SPIRITUAL GLEANINGS IN FREEMASONRY

W.Bro. J. A. Gilchrist, L.G.R., P.M., Lodge No. 1679.

BRETHREN,

Since the beginning of time all men have sought a way to perform Acts of Worship to the Almighty Giver of Life, according to Ancient Ritual, and although, of course, the Rituals of today are now in line with modern civilisation, the guiding principle has been at all times the same:-

Gratitude to the Most High for his many blessings, and an expression of hope for the continuance of His Goodness.

These paths have been many and varied - but a path followed by vast numbers of mankind throughout the centuries has been that of Masonry. This does not, of course, altogether mean the Freemasonry of today, with its co-relation to social and business functions, and - let it be emphasized - with its charity on a broad and generous scale. In this Circle we have a far different conception of what constitutes a Mason and what ideals the Craft should represent. Of this we shall learn more later. But first let us summarize a considerable body of teaching which will serve to introduce the subject.

As a commencement it would be better to differentiate between the popular conception of Freemasonry already referred to, and that infinitely greater truth which might be called the original or ancient craft of Masonry which we are told springs from the very roots of time and is as old as humanity itself. Could we begin at the beginning - if there is a beginning - and were our vision able to pierce the inconceivable eras of time which lie between us and that beginning, we should find (so we learn) that this ancient Masonry was communicated to the first men by teachers from some other planet far older than the earth who came here to minister to man in his newness and strangeness in a new and strange world.

At once we come up against objections. "Science has declared," will say our critic, "that life (as we know human life) is impossible on any one of the solar planets and still less say upon the sun itself, which is but a ball of inconceivable flame." Such an argument appears rather naive upon examination because we men though spiritual in origin, most certainly have bodies made from the substance of the earth, and therefore possess earth-like qualities of mind and outlook. A more spiritual being therefore existing upon, say, Venus, or Mars or Jupiter, would of necessity have its more ethereal form made of the substance of the planet whereon it lives; likewise an angelic being existing say upon the sun itself would be a son of the flame, clad literally in a body of flame. With this possibility in mind we come back again to those first men.

Actually occult science tells us that the first men did not inhabit bodies such as ours, but instead had their being upon some nearby astral plane. Only at a certain stage did they descend to dwell upon earth itself, then they became clad in bodies of flesh or "coats of skin" - as the story goes in Genesis. Surely Genesis makes the whole matter clear, once we grasp its symbolism. Are we not told how Adam and Eve lived in the Garden of Eden, where sin was not and where beauty reigned - which Eden was obviously never upon earth but upon some other plane or stratum of existence. Then came the Temptation. One of the teachers bestowed upon Eve and Adam a knowledge of evil, so that thereafter good and evil were contrasted in their minds. Having tasted evil, there followed the Fall. They became clothed in "coats of skin" (or bodies of flesh, as we understand the words to-day) and were of necessity barred from their Eden by the angel with a sword of light.

Possibly men were at this stage of physical, mental and spiritual development when the principles or Craft of ancient Masonry were revealed. Because of this revelation man became primarily and fundamentally a constructive instead of a destructive being, as exemplified by Cain. Man cannot help but build or construct because of some urge within his nature - although, perversely enough, since the Cain-aspect is not entirely erased in us, he destroys also on occasion. Man is principally a builder, then, of homes, farms, houses, temples, of castles, towns and civilisations. When at his best and sanest he constructs, and at his worst and maddest he destroys; and man with fundamental good sense very properly calls construction good - and destruction " evil."

Masonry as a Craft is designed to stress and enhance all that is constructive. Its very name indicated a craftsman who hewed and shaped the rough stone from which homes, temples and cities were once built. The working of stone was once as universal as is the use of bricks and mortar today, and the Mason was ever a builder and constructor. But there is more than this labour of the hand. Man can build by exercise of his powers of mind and thought. Therefore, anyone bringing forth knowledge or invention which contributes to the welfare of mankind is (in the broadest sense) a Mason also, a builder with the mind. But away and beyond all this the Craft of the ancient Masonry is concerned with the building of the soul or the soul-temple of man; all its symbology and ritual revolves about and centres upon this upbuilding of the soul, and the first God-men came to visit this new strange earth and the human units marooned thereon to promote this upbuilding of the soul-power in man.

Having by now cleared the way, and perhaps defined the Craft (or fundamental urge within man) of ancient Masonry, let it be stressed that members of the Craft (again in the broadest sense) among mankind even in this materialistic age must be innumerable: simply because man has been and can still be roughly segregated into two divisions - the destructive and the constructive, the war-makers (no matter whether the war be financial, social, industrial or with actual gun and bomb), and the peace-upholders or upbuilders, which comprises all those who contribute something to the material, mental and spiritual advancement of mankind. All belonging to this latter division constitute a vast brotherhood of toilers for the betterment of man. It matters not at all whether they have ever been formally initiated into any Lodge of Freemasons, learnt any "secrets," or shared in any ritual. Our Lodges exist to-day as an outer expression or recognition of the fact that the ancient Craft of Masonry once had its being, still persists and still challenges mankind to spiritual endeavour. Those who brought the Craft of modern Freemasonry into being a few centuries ago had in mind the provision of Lodges or Brotherhoods which would foster the growth of the constructive urge within mankind. Freemasonry, as we know it to-day, is presumedly based upon the Ritual and Craft of far earlier Lodges extant in ancient Israel and Egypt. Such Freemasonry has become formalised, conventional, orthodox, and therefore, as with all other orthodoxies, has lost its great "secret." Nevertheless, it is still possible to trace amid its ritual that ancient origin and universal truth which once gave rise to the original Craft.

In essence, then, the ancient Masonry, as bestowed at the beginning, revealed to the soul a path, so that it might lay a foundation or even build for itself that temple or celestial body without which no soul can enter the glories of heaven. In order to respond to the beauties of God's creative universe, man must foster and nurture by effort and work, by endurance and discipline, by suffering, pain and joy, the delicate and beautiful instrument of the spiritual body.

When the inmost soul refuses to respond and stays deaf, blind and dumb, it remains (in the Masonic phrase) in a "state of darkness" through its own folly or ignorance. Once the soul becomes illumined it becomes clothed with that wedding garment without which it could not return to its mystical "marriage" or re-union with God.

Without question the first Masonry was founded upon sun-worship. Symbolically, it is said that the light ever comes from the East. If you study the origin of modern Freemasonry you will find that it largely concentrates upon the construction of a building known as the "Temple of King Solomon." What does this symbolise? To interpret, let us find the inner or soul meaning; true enough, once there lived a great and wise king called Solomon, who doubtless built many a temple. But the truth lies deeper. Here we have yet another parable which may be likened to the many parables of the Master Jesus. When such parables become understood in the light of the sun (here again a parable) each reveals some truth concerning the evolution of the soul. The masonic Temple of King Solomon, then, is always the Temple of the Sun. The visible sun is itself the vehicle through which the spiritual life-force manifests - the sun and the attendant twelve signs of the zodiac, In Hebrew mythology the zodiacal signs are sometimes called the "twelve tribes" or the twelve "sons" which mean the twelve archetypal men - the twelve grouped around the king or the twelve perfect types of humanity (Royal Arch Masons learn of these things), because every human being can be segregated into a "type" which in following incarnations will be influenced by one or other of the twelve "signs." By its continued evolution each ego will eventually contain the influence of all the twelve and will then be perfected by full illumination, which means its blending and absorption into the centre or sun of life, or God.

This does not mean that we shall lose our own self. Because of this misconception many dread the thought of letting go of the self. We all cling to "I," forgetting that our real and true ego (not the shadowy outer "I") has always formed a part or unit in the Universal or, if you like the word better, in the Christ. It is always a soul's separation from the Christ light or sun which causes human suffering, as we try to explain when we say that joy and sorrow are actually one; because only when the soul becomes separated from its true self does a gulf come between joy and sorrow. Then joy and sorrow begin to operate in the individual life as teachers leading the soul onward and back to God.

THE LIBERAL ARTS AND SCIENCES

References to the Ancient Wisdom and to the holy lives lived by members of the ancient Brotherhood of Freemasons can be found throughout history and in almost every country. Those who enter the Craft of to-day learn that the candidate must concern himself with the "liberal arts and sciences."

Their studies will comprise the arts and sciences of Grammar, Rhetoric, Logic, Geometry, Mathematics, Music and Astronomy: Grammar, Rhetoric and Logic to aid men to express truth; Music, Mathematics, Geometry and Astronomy (Astrology) to help men to assimilate truth. It must never be forgotten that the building of a soul operates on the same principle as the building of a temple of wood and stone, in so far as both forms of construction should be based upon law and perfect measurement. The physical body itself is governed by proportion.

Many thousands of years ago the great temples of the past (of which ruins are found in many places in both East and West) were built upon these principles with a symbolic meaning in their structure. More recently buidings have been erected in ignorance of the ancient principles of true masonry. Later, when following this subject, we will consider and compare the architecture of the past and present. In some respects architecture is a lost art, or an art which lies hidden, and until man again opens to the Ancient Wisdom perfect structures as of old cannot be built.

OPERATIVE AND SPECULATIVE MASONRY

I hope I have not confused you between the actual construction of a temple and the building of the individual soul. On the one hand, we have what is known as "operative" Masonry, and on the other, the Masonry of the soul, known as "speculative" Masonry. We do not ask any Freemason to accept what follows, but we think that any Masonry of the soul must be operative also; if it be only speculative, it can remain a passive thing; but when it becomes operative, it will find a channel of expression in action and through service. That is why we feel that the true brother, the true Mason in the broadest sense, must ever be busy, not only with prayer and devotion but with honest service. Freemasons and all true brothers must become operative Masons, and in the degree in which they reconstruct their own lives, so raise the lives of their brethren, and so work for humanity.

"IN A STATE OF DARKNESS"

As you all know, there are certain steps without which a candidate cannot enter the Craft of Freemasonry. There comes a point in each man's life when he hungers for more knowledge. Then and then only he becomes a candidate for truth. We are told in the Sacred Writings to "knock, and the door shall be opened." In this fashion the candidate knocks upon the door of the Lodge; and after the Teachers are satisfied that he is genuine they reveal certain knowledge. Whereas the candidate was before living in a state of darkness, mortality and ignorance, after that wonderful experience he should know through the mind and through spiritual illumination, that he has found something beyond all price. This, then, is the first step, or the First Degree. All this is experienced (or better, given in symbolic form) both in a Freemasons Lodge and in the wider and universal Craft of Masonry.

Then comes a period of waiting. This is where many a candidate feels disappointed and sometimes deluded. After the first step many a test of integrity and sincerity comes to the candidate . . . many little snags appear. The tempter of the earthly mind argues with the higher self, saying: "Don't believe in it! Nothing exists but the things you see, and which you contact through your senses. This mystical business is all imagination." Thus the tempter whispers in the mind of man. If allowed to get out of control mind can destroy every vesture of faith. The intellect can be a valuable asset and a good friend-but also a bad enemy. Through intellect, then, can come that which will turn the soul off its path. But from the higher aspect it can be seen that this mind which would destroy serves also as a "tester" trying out the quality of the soul. If the soul rests secure in what has been revealed to it through the light, then the next step is permissible and assured.

THE NEXT STEP

The next step is somewhat harder and is where many candidates flinch, for it is here that the soul must put into action what it has learnt in the First Degree. It is always easy to talk about the brotherhood of man but difficult indeed to practise it. Yet every man is our brother and the Great Architect of the Universe our Father; and we like the rest of humanity are His workmen, and His craftsmen; our task being not only to build the temple of our own soul, but to help forward the evolution of all men to assist in the construction of that mighty, grand Temple in the Heavens. In operative Masonry the Master Mason tests the work to see that it is exact and perfect. The Mason must handle chisel and gavel, square and compass, and labour until he has transformed the rough stone into the smooth and perfect cube. Our souls are those rough stones, my friends, which by aspiration and constant discipline must be perfected! Our arrogant mind can be too sure that all is well; our inner self (the Master Mason) sees many a remaining fault - weakness, lack of truth, susceptibility to flattery, vanity, irritability - these, and others also; even habitual depression is a failing most difficult to remove.

These things are not eradicated in a day or a week; and when we least expect it, they come again and again. Selfishness takes many forms.

So we must get down to hard work in preparation for the Second Degree, and perfect ourselves through many a life-experience; and then, having satisfied the Senior Brethren that we are ready, we are allowed to take the Second Degree.

We are workmen, craftsmen; and we shall learn that the harmony existent in the universe can be conveyed to us in the form of music which can be such an important aid to the progress of the soul. Moreover, music or harmony is an expression in itself of the same principles which govern the building of a temple - for that matter, of a universe - Perfect Vibration.

II THE DIVINE ARCHITECTURE

When we consider this teaching from the ancient past, we speak not from the plane of human knowledge but from that of intuition. We endeavour to put into words truths almost incomprehensible to the material mind; and not so much in the phrases used as in the spiritual power they can impart is the message to be read.

With the subject of Masonry in particular we feel how inadequate are words to convey the wonder and truth of this Ancient Wisdom. Although we shall now deal with architecture, here again we are not architects in the understood sense; nevertheless, we shall endeavour to translate from the spiritual plane a knowledge symbolised by the word "architecture" in Freemasonry; which word immediately calls to mind the great buildings and grand cathedrals in our midst. We reach back in memory also to those buildings now destroyed - the temples of the now-lost continents, the remnants on Easter Island, the ruins in Southern America. The remains of temples far more glorious that now lie beneath the waters of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

To cite a particular example, let us recall the ruined Abbey of Glastonbury, which we may regard as modern compared with the temples of the past. Can you reconstruct in your imagination that great Abbey built upon holy ground by those who held knowledge not merely of construction but of symmetry, proportion, harmonious vibration, and a spiritual insight into the powers within man's own cathedral, the temple of man? For this spiritual knowledge, brethren, was the guiding principle used by the ancient architects, the ancient Frcemasons, in building the temples in which they afterwards laboured, lived and worshipped.

So you may conceive such churches and abbeys as buildings erected to the glory of God, fitting houses in which to worship the Creator. More than this, we suggest that these temples were an outward expression of an inner spiritual wisdom; that the builders were themselves Initiates of the Ancient Wisdom and brought into action all the powers of the spirit in their creations. The ideal thus made manifest in stone and timber possessed powers to draw the vibrations which would stimulate the soul - qualities of the worshippers within the temple ; and vibrations which would in due course enable them to open centres of light within their own temple. Each portion of the structure of these ancient buildings was so designed as to harmonise with the planetary influences; each was an expression of the inner harmonies of the great Universe; and such temples were primarily temples of Initiation.

The whole purpose of man's many incarnations is that he may learn through every stage of life to surmount his environment, master that weaker self that lends that environment its power to corrode the happiness which is his by right, and come back again into the heaven world fully conscious of his God-powers. Did he not once in the long ago, although intrinsically a divine spirit or son of God, descend into the temple of the flesh, or of the earth? In Masonic terms this man of earth is called a stone, or the rough Ashlar, and is destined to be shaped by the Master Mason within into a perfect cube.

This opens yet another aspect of the symbolic truth of Masonry. All aspects will harmonise. The Craft reveals how the human spirit descended to take up residence in the temple of a fleshly body, built or prepared for the incoming spirit by the Great Architect; or by Him or They, Who, when constructing the vast Universe, constructed also the little universe - the being of man. Within this soul-temple are to be found the sacred places for the working of the Master Mason ... the sacred centres, or the centres of spiritual power within.

Again, even as the buildings of the past were built to receive vibrations from the higher worlds, in like manner each point in the physical body - the pineal and pituitary glands in the head, the throat centre, the heart centre, the generative centre, and the resting place of the fire-power (known to the Eastern student as the centre of Kundalini) - all these were represented in the buildings of long ago. The ancient Secrets, the key acknowledged as long lost by modern Freemasomy - all lie within.

To some this may seem obscure, but it cannot be made more plain. Where you cannot now follow, you will be helped to understand; and as you meditate and work for yourself, light will break in upon you.

The temples of the past were so constructed that on a certain hour and day of each year the sunlight came through some small aperture or dormer, and illumined the sacred altar, the Holy of Holies, in the innermost sanctuary. This has several interpretations, but one we offer is that it symbolises the sun or life-force entering the human body and resting in the creative centre of man (generation itself being considered a sacred ritual in the ancient mysteries). Man is reputed to have fallen from his true state. Shall we rather interpret the so-called "fall" of man by saying that man descended into the depths of matter (or into, the "stone" temple) in order to learn, and to receive within his being the creative powers . . . the power to build, to create a bodily habitation for yet another soul; so that after undergoing many vicissitudes and through sweat and labour he may return at last into the heaven world, into the Kingdom of God, and thus by his own effort become regenerated.

THE PATH SPLENDID

Brethren, this is the splendid path we tread. Do the little affairs of earth matter so much then? We rebel while in the flesh, we laugh, we weep; we react reluctantly and sometimes violently to the gentle chisel and our protests and rebellions are actually of little use, for the steady work of shaping the rough stone goes forever forward. Is it not all worth while? ... every effort, every disappointment, every sorrow? Nothing can be wasted, for the aggregate of all our experiences serves to create in us the true state, the perfect Ashlar some day to find its appointed place in the temple we ourselves are building in the heavens; and each of these separate and individual temples is gradually being perfected by the Great Architect for its inclusion in the Grand Temple of the Universe.

This expresses in Masonic terms the fact that we as individuals are ever being moulded and harmonised to fit into the great plan, together with all our fellow creatures, souls breathed forth from the divine Creator since the foundation of the world.

The buildings of the past had peculiar acoustic properties. The Masons of old possessed knowledge which enabled them to create chambers which proved receptive to sounds from the invisible worlds. Today some occultists attempt to invent instruments to receive the finer sound waves, so that messages can be received from the astral plane and possibly from the planets. In ancient times this was common knowledge; voices from afar were heard and actual communications from other planets were received, this fact establishing a great harmony, a linking-up of the human with many other aspects of life contained within the solar system and the spheres above, beyond and beneath or within the earth.

THE MARK OF THE MASON

Many have noted the Mason's Mark on ruined churches and abbeys - markings placed in some inconspicuous place to indicate the builder. The masonic markings of the true Initiate are always to be found. Consider Jesus, the Master Initiate and the Christ: those who understand can recognise upon His Temple (shall we call it the Temple of Jerusalem, the Holy City?) the stamp of the true Initiate or Master Mason. But never does the true Mason advertise or speak of his qualifications. Remember, silence is itself the hall mark. To-day this ancient rule of silence is interpreted to mean that no masonic secret may be divulged outside the Lodge. But we tell you there are no secrets in Masonry! Much ado is made of so-called secrets, we know, but the true secrets lie hidden within the heart, within the life of the Master Mason. No true Initiate will proclaim himself by saying: "I am so and so, of such and such a degree!" By his marks shall ye know him. How futile, then, for man to cry his wares in the market place! The true mark of the soul - or Masonic quality of the man is his ability to reach out, touch, help and heal the heart and hurt of his brother, to bring light into his brother's shadowed life. A true Mason recognises another without sign or word by the light in the eyes, the vibration in the aura of his brother. Words and grips are not necessary. His light shines forth - in his eyes, his voice, his touch and his heart, for be alone has powers born of God that can see and heal world sickness and distress.

So, brethren, let us go our way with quiet mind and steadfast heart. What matters the babble of the market place? We live with understanding for our fellow men, with service in our hands, with courage in our heart and on our lips. We lift our vision to the skies; we stand in worship at the foot of our brethren in nature, the trees, and listen to the harmonies of the universe whispering through their branches. We are formed bodily as are those trees . . . the man-made structures of old were built upon the formation of the trees. The strength and grace of trunk and branch taught the builders the secret of pillar, arch and groin. The harmonies of creation find expression in the trees, as in the human body to-day.

Many a symbol, many an interpretation of truth exists. Truth finds an outlet in the march of the seasons, in the rotation of night and day, in the sun, the moon and the encircling seven planets; the twelve gates of the holy city, the twelve tribes of Israel, the twelve signs of the zodiac; each and all symbolise some divine truth; the thirty years of Christ tell us of the thirty degrees of the signs of the zodiac! The raising of Lazarus is representative of the raising of the candidate as from death unto life, symbolising the raising of the life-essence in the candidate as from the floor (the base of the spine) to the heavens (the higher mind) to illumine the pineal and the pituitary glands. Whatever is in nature can be found also in man, and that which is man exists in the heavens also! "As Above - so Below! "Nothing less than this is the grand Architecture, the Plan of the Great Architect of the Universe.

III

This, in rough outline, is our conception of the early stages of Masonry, ancient and modern. Although considered by some to be but one school of teaching, we ourselves accept Masonry as the ancient mystery school, established since the foundation of the world; and we worship its Grand Master as the Son, known to most as Christ and by many other names. Christ again is symbolised by the sun, and upon sun-symbolism, together with the twelve signs of the zodiac and the seven planets, Freemasonry is constructed. To illustrate our point let us turn to the ancient home of Egyptian Masonry, now called the Great Pyramid. Within this ancient Temple of the Craft we may read all the secrets of Masonry. Indeed, we need not limit the revelations of Masonry to the Egyptian Pyramid alone for Masonry has had its home in many an eastern land, and even in the west are to be found remains which bear clear evidence of having once been sun temples, or temples of the Masonic Craft; and when reviewing the Masonic truth declared by the structure of the Egyptian Pyramid we shall find those same truths also recorded in other parts of the world.

The very word "Freemasonry" is derived from the sun . . . a Freeman is a brother in the light; a Bondman is one in the darkness. From the sun all life is born. The House of Light was, therefore, the name given by the ancients to the Great Pyramid, and the candidate to the inner mysteries sought wisdom and knowledge therein. As opposed to popular ideas, this was never used or designed as a tomb of kings, nor any place of mortality, but formed rather as a birth-place for the King in man; for the symbolism of which the Great Pyramid is the material outcome, tells how the soul enters through a secret entrance into the inner chambers of the mysteries, not (be it noted) only of that vast stone pyramid, but (symbolically speaking) of the candidate's own temple or soul. As he successfully surmounts all grades and degrees of tests and trials, he at last wins admission into the King's Chamber; the King's Chamber symbolises the Christ-nature, the Christ being - the King's Chamber being the Holy Royal Arch with the King as its Keystone ... for Christ is ever the Keystone of the Holy Royal Arch Degree.

After passing all tests and trials, and coming at last face to face with the great Initiator (the Master who dwelt within the Pyramid, and who was neither seen nor heard untit all tests were undergone) upon the candidate was laid the symbol of the Key, known as the Ankh, or the Crux Ansata . . . the very symbol of life. Once the candidate had won to this treasure, he was said to possess a key which would unlock all mysteries. All initiated into Freemasonry will recognise the solemn question from the lectures: "Where hangs the key?" Not in the skill of the hand or power of the mind, as many young brethren imagine. The intellect alone will never unlock the door of the Ancient Wisdom. In the King's Chamber stands the Altar whereon burns the everlasting flame . . . the torch, the light which God has placed within every man. This torch is the flame of man's highest self, and through this self the Master speaks.

Can you read the riddle of the Sphinx inscrutable? In this symbol of the mysteries we have a representation of the four elements: earth, air, fire and water. Also we have here portrayed the man, the lion, the ox and the eagle - the eagle without whose wings man cannot soar away from earthliness - the wings representative of the fifth sphere of Mercury, which (astrologically speaking) forms the link between the higher and the lower planes of thought.

TEST AND TRIAL

Through a secret door, hidden between the paws of the silent Sphinx, the candidate passed, and then commenced a long and arduous training. He was allowed to withdraw before the first step, if he wished, as in Freemasonry to-day. If any were found unready, or if only idle curiosity proved to be their motive, they could not progress far; for the passage through which they had thought to advance brought them back again to their starting point. The secrets of the Ancient Wisdom were absolute! which simply means that it was thought impossible for anyone once initiated to reveal the secrets of the Order. Nevertheless, at a certain stage in the history of Freemasonry enemies did creep in, and then came a division, a breaking away by some from the original and sacred Order. Of this we can say no more at present. But from that time greater stringency arose. However, on the inner planes it is true that when the candidate has once advanced his lips are sealed ; his throat centre having been once vivified by the word of initiation, cannot, cannot speak words which would profane the sacred mysteries. This does not always apply to an outer brother. At each initiation in the Great Pyramid, one by one, and in due order, the centres of the body were brought into activity, and the candidate was later taught how to use wisely the power thus released; and shown also that misuse of such power would mean only a destruction of the inner self which would automatically throw the soul back into the fire for purification, and back to where it started.

Our ancient brethren, after due trial, were instructed in the methods necessary to free themselves from the bondage of the cross if we accept the cross as symbolic of the material self, for thus it was regarded in Egypt. Therefore the base of the pyramid forms a square (again representing earth, air, fire and water), which is yet another portrayal of the cross, from which has originated the frequent references to "the square" in Masonry. Candidates attaining the higher degrees were also instructed in the mysteries of the stellar constellations and the planets, their relationship and influence upon human evolution and regeneration; for it was known and taught that man had fallen from the pure spiritual state of life, had descended within the veil of darkness and taken upon himself the obscurity of the flesh, all in search of wisdom; which wisdom could only come about through steadfast endeavour and hard work an the base or basic material of his nature - upon the square or cross of himself. Through his own endeavour and work, therefore, and not by reason of the effort of others, would he be at last fitted to receive the key of the heaven world.

In other words, the creative life-force which in incarnate man had descended into the depths and become localised within the lower psychic centres, must be released, must arise and be transmuted to the head, heart and throat, and thus energise a higher triangle erected upon the square or the base of the pyramid - or, in other words, erected upon the cross, symbolising man's lower nature. This base of the pyramid or square was crowned by four triangles (this again symbolised the four elements) the whole depicting the Risen or Perfected Man symbolised by the divine pyramid of creative life-power and illumination.

THE PURE GOLD

A similar path of progress is revealed in Rosicrucian symbolism. By transmutation of base metals our Rosicrucian brethren create pure gold, so it is said. In other words, by the transmutation of the lower nature, man causes to bloom upon his cross (the lower self of man) the divine rose, symbolic of the perfected manhood of Christ, the Initiate and Master, a presentation of the perfected man of earth! Thus we may realise Christ as a revelation of the divine man in heaven, reborn in the King's Chamber ... re-born of the Light of the Sun!

As old as the hills ... as wide as the universe is this vast and ageless brotherhood of the Sun . . . of the Light!

It is known that the wise men of old journeyed to Egypt to take their degrees in the great brotherhood. It is said also that numbers of other candidates tried unsuccessfully to be admitted to these grand ceremonies.

It is thought by some that records pertaining to the Initiation of the Master Jesus himself will be found when certain as yet undiscovered chambers in the Great Pyramid are opened. Our answer to this is that when man is ready to hear he will learn of these things. We would add that vibration, colour and sound played an important part in the ceremonies within the Sun Temple. Use was made of the sun's rays in healing by methods which were revealed to the Initiates. These same methods of healing are still known, and are being employed to-day by those who know the secret of focusing solar rays upon certain sensitive points of the human body. The sun's rays, thus centralised by and through human agency, can affect growing crops and herbs. The priests were also instructed in the arts of healing, and of astronomy or astrology (for the two sciences were then one), Music was employed in the art of penetrating the invisible worlds, taking active part in helping the spirits of men bound down on earth. To-day these arts are lost. Tomorrow, when man humbles himself and bows his proud head so that he can enter beneath the Sphinx, the man of earth will be again initiated into the doctrines and mysteries of the Sun Life - the Christ principle.

IV THE TRUE MASONIC LAW

In Masonry one law should rule all Lodges. Let the elder brother instruct his younger brother. And as simply as possible, bearing in mind that simplicity is the bedrock of profundity, and that in the simplest language may be presented the grandest truths.

We remind you that you will always find varying presentations of the same truth. We ourselves give from time to time symbols covering different aspects of truth. They do not necessarily contradict, however. A thoughtless man might say "My left hand contradicts my right!" Not so; this may indicate another meaning to the saying "Let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth." It also indicates some spiritual development when a soul can listen to the many teachings given forth, and say: "Yes, there is truth in all."

Some may know that the full complement of man's vehicles is not yet functioning. But we all move in time up that spiral.

The greater his expansion of consciousness, the more comprehensive will be a man's understanding of all the schools of thought, which to the man on the lower plane at first appear contradictory and even chaotic. We should, therefore, endeavour to remain as calm and uncritical as we can. What we do not understand, that which seems to contradict, let us not declare to be wrong ; let us rather say: " When I attain to a greater expansion of consciousness, I shall take this stone also and build it into the Grand Temple." Or, changing our simile, " I shall find that this tapestry that I weave (with my life and all its happenings) requires certain threads to bring out the light and shade. So I shall take this new strand and weave it into the pattern." It is unwise, therefore, to be too definite or too dogmatic on matters spiritual.

THE FIXED MIND

We see that the minds of many students are fixed. Being certain they have arrived at the truth, they remain like a gramophone which jams in the middle of a record and continually repeats the same word or phrase of music. Let your record play out the harmonies of the heavens. Do not reject that which does not coincide with your own particular ideas. Put it aside for a time and wait. Some day you will see how wonderful are all these different aspects and interpretations of truth.

Candidates initiated into a Masonic Lodge of today become familiar with the story of Hiram Abiff, a mythical character who was slain within the temple he was building by three ruffians and buried. Take careful note. He was slain . . . he was buried ... and yet he was rased agaih to life. The resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ immediately comes to our mind. He also was put to death by three ruffians. What were the three ruffians in his case? Surely - the church . . . the state . . . and the mob. He was buried and in three days He rose from the dead, ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father of all.

Thus the far older parable of Freemasonry can be found also in Christianity. Some say it originated in Atlantis, and since then many other religions present it in some form or other. Actually the story embodies the life history of man and indicates that experience through which every man will some day pass. Here we find (told in symbolic form) yet another of the sun-myths, which describes how the sun itself was taken and slain while in its temple (the heavens) at a certain time of the year by three ruffians. Let us see who the ruffians were ... Some schools of thought would name "Libra, Scorpio, Saggitarius," who were reputed to have slain the autumnal sun, which lay dormant for three days (actually three months); and then at the birth of spring the sun was raised from the dead and re-united to his former companions. Who were those companions? Surely the kindly blossoming of spring - the flowers, the fruits and the trees - these are the beloved companions of the sun.

THE SLAIN HERO

In this, we have a symbolic tale of the descent of the slain hero into the tomb (down into Scorpio) which signifies the lower centres of man . . . the generative organs . . . within which lies the seed, or the life essence which in due course is to be reborn. We have described the temple and its aperture through which, once yearly, the sun's ray fell directly upon the Holy of Holies within - by which the ancient Egyptians symbolised the sun (life, seed or essence) as penetrating the temple of the future mother's body, and being nurtured in the womb ; and symbolised also the descent of the human spirit from the heavens to earth, there to be held in the darkness and imprisoned by the flesh for perhaps many cycles of life by cycles we mean series of incarnations, since each cycle of seven incarnations is intended to produce a certain state of consciousness or development in the soul.

So we read into this story of the slaying of the sun by Scorpio the story of man's descent into dense matter. Within the womb is held the secret of life. This, then, is the secret of the lost Keys of Masonry. They also lie within. When man has awakened, when he learns how to liberate the fire (or creative power) and raise it to the thirty-third degree (some masons will understand) or bring it up through the thirty-three segments of the spinal column to the head centre, this will again be the raising of the sun of life as from the dead. Seven steps are supposed to lead to the crown, and these seven are centred upon the spinal column. These seven sacred centres of the human body are each related to a particular planet, although the influence of one only of the seven planets predominates during each of the seven incarnations. Nevertheless, each planet will affect in turn one of the seven signs or centres of the human body ; and at the end of seven incarnations man should arrive at a definite point on his spiral of evolution. . . .

The whole plan of Freemasonry is, therefore, based upon the development or evolution of the soul of man through his various experiences and lives, and relates them to the planetary and heavenly influences which affect those lives. To-day, whilst the outer Freemasonry is a shadow of what it was, the occult, or esoteric Freemasonry, is still to be found, and it is the duty of every true mason to search for it.

FORCING THE PACE

You will ask how you can quicken or hasten your development. Well, maybe some of us in the past were in too great a hurry. We suffer still perhaps from the same failing. The Craft teaches a great truth. Those candidates who would rush forward are restrained by a cord. If they persist, they come up against the very sharp point of the poignard. This means that in the past we have tried to force certain centres of power without the necessary development and training to sustain us in the ordeals and trials which follow.

For all occult knowledge there is payment demanded. If you want goods you must pay for them; failing this, something unpleasant happens. This is the law of everyday affairs, it is also the law of the spiritual life.

THE PRICE OF WISDOM

What is the price demanded, and how does one pay? We answer that if you seek wisdom and love, you must pay by self-denial, by restraining the demands of the flesh and the desire body ; you must obey certain laws - and very stringent laws they are! If you disobey, you come immediately against that sharp instrument. Purity of motive, constancy of purpose, love towards life, a surrender of self to the Law, or to the will of God - these are the prices. One must watch every act and thought, and learn to control your speech and emotions. If you neglect these things, remember that instrument is very sharp.

The majority of people seem to go through life with no ideas above the material, the main object apparently being to have a good time. Some of us are tempted to comment on this. But immediately you criticise others you come up against it. The wise man will consider his words and say, "Yes, but they will gain experience and will leam. Some day they will find something more interesting, more vivid and far greater than that which to-day they find but amusing."

THE CHOSEN FEW

Never believe, brethren, that we are numbered among the chosen few. Indeed, no! We are all exactly the same in the eyes of God, and with us all humanity is slowly but surely moving forward. The sun brought down by the ruffians, slain and buried in the earth, will in due course rise again, as do the flowers of spring. So also will humanity come into the fulness of a sunlit world.

Our duty, therefore, is to mind our own business - one of the most difficult things in the world to do. We rather want to interfere with the affairs of others, often with the best intentions and desire to help. But instead of poking our finger where it is not wanted, let us join left and right hand together, thus pointing upwards to God! The two hands thus joined are significant, since they are centres of power. What potentialities for helpfulness the hands contain! They can labour; they can heal - they can soothe the weary and help the poor. But they must not meddle! And when tempted (how the fingers sometimes itch to get at something or somebody) let us remember. First - hands together, spine erect, head raised. Then let us pray to our Father God that His will may be done - not our will.

Let us not try to put other people right. Let us try to remember that all souls are in exactly the best condition to learn certain lessons and to acquire powers. They may know nothing of these powers to-day; they may know nothing in the next incarnation. Nevertheless the fact remains that they are where they are, and do what they do because they are striving to quicken such powers. Sometimes the vision glorious inspires you with eagerness. You know that great gifts, grand realisations are waiting, that you are working towards them! But do not think that you are the only person thus engaged ; remember that the man by your side, who perhaps seems to waste his time and substance on vain things - he or she, too;, may also be approaching Godwards, though from a different angle. Many a ray of light pours forth from the sun. Each ray is a path leading back to the same sun. Such paths will bear different names and those pursuing them may be called Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Mohammedans, Hindus, and even the native worshipping his totem pole is on the way. But all are moving towards the same end. Thus, if you hear certain occult things which do not quite fit in with your own ideas, remember all spiritual aspects, methods and teachings are of the truth and contain fundamental truth. Man must need worship the highest as he sees it.

It is clear that those men and women born under the three autumnal signs need not necessarily partake of the "ruffian" nature. Contained in each of the four sequences, autumn - winter - spring - summer - are three signs, under each of which certain spiritual qualities are being developed on different levels of consciousness during an incarnation. It is therefore necessary for the soul to pass in time through the influences of all the twelve signs of the zodiac. Do not think you can attain to perfection in any one incarnation, or can become perfect by undergoing one incarnation under the major influence of Aries. When you realise how minute can be the spiritual growth in one incarnation as compared with the ideal, and realise what it means to become like that ideal, perhaps your ideas will expand. Remember, not only on this earth will you incarnate. There are other conditions of life to which you will pass. You will learn of these things in due time.

THE NEW AGE - AQUARIUS

Great changes are coming to humanity in the New Age. The vibration and polarisation of the earth is changing, and with it, the very substance of the physical body. Those whose soul - vibrations are not sufficiently mature to withstand these more powerful vibrations will be cared for, but they will sleep for a while (here again the story of Hiram Abiff waiting to be raised to life) till the next great call sounds forth across heaven and earth. "At the sound of the trumpet they will rise! " The trumpet shall sound that call which those ready for initiation will hear. Then will the candidate awake as from a tomb of earthliness, or from the tomb of materialism and go forth.

V

In these days we are conscious that the lower mind of man is full of turmoil and perplexity; but peace be with you, brethren. All is well. The divine plan is laid, and the children of God (remember, we include all races, classes and conditions of mankind) are sheltered within His heart of love. These are not merely pretty words, but express a fundamental cosmic truth. Peace be with you ... peace on earth, and goodwill.

It is sad that the intellect would often destroy the very foundations of human life in its attempts to refute the great and wonderful story of resurrection as told in the Ancient-Wisdom. There are schools of thought which do not yet accept the illumination of eternal truth and which doubt or deny the reality of the life and death of the Master. We can only tell you of that which has been revealed; we do not say one must accept these teachings - but leave it; knowing that within the heart lies the spirit of truth, which will reveal this wonderful cosmic story, which is also a great fundamental truth vitally affecting the lives of all did we but truly understand it.

The Master Christ was a figure vouched for by history. But he was more - being in comparison with the mass of mankind as a pillar in the heavens, a peak towering above all humanity; and through Him and the golden words of truth which issued from His lips, the shining inner life possible to every son of God is revealed. If you would yourself grasp, understand and master the complexities of this earth life, enter in simplicity and humility to the inner sanctuary ; and there you will find inscribed the whole history of man's creation, and that pursuit of matters spiritual through mortal life after mortal life which leads him onward, upward to liberation, to illumination. On that path he himself experiences and partakes of every detail of the Eastertide story, as related in the four gospels . . . ultimately he himself journeys up the hill of Calvary, consciously; and consciously finds himself nailed upon the cross - the cross of earth, because, remember, the sign of the cross is astrologically symbolical of the earth. Then, when his eyes are opened and he calls upon his Father, the Christ Spirit cometh down and he is crowned, not with thorns but with the crown of illumination, that which thenceforward gives him dominion absolute over his own earthliness and material nature.

This age-old story of Easter is to be traced through every religion. In it is to be read both the story of the heavens and of man on earth. Christianity is based upon the ancient pagan religions. Teachings incorporated within the Christian teachings are traceable to the ancient Greek, the Egyptian, Aztec, and Hebrew religions. All are impregnated with the same wonderful story of Easter, which in its symbolism concerns the twelve signs of the zodiac, and the rebirth of the sun at spring time. Whilst Christianity has an exoteric or outer story (we liken the astrological aspect to the outer) it has also an inner revelation. When the so-called heathens were once supposed to worship the sun, the moon and the stars, in truth they worshipped the spiritual symbolism expressed by the sun and its planets. If you study more closely the fundamentals of Christianity, you will recognise that you too worship the spiritual symbolism of the sun - the light-giver, the life force, the light of life; because astrologically, with the coming or birth of Jesus of Nazareth, there was revealed to the Wise Men who journeyed from the east to welcome the Holy One, the coming of the then new age - the Piscean Age.

THE PISCEAN AGE

Let us remember that the age preceding the Piscean was that of the Jewish prophet and priest and was concerned with the sacrifice of the lamb (or the ram) as typified by Abraham sacrificing the lamb to his God - the ram or the lamb being symbolical of the preceding astrological sign of Aries. With the coming of Jesus we entered upon the Piscean age of the fishes. Astrologers will know that the sign of Pisces is connected with the two feet, or the understanding of man, upon which rock of understanding Christ founded his church. He drew His disciples from fishermen or men of Pisces. The Church was founded upon the esoteric influence of Pisces, as we who have now passed through from the Piscean into the Age of Aquarius can recognise.

THE MAN WITH THE WATER POT

"Let us now consider the wonderful astrological symbolism contained in the gospel story, easily understandable even to those ignorant of astrology. Are we not told that at Easter Jesus sent forth some disciples to find a certain man carrying a pitcher of water. Since the astrological symbol of Aquarius is that of a man bearing a pitcher of water and since the water is symbolical of spirit, the man the disciples sought was representative of the sign of Aquarius. Jesus knew that His teaching and work during the short years of His ministry would serve to lay the foundation during the Piscean Age for the coming of Aquarius - the age of spirit, or the age of the air which you are now entering upon. Do not think that man's conquest of the air will always be used for destructive purposes. Those who have given their services to the air are children of the New Age; so, while becoming familiar with all aerial experiments and inventions, we should remember to develop, side by side with this material attainment, the spirit of Christ.

The disciples sought and met, even as Jesus had said, the man carrying a pitcher of water. Jesus had told his disciples that the man would lead them to an upper chamber, wherein they would make ready and later gather to participate in the holy supper. All happened as foretold, and the landlord of the inn prepared the upper room. Eventually they were all seated, twelve of them. Each represented a sign of the zodiac, or (and you will be equally correct) a certain type of humanity resulting from the influence of that sign. Jesus broke the bread, and each disciple was given bread to eat and wine to drink. Therefore each type of mankind thus shared the bread prepared and presented by the Son of God. Every one of the disciples ate of the bread of life, every one partook of the wine of life, the life-force of the divine spirit. In such a communion, brethren, you also may participate, if you follow the Life Spiritual. Think over this wondrous symbolism, and see for yourself how you might even now hold communion with the Son of God ...

This, then, is the gift God has prepared for His children. This the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

JUDAS

One of the disciples present later betrayed the Master; to the Scribes and the Pharisees and those concerned only with material things, he delivered up his Master! Judas was the betrayer. Before we condemn Judas let us ask ourselves if we too are not partners with him in the act of betrayal.

We also deny Christ our Master, and deliver Him into the hands of the money changers, the war merchant, the profit seekers - those who judge only by the material standards! Yes, indeed : and therefore, although Judas denied his Master; and although we, following in Judas' footsteps, deny our Master; and although our Master by us is condemned to torture and death, His is truly the way all men must some day walk. Shall not we ourselves some day be condemned by the ignorant, be judged and crucified on the cross of the world? And then, when crucified - or in other words, when we have sacrificed the self-hood in our being, when we have denied self and surrendered ourselves... then at last the crown of thorns - symbolical of the sorrows caused by the earth man to the soul - is cast away, and the golden crown of divine illumination won. Then at last we open our eyes and see the sun shine forth. Are we not told that at the crucifixion the earth was darkened ... darkness fell like a shadow o'er the face of the earth and water? The truer interpretation is that the light of Heaven shone forth so brightly that by contrast all the earthliness of man appeared as plunged into darkness. - Darkness Visible!

Notice also how the number three predominates throughout the life of Christ; even to the three nails which pierced the hands and the feet - the hands and the feet being well-known psychic or power centres through which flow the light and power of the invisible life. Remember three is the number corresponding to the planet Jupiter, the planet of philosophy and spiritual teaching, and ruler of the sign Pisces. Even at the age of twelve (four threes) Jesus was found in the temple talking with the wise men. He was 30 years preparing for His Ministry, and 3 years teaching and working His miracles.

Jesus overcame the earth, the earth body. His life and all the teaching of the Christian Church (by which we mean the Christ Church in the heavens and the Church of the Age of Pisces) made ready for the coming of this present Age of Aquarius, the New Age, when, as you will remember, the " Woman clothed with the Sun" will be raised up in the heavens. For the Aquarian age, the new age in which womanhood will once again come into her rightful place - the emancipation of women will bring great peace, and the preparation for the new spirit of The Brotherhood of man upon earth.

THE AQUARIAN AGE

Think on these things and take up your life with renowed courage and hope. Nay, with more than hope, my brethren, conviction and surety that this new age of Aquarius is dawning as surely as the disciples once found the man bearing a pitcher of water - as surely as they made ready the upper chamber, that upper chamber which signifies the higher or spiritual mind. Only with the mind of the spirit can man comprehend the brotherhood of man and the Fatherhood of God; only with the mind of spirit can we understand the Companionship of Mankind - the realisation that you are not alone - that you are one of many on the Pathway to Happiness.

Some there are who will tell you that man was born in sin - that pain and suffering are man's inheritance. This is not so! God created man to be happy - to share his heaven and Earth with others and to communicate happiness to all.

Therefore, may the spirit of love ever rule in the lodge and in the lodge of the human body. May the arrogance of the mind be laid aside. May we not criticise others ; may we learn to raise as from the dead the creative fire of love, so that it may shine in our hearts and beautify our being as did the sunshine of Eden. May the voice of the Lord of Life speak to us in the cool of the evening. May the angel who guards the gates open them at our approach, hearing the pass-word sound forth from our heart. Even thus may we mount the ladder to heaven, and hear, as we kneel before the throne of the Most High, the words: "Enter thou into the harvest of thy labours, thou good and faithful servant."