Lodge has been admitted as an integral part of the Body of Masonry. The Warrant, Constitutions and Bye-laws form another of those ever-recurring triads which go to the building of the Masonic System.
Finally, our Candidate Is presented with the W.T.'s of an E.A.F. These also we have touched upon before. To-day I would like to draw attention to their aspects as triad, duad, and unity respectively, in which they parallel the fundamental tools of the Craft, already mentioned in connection with the Three Great Lights.
The 24 inch G. as seen in Freemasonry has one especial peculiarity, which has been lost sight of in some of the later variations of working and which distinguishes it from all other such gauges, such as the Carpenters' Rule, etc. It is divided by Two Hinges into Three Parts, giving, with the Two Ends, our fundamental numbers, already noted 3, 5, and 7. Those in common use we find divided into Two or Four Parts, or left as a Single strip. In other surroundings we find the same facts as symbolised by the Masonic 24 inch G. typified by the number 888, which is the Number of The Higher Mind. In early Christian Kabbalism it was the Number of the Master, as its numerical value is that of the Greek name IESOUS. In this respect it is linked closely, in antithesis, with the Lower Mind, 666 — the Number of the Beast (Rev. XIII, 18) — the Link being 777, which is the value of STAUROS, the Cross, which we have just seen as the symbol of the Master of the Lodge. In practice the 24 inch G. works in Three Dimensions. In contrast, the C. G., whose origins and significance we mentioned in Part 1. of this paper, is a symbol of Duality, represented by the Head or Blade and the Haft. The motion of this W.T. when in use is in Two Dimensions. Lastly, the C., pre-eminently the Symbol of Unity of Dimension, appears, to complete the Set. Together they cover Discrimination, Rule and Correction, the Three Aspects of Purification which are required at this stage of the progress of the Candidate.
I am going no further with this Degree, for I have already tried your patience beyond the limit I had set myself. The Charge must be left for separate consideration, and this leaves only the T.B., with which the President will deal in due course. So I will close with a slight summing up of the lessons we should have gained from this Degree.
We have seen it as essentially the Degree of Rebirth and Testing, and, as such, a degree of the casting off of Limitations which might hinder our progress, with a view to being able, when the time comes when these limitations must be assumed once more, to helping others towards their overcoming.
In the 16th Transaction of the Lodge of Living Stones, W.Bro Wilmshurst says:-
"In being initiated a Candidate is being vouchsafed an initial glimpse into supra-natural Light, but only a first glimpse; it rests with himself to prove worthy of it and to enlarge that temporary glimpse into wider and permanent vision......... He is taught by that Light to see that the substratum of all things is Divine Law......... And because Love is the fulfilling of the Law, he is enjoined to cultivate that boundless charity and compassion towards all beings which bears, believes, hopes and endures all things, because it understands the operation of that Law and sees clearly the end to which it is shaping us."
Finally, the E.A. Degree, above all others, requires the closest application of Concentration and Meditation to reach the stage of Contemplation, wherein alone its full beauty can unfold within the Consciousness of the Seeker after Truth. It has been said of our Craft degrees that "in a Masonry emptied of true knowledge they are like massive doorways, leading nowhither" and that "the True Mysteries still exist, and Freemasonry is an unconscious witness to their existence in the past; for its ritual, now so little understood, holds traces of the old initiations ...". From the same source, let me finish with one final quotation, "Let Freemasonry be to you a living thing, and no mere collection of empty forms: so shall you be worthy to take your part in the building of the mystic Temple, and be, what every Mason should be, the guide and helper of the ignorant."
"The Path of the Just is as a shining Light, shining more and more unto the Perfect Day."
PEACE TO ALL BEINGS. AMEN.