THE MASONIC TRINITY AND WAY OF THE CROSS
W.Bro. The Rev. J. K. Cleland, M.A., D.D.
I must begin my remarks by saying that, although I have adopted a dogmatic form of expression as being the easiest method of presentation, I do not wish it to be thought that I am laying down dogmas. What I have to put before you is my own interpretation of certain facts and symbols, the way in which they have appealed to me, have helped me to gain some insight into some of the dark corners of the Masonic structure, and above all, have given me certainties to replace some of those pious hopes with which I was put off and more or less satisfied in the course of my youthful religious upbringing. It will be necessary for me to refer to other degrees besides those of the Craft, in order to give as complete a picture as possible, but, where I have done so, I have used such terms as will make the references fully intelligible only to those of you who are members of those degrees.
It is just possible that some of you are making the remark, "Now what does he mean by introducing religious discussion into Freemasonry?" Far be from me any such intention. I have chooen the title of my remarks of set purpose and for three especial reasons:
- Because, this country being, at least nominally so far as religion is concerned officially Christian, "The Masonic Trinity and Way of the >Cross" is the title which will convey most readily to most of you a conception of the Spiritual Experiences which I want to consider.
- Because the Trinity and the Cross are very much older and more universal than Christianity and I want to consider them in their universal bearing, although I will take most of my illustrations from the Christian Mythos. And
- Because I do not speak to you as a priest, or even as a Christian, but as a humble student of the Holy Catholic Faith, which those who understand it will find in every manifested religion in the World. Every religion is founded upon the Gospel of Catholicism, which phrase means literally "God's Word of Universality," or "God's universal Plan." Sometimes lost or forgotten, often overlaid or overlooked, seldom realised or understood, it is always fundamentally the same. It is Religion, with a capital "R".
Perhaps I may also speak as an old soldier who has learned from sad experience that there is only one enemy whom it pays one to fight and to conquer, one's own lower self.
In a paper such as this, one cannot fully go into details of the subject; but one can attempt a general survey of the ground, indicate certain lines of approach and avenues open, for research and, in some cases, bring forward proven facts and indications pointing to Freemasonry as the repository of certain teachings which are, and have always been, the basis upon which religious systems and philosophics have been built up. These teachings, or this deposit of truth, have been called "The Ancient Wisdom" and other names, and have underlain every religion and philosophy given to or evolved by man,
My thesis may be briefly stated:.
- The conception of a Trinity in Unity is a fundamental truth, and has always been considered and taught as such.
- So also has the teaching of a Quest or path of enlightenment, by which it is necessary that all man ultimately should advance. It has been called by many names and taught under many different forms and symbols.
- These two teachings are very closely linked and are necessary to the undestanding of the third basic teaching of ancient times, the teaching written over the entrance to every Temple of Initiations "Man, know thyself,"
- The symbolism of the Cross is an integral part of Freemasonry permeating it from the very beginning of our masonic experience. The understanding of this symbol throws light upon a number points in our rituals which are normally difficult to understand, even when closely studied and not, as is usually the case, simply accepted without thought. Some of these do not even make sense until considered in the light of the Cross.
No doctrine is more fundamental or more emphasised in Freemasonry than that of the Trinity, although many masons never realise its presence. From the first moment of our entrance upon our Masonic journey we find three aspects of the Divine functioning in the Lodge:- Strength, Wisdom, Beauty; S.W., W.M., J.W. Later you will see why I place them in this order.
If we dissect Freemasonry we will find its structure, like that of all other religious and philosophic conceptions, based upon two main doctrines:-
- The doctrine of One God, Father of all men, who are therefore Brothers. This Unity manifesting as a Trinity, which, in turn, gives rise to a Septenary.
- The doctrine of a Quest for something that has been lost, usually a Word, but sometimes otherwise represented, as in the Graal Quest. It is always a passing through a regular series of what may be called Expansions of Consciousness, usually five in number, towards union with God, or some supreme goal. Man himself, being "made in the image of God," is therefore not only a unity but a trinity and a septenary, and capable, through the development of full knowledge of himself as such, of Union with God. This is the same quest which, in Christian parlance, is known as "the Way of the Cross."
There are many signs in our Rituals of the doctrines we have mentioned. Let us first consider the Trinity in Unity and try to realise the necessity for the recognition of three aspects in any unity. The first examples which occur to us most naturally, as dwellers incarnate in time and space, are the obvious divisions of these three environments into their three components; Incarnation manifesting as Birth, Life and Death; Time as Past, Present and Future; and Space as Length, Breadth and Thickness. In some cases we have the attributes of Deity given to us as Omnipotence, Omniscience and Omnipresence, sometimes as Will, Wisdom and Activity, which correspond to our Craft terms, Strength, Wisdom and Beauty. All these correspond to the most generally attributed functions of Anihilation, Preservation and Creation; but, instead of the word Anihilation, I prefer the more scientifically accurate Transmutation. These same attributes are found in the Hindu teachings as Brahma, the Creator; Vishnu, the Preserver; and Shiva, the Destroyer, who is also the "Willing Bestower of Requests" or, in Christian terminology, "the Answerer of Payer." For the benefit of those who are interested in the philosophies of India, I suggest a parallel in the Samkhya-Yoga, where we find the three attributes clearly defined in the three Gunas or aspects of Prakriti or Nature. These are Tamas - Inertia, Sattva. - Experience and Rajas - Energy. Prakriti is, however, impermanent and exists only in manifestation. Behind it lies Purusha, someti mes translated "Soul": it is the transcendent unitary principle postulated by Kant: In our Lodges, it is the empty chair in the North.
We are told by modern Science that our whole physical universe is only Vibration manifest. The V.S.L. informs us that All was created by the spoken word, which is merely another way of stating the same scientific truth. Let us, for a moment, consider the production of sound in the spoken word and its essential connection with this Trinity. We will take as our example the enuncation of a single vowel sound "A". In order to say "A" I must first CREATE a Vibration; I then PRESERVE that vibration for an appre ciable moment of time; I then DESTROY or cease to Preserve it, or I TRANSMUTE it into the vibration of the next sound I wish to communicate. Thus, in the pronunciation of the simplest of vowel sounds, I have found it necesary to exercise all the three functions which we have found as the attributes of Deity.
As in Christianity, so in the Craft, emphasis is laid upon the Secord Person or Wisdom Aspect of the Trinity, as Initiator and Ruler of things manifest. It is interesting here to note that although the W.M. rules his Lodge and performs the ceremonies of Initiation, Passing and Raising, he only succeeds on the last with the assistance of his Wardens, and that he cannot himself invest a candidate, but has to send him to the S.W., as representative of the First Person. The Wardens are impotent until the W.M. descends and raises upon the F.P.O.F. This is another point worth deep consideration for, in the Christian teaching, it is the descent into Incarnation of the Second Person, the coming into the grave of the flesh, that saves mankind.
In the H.R.A. the three Principals act as One. This degree being upon a totally different plane of consciousness to the Craft, the First Person is the supreme ruler. Again it he He who invests. Elsewhere we find other symbols used.
Man himself is a trinity and a septenary, as well as a unity. Let me expand this statement. St. Paul divides man into Body, Soul and Spirit. He leaves it there, except for the statement that "there is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body." (1. Cor., 15, 44). Proof that one functions in a multiplicity of bodies or vehicles is not difficult to attain by personal experiment and experience. It can be reached without any very great knowledge of the three methods or stages laid down for practice by Masters of this most ancient of all Sciences: viz. Concentration, Meditation, Contemplation. Yet another Triad!
A very slight exercise of Concentration only will be sufficent to bring home to most average men the fact that they are not their physical bodies, but that the physical body is something through which they function and contact the surrounding physical world, something which their "I" can control. Sometimes this body is ruled by other things; passions, emotions, desires; and its muscles are tensed and contorted and its functions upset. Host men can realise that they can, or should be able to, control these passions etc. Again, they are something through which to function; they are not the "I". We control them through the use of mind and control of thought. But we find ourselves controlling thought and mind, and can realise yet another vehicle of consciousness: Once more, it is not "I".
So far we have found a trinity within our unity, yet still have not reached the real "I". It is still beyond. This trinity of Mental, Desire and Physical Bodies is technically known as the Personality. We find it illustrated in the gifts brought by the Wise Men to the cave in Bethlehem (The House of Bread). Gold is the material nature to be consecrated to the service of God and Man; Frankincense is the emotional nature, desires and longings which must rise like incense to God. It is also the symbol of purification, of that cleansing fire which removes all dress and leaves only the pure essence for the blessing of God. Myrrh, bitterness, is related to the mind, through which, as human beings we suffer. The further the Race progresses are develops mentally, the greater becomes its capacity for suffering. Only when seen in its true light and dedicated to God can suffering be used as an instrument of conscious approach to God.
This three-fold Personality is, then, of vast importance. PER SONO, "I sound through"; it is a wonderfully expressive term.
The Mental part of the Personality is only a fraction of the mental make-up of of man. It has been called the lower, or analytical, mind, as distinct from the higher, or synthetic mind, by which it can be controlled and which, in turn, is controlled by something still higher. So, we are told, and some have reached to proof, that we also function through a second trinity of mind, Intuition and Spirit. This trinity is called the Individuality. Yet, over all, is the real Self, the Ego, the "I". Paul Brunton calls it the Overself.
Thus, in man wo have a Major Trinity - Ego, Individuality and Personality composed of Two Minor Trinities and a Unity, for which they form vehicles. It is very tempting to follow this path further, but it would take us too far from our main road. Suffice it to say that, in the ancient Mystery teachings, One plus One produces Three, and Three plus Three produces Seven, and so on. This fact can be seen illustrated in Nature, in Science and in Art. Everywhere we look, if our eyes be open, we will find the Septenary division, made up of Three Aspects on the Life side and and Three Aspepts on the Form side, with a Unity which produces a Synthesis of the Whole.
The emphasis laid upon these facts in all ages is particularly interesting when considered in connection with the Quest doctrine. As far back as has been traced we find this emphasis laid upon a Quest or Pilgrimage, or Path; generally of 3, 7, or sometimes 9 steps. Really each of these numbers expresses a degree of truth. I shall refer to them as we meet them, but the Quest with which I want to deal to-night is a Quest of Five Stages.
We meet the idea of an upward climb or advance first in the E.A.T.B., the symbol there used, the ladder, appearing in many other degrees, We next meet the idea in the Craft in the F.C. advance.
Before, going further, let me emphasise once more that the doctrine of the Trinity and the-story of the mystical experience which we have called "The Way of the Cross," together with the Cross-symbol itself, are immeasurably older than Christianity.
In the N.T. Gospel story the Five Stages are clearly recognisable in the Birth, Baptism, Transfiguration, Crucifixion, Resurrection, and the Ascension. The Alter Cross commonly found in Churches bears out the teaching. It stands on three steps, corresponding to the first grades. The Cross itself is the Fourth Grade and some symbol, which varies considerably in different sects, is usually added to represent the Fifth and culminating Grade; we have the hanging figure of the Catholic Crucifix, the rose-circle of the Rosicrucian Fellowship, the single Rose of other Rosicrucian Bodies, the Vine-leaf of the Faithist Scientists and so on; sometimes we find the simple circle of Eternity, sometimes a star or a Jewel; but, all take their rise from the centre of the Cross itself. Both Hindu and Buddhist lay stress on these Five Stages as evolutionary crises which no man may ultimately escape. On the Path of Discipleship the Grades are:-
- The Man of Ideals;
- Probationary Pupil;
- Accepted Pupil;
- "Son of the Master";
On reaching this stage the real Path begins and the Five Initiations are known as:-
- SOTAPANNA, Entered the Stream;
- SAKADAGAMI, Once Returning;
- ANAGAMI, Not Returning;
- ARHAT, The Venerable;
- ASEKEA, The Master, or The Master of the Wisdom.
The qualifications even for the preliminary steps are very exacting. The true name of most of the Egyptian Script that we know as the Book of tho Dead is "The Book of the Master of th e Secret House" or "The Book of the Master of the Hidden Places, " a clear indication of its character as an initiation ritual.
The same sequence is to be found in the English Version of the O.T. Name of God:- I AM THAT I AM and it is significant that it is always spelled in Capitals. The steps are:-
- The realization of I which I call Self-Individualisation
- The realization of I AM which I call Self-determination.
- The realization of I AM THAT which I call Self-Participation.
- The realization of I AM THAT I which I call Self-Identification.
- The realization of I AM THAT I AM which I call Self Unification or At-One-Ment. The Psalmist gives us the best of advice when he says; "Be still and know that I AM, God." (Ps. XLVI, 10).
The steps appear symbolically also as the Pentacle and as the Five Divisions of the Tarot Pack, to which Cards I will refer later.
Let us now consider the Masonic Square. The true Masonic Square has been said to have the proportion 3 x 4. We find it illustrated in our P.M. Jewel, as the two sides of right angles of the triangle in the Theorem of Pythagoras (Euclid 1, 47), the third side being 5. Our first meeting with this proportion is in the E.A. advance wherein, in some Lodges, including my own Mother, De Grey and Ripon No. 837 in W. Yorks, the Candidate is still given the pace lengths as 9, 12 and 15 inches. This triangle was the basis of the Egyptian symbol of the Trinity, from which is derived our symbol of the All-Seaing Eye. Here it might be worth while to note, that the root Pytha = (Latin) Pater = Father = Abif and the root Goras = (Sanskrit) Guru = Huram = Teacher, so that Huram Abif = Pythagoras The Father-Teacher, or The Master Teacher.
The Masonic Square would, then, be as expanded, and keeping to the same prorortion.
Here, I suggest that we find the three who rule, A, B, C; the Five who hold, C, D, E, F, G,; and the Seven who make perfect, embracing the whole figure. The Three combine with the Five to make seven through the link C. I am inclined to think that the explanation of these terms given in the ritual is of comparatively late growth, the real significance having been forgotten, The similarity to the divisions to the Seven Rays, or modes of development, attributed to mankind, each man seeking Truth along his line of least resistance, is, at least, remarkable. Let me tabulate them:-
A. Power, Rule, Strength. B. Love, Wisdom. C. Activity, Beauty, which Third Ray manifests alone Five Paths, namely, D. Tact, Adaptability. E. Beauty, Harmony. F. Knowledge, Science. G. Devotion. H. Order, Ceremonial, Business.
Each Ray is ruled by a Member of that Great Hierarchy which is variously known as The Great White Lodge, The Grand Lodge Above, etc., who have for the purpose taken certain Higher initiations:-
A. is ruled by the Manu who has taken the 9th Initiation
B. is ruled by the Bodhisattva Manu who has taken the 8th Initiation
C. is ruled by the Maha-Chohan Manu who has taken the 7th Initiation
D. is ruled by the Chohan Manu who has taken the 6th Initiation
E. is ruled by the Chohan All under general 6th Initiation
F. is ruled by the Chohan guidance of the 6th Initiation
G. is ruled by the Chohan Maha-Chohan 6th Initiation
These Rays have correspondences in the Centres of Vital Force in the human body, in the seven Schools of Yoga among the Hindus and so on, thus:,
|Centre of Force||School of Yoga|
|B.||Between the Brows||Karma Yoga|
|G.||Base of Spine||Mantra Yoga|
I will come bank to these Centres later.
Pathanjali describes the first objpct of the Science of Yoga as "Chitta Vritti Nirodha," which means literally "Control of the Whirlpools of the Mind," that is to say the complete control of the lower mind-by the higher. The same thing is symbolised in the O.T. by the story of the cure of those bitten by the "fiery serpents," the agitated lower mentality, when they raised their eyes to the "brazen Serpent," became conscious of the quiet poise of the higher mental faculty. It might be well to note here that the traditional form shows the brazen serpent raised upon a T-shaped, or TAU Cross.
Let us now see the correspondences between the Five Rays, the Initiations, Christian and Masonic and the levels of consciousness:-
1. E.A. birth Physical body
2. F.C. (and Mark Man) Baptism Desire Body
3. Mark Master and R.A.M. Transfiquration Lower Mind
4a. Master Mason Crucifixion Higher Mind
4b. I.M. (and probably E.M.) Resurrection
5. H.R. Arch Ascension Intuition
Let us now pass on to the Cross Symbol itself and see how it enters into Freemasonry,
When we enter a Masonic Lodge for the first time we are Admitted on the p.o.s.s.i.p.t.c.n.l.b. This should be a straight blade with a sharp point and a cross-hilt. The point here represents no-dimensional, the Blade one-dimensional and the Hilt two-dimensional continuity. It is an interesting exercise to trace this dimensional Symbolism through the Steps and Modes of Entrance in the Craft Degrees into the Four-Dimensional Continuum of the Holy Royal Arch. The W.T's. in the Craft, I.M. and K.R.A. are also i nteresting in this respect. The whole story of Descent and Ascent is summed up in the H.R.A. in a pair of tools which usually are passed over almost unnoticed.
Returning from this fascinating by-path, we find ourselves, then, at the entrance of the Lodge and at that moment the Cross is emplanted in our breast. Through its instrumentality we enter upon a path of trial and probation which should lead to Union with God in fact, and which does so in symbol. This is that Union which is denoted in the East by the word YOGA, meaning Union, or rather that Effort by which Union is attained - the root of the word means Effort - and in the Christian West by Atonement, or At-one-ment, a word also carrying in it the idea of effort or action. Here, at the very commencement of our Masonic career, we become cognisant, for the first time, of the Spirit that lies behind Matter.
In the F.C. Degree the Cross becomes fully enshrined in our hearts - our hearts are symboliclly crucified - as is shown in the P.S., b.c.o. and h.t.tf., as it is still given in many Lodges, in spite of the ravages of ignorance and the consequent growth of carelessness and untidiness in the giving of signs. In the Mark the final test is, or should be, given by means of a Tau cross and in the M.M. degree we trample under foot the cross of Matter.
We might note note that one accusation brought against the Knights Templar, when the Order was suppressed in 1307, was never refuted nor even, so far as I know, denied, the accusation that, in their ceremonies, they trampled upon the Cross. This is one of the main arguments used in tracing a Templar descent for our Third Degree. In the M.M. degree we reach a stage when, preparing ourselves for Installation, we glimpse a new form of the Tau, the Spiritual Cross, often wrongly referred to as the Master's level.
The Symbols denoting the Holy Trinity are of great antiquity:- 1. The First Person is represented by a Circle with a central Point. Let me remind you that, when we ask where we hope to find the genuine secrets which have been lost, we are answered "With the Centre"; not on, or at, or in the Centre, but with the Centre. In other words, within that infinity rwpresented by this Symbol, that which we represent as a central point is everywhere, the circumference is nowhere. From the Centre the Life rays out through the planes of consciousness, buring itself in that it may conquer Matter on all levels. From this self-sought tomb it arises and returns to the Centre with the results of its accumulated experiences. It gains the point when the urge is felt "I will arise and go to my Father." Thus, no point can be said to be upon the circumference, because each and every point is always with the Centre, although it may have, in time and space, veiled itself so that the Centre is lost to sight.
The Second Person is symbolised by the same Circle with a horizontal diameter, denoting its balanced nature, Spirit and Matter, Very God and Very Man.
The Third Person is shown as the Circle enclosing the Greek Cross, equi-armed, a vertical diameter added to the former symbol. It represents spirit in manifestation, crucified on the cross of Matter. It is composed of Two separate and distinct symbols, 1. With the lower semicircle only divided, it is Spirit upon the Tau cross of Matter 2. With the upper semi-circle only divided, Spirit upon the Tau Cross of spirit. The one denotes Limitation, Involution, the other denotes Triumph, Evolution. The latter is the Nimbus of Christ Triumphant, in art.
When, in the former, spirit rises above Matter and subdues it, the resultant symbol is a circle-handled cross and, as it draws away from the Material level; the handle elongates into the Loop. Here is the CRUX ANSATA, or Ankh Cross. The same symbol appears also, and the two phases are seen in the Egyptian Scarab and Ankh. It appears also, whether accidentally or by design, in the position of the hands of the of the Celebrant at the Christian Eucharist between the Consecration and the final Ablutions.
From the equi-armed, so-called Greek, Cross, on which is based the symbol of the Third Person, have develoyed various forms of the Cross. Most of these indicate the Activity of the Third Person, The Swastika, the Maltese Cross and so on. One point might be of interest, which is illustrated in the loop of the "Absolute Key of Occult Science," shown in the frontispiece of Papust' "The Tarot of the Bohemians." Here we have the letters TARO distributed equidistantly round the Circle, that is to say, at the four points of a Cross. This arrangement appears also on the 10th card of the Major Pack, the Wheel of Fortune. The word TAROT would indicate that Man emerges from Immortality and passes through Birth, Life and Death and back into Immortality. The "T" or Tau, is here that Immortality which is Perfect Light and Perfect Darkness, the Occupant of the Northern position in the Lodge. The Wards of this Key are three in number; 1, coloured Red and marked DEUS, God; 2, White or Yellow and marke HOMO, Man; and 3, Blue, marked TORA or ROTA, the Universe or Wheel. It is noteworthy that Man, standing at the bottom of the Wheel, reads the letters as ROTA, the Disc or Potter's Wheel.
The Tau Cross is the Mark mentioned in Ezekiel IX,4, where the Lord says to the Angel, "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." The Vulgate roads "sigma Thau," which is literally translated in the Douay Version as "mark Thau."
As the junior officers in a H.R.A. Chapter wear the Master's Square as the badge of their office and the candidate also is invested therewith, it follows that they are all entitled to this Tau of Spirit. The W.M. wears it three times repeated on his apron to indicate that he has completely triumphed over the Personality. He should be, as we say, one who has reached complete self-control or self-mastery, as a condition of competency to rule over others. Originally one had to be an I.M. before presenting o neself for exaltation in the Chapter. A relic of this is found in our printed rituals in the Craft, wherein it is usual to find the response, s.m.i,b., put into the mouth of a P.M In the Chapter a word is gained, the vibratory qualities of which make it an exact equivalent of the ancient sacred Name, usually represented by the letters A.U.M. This AUM or Om in later times becomes confused with the Egyptain AMEM, which is used in the Churches to-day. Still later, in Masonry, the response came to be given by all and the qualification for the Chapter was reduced. Then this response, which only a P.M. who was also a R.A.Mason could legally pronounce, was changed into the non-comittal and safe substitute, s.m.i.b.
Now I want to consider one more symbolic Cross, up to which all this has been leading, the Traditional Form of what is called the "True Cross". We fine the dimensions given in Chapter 2 of the "Travels of Sir John Maundeville," and quoted by R. A. Lidstone in his "Studies in Symbology." Tho Cross is made of wood, of timbers of 9 inch square section. The Upright measures 144 inches (8 cubits). The top of the Cross-bar is 27 inches from the top of the Upright and the Crosd-bar is 63 inches long. Thus the Upright is composed of 16 nine-inch cubic units and the Cross-bar of 7 units, that unit numbered "4" being common to both. The whole symbol comprises 22 cubes.
Before going further I would like to show you an example of Cruciform symbolism from Vancouver, British Columbia. Passing through Vancouver last year, I visited Stanley Park and saw the Indian Totem Poles there. I was at onco struck by the fact that some of them were cruciform in design, and, having bought a small souvenir, I was, later, struck by its peculiar proportions. In its rectangular basis, that is to say omitting the ornamental quadrants on the ends of the Cross-bar; we find a central square whe re the two beams cross; above and on each side we find a similar square and below there are four of those unit squares. Comparing this with our Symbolic Cross, we find there also a central square. Above and on each side we have a unit of Three squares; below we have Four of these units, 12 squares. I hunted out illustrations of a number of other Totem-poles and was amazed to find how many of them approximated to this peculiar proportion. Had I noticed this before leaving Vancouver, and had I had longer time there, I might have learned more. As it is, I think the reading of this particular Pole is fairly obvious. It is the Totem or Crest of the Raven Clan, and represents TOOTOOCH, the Thunder Bord. The human form, called the Slave, is the Soul, held in bondage by CHET-WOOT, the Bear, representing the Body and the lower animal nature in man. But, above, with outstretched wings, is Tootooch, the roaring Spirit, with its promise of freedom, resurrection and rise, to greater things. Tootooch is said, to be one of the forms of SAGALIE TYEE, the Creator God. His office, as Totem of the Clan, is one of Protection and Preservation.
Returning to our Cross; The Three cubes above the bar represent the Trinity of Deity as reflected in the Solar System by the three forces of the Sun: Force of Fohat, Life or Prana and Fire or Kundalini. This last is the Divine Fire which, in man, is known as the Serpent Fire. These three are also related to the three Mother letters of the Hebrew Alphabet. The 7 cubes in the Cross-bar represent the 7 Planets, the Rays etc., and are related to the 7 Double letters of the Hebrew. The 12 cubes below the bar represent the 12 Signs of the Zodiac, the 12 Tribes, etc. and are related to the 12 single letters of the Hebrew. I may mention here, for the benefit of those who care to pursue the subject further, that in the H.R.A. these 12 revent to their more natural circular formation and the resulting figure is most interesting as showing that the form of the Chapter is based upon the Crux Ansata, the Ankh Cross, the Symbol of Resurrection, Life and Immortality.
The 22 cubes also have attribution to the 22 cards of the Major Arcana of the Tarot Pack of Cards. The full Pack is one of 78 cards, comprising 4 suites - Cups, Swords, Wands, Pentacle - of 14 cards each, called the Minor Arcana, and of which our modern Playing Cards are the lineal descendants; and 22 individual cards, numbered from 1 to 21 and Zero. These are called the Major Arcana, and are sad to hold the key to all knowledge.
In our Cross, the Spiritual Tau will be iscerned, surmounting the symbol, and there are Two distinct ways in which a symbolic figure may be placed with regard to it. The figure is of a symbolically perfect man, 6 feet, or 72 inches, in height.
The first position from which, quite late in history the Crucifix as now used in Roman Churches and elsewhere, was developed, has only two of the seven Vital Centres of the body, those situated in the head, within the Tau of Spirit. The other, a symbol of Triumph, has the hands held in the attitude usually depicted by the Old Masters in representations of the Ascension and has six centres within the Tau. Only one, that through which the animal nature of man functions, is left below the bar. The same symbolic fact is to be seen in the Cross produced by what is known as the Sacrifice of the Cube or Perfect Ashlar. I shall come back to this point.
In all Craft Lodges, the 7 Planets lie across the floor of the Lodge. The Lodge itself is four-square, founded upon the Masonic Square, which is the Greet letter GAMMA, the Third in the alphabet. The Lodge-Square is composed of three Gammas. Another figure is formed from 4 Gammas, taking in the Gamma which belongs to the Empty Chair in the North, that Place of Darkness which is, paradoxically, Perfect Light, and we find this figure in Masonry surrounding the Theorem of Pythagoras in the P.M. Jewel. Within the Lodge lies the Circle of the Brethren, a figure of the lost Greek letter Episemon or DIGAMMA, the Sixth in the alphabet. These two figures surround a Triangle formed by the W.M. and his Wardens. This Triangle is the Sacred DELTA, the Fourth letter in the alphabet. In the Centre of the whole figure is the S.S. On each side of this S.S. should lie a Cubic Stone, one with sides rough and unpolished and the other smooth and perfect. We may n umber the sides of these cubes from 1 to 6. and from 7 to 12. We then find:-
12 6 11 Gamma Digamma Delta 5 10 4 9 3 6 4 3 8 2 7 1 ----------------------------------------------------------------------- 57 3 6 4 21
Reading the cubes outward from the Centre will reverse the digits of the number 57, so that, reading across, we have finally: 7 5 3 6 4 2 1 The Planets are said to occupy certain Signs of the Zodiac as their Day Houses. Taking these in their order as placed by the Ancient Astrologers, we have:-
The first line being the Day Houses, the second the Planets, the third the Days of the Week attributed to them and the fourth the places occupied by these days in the week, which correspond in ordor to our reading of the Lodge positions. Thus, the Planets being always in their Day Houses when the Lodge is open, the Sun can never set therein while the Lodge is in session.
The 16 cubes in the upright are referred to in sone of the so-callod Higher Degrees, and refer also to the 16 of our 4 by rectangle. So here we need only note that they represent the Lodge itself. The omission of cube 4 leaves us with 15 which may be the 15 F.C's. of our T.H., 5 triple units or three group of 5; I am inclined to think that the three ruffians may best be represented by cubes 14, 15, 16; but it has been suggested that they are 16, 13, 10, standing guard at the three portals of the lowest gr ades to test the candidate. In any case I suggest the following parallels:-
16, 15, 14. 1st grade E.A. Birth and growth of the Mineral Consciousness.
13, 12, 11. 2nd grade F.C. Baptism and growth of Vegetable Sentiency. & Mk. Man.
10, 9, 8. 3rd grade M.M.M.Transfiguration and growth of the Animal Instinct. & R.A.M.
7, 6, 5. 4th grade M.M. Crucifixion. Man appears with all that goes before plus (a pass grade) Mind. Cross-bar Completion of 4th. Resurrection. I.M.
3,2,1 5th grade Ascension, Growth to Superman with H.R. Arch with Spirit added to Man.
These grades are also related to the 5 so-called Platonic solids and, of course, to the 4 Elements - Fire, Air, Water, Earth, - and the Sphere of the Universe or Aether.
The 15 F.C's represent 15 stages in the Involution of Spirit into Matter, which culminates in Spirit being buried and veiled in Matter. We might note that the F.C., in his descent into the grave of Matter, preparatory to being "raised" therefrom, approaches the Cross from the Apex. He meets the Tau upright and it is therefore the Material Tau which he treads underfoot. In doing so he passes over the open grave, reference to the Fire rising through the Vital Centres and, at this point, passing over the cof fin-shaped Third Ventricle of the Cranium.
Spirit is then buried in Matter, "in a grave, 3 feet E, 1', 2', 3', 4; 3 feet between W",4, 5',6',7'; 3 feet between N. and S.,"1, 2, 3, 4; and "5 feet or more perpendicular," 5, 6,7,8,9,10,11; the 63 inches below the Cross-bar which are occupied by the figure of a man, symbolically perfect, or 72 inches in height, hanging so that the points of his middle fingers touch the centre of the end lines of the Cross-bar. I arrived at this result experimentally and totally unexpectedly, when testing Lidstone's theories, with which I do not wholly agree.
The Sacrifice of the Perfect Ashlar and its parallelism to this True Cross symbol is of interest. When man attains to perection, while still in the body, he is represented in what I have called the attitude of Ascension, but still on the cross. He is now "in the world but not of it" so he is still within the Cross of Matter. But even the inclusion of the centre cube, 4, with those occupied by the body and limbs below the bar, cannot make more than 54 inches. Now, this same measure, 54 inches, is found when the centre square of the Ashlar Cross is taken with those below it. Each of its other three measures is, as in the other symbol, 36 inches. I have worked in inches and feet in bringing these facts to your notice, but some interesting numerical results can be obtained by working with the standard cubit of 18 inches.
The Vital Centres to which I have referred are what are known in the East as the Chakras, literally Wheels, and the Science of their awakening by the Divine Fire, Kundalini, has always been carefully guarded from the profane, who might put the Powers gained to selfish and destructive use. This awakening has been symbolised in various ways. One of the best known follows the old Hindu teaching closely and can be traced in Masonry. In the E.A. degree the feminine aspect of the force, IDA it is called, is stimulated. It is red in colour and correspords to the 1-h.p. which we call B. In the F.C. the masculine aspect, PINGALA, is stimulated. It is yellow in colour and is our r-h.p., J. In the M.M. degree the series is completed in the balancing aspect, SUSHUMNA. This is blue in colour and is indicated by the advance in the 3rd degree and by the upright of our Cross. The same story is told in the Caducuus of Mercury, the Staff of Aesculapeus, and elsewhere. This contains the key to the Spiritual health of man, besides having been adoptod as the badge of those responsible for his restoration to physical health when he is ill. Anatomically, it represents the Spine and the two nervous systems. The joint at the top marks the Third Ventricle of which we have spoken; the Wings represent the Lateral Ventricles; the short neck shows the Aquaduct of Sylvius and the knob is the Pineal Gland, towards the full development of which all the efforts made are tending. This so-called "atrophied organ" is really in the embryonic stage in man and is capable of being developed to full power of function.
The Thyrsus of the Bacchic Mysteries again tolls the same tale. It is the "Rod of Power" with which the Initiate was touched. The Pine Cone at once suggests the Conarium, the Rod itself is the Spine and the Ribbons indicate the Lateral Ventricles and the two channels, Ida and Pingala.
The Five Stages we have noted elsewhere are also to be found if we analyse the "Lord's Prayer" and they are also inherent in the famous Buddhist Mantram, "AUM MANI PADME HUM."
Perhpas I may be called a fool to have attempted to put these matters before you. If so, I am in good company. I comfort myself with the thought that the most important card of the Tarot, is named, "The Fool," and, in the Graal Legend, it is Parsifal, the pure Fool; who attains. He will not use the spiritual Power he has gained, represented by the Sacred Lance or Rod, even in self-defence but only for unselfish purposes. He is the Spirit, carrying with him into the Presence, the wayfarer or journeyman, Gurnemanz; representing the Soul and also Kundry, representing the Body which, its work-being over, dies.
I have tried to place befone you some of the peculiarities of these figures and symbols and some of the discoveries and inferences I have made. I find, bearing upon me heavily, the common experience of all who try to express in words the result of an experience which cannot itself, in the very nature of things, be communicated. I feel the total inadequacy of words. This is the traditional "Mandate" of the Mysteries. There is a direct Spiritual Knowledge of the things of the Spirit. It is, and has been in all ages, the goal, and sometimes the achievement of Sages and Initiates. It is not the prerogative of Freemasonry, of Christianity, or of any other exclusive system.
The Cosmic Process is an Outgoing from the "One" and a Return Thereto, a "Fall" or descent into Matter and a "Redemption" or rise out of Matter. The Goal is set out clearly in all religions. Man falls in order that he may rise the higher. He veils himself from what has been called, by Paul Brunton, his Overself, in order to attain to ascendency over matter on all levels, and he takes the results of his accumulated experiences back to the Overself. Few of us, in these hectic days, are willing to pause for a moment, in our rush and hurry to do what might just as well be left undone, to give this Overself a chance to get to know us, and ourselves a chance to contact the Overself. There is a story of J.W.H.Turner, the painter, when he was a student. He went out with a sketching party in Scotland and the other students were very derisive when he arrived at the evening rendezvous with a clean sketch-book. Hisreply was that, even if he had put nothing upon paper, he had "learned what water looks like when a piece of stone is thrown into it". Perhaps if we were less absorbed in Setting things on to paper in this life, we might learn, in the silence and apparent inaction of our own selves, what Matter looks like when a piece of the Spiritual Self is thrown into it. Tnere is also an old story of a man who spent all his time sitting on a log in Florida. He was asked about his occupation and replied calmly that he could not spare the time for work. One is led to wonder if, perchance, he worked a good deal harder than people know.
The Vehicles, through which contact is made with the lower worlds, are the Veils of Isis, the Ever-Virgin Mother, which veils the hand of no mortal, corruptible man may ever set aside; "For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written. Death is swallowed up in Victory," (1 Cor, XV., 53, 54.)
Then shall the Veils of the Temple be rent asunder, and Man, realising himself as an immortal, spiritual Being, as One with God, free to administer the functions of Creation, Preservation and Transmutation in accordance with the will of God, shall find, in His service perfect freedom, himself Isis, the Creative ever-virgin Mother, himself Horus, the Preserver and Initiator, himself Osiris, the Destroyer and Transmuter, to be OE WITH WHOM Osirified, was the goal of the ancient Egyptian Initiate.
The Way of the Cross lies clear before us in Freemasonry as elsewhere where Truth is the Goal. We are back from our tour and find ourselves at the point where we started, "Man, Know Thyself!"
I would like to leave you with a quotation from the Persian poet, Jalalu 'a Din Rumi:-
"I died from the mineral and became a plant; I died from the plant and reappeared in an animal; I died from the animal and became a man; Wherefor then should I fear? When did I grow less by dying? Next time I shall die from the man, That I may grow the wings of angels, From the angel, too, I must seek to advance; All things shall perish save His face."
Once more shall I wing my way above the angels; I shall become that which entereth not the imagination. Then let me become naught, naught; for the harp-string crieth unto me,
"Verily unto Him do we return."