Freemasonry and the Science of Spiritual Progression
Bro. L.S. Weatherstone, M.M.
Frederick Lodge of Unity No. 452.
You are now expected to extend your researches into the hidden mysteries of nature and science.
... make the liberal arts and sciences your future study, that you may the better be enabled to discharge your duties as a Craftsman, and estimate the wonderful works of the Almighty Creator.
The ritual of our Craft informs us that Freemasonry is a progressive science, progressive in the sense that all progress in Initiation must depend entirely on the individual labours of every Candidate, and the assiduity with which he applies himself to the work; whereas the science of Freemasonry is the regeneration of the soul, and the purpose of all Initiation is to awaken human consciousness to the knowledge of itself by quickening the latent spiritual potentialities in man to their full extent through appropriate discipline; so that the progress of every Candidate who seeks to participate in a knowledge of the Mysteries must of necessity be slow and gradual. The expansion of the consciousness to the realisation of philosophic truths and principles, proceeds according to the natural law of growth, and the Masonic system, like all systems of Initiation, unfolds to the mind of the Candidate the secrets of its mysteries by a series of regular steps or stages. This progressive unfoldment, whether appertaining to a psychological process of the mind or the visible world of phenomena is governed by the immutable law of arithmetical progression, an inherent and continuous process in Nature. The whole of the Universe is in a state of "ever becoming," nothing can remain static, it must evolve. Man, whether as an individual, or as a race, cannot remain content with his lot; even if he should wish so to do, the force of circumstances continually acting upon him, drive him from the rut in which he would remain content, to be smothered by the mud of orthodoxy and conventionalism.
If we look back on the progress made in the world of academic science, we cannot fail to notice the greatest of man's inventions that have revolutionised his whole economic and social life, have been made during the past hundred years; the rapid intellectual advancement and the profound nature of the discoveries made, leave the average individual, intelligent though he may be, bewildered and even awed at the knowledge science is wresting from the secrets of Nature and proclaiming to the world at large.
Among the most important of man's recent achievements can be mentioned, Aviation, Radio, Television, Radar and the use of Atomic energy, not to mention the inventions that are as yet only in the blue print sage of development and will, in due time, be disclosed to the mind of humanity which, through lack of understanding, will fail to appreciate their significance, or realise that such attainments are the manifestations of material and mechanical forms of spiritual forces and principles existing on the planes of higher consciousness; that such powers are continually seeking through the intellect of man, to obtain expression and objectivity in the physical world of phenomena.
We do not require a great deal of imagination to realise that radio is the physical and mechanical form of the spiritual faculty to hear at a distance, television, the material and mechanised aspect of the faculty of seeing at a distance, or radar, a more highly developed form of the latter, as spiritual perception or awareness by reason of the prophetic nature of its action in use.
What, then, is the significance of all these discoveries, and why have they followed so closely upon each other? A little careful thought will reveal the fact that all are related, through the medium by which they function in the physical world, to one of the four primordial elements, viz., AIR.
In the ancient Hermetic Philosophy, the four primordial elements (earth, water, air and fire) were the symbols of the fourfold nature of man's organism, body, soul, mind and spirit. AIR, therefore, is related to MIND, we often hear the expression, "it's in the air," when something is foremost in peoples thoughts. One sometimes refers to cherished ideals and imaginations as "flights of fancy" or as "building castles in the air," we use these expressions little understanding their true meaning, but they are the faint echoes of the esoteric doctrine handed down to us by the divine art of Astrology, the science that is based upon the Zodiac, a broad circle described in the heavens through which the sun passes in its annual course.
This Zodiacal belt is divided into twelve equal parts called angles, and to the sign of each angle is denominated one of the four primordial elements, furthermore, it is taught as one of the fundamental principles of the science, that each sign is deemed to partake of the nature and character of the element assigned to it, and in this connection there arises a very significant fact that our planet, by reason of the precession of the equinox, is slowly passing through the twelve constellations of the Zodiac and at the moment is entering the angle of Aquarius, an AIR sign; so that according to the ancient teaching, and because of the entry into Aquarius whereby our Solar Universe is passing through fresh fields of space and coming under new cosmic forces, the mind of humanity is also permeated by the same influences and, in like manner, is partaking of the same nature as the sign itself. Already we can see its effect on the mind of man, now actively engaged in seeking to uplift the moral and social standards of a disordered world for the betterment and welfare of his fellow men, and the more we come under the influence of Aquarius so will there be a renewing of the mind that will gradually change and remould the whole of human nature. He will come to realise that the material things of this world are only temporal and transitory, and in seeking to understand the eternal reality that underlies them, will discover that truth is not to be found outside himself, but within the depths of his own being.
It is necessary to mention that a planetary cycle of evolution is divided into four equal parts, each part being a quadrature of the circle or an angle of ninety degrees, and according to the traditional teaching of the Mysteries, there presides over each of the four quarters of space, one of the four great divisions of the Angel Hosts, who under the Great Architect of the Universe superintend the evolution of the solar system and of man. In the Sacred Writings they are to be found described in Ezekiel, Ch. 1, v. 9-18, and the Book of Revelation, Ch. IV, v. 6-8.
These four Hosts constitute a spiritual unity although they are differentiated in respect of their administrative functions, which have a direct relation to the fourfold nature of the human organism as previously mentioned, and as each quadrature of the circle is again divided into three equal parts making twelve in all, to which are ascribed the twelve signs of the Zodiac, we see that the cosmic process of progression is by may of four stages each containing three regular steps, the work in each proceeding along exactly the same lines as in the three Degrees of our Craft system, viz., Purification, Illumination and Transmutation. Hence, in the angle of Aries, which we may term the First Degree, was assigned the work of purifying and disciplining the mind with respect to man's lower sensual nature; in the angle of Pisces now rapidly coming to a close, which corresponds to the Second Degree, has been devoted the work of training and developing the intellect, this we know has resulted in the great advancement made in the world of academic science; and so in the angle of Aquarius, the Third Degree, will be set forth the work of transmuting the already illumined rational mind, to be superseded by a far higher faculty previously submerged and dormant -the supra-rational spiritual consciousness resident at the Centre. It will depend, however, on "our own industry" whether we shall attain that grade for "many are called but few are chosen"; no one but a Past Master who is well versed in the science of self-knowledge, will be able to rise above limitations of the normal mind and pass into the transcendent consciousness of the spirit.
The progression of humanity as a whole proceeds, therefore, according to the natural law of triplicity, so also must the Candidate for Initiation proceed by way of Three Degrees in the knowledge and perfection of himself to pursue that path faithfully and steadfastly until "time or circumstances" shall restore the substituted secrets of his rational mind for the genuine ones of his higher spiritual consciousness. This difference of "time or circumstances" depends entirely upon his own individual efforts, for whereas time is the natural evolutionary cosmic process, the way by which all men however unregenerate, must eventually reach the ultimate goal of perfection; the circumstances are those afforded the Initiate by reason of his admission into the Sacred Mysteries, thus enabling him, through his own personal efforts and assiduity, to greatly speed up his progress in this world to such a degree that conscious union with his own Centre is possible in a life time.
Having outlined the principles of the law of regular progression with respect to the Universe and Man, we will now study it in connection with Geometry, the science that is stated in the Craft Lectures as being "the noblest of the sciences, and the basis on which the superstructure of Freemasonry is erected." It will enable us to understand better the sequence of geometrical symbols with which every Candidate becomes acquainted as he progresses by Initiation through the established Degrees of our Order; but as the superstructure of Freemasonry is the glorious Temple of Humanity of which he, as an individual unit, is engaged in perfecting in all its parts so also are geometrical symbols the drafts or designs that indicate to him the level of his own particular advancement in that work.
In the Second Section of the Second Lecture of Craft Masonry it is stated "the proper subjects of Geometry are magnitude and extension, or a regular progression of science, from a point to a line, a line to a superfices and a superfices — to a solid"; this of course is in accordance with the well-known definitions of Euclid, but not many Brethren are aware a visual demonstration can be given that will show this law of progression in action, and as the formation of the geometrical designs described in the text of this paper art based upon this experiment, it will be necessary to give a brief explanation of the method employed.
It is essential to realise in demonstrating the working of a universal law, the experiment must function entirely independently and be absolutely free of any control or influence on the part of the demonstrator so that the building of the geometrical designs may proceed entirely of their own free will and accord. This "perfect freedom of inclination" is obtained by the use of the force of magnetism.
A number of magnetised needles are inserted through the centre of small pieces of cork which are floated in a vertical position on the surface of water contained in a glass bowl, taking care the polarity of each magnet is in the same direction. In this manner the floating needles are able to move in a plane of two dimensions and will be free to trace, as in draft or plan, a series of geometrical designs. If now a bar magnet of higher power than the needles is suspended over the centre of the bowl, they are magnetically attracted towards it, and in so doing will take up specific geometrical formations according to their number.
In this experiment, it is interesting to note we have a perfect analogy of the immutable law in Nature by which the lower is always attracted to the higher, and the force that is active in the magnetic points, as the needles will hereafter be named, works precisely in the same manner as the psyco-phycological force that acts in and through man, for these magnetic points when free to float upon the water will move towards the centre where they will endeavour to become united with that higher power, in the image and likeness of which they are themselves constructed, but it is significant to note they do not become completely united "with the centre" by reason of a particular inherent characteristic which they each possess, and is similar in nature to that which is called a Personality, this personality displays itself by a lack of sympathetic attraction or a love of one for another, but in spite of the existing disharmony they are drawn irresistibly together and towards the centre where resides that overwhelming power of magnetic attraction — the love of the Higher for the Lower, while if this power at the centre which has enabled them to partly overcome their mutual animosity is withdrawn, even for a moment, the inherent personality becomes so strong as to produce a feeling of dislike and repulsion, and they will disperse in all directions in an endeavour to escape from the company of each other.
Here, therefore we have a very good analogy of the psychological aspect of the personality in man, for if we can imagine these magnetic points to be individuals, they provide for us the key to a very profound truth. Man is ever trying to escape from the falsities and illusions of this world, seeking to find that centre within himself "where truth abides in fullness," yet many fail to reach that goal because they do not realise that one of the foremost "qualifications which are essentially requisite in every Candidate" for the Mysteries is the abnegation of the carnal personality, the egoistic self which breeds selfishness and greed thereby destroying that true Love — the Love of his fellow-men. Whoso seeks to find that Centre and be restored to "that which is lost" must experience the didactic drama of the Third Degree, which reveals that the path of return to the Centre is one involving death — not a physical death — but the mystical death of his lower self or personality; a self necessarily unreal, illusionary and temporal, because identified with things of sense and mortality, until "time or circumstances" permit this to become an actual realisation in consciousness, we must remain ever at distance from the goal of all our hopes and endeavours, the Centre where resides the greatest power of all — Divine Universal Love.
So in like manner these little magnetic points testify to this truth, as by their own inherent antagonism to one another they are prevented from reaching that higher power to which all are individually attracted, and in whose likeness and image they are made.
As we proceed with the experiment, each stage will be indicated in the text of this paper by two diagrams, that on the left shows the disposition of the floating magnetic points, while that on the right their corresponding geometrical design, we shall further indicate the correspondence of each symbol with the Candidate's position in the Lodge as he advances by Initiation through the several Degrees.
Having placed our bar magnet in position, we should realise that emanating from the centre of the bowl is a force or power similar to what may be described as an "Invisible Influence," like that "Blazing Star of Glory" present at the Centre of each of us, but which normally remains hidden and concealed until we succeed by our own individual efforts to bring the latent potentially into manifestation.
We mentioned previously that the regular progression of science was from a point, described in the definition of Euclid as having no magnitude, neither length, breadth or depth; but as we require to witness the building up of his law of progression we will commence by floating a magnetic point on the surface of the water in order to bring the hidden subjective potential into objectivity, it will be seen to float slowly towards the centre where it comes to rest, thus indicating the presence of the invisible force, the central power around which, henceforth, the magnetic points will revolve in perfect equilibrium.
This is the point from which all created things proceed and to which all must eventually return. It represents UNITY, the source from whence comes all Life and Light; it is the fiat behind all manifestation and can only be described as that which IS. Difficulty is always experienced in forming any mental idea of its true nature, only those who have found that centre within themselves and are aware of its divine presence, can have any knowledge or conception of it. In the Craft Ceremonies we refer to it as a "point within a circle," it being "a point from which a Master Mason cannot err," since to be in conscious union with that point is to live and work, not from the circumference of the personal self which is restricted, unenlightened, perishable and relatively unreal; but from the Centre as the real, immortal, divine Self present in every one. We are taught that this centre can be liberated from its imprisonment and brought forward into conscious action, but its liberation is only possible to those who will assiduously apply themselves to study, aspiration and meditation, for the work of true Initiation is a mystical science involving a gradual displacement of the personal self by the real Self at the Centre, this displacement will occur in proportion as the mind is able to detach itself from external affairs and divest itself of all that is meant by "worldly possessions." Whoso seeks that Centre and shall find it "can never err," he will be united with the Central Source of all being and will be able to fill his "pitcher" to overflowing from the well of Wisdom, Strength and Beauty.
The stage of the Candidate's progress on the path of Initiation corresponding to this one magnetic point is his position at the entrance of the Lodge, where, standing on the threshold of the outer and inner worlds, it marks the beginning of a new order of personal life and consciousness, it is here that he is received on the p. of a s.i. which signifies the moment of his rebirth into a life of larger self-knowledge and enlightened understanding, this birth, like all births, whether physical or psychological, must start as a point in conformity with the immutable law of progression, hence the significance of the symbolical act that takes place at the door of the Lodge, and being directed to the heart the seat of desire for spiritual knowledge and enlightenment, indicates the place where germinates, when properly prepared, the "point" or seed of the divine principle planted in the soil of his personal "Earth."
We will now float a second magnetic point on the water which is also attracted towards the centre, but as it approaches the first magnetic point, instead of becoming united with it at the centre, comes to rest at a little distance from it; if we now link these two points together by an imaginary line, we shall have in diagrammatic form the second stage in the order of progression
In the definitions of Euclid a line is expressed as having length but no breadth or depth, it is the first dimension, and as that which has definite length must necessarily have a beginning and an end, it therefore implies duality.
There are to be found in the Craft Ceremonies a number of symbols that refer to this dual aspect of Nature, among the most important are the Pillars of B. and J. which stand at the threshold of every well-appointed Lodge, these Pillars, one white and one black correspond with the chequered floor work of the Lodge that also has reference to the law of Opposites, they represent the dual forces of Nature, one positive the other negative, which in the ultimate substance of the Universe is deemed to be a unity in perfect equilibrium or as we say in Masonic phraseology "when conjoined, stability," but in the world of phenomena appear to us as a duality dividing into opposites such as Spirit and Matter, Active and Passive, Male and Female. On the subject of the two Pillars, Wor. Bro. W. L. Wilmshurst wrote in a Paper delivered before the Lodge of Living Stones, No. 4957 :-
"... This principle of the dual forces in balance, only recently recognised by modern silence, has been known and acted upon by Initiates from the most ancient times and the fact of it was proclaimed by two symbolic Pillars; one representing active, positive, centrifugal energy, and called Boaz; the other representing passive, negative centripetal force, and called Jachin. With us (following the marginal interpretation in the Bible) Boaz is defined as "Strength" a modern and better word would be FORCE, primordial dynamic, electrical energy, of which lightening-fire is an example, and etymologically "Boaz means fiery energy in a state of intense activity; whilst Jachin, which is explained by "To establish," really means passive or static force, INERTIA, the resistance necessary to check the Boaz- force and establish it in objective concrete form and stability. Force and Resistance (in other words, Spirit and Matter) are the twin pillars or basic positive and negative principles of which everything is constituted and into which everything, including ourselves, is polarised; hence we are provided with these symbolic Pillars in Lodge, and every new Candidate is identified with them at the outset of his Masonic career. They are meant to tell him that on one side of him he is an immortal spiritual being with immeasurable potentialities, and on the other a material perishable creature of severely limited capacity, and that he must learn that these two opposite poles of himself must be brought into harmony and balance."
It cannot be denied that man's lower nature usually predominates over his higher nature in his daily life and conduct, they are not equilibrated, we have not found that Centre point where they are conjoined in a state of perfect balance and harmony, instead of being stable we are unstable, erratic and out of balance with our Centre, like the sprig of Acacia, always inclined at an angle over the head of the G. to indicate that we are not plumb and in true functional alignment with the Vital and Immortal Principle, thus we are unable to "stand firm" because the house of our personal self is not yet "established in strength." The secret of the doctrine inculcated in the symbolism of the two Pillars is to teach us the knowledge of the dual aspect of our constitution, and to enforce upon the mind the necessity of equilibrating the two opposite sides of our nature.
Twice a year a religious rite was held in ancient Egypt called the Festival of setting up the Pillars and existed long before their association with the Temple of King Solomon. One was in the Spring when the erection of the Boaz pillar was the main rite of the ceremony and related to the birth of the Sun and the lengthening of the days by its ascent in the heavens, bringing with it renewed regenerative energies and the germination and growth of vegetation. The second Festival was in the Autumn, when the leaves fall, the sap recedes, and vegetation begins to die and decay, the ceremony centred around the Jachin pillar in allusion to the disappearance of the Sun, the weakening of its power and the approach of the long Winter nights when all Nature slumbers until she awakens once again to the call of Spring and feels the warmth of the fiery vitalising energy.
The old English May-day festival of erecting the Maypole has come down to us from ancient times and its origin is a similar religious rite of this nature, the binding of the pole in the ceremonial dance by the interlacing of multi-coloured streamers, emblematically represents the Sun's regenerative rays descending from Heaven in the form of the sevenfold prismatic spectrum of supernal Light, enfolding and permeating all Nature with the fire of its creative energy, giving birth and life to all within its province, personified by the joy and animation of the encircling dancers attached to the ends of its life-giving rays.
The line produced by our two magnetic points corresponds with the Candidate's perambulation and straight line of advancement towards the pedestal, being in a state of darkness, he is cut off from all sense perception of the outside world, and his thoughts are thereby inwardly directed to a one- dimensional realisation of himself as a conscious functioning ego, and is led forward into a world of inner knowledge under the guidance and prompting of his leader — his higher Spiritual Self.
A third magnetic point will now be floated and as it approaches the centre it forms in conjunction with the other two points a perfect equilateral triangle.
This geometrical design has been venerated from time immemorial and in every age was considered a sacred symbol portraying the triune nature of Deity. Dimensionally, the triangle is a Superfices or a plane of two dimensions, and is the first perfect geometrical figure.
In Freemasonry, three is the most important of all figures as it is the basic and foundation number of the whole Craft system, the trinities that occur regularly through our Ceremonies are too numerous to mention here, but the most important of all are the three Grand Masters — S.K.I., H.K.T. and H.A.B. — who represent the triune aspect of the Godhead. These three quasihistorical characters combine to portray the threefold creative nature of Deity. WISDOM (represented by. S.K.I.) conceives the creation of the Universe subjectively as the Divine ideal, STRENGTH (H.K.T.) establishes the material world as the substance out of which the creative idea is to take form, which BEAUTY (H.A.B., the Master Builder) by means of geometrical laws and principles, moulds and builds that idea to ultimate perfection as the objective manifested Universe. The number Three is, therefore, the basic number of the Law of Creation and will be found to exist in all things in the world of Nature, even Man himself is a threefold being of body, soul and spirit, living in a three dimensional world, to whose consciousness all manifestation appears as a series of progressive events which he terms Past, Present and Future.
The equilateral triangle as a symbol of the Triune Spirit is in itself a Unity, it also represents the principles of Thesis, Antithesis and Synthesis, for these three are one and neither can exist apart from each other, and we should understand that the reply of our Grand Master when demanded of the secrets of his exalted Degree, is a veiled and guarded reference to the cosmic Mystery of Creation, which, being a trinity in unity, could not be revealed "without the consent and cooperation of the other two."
These three magnetic points as a trinity represent the Candidate's stage of progress in the Lodge at the moment of his restoration to Light, when he sees before him the three great, though emblematical Lights. The Cs. and S. symbolising Spirit and Matter are the principles of thesis and antithesis, which by the aid of the S.Ws. representing the synthesis or uniting principle, he will eventually be able to bring his spiritual and material natures into perfect balance and harmony; but as yet he is unable to take more than a two dimensional survey of his surroundings, because his head is prevented from being raised (or should be so prevented) by the gentle guiding hand of the J.D., thus keeping his eyes directed downwards on the emblematic trinity as one would regard a draft or plan.
We now come to the fourth magnetic point which forms in conjunction with the other three points the geometrical design of a perfect square.
Four is the arithmetical number of form, the four-sided square was considered by Initiates of the Mysteries to be symbolical of everything of a material or physical nature, the square in the most rigid and permanent of all geometrical structures, the great Pyramid of Gizeh, built as a Temple of Initiation, whose interior passages proclaim the way to the Hall of Truth and Light, symbolises by its triangular sides the threefold power of Wisdom, Strength and Beauty, but its base in contact with the Earth stands four-square on a foundation of solid rock. What better testimony can be given of permanency and resistance to all adversity that this great edifice, having withstood for thousands of years all the assaults of the elements of Nature, has its foundations well and truly laid upon the principle of the Square?
Thus we are taught that the S. is to assist in bringing the rude matter of our lower natures into due form, as it is only by shaping and moulding the rude matter of the earthy and material self, and by squaring the conduct of our lives and actions towards our fellow men, that a firm foundation can be laid upon which to build the superstructure of our own personal Temple to become "perfect in all its parts and honourable to the builder."
The geometrical formation of a square by the four magnetic points indicates the third dimension of space and represents the solid, a three dimensional cube or Ashlar. The Candidate's progress in Initiation at this stage is the moment he is placed in the N.E. part of the Lodge. It is here that, he becomes acquainted with the rough Ashlar and in this position he is charged to make his future progress one of spiritual advancement, to regard his personality as a living stone, although as yet, rough hewn from the psychological "quarry" of human life, but which he is to symbolically chisel, chip and hammer into due form, fit to be well and truly laid as the "foundation stone" upon which to raise the "super-structure" of his spiritual and immortal self, a house not made with hands, but eternal and in the heavens."
We have now reached a very important stage in the progressive geometrical development of our magnetic points, and to assist in clearly understanding what has taken place, the progress which up to the present has been demonstrated in terms of geometry, will now be explained algebraically.
You will remember that our square, which represents a three dimensional cube, has evolved from a single magnetic point representing pure creative potential. Let us call this potential X, if, therefore, this unit of force emerges forth from itself under the impulse of the creative energy (as demonstrated by the Vesica Pisces), it would form a series of these units thereby constituting a Line, the first dimension of space and represented by our two magnetic points, this we will call X1 which is the same as X, the only difference being that X is subjective and XI is objective. If now we multiply the Line by itself, we obtain a superfices or plane of two dimensions, this is represented by X2, If the superfices is increased to a further dimension we obtain a solid, a figure of three dimensions, this is represented by X3 which indicates the raising of the whole contents of the superfices to a higher power. As we live in a world of three dimensions our ordinary waking consciousness is restricted to length, breadth and depth, and we can have no knowledge through our normal senses of any further dimension, or any higher form of space, yet we have seen, by the formation of geometrical symbols, the progression of X, X2, X3; are we to assume, therefore, that this progression must suddenly stop? Is it not more logical to believe that it should continue to X4, X5 and onwards to space of such complexity, as to be comparable only to that of pure Spirit? We know from the testimony of many people more highly evolved and developed than the average, that the human consciousness is capable of transcending the limitations of space and time by the awakening of a particular faculty within themselves, which functions entirely independent of the ordinary normal consciousness, Masonically this faculty is called the Centre. It is the preparation to receive this Centre, its birth and subsequent development that we shall now study in the geometrical formation of our magnetic points. The symbols which will now be shown represent highly complex patterns which evolve on the planes of higher consciousness, continually progressing, building and moulding with ever-increasing complexity that perfect superstructure in accordance with the Divine plan. It should, however, be realised that our attempt to portray them geometrically by two dimensional diagrams must be, of necessity, a very poor substitute.
We will now float the fifth magnetic point. It will be observed that as it approaches the square it forms, in conjunction with the others, an irregular pentagon resembling very closely the masonic apron with the flap raised as worn by the Candidate in the First Degree.
This stage indicates the shaping and moulding of the physical form, the square (symbolising matter), under the overshadowing influence of the Spirit indicated by the triangle. This is a condition which always proceeds the germination or bringing to birth of the seed, the "vital and immortal principle" resident at the Centre which up to the present has lain dormant and inactive, for the body or "earth" in which it is to grow and spring forth, like the "ear of corn," must first be "properly prepared," nourished, cultivated and "made ready" to receive it.
This cleansing and purifying of the earthy material nature due to the influence of spiritual energies, is an alchemical process which brings about a re-orientation of the molecular structure of the physical organism, thus producing a complete change in the outward and visible form. In some Initiates this change is noticeable to a marked degree, their friends and relations with whom they are in dally contact are aware that they show a more tolerant and kindly disposition, are more understanding and loveable in their natures, and begin to possess a profound knowledge of the most recondite subjects which even astounds those with whom they are most intimately connected. This improvement in character is in direct ratio to the amount of dross and filth that is eliminated from the system, for this is literally being sweated out, at times he is aware of a curious surging glow within which makes him perspire profusely, the palms of his hands become wet and clammy, and beads of perspiration appear upon his forehead, until at last his discomfort is so great that he will unwittingly give a sign of distress "as a temporary relief to his sufferings." This process which always proceeds the birth of the seed principle within is described by the ancient Alchemical Philosophers as "the sublimation of base metal into gold," and from their very profound knowledge of the Art we should be well advised to heed their warning to "apply the heat gently, lest the receptacle becomes damaged and its contents lost," for the reason that if the amount of impurities is great, there will also be required a corresponding amount of "fire" to liberate them which may be so intense as to cause a breakdown of the physical body.
These five magnetic points indicate our Candidate's stage of progress on being passed to the Second Degree, from the moment he is received into the Lodge on the S. (our last symbol which terminated the First Degree) up to the point where he is about to ascend the "winding stairs " into the realms of higher consciousness, to behold, in the Middle Chamber of his own Temple, the "Glory at the Centre" of his divine immortal Self.
A sixth magnetic point will now be floated. It is at this stage the most important development in spiritual progression takes place, as we now witness the manifestation of a point at the centre of what has now become a perfect pentagon, this Pentalpha or five-pointed star was always considered by Initiates of the ancient Mysteries to be a symbol of the regenerate and perfected man.
The point appearing at the Centre represents the germination of the immortal principle within, like the "ear of corn" growing by a "fall of water" it is a symbol of the greatest importance.
In a paper on the Second Tracing Board read to the Lodge of Living Stones, No. 4957, the late Wor. Bro. W.L. Wilmshurst wrote :-
Corn is found prominently associated with the Ancient Mysteries where, as also in our Scriptures, it is always the emblem of the seed principle of immortal being sown by the Almighty in the soil of our mortal bodies, these constituting the "earth" given to each of us so to cultivate that what is planted in it may spring up into ever-lasting life.
The ear of corn, then, the immortal principle planted in us, must be suffered to spring up out of our personal "earth." The growth is gradual . . 'first the blade; then the ear; after that the full corn in the ear'; by which is meant that, as the growth progresses, the latent faculties of the soul unfold themselves from the embryonic state into maturity, perfection and power."
What better counsel can be offered to the Candidate for higher knowledge that to instruct him. . . . as to the possibilities of the infinite degrees of consciousness available to him if he faithfully pursues the path now opening to him? Let him learn that the ear of corn represents the immortal omniscient principle already planted within himself and waiting to be so nourished by his own efforts that it will grow and bear fruit 'in plenty,' and that just as modern physicists have discovered that, locked up within the atom, are energies of amazing power waiting to be liberated and harnessed to use, so also locked up within himself are concentrated unimaginable riches awaiting liberation and capable of being put to use in divine and human service.
These six magnetic points which depict geometrically the pentalpha with the point at the centre, correspond to the Candidate's stage of progress in the Second Degree at the moment when he stands in the S.E. part of the Lodge. It is here, illumined in the South by the Sun at the meridian of his intellectual consciousness as well as by the "Light" of the eternal East, that he discovers in this position (state of advancement) the S ... d S ... I at the centre of his own immortal self and knows that it alludes to T.G.G.O.T.U.
We will now float the seventh magnetic point and as it moves in conjunction with the others, it will be seen that the geometrical design changes to a Hexagon with the central point still remaining at the centre.
This figure of the interlaced triangles is one of the most venerated of all symbols. In the schools of the Mysteries it was taught that the interlaced triangles denoted the perfect equilibrium of Spirit and Matter, and according to the tradition of the old Alchemists, the triangle with the apex pointing downwards was the Water triangle and represented the watery unstable condition of the lower nature, just as water will always find its own level, so does it indicate the downward fall of the soul into its material and mortal embodiment. The triangle with the apex pointing upwards is the Fire triangle, and represents the fiery aspirational and purifying aspect of the Spirit, and as fire always ascends contrary to the laws of gravity, so does it symbolise the aspiring and upward progress of the soul by becoming "raised" from a fallen and materialised state of life to an upright and spiritual one.
The interlaced triangles with the point at the centre portray the perfect stable and balanced condition of the higher and lower natures of the soul, interlaced and joined together in harmony and unity with the central source of its own being. This raising of the lower carnal mind into conscious union with its higher self or Centre is foreshadowed in the Ceremony of the Third Degree, it is a subject incapable of lucid explanation, and we therefore take the liberty of again quoting from a paper by the late W. Bro. W.L. Wilmshurst who gives a very valuable outline of what is involved in the process of regeneration, he writes as follows:-
The uniform procedure, of Initiation systems has been, after drastic physical discipline and mental training corresponding to the work of our First and Second Degrees, to lead the aspirant up to a sublime Degree of Death and Rebirth. In the prime of his physical and mental powers he was called upon, though with full previous knowledge of what was involved, to undergo a crucial experience that would restore his soul to its unfallen state. It was one not involving an end to his bodily life, but a permanent death to his old natural unregenerate self; one that, if successfully endured, would vastly increase his spiritual stature above the common level and endow him with the knowledge, powers and qualities of a Master.
After due purification and prolonged preparation, then, for this crucial self-transformation, there followed 'the last and greatest trial,' a ceremony of the utmost solemnity and secrecy in which the Candidate lay in a tomb or sarcophagus, entranced, and whence, after passing through the profound spiritual experience referred to, he was ultimately restored, a 'raised' or risen man. Hence, in our present ritual we still refer to the Candidate rising from the tomb of transformation.
The methods employed by the initiating officers and the nature of the experience itself could never be explained and must be left to the imagination. No one ever participated in the rite save those who had already undergone it and so, as Masters themselves, they could, with complete understanding and loving help, assist the Candidate to the desired result. It was an experience in which the consciousness, withdrawn from and rendered dead to all earthly concerns, was introverted and directed backwards through the intervening psychic darkness enveloping the soul, until finally it reached the ' Centre,' the source and root of its own being and passed into union with that incorruptible Light of that Universal Holy Spirit which is the source or 'Father' of our personal spirit " . . . "The experience involved the conscious realisation of immortality whilst in the flesh, by re- establishing the union, ruptured by the Fall, between the human and the Divine Ego. And by this re- knitting of the lower carnal personality with its Centre (its higher self or spiritual principle), the Candidate became 'perfected,' an Initiate Master, upon whose personal temple his chief corner-stone has at last become replaced in its true position.
This diagram of the interlaced triangles corresponds, then, to the Candidate's progress on the path of Initiation at the crucial moment he is "raised from a figurative death to a union with the companions (normal avenues of sense in the outer world) of his former toils.
We will now add the eighth magnetic point and in uniting with the other seven, it will be observed that two points now appear within the outer structure of the design, and before proceeding to interpret this symbol, we should mention that the next stage in the order of spiritual progress beyond the Degree of a Master Mason is the Rite of Installation. It is to this Ceremony that the eighth geometrical symbol corresponds, but as due caution must always be observed when speaking of it, we shall confine our remarks to that part of the Pate to which this symbol directly refers.
The disposition of the eight magnetic points will be seen to be arranged into two geometrical designs, the Pentalpha with a point at the centre and a Triangle with its apex inverted and joined to the head of the Pentalpha. Now it is a fundamental law in Nature that all development, whether physical or psychological, is always preceded by a recapitulation of all the former stages of progress that have gone to the making of its present condition, for as before birth every one of us has passed through the progressive stages of morphological development, so in like manner is the Candidate made to recapitulate his progress in the inferior degrees, by the perambulations in his Mother Lodge that gave to him a second birth or new beginning into a higher standard and order of life, thus, the Brother who is elected to Mastership is also made to traverse the stages of his progress covered by his previous Masonic Life. He enters the Lodge and is presented from the West as when he first came humbly seeking to be admitted to the Mysteries and privileges of Freemasonry, he is then obligated as a Master and is temporarily left in the North, signifying darkness and unenlightenment, the place he once occupied as an Entered Apprentice, after which he is invested as an Installed Master in the South, the side of mental Illumination, that quarter where formerly he stood as a F.C. and lastly he is enthroned in the East where he was raised to a new and more perfect life. He is thus identified with the four quarters of Space that he has already traversed, but for his further advancement in spiritual progress there remains that fifth part with which he must also be identified — the Spiritual Centre of the Lodge. It is here at the most sacred part of all that the Candidate makes the solemn dedication for Mastership of his four-squared personality, and in order that he may properly rule and govern the Lodge over which he is appointed to preside, the descent of the Divine Wisdom and Power is invoked, so that, in benediction of this great event, an influx of Grace from above may be poured forth to quicken the birth by his Mother Lodge of her cherished and ripened child, a Spiritual Master and Ruler in the Craft.
The geometrical design of the eight magnetic points corresponds, therefore to this crucial moment in the life of an Initiate. The Water triangle, now representing in its higher aspect the "waters of Life," is linked to the apex of the Pentalpha, the head or seat of the intellect of regenerate man, as it is by way of the Dormer window or roof-light psychologically situated at the crown of the head, that the "Light" from above enters to illumine the Temple of the Soul. It is in recognition of this esoteric truth that the priesthood of certain Monastic Orders wear the tonsure or shaven top of the head, for the tonsure signifies to them the same meaning as our Dormer window, and is a constant reminder to keep the head, the seat of the intellect, ever open to the reception of Truth and Wisdom, that the Soul might be flooded with "that Light which is from above."
The symbol described by the eight magnetic points indicates that great moment in the life of a Candidate, when, Installed into the Chair of K.S. he is proclaimed a Master and Ruler in the Craft, but he has not yet reached the final goal as the Third Degree is still to be completed which takes place in a Chapter of the Holy Royal Arch of Jerusalem. It is the ninth magnetic point which has reference to this Supreme Degree in Freemasonry, but at this stage the geometrical designs can only be interpreted in a veiled and cryptic manner, however, Companions of the Order should have no difficulty in understanding the deeper meanings that are implied.
The ninth magnetic point will now be floated, as it joins the previous eight there is a considerable amount of movement among the nine points until a somewhat elongated design takes shape.
Careful examination will disclose that it is very similar to the formation of a Holy Royal Arch Chapter, eight of the nine points could quite easily represent the positions held by the Officers of a Chapter, while the ninth point, the higher middle point in the diagram, from its position, will be easily recognised by Companions as the most Sacred Symbol; but the corresponding geometrical design is even more interesting as it represents the perfect union of the Hexalpha and the Pentalpha, and it will be seen that our Candidate's "bright morning star" of six points or lights has now descended from on high to the floor or level of his now spiritually enlightened consciousness, and has penetrated to the very depths and Centre of his being, whilst the seat of his intellect, the head (caput or Chapter) exalted by the blinding effulgence of the Supernal Light is brought to a realisation of Companionship and conscious union with the Divine and Sacred Centre, the fount of all Life, Light and Love, the source and Being of his own Immortal Self.
It will be observed in the uniting of these two symbols there appears at the centre the blade of the Trowel, which implies that it is the Initiate who, having attained to a realisation in consciousness of this union, is able to spread the Cement of pure unselfish Love among those living stones that are the souls of men, stones that are being wrought into due form and will, in due season, be built into that glorious Temple of Humanity, "a House not made with hands, but which is Eternal and in the Heavens."
These nine magnetic points represent the Candidate's progress on seeking Exaltation into the Holy Royal Arch of Jerusalem when, at the moment of his restoration to the Light of the Eternal East, he realises at long last, after many trials and tribulations, that what at first was lost is now restored to him in all its Glory.
We now come to the tenth and last magnetic point which completes the cycle.
It will be observed that this formation of the ten magnetic points is perhaps the most beautiful of the series. We see once again the Triangle, the emblem of the Eternal Trinity, surrounded by seven points symbolising the Powers or attributes of Deity like "seven spirits before the Throne." Companions of the H.R.A. will see in it the likeness of that from which the veil has been temporarily lifted, while in the outer form of the design can be seen the symbol which forms the whole foundation to the structure of the Holy Royal Arch.
Here we must halt awhile in order that we may meditate on the progress we have made in the "hidden Mysteries of Nature and Science," although our rest can only be a temporary one, a sojourn by the wayside on our journey towards the Light of the East, for the spiral of spiritual progression winds ever onwards and upwards, cycles never repeat themselves in precisely their earlier form, but reappear upon a higher level of the spiral of change.
Our Craft is itself swiftly evolving to greater things than we know, and at a period not far distant, the germinal truths contained and concealed within the seed of its doctrine will ripen to widespread recognition. Up to the present time it has been the guardian of the Mysteries through an epoch in which gross materialism has temporarily eclipsed the perception of spiritual ideals and values, but the tide is on the turn, the incoming flow of the cosmic forces of the Aquarian age now playing upon us, will gradually change and reshape the whole of human nature. In the near future humanity will once again come to learn the true purpose and function of the Mysteries, they will become revived in a form adapted to our present era, to our needs and level of intellectual development. The time will come when society will be turned away from what it now considers good and strives after, when the lust for power, trade, material possessions, and all those things which are the appetites and desires of the carnal mind, will be looked back upon as the selfish cravings of an ignorant and benighted people. When that shall come to pass, men will seek Initiation into the secrets of Life and Being as they now seek to be admitted to schools, colleges and Universities of secular and academic learning.
That, Brethren, is the condition to which, through the present crises, we are gradually progressing, when the right moment arrives, our Craft, which came into being some three centuries ago to help keep afloat the Ark of the Mysteries through a stormy sea of darkness and materialism, will be found ready as "a body prepared waiting to minister to the soul of humanity, the knowledge of secret things and the spiritual development of Man's Immortal Self."
SO MOTE IT BE.