The Craft Journey — Part Four
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 4. "THE CEREMONY OF PASSING"
"Have patience, Candidate, as one who fears no failure, courts no success. Fix thy Soul's gaze upon the Star whose ray thou art, the flaming star that shines within the lightless depths of ever-being, the boundless fields of the unknown. Have perseverance as one who doth for evermore endure. Thy shadows live and vanish; that which in thee shall live for ever, that which in thee knows (for it is knowledge) is not of fleeting life: it is the Man that was, that is, and will be, for whom the hour shall never strike." "The Voice of the Silence."
"Intelligence is impartial: no man is your enemy: no man is your friend. All alike are your teachers. Your enemy becomes a mystery that must be solved, even though it takes ages: for man must be understood. Your friend becomes part of yourself, an extension of yourself a riddle hard to read. Only one thing is more difficult to know-your own heart. Not until the bonds of personality be loosed can that profound mystery of self begin to be seen." "Light on the Path."
"Unto thee lift I up mine eyes, O thou that dwellest in the heavens." Psalm cxxiii. A Song of degrees,
"And he reared up the pillars before the temple, one on the right hand and the other on the left; and called the name of that on the right hand Jachin, and the name of that on the left Boaz." II Chron. iii, 17.
"And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud; and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire." Revelation x, 1.
"Trouthe is the hyeste thing that man may kepe." Chaucer. The Frankeleyne's Tale, 751.
We have to deal today with an E.A.F. who, if he has made the most of the time which has elapsed since his Initiation, should be fully fledged as such, and able to undertake, at a moment's notice, the work of any of the floor offices of that degree. As we have seen to be the case elsewhere in Freemasonry, much must here depend upon how far his sponsors have carried out their implied obligation to guide him in the way he should go, undertaken when they were instrumental in bringing him into the Craft.
With the preliminaries which lead up to the ceremony of Passing we have already dealt in Part II of this paper, so that we may now assume that the Aspirant, in his capacity as 'the Candidate,' "now comes properly prepared to be passed to the Second Degree or that of a Fellowcraft." He has passed the necessary tests of proficiency in the E.A. work and has been entrusted with the grip of the Bull and the p.w. leading to the degree to which he seeks admission.
In the First Degree all the stress has been laid upon PURGATION and Testing. The method adopted to indicate the p.w. in our lodges associates it with the most scrupulous bodily purity and cleanliness. The Neophyte from Bethlehem — the House of Bread — is now prepared to proceed upon his way towards Beth-El — the House of God — passing from the Material to the Spiritual from the Baptism of Water to the Baptism of Fire, if I may be allowed to refer to a parallel line of symbolism.
The Aspirant is now ready to set foot upon the Path of Illumination, having gained the certainty, from personal experience, that the Light really is attainable.
It is important to remember that the flap of the E.A. Apron remains turned up, still in the erect position in which it was placed at his investiture.
Reaching the door of the Lodge, which, during his preparation, has been opened in the 2nd degree, he is told to knock for admission, and he does so with the only knocks with which he is acquainted, those of an E.A.F. This is, of course, an indication to the I.G. of the Lodge in session that one who is not a member of the degree in which it is now at work, that of a F.C., seeks admission. The I.G. should, therefore, at once announce that there is an Alarm.
The Aspirant no longer comes 'humbly soliciting,' and as yet he is not in a position to 'demand' admission, but "he has made such progress as he hopes will recommend him to be passed to the Second Degree." As ever, his hopes rest upon the "help of God," and now also upon the fact that he has realised that he is capable of using a united three-fold Personality. This is indicated by the use made of the Square, which, with all that it typifies up to this point he has made one with himself. You will notice that in each successive degree the Candidate gains admission by contacting, and realising as inherent in himself, one of the Tools which he will later meet in the degree to which he seeks admission. Let us refer to the diagram which I submitted for your attention in the E.A. degree admission. Therein the I.G. used the S.I. indicated by the central poignard and the Cross. Now the S. is added. The same sequence is found in the Calvary symbolism which we meet in certain branches of the Christian Church. In the earlier stages of growth the Cross is the main symbol but, as the free Intellectual Faculty begins its symbolic development, we find this Cross surmounted by a kind of ridge roof, which is usually regarded as merely a form of protection for the figure from the weather, although in actual practice the protection afforded is negligible. Actually its importance lies in the fact that it is, or should be, a true right angle, and with the cross itself, it gives us a figure which can be constructed from the three W.T's of a F.C.F., which are the three fundamental tools of the Craft. The P.R. gives us the upright of the Cross, the L supplying the cross-bar and head, and the S., placed over the cross, completes the figure, as it is found at this stage. How the symbol further develops we will see when we come to consider the M.M. degree in the next Part of this paper.
To return to our Aspirant, we find also that he is in conscious possession of a P.W., which, according to the dictionary, has two distinct meanings — an ear of corn and a flood. The insistence in our Rituals upon the story of the "defect in aspiration" is important in that it refers not only to a defect in normal functioning of the breath, but also to a defect in Spiritual seeking, and, symbolically, by its means, the Ear of Corn of the Physical or Bethlehem returns to its wild or uncultivated state and must be redeemed or redeveloped before real progress can again commence: Also, the Flood of Emotion is uncontrolled and, in its unloosing, is liable to swamp the Personality, and to cause untold harm unless it is again brought under control.
The Candidate is admitted to the Lodge on the point of the once of the S., and now there is no necessity for any words to accompany the admission, as he is fully conscious and can see what is happening.
He is now given into the keeping of the S.D., representative of the lower or concrete mind — the highest potion of the Personality. This faculty will now act as his Conductor, supported by the Emotional faculty, just as the Emotional was supported by the Lower Mental in the E.A. degree. These two faculties are still manifesting as though they had separate existence, and were distinct from the Candidate himself, who still functions as an essentially Physical Entity.
I suggest merely as a matter of personal preference on my own part, that the D. who is not actively functioning as Conductor in the degrees of E.A. and F.C. should, in the perambulations, follow behind the Candidate and his Conductor, ready to complete the three-fold Personality at those portions of the ceremony in which it is necessary that the Personality should function as a united whole. He should not perambulate in line with the others, as, in each of these two degrees, one function is definitely predominant, the other being, for the moment, potential only.
Immediately after his admission, the three-fold Personality manifests temporarily as a unity, while he is presented to T.G.G.O.T.U. in prayer. And, now, the E.A. tests are repeated — a most essential piece of symbolic working — for, as we all know, at the commencement of each incarnation or phase of rebirth, the incarnating entity must pass in review all the ground that has been covered in previous phases, thus carrying forward the necessary links with the past which are so essential as a basis for further progress. The one difference from the work as seen in the first ceremony appears when he is told that the W. may now be given at length.
During this perambulation the Wardens of the Portals permit the Aspirant to PASS, repeating the W. of an E.A. as a token of their acceptance of his credentials. Procedure varies considerably in different constitutions and lodges, but, personally, I like to see and hear the tests applied fully in both S. and W.
Now the Intuition strikes in to warn the Brn. in the N., E., S., and W. of the approach of the Aspirant to show that he is the Can., p.p. to be p. to the S.D. or that of a F.C."
Again we note the clockwise succession of the cardinal points. During this perambulation the Pass tokens are demanded and communicated. And again it is the Inner Man, the highest Spiritual faculty of the Individuality, which, in the person of the S.W., presents the Aspirant as "the C. etc.," and, at once, the Intuition gives the impetus to that faculty to hand him over to the care of the Lower or Analytical Mind, through the development of which only can he be directed in his advance and pass through the period of the Illuminative Way, which lies between the Way of Purgation of the E.A. and the Way of Union which is yet to come.
At this point, under some constitutions, there are two main variations, from what we may call the normal working, which appear.
The first of these I have seen worked in a lodge holding Charter under the U.G.L. of England; the other, so far as I am aware, is never worked under this constitution.
When the Candidate is presented by the S.W., the W.M. informs that Officer that his "presentation shall be intended to" as usual. Now he adds "but in order to attain the higher degree, five stages must be passed." Then comes the first of the two points I have mentioned, when it is worked in conjunction with the other. The W.M. addresses the S.D., saying, "Let the Aspirant accomplish his last work." The S.D. then leads the Candidate to the J.W. pedestal in the S. and hands him a Mallet and Chisel. He then instructs him to kneel upon his left knee and to give three blows with the mallet upon the Chisel applied to the R.A. This being done, he leads him to the I. of the S.W. again and reports, " W.M., the Aspirant's last work is finished."
The ceremony may then proceed as usual but, if the Five Stages are to be worked, they follow now, the W.M. saying, "Then, Bro. S.D., let him view the First Stage." The S.D. conducts the Can. to the E. and, before the pedestal of the W.M. instructs him to read from a tablet, still holding the M. & C. in his hands. This tablet enumerates the Five Senses, with a statement of their uses. This stage is completed by a short address from the W.M. and the S.D. is instructed to "give the Aspirant a rule and compasses and show him the Second Stage." This takes place before the I.P.M. and the procedure is as before, the tablet in this case enumerating the five Arts, Architecture, Sculpture, Painting, Music and Poetry. Now the I.P.M. addresses the Aspirant and he passes on to the next stage. In this Third Stage he holds a rule and level before the pedestal of the S.W. and learns of the Natural Sciences-Mathematics, Geometry, Philosophy, Biology and Sociology, and is addressed by the S.W. In the Fourth Stage he holds a pencil and book and meets with the Benefactors of Humanity-Sages, Artists, Scientists, Inventors and Legislators. This is before the Pedestal of the J.W. who delivers the Address. Passing to the I. of the S.W. the Aspirant, with hands free, views the Fifth Stage, which consists of one word only, "Service," and the WM. addresses him for the last time before the ceremony resumes the normal course, as we know it.
While the inclusion of certain heading, and the exclusion of other, tend to arouse doubts with regard to the age and authenticity of this piece of ceremonial, it has a certain value and there are indications that, wherever it may have originated, its compilers were by no means ignorant innovators. To take one point only, it is noteworthy that the total of the headings is 21, a decidedly peculiar resultant from the addition of five supposedly equal Stages, but a most significant number when considered Kabbalistically.
Returning to the normal ceremony, the SD. is now directed to instruct the Candidate in the method of advance in this degree, the changes in wording being rung between the W.M. and S.W., as in the former degree.
The method of advance is peculiar in many respects. Let us subject it to analysis. First, it starts from the position occupied by the Can in the E.A. degree, when his foundation was laid in the N.E. corner of the Lodge; that is to say his r.f. is d. the l. and his l.f.a. the I. The w.s.c. typified is of 5 steps, built against the motion of the Sun, or "Widdershins." Now, tradition tells us that this mode of progression was confined to passage through the Underworld and to the ascent therefrom. Those who are interested in ancient buildings and who have visited old castles and churches in this country, will doubtless have noted how often the spiral staircases leading from crypts and vaults to ground level have the opposite rotation to the spiral of those which lead from ground level to walls and higher points in the buildings. The practical reason for this is fairly obvious. The normal entry of an enemy would be on the ground level and it would be to the advantage of the defence if the central pillar, round which a stair to be defended was built, could be normally on the left hand, so as to give the greatest possible space for the play of the sword arm of the defender as he faced the enemy. This was best accomplished by making the ascent above ground to follow the path of the Sun, and the ascent from below to take the opposite twist.
This fact gives interesting confirmation of a primary contention that an E.A. works upon the lower planes of Personality, and that the F.C. is in process of rising out of these levels to what we may call the ground-level in Man, which is the plane in which Personality links with Individuality, the Mental Level. It is only when the Entity has reached a point where he can amalgamate the analytical and synthetic phases of Mentality in one complete and homogeneous whole that he is enabled to devote his energies to the achievement of the object of this degree, which, as we are told later, is the study of "the more hidden mysteries of Nature and Science." These objects begin to show themselves when the Illumination, glimpsed by the E.A. on his restoration to L., is attained in its fullness by the F.C.
The steps conform to the basic number of the degree itself, 5, and it is to be noted that it is at this point that the Candidate performs that evolution which is vulgarly known as "riding the goat." During the advance he treads underfoot the five points of an inverted pentalpha. It is usual, for convenience of working, to make the Can. set out from the N. edge of the pavement, r.f.d. and l.f.a. the L., by which he covers a quadrant of a circle only, but I am of opinion that the originally designed and truly symbolic steps should start from the point of foundation, so that, to reach the required position, four-fifths of a circle must be traversed.
The Personality is subjugated. The Candidate is now in a position to undertake the Ob., for which purpose he is directed to assume an attitude which is, fundamentally, the opposite of that in which he took his former Ob. The r.h. is, however, still upon the V.S.L. while the l.a. is "supported in the angle of a Sq."
It is the usual practice to elevate the l.a. and h. as in the H.S. which belongs to the degree and is communicated later, but, in some lodges the Sq. is grasped by the l.h.
Most of what has been said in, speaking of the E.A. Ob. applies equally to that of a F.C. but there are, of course, certain distinctive points to be noted. In this Ob. we find the first reference to "acting upon the Sq., and the phrase 'answer signs and obey summonses'" has important bearing upon the stage reached by the Candidate, as a being capable of controlled reasoning.
The penalties are again of importance. We pass down from the Pharyngeal to the Cardiac Plexus, and the wording should be so given that two distinct motions are involved in connection with the Centre of Force. Here, as previously noted, the Cross symbolism becomes obvious. "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he" is a statement of fact and not merely symbolic. This might well be taken as the motto of the F.C. degree.
In the E.A. degree the Mental Planes met and linked themselves in close accord. They are now united in one and, by their united action, the Emotional man is now linked with the Intuitional Faculty and is Enlightened or Illumined through the higher thought centre. All this involves complete subjugation of the Desire Nature. As an E.A. the Can. should have developed, through Purgation, the First Great Qualification for the Path, the Quality of Discrimination. Now he must achieve Desirelessness. Nothing must be left which can stand in the way of Illumination, and the five steps previously mentioned have their value in accentuating those fundamental gradations of the lower Path which find their culmination in selfless Service.
I pointed out that we find 21 steps only and, comparing these with the steps or paths of the Sephirotic Tree and the Trumps Major of the Tarot Pack, we find one stage apparently missed, for the path to that Sublime Condition which is labelled by the world as Foolishness only begins to find its unfoldment in the degree of M.M.
As the penalties of the E.A. were linked with the Element of Water, so in this link-degree we find reference to two other Elements. There is talk of the ravenous birds of the Air and the devouring beasts of the field (or Earth). This is a point of special interest, for it should be noted that the rulers of these Elements became the willing servants of the Symbolic Candidate during the Symbolical Journeys, and the Element of Fire is yet to come. We will meet it at a later stage of our Journey. There is a suggestion here that two degree, or parts of two degrees, have at some period been merged into one, and the suggestion is further accentuated, as we have seen elsewhere (Trans. 8), in the existence of the degrees of Mark Master and Royal Ark Mariner in the full sequence, and in the close parallel with the Christian Mythos and other systems. I want to say more about these so-called side degrees when I come to the last stage of this part of the paper.
And now, his Ob. sealed and his attention directed to the growth in the symbol on the V.S.L., the Candidate is again brought to his feet, this time with the Grip of the Twins, and is ready to be entrusted with the S's. of the degree. Before these can be communicated he must start out once more from scratch, standing in the First Position of Meditation and taking the f.r.s. into what we have called the Second Position of Meditation. In this position he gives the p.s. of an E.A., thus tuning the Pharyngeal Plexus, in readiness for the next stage. This is actually the first stage of progress which takes place within the Individuality, the whole Personality being temporarily transcended. It is essentially a stage of Mental Illumination, which takes place not, as might be expected in the brain, but in the heart, " For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he " (Prov. xxiii, 7). Before assuming the postures associated therewith, he must return to the basic position. The E.A. p.s. is, therefore, dismissed. From this position the second r.s. is taken. It differs from the f.r.s. in the position from which it starts, and it indicates a progression at right angles to the former direction of movement. If I may so describe the process, the Aspirant, who has, as an E.A., reached a POINT wherefrom he can learn to pursue a LINE of conduct, can now enter upon a PLANE of Spiritual Consciousness, which will prepare him for a further advance later, which will bring him into a CONTINUUM of Three-dimensional Consciousness. Just as the Plane was foreshadowed by the advance of the E.A., so this Three-dimensional Continuum is foreshadowed in the F.C. advance, the spiral being the ultimate simplification of the solid in three dimensions.
Once more the Candidate stands in the position of the Lame God, Vulcan. He is balanced certainly, but only precariously so, for he cannot make any forward movement without first upsetting that balance.
The S's., as before, consist of a S., T. and W, but the S. is we are told, "of a three-fold nature!" The Sn. of F. links with the Centre of Force in the Cardiac Plexus, h. over H., T. in the form of a S. and lying upon the medial line so that the F's. (Four being the number of Matter and of ISIS, and therefore of re-birth) lie over the l. and larger portion of the organ, the r.h. portion being completely hidden by the p. Needless to say, the significance of the S. is greater than is indicated in the wording of the ritual. The alternative name given sometimes to the S, as a S. of S ... y perhaps expresses more fully what lies behind the outward form. It links up with the 4th of the f.p.o.f. of a M.M. and gives the first hint of the possibility of the heart-union of all the Brethren. The indication is of an expansion of consciousness which brings the realisation of the Unity and Interdependence of All Men, which is naturally more easy to realise in a society such as Freemasonry, wherein that consciousness is developed, symbolically at least, in its members.
The H.S. or S. of P. links with the Cavernous Plexus, towards which the T. should be extended, and the type of which is better expressed by perseverance than by prayer. The multitude of variations given in our lodges points to some deep occult significance. As H.S. it is a perfectly natural gesture, when given in the proper manner. In ancient times, when it was difficult to distinguish friend from foe, and all men habitually carried weapons, it was natural that the weapon should be held ready when approaching a stranger. The free hand was then raised in greeting, with the palm open and to the front to show it empty. As a new-made F.C. I was taught to bend it back, as though supporting a weight or extending a greeting to one on a higher level, and that this was the attitude of Moses in prayer to the Lord. Joshua, incidentally, was a fighting man. I, personally, like this point, as it appears to carry on the teaching of Unity embodied in the S. of F., bringing the consciousness into still closer contact with all men by its emphasis upon their brotherhood, as sons of one Heavenly Father. It has been suggested that the sign also indicates that we still function largely in the darkness of the underworld, and are groping our way towards the greater Light above.
The two S's. together form what is probably the most widely distributed and universally used of the signs found in the Mysteries. It is found in paintings and sculptures all over the face of the Earth and is used in every religion known to mankind.
The P.S. speaks for itself, if, as I say, the proper wording has been used to indicate fully the double movement of the downward cut and the cross tearing of the talons.
The whole of this third phase is indicative, as I have said before, of the initial crucifixion of the carnal nature, in preparation for its final conquest in the Third degree.
The G. follows naturally upon those which have preceded it and it carries on the zodiacal sequence and accentuates the lessons of the degree by its link with its key-sign, GEMINI the Twins, indicating the closest possible human link short of that identity which would entail the functioning of two distinct entities in an inseparable unity, in which they could still function individually. The symbol of Gemini is a pictograph of the conjoined pillars with which we must now deal.
As the Emotional Faculty dictated the answers to be given by the newly initiated E.A., so now the Lower Mind dictates the required answers to the new-made F.C. The same method of sharing is adopted and should be noted. I need not repeat the remarks made in the previous part of the paper, but merely point out that as the sharing in the first case represented the channel IDA, so the same symbolic method here represents the complimentary channel PINGALA.
And now we have reached the point in our argument at which we must deal with the most important of all the representations of these two fundamental channels, which are so continually brought to our notice, and under so many different guises. In the main body of Freemasonry, they are the two G.P's. that stood at the p.w. or e. of K.S.T. These twin pillars appear of course, elsewhere in similar relation to religious shrines and places of worship of all kinds. Walk down from this our place of meeting to the West and you will find them on the west end of Westminster Abbey, walk East and they flank the porchway of St Paula Cathedral. In China they appear as YIN and YANG, in Egypt as TAT and TATTU. They appear everywhere and in all ages. You will find them depicted in the frontispiece of Part I of the last paper read to the Circle by its President (see Trans. 23). Here they are the Pillar of Severity and the Pillar of Mercy. Also in the Paper dealing with the interpretation of the Emblem of this Study Circle (Trans. No. 27) there is a further reference to these Pillars.
I think it is unnecessary for me to enter into a detailed description and explanation of these two G.P's. They have been very fully described elsewhere and, as in the case of all important symbols, their interpretation must vary largely with the point of view of the individual interpreter.
By far the most adequate and reasoned description of their form, that has come to my notice so far, is contained in the book, "The Hidden Life in Freemasonry" by C. W. Leadbeater. It happens to be the only one which makes the so-called GLOBES an integral part of the Pillars themselves, and the only one which offers a full and reasonable explanation of the other component parts of their Capitals, with all the ornaments and decorations described in the Biblical records. Each pillar is four-fold, TAT representing Earth and its four quarters, and TATTU being Heaven with its four quarters.
The Egyptian heiroglyphs and representations vary to some extent, but all agree in showing the pillars as having, as it were, four capitals on each. Mackey made special study of these pillars and speaks of them as memorials of God's repeated promises to preserve the people of Israel. Jachin he derives from JAH or JHVH and ACHIN to establish, meaning that "God shall establish His house in Israel." Boaz is derived from B = in and OAZ strength, meaning that "in strength it shall be established."
The Bible has several descriptions of these pillars. (See I Kings vii, 15; II Kings xxv, 17 ; II Chron. iii, 15, 7, iv, 12; Jer. III, 21; and Ezek. xl, 49). Josephus also gives a description. All the accounts differ and details are confused. Here Leadbeater's description appears to reconcile most of the apparent discrepancies. The Capitals are shown as built around an oblate spheroid upon which the ornamentations mentioned elsewhere are superimposed. Each Pillar is a symbolic representation of the evolutionary processes of the Universe, the one referring to material world and the other to the spiritual world. To the ordinary worshipper the ornaments were merely decorative, but to the Initiate of the Mysteries they were full of esoteric significance. Taken together they represent the full carrying out of the occult maxim "as above, so below," for, although they represent the two worlds, yet they are absolutely alike in every respect. From them can be deduced the whole course of the universe, as taught by the Egyptian Schools of the Mysteries. Need I add that the pillars have not, and never had, any phallic significance?
For our immediate purpose, I think I need only remark further that these pillars are, from one point of view, once more those two channels which we have so often met before, IDA and PINGALA, and the central aisle of the Temple, running straight through between them, is SUSHUMNA, the direct path to the Sanctum Sanctorum. I have before used the word Balance, as conveying to the modern mind better than the word Stability, the goal sought. This Balance can be reached only by the action in strength of all the faculties of man, in order to establish the necessary environment.
The female principle must be fructified by the male before the child can come to birth as Salvator, and here the Solvator is represented by the Aspirant himself. Positive force must perfectly balance the negative before the true equilibrium can be attained.
The secrets of the degree having been duly communicated, the Aspirant is again taken in hand by the Lower Mind and led to contact once more the Higher Mind and the Spiritual Faculty, in order that his vibratory content may be tested, to prove that he has attained to the standard required for investiture.
I must again emphasise that in this degree, as in the first, the method of sharing is important, as it indicates the wave-motion of the second serpent on the caduceus of Hermes.
Another point of interest is that the reference in the case of the r.h.p. is not to the H.P., but to the A.H.P. The H.P. in man is the Spiritual Monadic Self, the ultimate Ego, whereas the officiants connected with the first two degrees can only be in the nature of assaitants. B. is the l.h.p., the dark negative, receptive, feminine aspect which connects with the Personality in the three-fold man. J. is the r.h.p., the light, positive, generative, masculine aspect, which connects with the Individuality.
Each is three-fold, as indicated by the combination of Base, Shaft and Capital, and by the three-fold change-over in the process of sharing. Each is complete in itself, yet each is useless without the other for the support of the apparently missing lintel, which is demonstrated in the Egyptian symbolism as the Hidden Horizon.
The Spiritual Self presents the Aspirant to the Intuitional Faculty once more, as the Candidate who has been passed to the second degree, in order that some further mark of favour may be bestowed. This mark of favour takes the form of turning down the flap of the apron — thus representing the descent of Spirit into Matter, and the coalition of the two — and the addition of two rosettes. The turning down of the flap is the first indication of the opening of the middle channel of SUSHUMNA, a fact which is further emphasised by the rosettes, which indicate that the two pillars are complete and in balance. We note that the apron is still held by the double cord, but the knot is now concealed in the fold under the flap. The Candidate, should at no time be left without an apron, so that of F.C. should be adjusted before the E.A. is removed, if two aprons are used.
It is important to note that each point of symbolism in this degree follows upon and is the compliment of a point made in the E.A. degree, and this is emphasised again in the next phase of the ceremony.
The Aspirant commenced his whole progression in the N.W. corner of the Lodge, and that has been his starting point in each successive phase. In the E.A. degree the culmination is reached in the N.E. corner, where is laid the first or foundation stone. Now, in the F.C. degree, the E. end of the building is fully set out by the laying of another stone. This time it is the perfect ashlar and it is laid in the S.E. corner. Again, I feel that it is most helpful if the actual stone is used and placed in position with the feet of the Candidate along its E. & S. sides — r.f.a. the L. and I.f.d. the L., as the rubric has it. The ritual points out that this "marks the progress you have made in the Science" and the Candidate is told that as the E.A. had the opportunity to learn "the principles of moral truth and virtue" on the Way of Purgation, so now as a F.C., he is "required to extend his researches into the more hidden parts of nature and science," on the Way of Illumination.
Now the Candidate meets the three fundamental tools, as I have previously called them, for the second time. This time they appear as the W.T's. of the degree.
I must reiterate that these three tools are absolutely fundamental in the Craft. They make their appearance in, and are necessary to the understanding of, each of the three key degrees. To the E.A. they carry the indication of the three-fold light enshrined in the Science, and they are attached by him to the three Lesser Lights, and known to him as the Three Moveable Jewels. As a F.C. he gains such knowledge of their use that he is enabled to work with them as the instruments which have the power to give him mastery over the Personality. Later, they will appear in the M.M. degree, where their function is to overwhelm the Aspirant and, by killing out the lower nature, enable him to arise and trample the Personality under foot. I would here like to draw your attention to the extension of the diagram which we used in our consideration of the E.A. degree. It is worthy of close study, as showing the close link which exists between these fundamental tools and the key-tools so far used by the I.G. in his admission of Candidates. The parallel Calvary symbolism of the Christian system is also shown for comparison.
Attempts have been made at various times, usually by persons having a very material and literal outlook, acting probably in all good faith, to cut out completely or to diminish the references to these tools in the E.A. degree because in their opinion, the tools belong exclusively to the F.C. Such attempts to tamper with our ancient symbolism are most dangerous. No alteration or revision — more especially one entailing cutting out anything — should be attempted or even considered by any man until such time as he has developed a higher form of consciousness to which few can lay claim. Many such attempts have been made in the past and many innovations and so-called "corrections" have been suggested but, in the great majority of such cases, these attempts have ended in diaster. They have led to much of the materialisation of our rituals which has taken place in the past, a materialisation entirely foreign to that heavenly science which we call by the name of Freemasonry.
The E.A. is told most emphatically that "all squares, levels and perpendiculars are true and proper signs by which to know a Mason." Here we have the attributes of these three tools, and it is only through the development of these attributes, as symbolically expressed in the three degrees, that the Aspirant can hope to make the required progress in Freemasonry.
This second degree has appeared to some Brethren to be "thin," its teaching to be of less importance than that promulgated in the other degrees of the Craft series. Actually, although it certainly is shorter, and contains much which is apparently mere repetition, I trust that I have said enough to show that it is of as great value and importance as is any other degree in its proper place.
Another reason for this sense of inadequacy is that the degree is incomplete. The Aspirant is, to some extent, left "in the air." The actual completion does, in my opinion, exist. Often you will hear it said that the Mark Degree is the completion of the F.C., but this generalisation is not strictly true, for the Mark, as we will see in a few moments, is separate and distinct, and must necessarily remain so. But the Mark as we have it is in two parts, the first of which, the Mark Man, is short and apparently introductory to the real degree, that of Mark Master. It is also, conferred as a natural right upon the Brother who approaches and can prove himself to be a F.C. This short intermediate ceremony is, I believe, the actual and natural completion of the second degree. In it appears for the first time in its fullness the very significant teaching about the payment of the workmen engaged upon the Temple. A hint of this only is given in connection with the F.C. degree as usually worked. Three of the test questions on the degree deal with this point, and the Candidate, in his answers, states that the F.C. goes to the M.C. to receive these payments, and he receives them "without scruple and without diffidence," and that this is so "because of the great reliance they placed in the integrity of their employers in those days," in the good will and guidance of the Masters of Wisdom during the period when our humanity was, as it were, in the F.C. stage of its present evolutionary period. Note also that they went "well knowing that they were justly entitled to them." The word entitled here used is significant in relation to the method of seeking entrance to be raised later to the S.D. of a M.M. Integrity on both sides must be shown, and the F.C., more than any other grade, has to guard against the tremendous and often almost overwhelming temptation to try to advance too quickly, and attempt to learn something of that which lies ahead, that for which he is not yet symbolically ready and prepared.
At this point, having completed our review of the F.C. degree, I feel that I would be well advised to say something more of the significance and importance of the Degree of Mark Master Mason, and of the short and much neglected degree which is worked in conjunction with some of our Mark Lodges, the Degree of Royal Ark Mariner.
The normal place of these degrees in the sequence which I have designated the "Craft Series" is certainly immediately following upon the F.C. degree. Let us look once more at this series and lay beside it the equivalent steps in the Christian series, as being that with which most of you are best acquainted:
Entered Apprentice Birth Fellow Craft with Mark Man Baptism Mark Master with Royal Ark Mariner Transfiguration Master Mason Crucifixion Installed Master Resurrection Holy Royal Arch Ascension
This is the bare outline, but it is well worth close study and as a subject for Meditation, gives a wonderful harvest.
But although this is the normal sequence, it is a curious fact that the Mark Master and R.A.M. constitute a self-contained volume of teaching and can perfectly well stand alone and unattached. Within their own small compass they show us a complete picture of the Path and the Goal. This can best be illustrated by considering the parallel in the Christian Gospel story. Here we find one important step in the sequence which may be taken out of its setting and can stand alone as a symbol of the whole, and it is the step which corresponds to our Mark Master and R.A.M. It, alone of all the steps, would be equal effective and fitted to the sequence if it appeared at any other point in the series. The other principal incidents follow a definite and ordered sequence and even its omission would not disturb that sequence. Birth, Baptism, Crucifixion and Resurrection, Ascension; these can only fall in that order; and the displacement of any one of them would completely destroy the effectiveness of the sequence. The Transfiguration stands alone and apparently unconnected with the other steps. Actually it contains under its deep symbolic veil a representation of the whole story with a presage of its culmination and fulfilment.
And so it is with the Mark Master and R.A.M. They fall naturally into position following upon the F.C. degree — more particularly if you accept any suggestion that the Mark Man is the completion of the F.C. — but it interferes not at all with the main theme of the story nor with the suitability of their teachings if we insist, as is done in the E.C., that the Aspirant should be a M.M. before he takes these degrees. Nor does it invalidate the story if these degrees are omitted altogether. The Mason who has not taken them has no sense of loss for, as the old proverb puts it (I do not know its source or original wording) "What the eye hath not seen, for that the heart doth not grieve."
The R.A. Mariner degree has much deeper significance than is usually attributed to it. After a long consideration of its symbolism and significance, I was able to reach a tentative conclusion that its real place would be in the middle of the Mark as now worked, that is to say between the Mark Man and the Mark Master. I will not, however, be in any way dogmatic about this. It is, of course, a degree of salvation from deluge or, as we have said elsewhere, of conquest of the watery element, which would normally refer to the emotional level. Only when the Aspirant has overcome the Sea of Desire and landed safely on the firm rock of the full-functioning Mentality is he ready to complete the Mark Master's work, the fashioning of an Ashlar of peculiar shape and proportion, for, traditionally, it must be the summit or Corner-stone of the completed edifice, and of that edifice it must be itself a perfect and complete reproduction in miniature.
If we consider these degrees from the point of view of their historical setting, we find that the R.A.M. is, apparently, completely out of line with the others in the series. In it we suddenly desert the Solomonic era and journey in time back to the days of Noah. This has made some critics see it as an anachronism, interpolated at random and with no apparent purpose. But it is the very fact that it does appear to be so out of place which makes the earnest seeker after truth examine it the more closely. Actually, it is difficult to see how the teaching involved could have been given in any other setting to be found in the Old Testament, upon which the authors of our present system had set out to build their story. Perhaps they might have succeeded had they been prepared to accentuate more openly the link with the New Testament Gospel story. Being wise in their generation they were careful to avoid any hint which might have led to the limitation of the scope of Freemasonry.
The key figure of the degree is the same figure which is next seen surrounding the Altar in the centre of the Zodiac of the Holy Royal Arch. The degree is, significantly, a presage of Victory, just as in the Transfiguration story the final Victory is foretold. The R.A.M. knocks bear this out. It is not without significance that the Morse Code symbol for the letter "V" is being used throughout the world to-day as a token of the victory to come, the victory which humanity must achieve over the forces of Evil that have broken out within it, if it is to save itself. We all pray and believe that victory will come soon and that it will bring red peace to this distracted world of ours.
The knocks of the Mark degree show the linking back of the F.C. to the Physical environment which he has previously conquered, a linking which must always take place with the plane transcended after any expansion of consciousness, if the fruits of that expansion are to benefit the humanity still wallowing in the mire of material things.
So we may conclude this interlude by stating that, although the Constitutions of the United Grand Lodge of England are sufficiently correct in their emphatic statement that true and ancient Masonry consists of three degrees only, the E.A., the F.C. and the M.M., together with the Supreme Degree of the Holy Royal Arch, yet the Mark, including the R.A.M., has great value and is essential to the full understanding of the Craft Journey, and must be taken by any Brother who is desirous of obtaining the clearest possible picture.
With the further steps of Installed Master and the Holy Royal Arch I propose to deal briefly in the concluding paper of this series — Part VIII. Before we can touch upon these we must deal fully with the Sublime Degree of a M.M. and with the Closing of the Craft Lodge in the three degrees. With these I propose to deal in Parts V and VI.
Now, before I close, let me return for a moment to the F.C. degree which has been our main theme for today. In this degree we have attained a state of Balance. In our progress through the Craft we have reached, like Samson of old, an apparent full Strength which has enabled us to embark upon the Masonic Journey. In the E.A. degree we have been denuded of many — superfluous knobs and excrescences," we have been shorn of much of that illusion of strength and have learned something of our own insignificance, even as Samson was shorn of his strength-giving hair.
In the F.C. degree we begin to regain strength — a finer, fuller strength, for it is a strength based upon the will to service and to sacrifice.
Now we stand ready to push forward between the two pillars to Mastership, and in our next part we will see what happens to these pillars as a result. The Bull of the pass from E.A. to F.C. is now to be stabilised in Metal as the Golden Calf, through the agency of T.C., the f.a. in m's, in the pass from F.C. to M.M.
Here we have a lesson to learn, the necessity to cease from the sacrifice to the Golden Calf and to substitute the sacrifice of the Golden Calf. The lower nature must be completely transcended before the next step can be completed.
All these parallel lines of symbolism upon which I have touched constitute the bans of that study of the "more hidden mysteries of nature and science which are the particular province of the F.C.
Through this study he will find out three facts which have recently been re-emphasised by the Archbishop of Canterbury in a message to the world, although they have a much wider application than that which links them with Christianity. First he learns that every enterprise undertaken by man contains within itself the seeds of its own dissolution: Secondly, he learns that man carries within himself the seeds of his own destruction: and, thirdly, he learns that when full realisation of these two facts is attained, the man who realises them will find within himself a channel through which will flow a power, which, being itself indestructible, will, when he merges himself with it in one vast unity, bring about his rehabilitation as a Son of God, indestructible and existing, in full consciousness of his own immortality, as we more commonly call it, from the Beginning unto all Eternity.
Not without reason do we refer to God in this degree as the G.G.O.T.U., for the measure of the fullness of this Earth of ours lies in the Perfection of its Humanity. That perfection is attainable only through the attainment, self-sacrifice and suffering, of each one of the constituent members of that Humanity.
That, my Brethren, is the underlying lesson of the F.C. degree, conjoined with the Mark and Royal Ark Mariner.
How the opportunity for that self-sacrifice and suffering comes to each Aspirant and how they can be used in the attainment of Perfection will be our theme when we come to study the Sublime Degree in the next part of this series.
I pray you once more to devote time to the consideration of the problem of thought-power, remembering always that as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he."
PEACE TO ALL BEINGS. AMEN.