The Fourth Part of a Circle
W. Bro. J. D. Blakeley, M.Sc., F.R.I.C.
Prov. A.G.D.C., Essex
P.M., Lodge No. 5184
"Below the highest sphere four Regents sit, who rule our world…… The Light of Asia — Sir Edwin Arnold.
"Also out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures…. As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion on the right side; and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle." Ezekiel i, 5, 10.
"And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle." Revelation iv, 5.
"After that I asked the angel of peace who went with me, who showed me everything that is hidden: 'Who are these four presences which I have seen and whose words I have heard and written down?' And he said to me: 'The first is Michael, the merciful and long-suffering: and the second, who is set over the diseases and all the wounds of the children of men, is Raphael: and the third, who is set over the powers, is Gabriel: and the fourth, who is set over the repentance unto hope of those who inherit eternal life, is named Phanuel…." The Book of Enoch, x1, 8, 9.
"Let Prudence direct you, Temperance chasten you, Fortitude support you, and Justice be the guide of all your actions." Charge of First Degree.
"And thou shalt make a veil of blue and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen…. and thou shalt hang it upon four pillars of acacia overlaid with gold…. and the veil shall divide unto you between the holy place and the most holy…." Exodus, xxvi, 31-33.
"Come unto me, O thou of the four winds, Almighty One, who breathest spirit into men to give them life; whose name is hidden, and beyond the power of men to speak." Thrice Greatest Hermes— G.R.S. Mead.
"What is a square?…. An angle of 90° or the fourth part of a circle." The Ritual.
From very ancient times, it has been the custom of men to refer all created matter to what they called the " Four Elements ", or the mystical Elements of Earth, Water, Air and Fire. We have seen, in our study of the Zodiac, that the twelve signs can be divided into four triangles which, respectively, have their "fixed" signs in Taurus, Aquarius, Scorpio and Leo, and we refer these signs to " the leading standards of the four divisions of the army of Israel "—to the Ox, the Man, the Eagle and the Lion. Even in our Craft Rituals we follow the progression, although by implication; we refer to the "sand (Earth) of the sea (Water)". to the…. ravenous birds of the Air and devouring beasts of the field (Earth)….", and to the "b.b. to ashes (Fire)…. face of Earth and Water…. four cardinal winds (Air) of heaven." Thus, the progression is from the dense (Earth), through elements which progressively become less dense (Water and Air) until we reach the slate which results in the transmutation of matter—what so many people speak of as being the destruction of matter, although we now know that this conception is incorrect; matter, on burning, is transmuted with the release of energy.
In mystical teachings, we have many examples of the number four: it is called the number of "completion" and "manifestation of light". In the fourth verse of the first Chapter of the book of Genesis, we read that God divided the light from the darkness. Pythagoras called the Tetrad "the root of all things, the fountain of nature, and the most perfect number. God was expressed as the Tetrad because the Decad (the Ten) was the sum of the first four numbers. It is the centre of the series 1-7, and, as the tetrahedron, it forms the first geometrical solid. The faces of the perfect Ashlar are perfect squares and the form of our Lodges is said to be that of an "oblong square". It is interesting to note that the reference in the explanation of the first Tracing Board to the form of the Lodge as a "Parallelopipedon" assumes that each Lodge is in the form of a solid, bounded by six parallel faces each, presumably, in the form of a rectangle although this is not made clear in the definition. In Hebrew, the fourth letter—the "Daleth"—has the meaning of a "door", and it seems that this is in good accord with the object of our Lodge Meetings, which, surely, are the door by which we are made aware of higher things. We speak of five steps "…as though ascending and we speak of "raising", or, again, we refer to the "rising" of that bright morning, star which brings peace and salvation to the faithful and obedient of the human race. I want to suggest to you that the "star" is not the one that we see in the sky, it is the star of our inner consciousness, whose unfoldment brings that peace which the world cannot give; it is the symbol of increasing "awareness" which allows us to assess the things of this world at their proper value.
The Hebrews revered the "One God" under the sacred Tetragrammaton, the great four-lettered name which only the High Priest was permitted to pronounce, the sacred name which has been handed down to us in the form of Jodh, He, Vau, He. On our Second Tracing Board we often find this name in small letters above the entrance to the Middle Chamber, and we say that they are "here depicted by the letter 'G'…. signifying God….". It probably is not a coincidence that, as pointed out in the book on "Numbers" by Isidore Kozminsky, many of the ancient peoples wrote the name of God with four letters, we have Thot, Alla, Sire, Orsi, Abdi, Esar, Deus, Thor, and Jove, later we have Lord, Dieu, King, Gott. In the Zodiac we have the four triplicities, and the Cardinal, Fixed, and Mutable crosses. In the elemental sphere we have the four elements, the four seasons, the four winds, and the four qualities—" Heat, Moisture, Cold and Dryness " (the two pairs of opposites). In the lower sphere we have the four elements of man—Mind, Spirit, Soul and Body, and the four cardinal virtues—Prudence, Temperance, Fortitude and Justice. In astrology, the square is evil, possibly because it is symbolic of the pressure of matter, and the sign for Earth, in alchemy, often is a square—again suggesting something which is contained by boundaries. You will, of course, remember that our Aprons are square in shape, denoting material limitation.
Still following the significance of the four, the Hebrew Cabbala refers to the four worlds, called respectively: Assiah (the material world), Yetzirah (the formative world), Briah (the creative world), and Aziluth (the archetypal world). In some ancient Chinese pictures, the symbolical figure of a god is shown either seated on a cube or holding the Mason's square in his hand, and the Egyptian Gods, when sitting in judgement, are always seated on a square. It is symbolic that the term " square conduct " should denote just and upright dealing. As Kipling wrote: " We met upon the level and we parted on the square . . .".
Continuing the simile, our Ritual says: There in a G., from the 'C,' 3 ft. East and 3 ft. West, 3 ft between North and South, and 5 ft. or more perpendicular…." in reference to the "crucifixion" of the spirit of each one of us on the cross of matter, to the compression and limitation which the spirit must undergo when it "incarnates" in a physical body. The G. in which the body of our Master is buried is the material body which is cruciform in shape, and well may our own spirits—our real selves—be struck with horror at the dreadful and afflicting sight of that divine spark buried under the rubble of our errors and transgressions, both against the divine and the natural laws of the universe, and well may they express their sympathy with the sufferings which each Ego must experience in its slow climb of return to its native home. Can we not see also in the dimensions of the G. the form of the Master's square—the three feet, the four cardinal points, and the five feet (or mor e) perpendicular; and the resultant of these three, when conjoined, is a right-angled triangle—the triangle of Pythagoras. How often do we miss such an important detail of our Ritual when, in the perambulations of the third Degree, the Deacons and the Candidate pause at each corner of the Lodge. In almost every case, they pause after turning the corner——mainly with the idea of starting off again in step——but the pause should be with the Candidate in the corner, i.e. before turning. The Deacons and the Candidate form a right-angled triangle, with the Candidate as the right angle, and the pause is a symbolical representation of applying that right angle to each corner of the Lodge in turn, the "Lodge" symbolically being the Candidate's personal life. Notice also that the Lodge is "squared" four times during each perambulation, and therefore twelve times in all, being symbolical of testing the Candidate in each of the twelve houses of the Zodiac. In other words, he must prove that he is in harmony with each part of the material unive rse before he is considered a fit person to be subjected to that last and greatest trial by which means alone he can participate in the higher mysteries. No person who is out of harmony with lower things can hope to attain mastery over higher things, and it is essential that the Candidate should pass before the Brethren, not the Brethren who are seated on chairs round the Lodge room, but those of the Grand Lodge above before whom we must prove ourselves if we wish to be admitted to those secrets which, through out the ages, have been incommunicable.
One of the early objects of initiation, therefore, is to learn how to control the elements of life. The traditional expression is that one must learn to control "the Elements and the Elementals". The Elements we know as Earth, Water, Air and Fire, and the Elementals are the "nature spirits" or "genii", or "fairies" connected with those Elements; they represent particular part-aspects of the human soul. In the Western world, they are the Gnomes of the element Earth, the Nymphs or Undines of the element Water, the Sylphs of the element Air, and the Salamanders of the element Fire. The names are known from the fairy-tales of our childhood, many of which reveal psychological hints of great significance. In modern Analytical Psychology, the four elements are revived as Perception, Feeling, Thinking and Intuition, or as Intuition, Emotion, Reason and Action—terms which we have met in our study of the Zodiac. The traditional colours of the four Elements are "woven" into the veil of the Temple; they are "White Linen" from the flax of the earth, "Purple" of the sea (from the Tyrian purple obtained from a species of shell-fish), "Blue" of the air (assimilated to the air when dark, or the "blue vault of heaven"), and Scarlet of fire. There is important symbolism in the colours of the robes of the Candidate and the Principals in our Chapter ceremonies. We have seen that the sign of Leo and the sun is the crown of the East and this is the sign of Fire. Just as the Lion is called the king of beasts, so can the sign of Leo be considered as the royal sign, the sign of the royal line of Judah and the crown of our Order. The purple of water is the appropriate colour of the emotional plane, of the astral which is free from the bonds of the earth and can reflect the future as well as the past; which can provide the gift of tongues as well as the gift of prophecy. The element Air is associated with the mind and the mental plane; it is the function of the priesthood to guide the mind toward the higher planes, and it is appropriate that the colour of Craft Masonry should be blue for it also seeks to guide the mind to the study of the hidden mysteries of nature and science. Traditionally, the element Fire was ascribed to the evangelist St. Mark, the interpreter of Peter, the element Air (and the Eagle) to St. John —the mystic, the element Water to St. Matthew—the tax gatherer who apportions the "wages" in accordance with the astral records, and the element Earth to St. Luke—the physician who is called upon to hea l the wounds of our earthly existence.
In considering the symbolism of the four Elements, it is important to remember that they should be co-related in accordance with two traditional systems. In the circular Zodiac, as in medieval alchemy the four Elements were considered as pairs of opposites, i.e. Fire was opposed to Water, since the latter quenches fire, and Air was opposed to Earth since the former was light and tended to rise whereas the latter was heavy and tended to fall. In this way, the two interlaced triangles (the seal of Solomon) referred to the opposites of Fire and Water; that pointing upwards represented Fire and the masculine forces of nature, while that pointing downwards represented Water and the feminine forces of nature. The union of the two, in perfect balance, was a symbol of the mystical marriage, and the seventh point often placed at the centre of the interlaced triangles had the same symbolism as the child of that marriage, the bud of the lotus, or of " Tom Thumb "—the power of the seventh Chakra, the development of super-consciousness, the attainment of Samhadi, the attainment of the golden crown. The triangle of Fire represented spiritual aspiration ascending, like fire, ever upwards, while the triangle of Water represented spiritual grace descending like the gentle dew from heaven upon the place beneath—upon the faithful and the obedient of the human race. The triangle of Fire symbolises Justice, raised upward like the sword held in the right hand (the male side) of the traditional figure of "Justice", and the triangle of Water symbolises Mercy, like the dew descending from heaven, represented by the balance held in the left hand (the female side) of "Justice". The feminine aspect of the balance is further emphasised by the fact that it is fitted with two scale pans, two being the first female number.
The traditional four Elements of Astrology are based on a slightly different arrangement, which appears to date from about the time of Aristotle, who considered that all matter was composed of varying proportions of one or more elements. He suggested that the characteristics of any particular body could be described in accordance with its content and proportion of two pairs of opposites which he called: "Hot" and "Cold", and "Dry" and "Wet". His teaching was that all substances contain, in various proportions, the four elementary qualities of "fixity", i.e. "solidity" (Earth), "liquidity" (Water), "fluidity" (Air), and "radiation" (Fire). When these elementary characteristics were applied to Astrology, the Elements which support life (Earth and Water) were ascribed to the Fixed Negative signs (the feminine), while those which activate life (Fire and Air) were ascribed to the Fixed Positive signs (the masculine). Thus Leo (Fire) and Taurus (Earth) remained constant in both systems, but the signs of Aquarius and Scorpio could represent either Air or Water, depending on the system in use. This duality of Aquarius and Scorpio is found throughout the literature of Mysticism and Astrology, and it can lead to confusion unless one is sure which system is under consideration. In the circular Zodiac, the sign of Aquarius (the Waterman) is the centre of the quadrant of "the Sea" and that of Scorpio-Aquila (the Scorpion and the Eagle) is the centre of the quadrant of the Air (the "blue arch of Heaven" ). On the other hand, in the symbolism of the Fixed Cross, the two positive signs of Leo and Aquarius represent Fire and Air respectively, while the two negative signs of Taurus and Scorpio (Aquila) represent Earth and Water respectively. As we have seen previously, the horizontal bar of the cross represents the feminine aspect of nature (Earth and Water) while the vertical bar represents the masculine aspect of the spirit (Fire and Air)—see Transaction No. 8. When the cross has its four arms of equal length, spirit and matter are in equal balance and we can see this balance in the cruciform division of the four elements at the centre of the circle of the Zodiac, as illustrated in Transaction No. 88. The Tau cross, which has the horizontal arm at the top of the vertical, is the symbol of spirit totally submerged in matter. This is the cross of suffering and of darkness, and it is that which is formed in space by the Master of the Lodge when the Candidate of the First Degree is to be restored to light. The Tau cross should be traced by the Master's gavel, but the sign is not always given correctly. The inverted Tau cross, what we call the Master's Level, is the symbol of spirit in contact with, but above, matter, and this is the "mark or sign of Life" of which the Angel said: "Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof…. For these reasons it has ever been considered a mark or sign of life".
The horizontal bar of the cross is that connecting the two feminine signs of Taurus and Scorpio or, according to our Astrological symbolism, that connecting the Elements Earth and Water—the two elements which support life. In Eastern symbolism, these frequently were described as the "Dragon's Head" and the "Dragon's Tail" respectively, and the symbol of St. George slaying the Dragon is another reference to the lance (the vertical bar of the cross) of spirit overcoming (slaying) the horizontal axis (the Dragon) of matter. The vertical axis, that of the spirit, is represented by many forms of symbolism. It is found in various forms of sacred poles and pillars, in the steeples of churches and the minarets of mosques, in the Masonic pillar of J., and in the wand as representing a power from above. This wand is the wand of the magician, the baton of the conductor of an orchestra, and the magic wand of Mercury-Hermes, the God of Air, the messenger of the Gods, the wanderer between the Spheres, the Lord of the function of inspiration and intuition. We use the same symbol in the wands of the Deacons, the messengers of our Lodges, whose sign of office originally was the caduceus of Mercury-Hermes. When this symbolic wand touches a person, his world is transformed into a more joyful realm and he becomes charged with the power of the spirit. Perhaps, at the same time, he sees his old world in a new light—for the first time in its true light—and then commences the fight for mastery between the Dragon of materialism and the Angel of light, in whose hand is the lance of the spirit. The two axes of the cross are present also in our Lodges as the two columns of the Wardens, and it is for this reason that the one is erect while the other is laid horizontally. When the Lodge is at labour the column of the Senior Warden is erect to indicate that the power of the spirit is flowing due East and West and that the Lodge is orientated in this axis. When the Lodge is called from labour to refreshment, the spiritual axis is horizontal to signify lying down to rest, and the Lodge then becomes orientated along the axis of Earth and Water—the Bread and Water of our material sustenance. But, brethren, man cannot live by Bread (and Water) alone, and those who look on the Masonic banquets as of more importance than the Masonic ceremonies, are living according to the laws of the Dragon. It is a matter of passing interest that the sign of Taurus, the Bull, and also the position of the Junior Warden are in the South, the location of the sun at high noon for the Northern Hemisphere, while the Dragon usually is represented with flames issuing from its mouth. The sign of Taurus is represented only by the head of the Bull (corresponding to the head of the Dragon), while the opposite sign (corresponding to the tail of the Dragon) is represented by the Scorpion, having the sting in its tail. We have seen that the vertical axis of the spirit is assigned to the two Elements of Fire and Air, and that the colours associated with these Elements respectively are scarlet and blue. These are the colours of the robes of the King and the Priest, and the colours of the "ribbon worn by the Companions…"—"… a sacred emblem, denoting light, being composed of two of the principal colours with which the veils of the Temple and Tabernacle were interwoven…. It has ever been considered an emblem of regal dignity and power ". It is thus a symbol of the spiritual axis of Leo (the royal sign) and Aquarius (the Water-man), the power of the human mind.
If we care to ascribe to the two axes their astrological symbols, the vertical represents the opposite poles of Intuition and Reason, while the horizontal axis represents the opposite poles of Emotion and Action. Alternatively, they represent Intuition and Thinking (the mind), and Feeling and Willing, In each case, the "lowest" element—action and will—is that of Earth, while the highest—intuition—is that of Fire. The reference to the four rivers which watered the Garden of Eden also is connected with the symbolism of the four Elements. These mystical rivers were named:
PISON (fire)—meaning "joining together as one".
HIDDEKEL (air)—meaning "freely flowing".
GIHON (water)—meaning "to run out, to burst forth into thought". (Phrath)
EUPHRATES (earth)—meaning "to increase, the creative power, the fruitful river".
All these four rivers were said to issue from the river Nahar, meaning the "one river"—the Spirit. The word Nahar refers to "breathing deeply" so that this one river is connected with what we otherwise call the Breath of Life, and the mystical fire of the East; the river Pison, refers to the union with the fire—the transmutation into gold, the attainment of the crown of the East. Alternatively, the action of the Fire of the spirit (the red colour) acting on the axis of Earth and Water (bread and water) converts them into the mystical bread and wine of the Sacrament—the transmuting effect of the Holy Grail. But, just as we know that the contact of two poles of an electric battery produces current, or even a spark, so does the entry of spirit into matter bring about a change resulting from the spark of that light which, at our Initiation, we proclaimed to be the "predominant wish of our hearts". Just as the passage of a current of electricity through an electrolyte produces a permanent change, so the effect of that light which is from above will have a permanent effect on the Candidate, and he can never revert to his original state of darkness. It is often said: "Once a Mason always a Mason" and, having experienced the power of that light, it would be spiritual death for the Candidate to attempt to retreat, for then the running noose of our astral cord, the cable-tow of the Freemason, would lead to strangulation of the mind. Ignorance is one of the deadly evils but, knowledge wrongly applied leads to spiritual destruction. It is fully in accord with this teaching that the sharp i. placed to the breast of the Candidate should be of cruciform shape, and in the form of man himself.
THE THREE PILLARS
A study of the signs in the circle of the Zodiac shows that they are in the form of three crosses which we call the Fixed Cross, the Cardinal Cross, and the Mutable Cross, and it is useful to separate these, placing the appropriate planetary signs at the end of each axis in place of the zodiacal signs. We find that the Fixed and the Cardinal crosses are mirror images of each other, except that the Fixed Cross has the Sun at its Eastern arm while the Cardinal Cross has the Moon in the corresponding position. Since the Moon only shines by reflection of the light of the Sun, the one truly is a mirror image of the other. The planets included in these two crosses are: the Sun, the Moon, Venus, Mars and Saturn. The Mutable Cross consists of two planets only: Mercury and Jupiter. According to occult teaching, the planet Mercury represents "Mind or Variety of Mental Experience", while Jupiter represents "Single Pointed Mind, or Law and Order". This Cross is bipolar, i.e. it forms a link between the positive and the negative signs and, as you will see, it is in the form of a St. Andrew's Cross. According to Dionysian symbolism, man as the Microcosm is represented as stretched out on the diagonals of a square (on a St. Andrew's Cross) and this square is composed of 21 smaller squares along each side, making 441 squares in all (=9). The square is inscribed in a circle which, in turn, is inscribed in a larger square having 30 component squares along each edge, making 900 in all. Nine is the number of the perfect man and this symbol gives a subtle relationship between the 1+2=3 and the 9 and, according to our analysis of the Zodiac, the figure of man as the Microcosm would have the sign of the planet Mercury at the tip of each hand and that of Jupiter at the tip of each foot. Can we not say that this Man represents Mind incarcerated in matter, with the feet of the figure based on Law and Order, while the hands reach outward and ever upward for further variety of mental experience. The corresponding Zodiacal signs, which form this Mutable Cross and, therefore, the figure of Man as the Microcosm, are Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, and Pisces and, to these traditionally are ascribed the virtues of Understanding, Modesty, Generosity and Sympathy (or Charity). We have ample reference to them in our Ritual: "… yet ought no eminence of situation make us forget that we are brothers, for he who is placed on the lowest spoke of fortune's wheel (our circle of the Zodiac) is equally entitled to our regard…". Again:.. humility in each is an essential qualification…Again: "… that virtue which may justly be deemed the distinguishing characteristic of a Freemason's heart; I mean Charity…… And finally: "…. to drop a tear of sympathy over the failings of a brother….".
Our peculiar system of morality truly is veiled, and all that we can do is to raise the tip of that veil, and then retire with all respect and reverence. Do we not find, in our Cardinal and Fixed Crosses, a symbol of that double cube which was covered by a veil? It is said to represent Heaven and Earth or, again, the rough and the perfect Ashlars of our early symbolism. The Cardinal signs remind us of the in-flowing power, and the Fixed signs of our capacity for receiving what we call "flashes of inspiration", be they rushing mighty winds or still small voices. Just as the hammer of the smith does not produce sparks until it strikes the resistance of the anvil or of the rough lump of metal on that anvil, so the powers of the spirit do not manifest until they meet the resistance of our imperfect beings. The Cardinal and the Fixed Crosses, therefore, represent the opposite poles of the great cosmic forces which, like great magnets, hold matter in perfect equilibrium, but the human being, whose mental powers are crucified on the third Cross, that of incarnate humanity—the bipolar or Mutable Cross—is equipped with the capacity to interpret the signs and symbols of the other two, although so very often he regards them only as figures of wood and stone.
We can consider the three Crosses in another way: —The Cardinal Cross is governed by the Moon, the symbol of Isis and of the Feminine or intuitional aspect of human nature. The Fixed Cross is governed by the Sun, the symbol of Osiris and of the Masculine, the strength and the reasoning aspect of our nature. We know that the Cardinal Cross corresponds to the four Cardinal Virtues which, collectively, may be called "Wisdom" so that, with the "Strength" of the Fixed Cross, we have two of the three great Pillars which are said to support a Mason's Lodge: "Wisdom, Strength and Beauty". In the fourth Section of the first Lecture, we are told that they represent—" Wisdom to contrive, Strength to support, and Beauty to adorn…. Wisdom to conduct us in all our undertakings, Strength to support us in all our difficulties, and Beauty to adorn the inward man". Further, we are told: "The Universe is the Temple of that Deity whom we serve; Wisdom, Strength and Beauty are about his throne as Pillars of his works, His Wisdom is infinite, His Strength omnipotent, and His Beauty shines forth throughout the whole of the Creation in symmetry and order. The Heavens He has stretched forth as a canopy (the out-stretched arms of the man on the Mutable Cross). He has planted the Earth as His footstool (the out-stretched feet of the man on the Mutable Cross). He has crowned His Temple with stars as with a diadem, and His hands extend their power and glory. The Sun and Moon are Messengers of His Divine Will, and all His laws are concord. The three great pillars which support a Mason's Lodge are emblems of these three Divine attributes….". These are the pillars which, in the Lodge are represented respectively by the Doric of the S.W., the Ionic of the W.M., and the Corinthian of the J.W., thus allocating the Cardinal Cross of the Moon to the S.W. who is situated in the place of the setting sun and to whom is allocated the celestial globe. The Fixed Cross of Strength, therefore, is allocated to the W.M. who rules by virtue of the Power in him vested, and the Mutable Cross of Beauty is allocated to the J.W. who represents the personal human being—the man as the microcosm.
Since the Universe is always considered to be feminine with respect to God—The Great Mother, Mother Nature, The Widow, The Virgin Mother——we are guided to a contemplation of the triplicity of "the Universe, God and Man", or man as the off-spring from the mystical marriage of God and the Universe, i.e. man as the son of the Widow, whereby we are all "..brothers to H.A.B. who was a Widow's son". As we have seen previously, he was the great Exemplar of our Order and, therefore, represents the ideal man—"…. and I hope that this will make a lasting impression on his and your minds should you ever be placed in a similar state of trial ". We place two of the great pillars at opposite ends of our Lodge—the Strength of the Sun (Ionic pillar) beside the W.M., and the Wisdom of Isis (Doric pillar) beside the S.W.—the two pillars being located due East and West. Notice also that the Doric architecture originated in Egypt and that the word "Dor" means a "dwelling"; also the first letter— —the Delta or the Daleth——has the numerical value of 4 and that, in Hebrew, the symbolic meaning of the Daleth is "the breast and every nourishing and abundant object". The symbolic meaning is "the universal quaternary, the source of all physical existence". As we read in the V.S.L.—Matt. xi, 19— "Wisdom is justified of her children". The beautiful Corinthian pillar is placed beside the J.W. as the " ostensible steward of the Lodge" —the Lodge of humanity and the interior Lodge of every individual human being, the beauty of the inward man. Inside each one of us there is the white altar of incense, the altar of purity, and it is within the potential of every one to allow that purity and that beauty to radiate as the body of light—the body of lustration.
Possibly it is not surprising that the fixed points of the compass should be associated with the Fixed Cross of the Zodiac. You will remember that some authors have placed the letters ROTA, the wheel, at the four points of the Cross, and have suggested this as a possible origin of the word TAROT. According to the Greek numerical alphabet, the word ROTA has the value of 100+70+300+1=471=12. This is our circle of the Zodiac. In our Ritual we refer to the "Brethren of the N., E., S. and W. will take notice that Mr…. is about to pass in view before them to show that. . . and a fit and proper person to be made a Mason", and we have the same proclamation to the four points of the compass early in the Coronation ceremony of the monarch of the British Commonwealth of Nations. While we are inclined to think that the Master is calling on the Members assembled in the Lodge to "notice Mr….", is it not far more likely that he really is calling on the four Regents of the World, with their attendant hosts, to witness that another human being is seeking guidance towards the first rung of that great ladder which reaches from the Earth to the Heavens? In his great work—" The Light of Asia"—Sir Edwin Arnold says: "… But when they brought the painted palanquin to fetch him home, the bearers of the poles were the four Regents of the Earth, come down from Mount Sumeru ——they who write men's deeds on brazen plates…". We have seen that, in the book of Enoch, the four Regents are given the names respectively of Michael, Raphael, Gabriel and Phanuel (or Haniel). The name Michael means "Who is like unto God", that of Raphael means "The healing of God", Gabriel means "The Strength of God" (the Man-God), and Phanuel (or Haniel) means "the Grace of God". You will notice that Raphael corresponds to the physician (the healer) and that the name Phanuel (Haniel) is very similar to that of St. John (=Phan or Han); we still have the Scottish name of Ian and its related variations in other countries——e.g. Hans, Johannes, each with a similar meaning. St. John is the mystic, the visionary; he is associated with the North—the place of material darkness, which is but spiritual light—the symbol of spiritual vision and aspiration. But directly at the opposite end of the axis is the evangelist St. Luke, the physician, the symbol of the great Regent Raphael, who heals the wounds of those mortals who, during their upward climb on the way of return, "fall among thieves". Is it not appropriate that the Junior Warden should be situated in the place of the physician, for it is he who calls us from labour to refreshment but only that, after being refreshed, we should be the better able to continue with the great work, for he warns us to "keep within hail…. for the further despatch of Masonic business". You will be familiar with the symbol of the Buddha in contemplation with the hands showing the sign of the opposite triangles in perfect balance—the balance of the horizontal axis of the cross, the balance of the material sense nature and the inward spiritual (or soul) nature, the balanced food of bread and water, for the twain are but the life-giving food for ourselves.
In the accounts of the mysteries of Mithra (the Sun God), we are told that the symbol of "Boundless Time" was placed at the pinnacle of the Divine Hierarchy, and that it was represented as the figure of a man with the head of a lion. Round the body, coiled anti-clockwise, was a serpent with its head looking down on to the top of the head of the lion, above which was a key. Here we have the symbol of ascent, anti-clockwise, along a spiral path, from Aquarius (the Water-man) to Leo (the Supreme man). The key was a golden one, indicating that boundless time is the key to the mystery of existence; it is the key of Peter who, like the lion, is represented as having long flowing hair. He was the lion of the twelve, the symbol of the lion of Judah the crown. This is the symbol of the vertical axis of the Cross, the symbol of spirit descending into incarnation and the symbol of the return of that spirit to its own inevitable destiny—the return to its royal home however often we stumble on the way and so delay the speed of that return.
We have seen that the four Elements are referred to the Ego (intuition), Emotion, Reason and Will or, as some place the order differently, the four human possibilities: to Know, to Will, to Dare, and to Keep Silent. If we place the Ego (intuition) as Fire, and Reason (mind) as Air at opposite ends of the vertical axis, and Emotion as Water, and Will as Earth at opposite ends of the horizontal axis, we shall have some clue to one factor in the behaviour of human beings. Man normally is influenced on the lower plane by his will and on the higher plane by his reason, whereas Woman is influenced on the lower plane by her emotion and on the higher plane by her intuition. Thus the pairs of opposites can be traced in their effect on the behaviour as normal reaction and, to be in perfect balance, it is necessary for each to cultivate the fundamental characteristics of the other. We know that Will without Emotion leads to tyranny, to the dictator of the present day and to all forms of oppression, while Emotion without Will is unstable as water, leading to mass hysteria and many of the troubles of our modern large cities. On the other hand, intuition without reason becomes sterile unless translated into action, and reason without intuition can be cold and hard, as is evident in so much of our present-day materialism. Each Element, alone, leads to unbalance in the human being, who is still out of balance in proportion as that being is ruled by any one Element at the expense of the other three. In the language of Alchemy, the Elements were called: Sulphur (fire), Mercury (air), Salt (water) and Earth, and the chemical processes of the Alchemists had the object of converting things of the earth into those of the higher realms. As we read on the Emerald Tablet of Hermes:"… IT IS TRUE, NO LIE, CERTAIN, AND TO BE DEPENDED UPON, THE SUPERIOR AGREES WITH THE INFERIOR AND THE INFERIOR WITH THE SUPERIOR, TO EFFECT THAT ONE TRULY WONDERFUL WORK…". This is the basis of the teaching of the mystery system throughout th ages, and it is also the teaching of our modern Freemasonry, that the whole of creation is One. " Man cannot live by bread alone ". Just as we cannot imagine a positive pole of an electric battery without having a negative pole somewhere or other, so are what we call Heaven and Earth opposite ends of "Jacob's Ladder", and all men are Brothers; thus the hurt of one can be the harm of all. As our Ritual so aptly puts it: "… The Level demonstrates that we are all sprung from the same s tock, partakers of the same nature, and sharers of the same hope; and although distinctions among men are necessary to preserve subordination, yet ought no eminence of situation make us forget that we are Brothers….". The word "subordination" may well give rise to false ideas either of pride in those of high rank or of offence in those who have not yet reached high rank, but the meaning in the older dictionaries is given as "Dependence of persons or things with respect to, or upon o ne another". In the same dictionary, there is an interpretation of the word "ordinate" as applied to geometrical figures saying that these are "the same as regular ones, i.e. they are equilateral and equi-angular ". And one other thought on this subject—we know that the word "sub" means "below" and that the normal meaning of the word "ordination" means "the act of ordaining, or putting into Holy Orders". Can we not see the veiled reference to our duties in this world below—in our sub-lunary abode as part of the consecrated work of the Great Architect in the great family, each member of which is dependent on all the others? In these modern day, we hear so much talk about Freedom and about the Rights of Men, but so little about their Duties and Responsibilities. When, at the early stage of our Initiation ceremony we are asked: "Are you a free man…", we follow almost immediately by binding the Candidate to a rigid code of conduct and discipline, with the obligation that he is no longer free but, in future, must work for the good of all. This is one of the fundamental teachings of our Order that, although the Fellow Craft is to be known and proved by the Square, yet is that square only a part of a greater whole —it is, as we say, but the fourth part of the great circle of life. In the book of Manly P. Hall entitled: "Masonic, Hermetic Qabbalistic and Rosicrucian Symbolical Philosophy "the following passage refers to the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: "When the first seal was broken, there rode forth a man on a white horse wearing a crown and holding in his hand a bow. When the second seal was broken, there rode forth a man on a red horse and in his hand was a great sword. When the third seal was broken there rode forth a man upon a black horse with a pair of balances in his hand. And, when the fourth seal was broken, there rode forth Death upon a pale horse and hell followed after him. The four horsemen of the Apocalypse may be interpreted to signify the four main divisions of human life. Birth is represented by the rider on the white horse who comes forth conquering and to conquer, the impetuosity of Youth by the rider on the red horse who took peace from the earth; Maturity by the rider on the black horse who weighs all things in the scales of reason; and Death by the rider on the pale horse who was given power over a fourth part of the earth. In Eastern philosophy, these horsemen signify the four Yugas, or 'Ages of the world' which, riding forth at their appointed times, become, for a certain span, the rulers of creation". The four Yugas, or periods of time, are described in the East as follows: (See "Isis Unveiled", by H.P. Blavatsky):—
KRITA YUGA. The Golden Age, the age of joy and spiritual innocence of man.
TRETA YUGA. The Age of Silver, the period of the supremacy of man, of giants and of the sons of God.
DVAPARA YUGA. The Age of Bronze — a mixture of purity and impurity, (spirit and matter), the age of doubt.
KALI YUGA. Our present Age — the Age of Iron, of darkness, misery and sorrow. Kali is the best emblem to represent the "fall of man " — the fall of spirit into matter, with its terrific and far-reaching results.
It is said that these four Yugas represent also the psychological and mental states of man as well as the physical states, during the period of their reign. The Greek mystics also recognised four Ages: The Golden Age, the Silver Age, the Bronze Age, and the Iron Age. These were metaphysical expressions referring to the four major periods in the life of all things; in the divisions of the day, they refer to Dawn, Midday, Sunset and Midnight; in the duration of the Gods, Men, and Universes they denote the periods of Birth, Maturity, Decay (or dissolution) and Withdrawal. Even so, when we say that the square is but the fourth part of a circle, which is subtended by four right angles, are we not saying that no one part of the whole (the cosmos) can exist without all the remainder? If we really understood this teaching we should recognise that what we call physical death is but the opposite facet of physical birth, and that the one leads to the other according to the universal Law; but if this law really is universal, then physical death must lead to rebirth on some plane of existence, even as the dawn follows the sunset. Perhaps we are too deeply rooted in materialism to recognise that rebirth does not of necessity imply return to this planet which we call Earth, nor does it imply that we shall again put on the "coats of skin" which, in the book of Genesis, refer to the enclosure of flesh—what we call the human body in which the Divine Spirit was confined when, as we read in that book, "Man became a living Soul". That soul is a manifestation of the Divine Being on this plane of existence and, therefore, each human being is a positive aspect of the same Divine Being. If we really could understand that every person we meet is a manifestation of the Supreme Being, however imperfect that person may appear to our imperfect eyes, the divisions and dissentions of this world would assume a very different meaning than they have now. Is it a coincidence that we arbitrarily distinguish four main types of colour in the people of this world? We speak of men as being Black, White, Yellow or Brown and surely each one of these types is essential for the balance of world progress; no one should or can be dominant, because each one is a manifestation of the Divine Spirit or, in the words of our Ritual, each one is a fourth part of the circle—the circle of the Zodiac, the circle of humanity, and the circle of the spirit which has neither beginning nor end. Let us remember always that, although each stone in the temple of the Most High may be of different form than the rest, that temple will be incomplete if even one stone is missing or is imperfect, for the strength of the whole structure is that of its weakest link.
In closing, let us remember those significant words of Rudyard Kipling, in his poem "My New-cut Ashlar" (L'Envoi" to Life's Handicap):
One stone the more swings into place
In that dread Temple of Thy worth.
It is enough that, through Thy Grace,
I saw nought common on Thy Earth.
Take not that vision from my ken—
Oh, whatsoe'er may spoil or speed.
Help me to need no aid from men
That I may help such men as need!
PEACE TO ALL BEINGS.